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Our Thanksgiving feast.My immediate family and I have never had a Thanksgiving together until this year. I know many of you would find it odd to hear that. Many factors contributed to this: we emigrated to the US in the early 80s, so it really wasn’t part of our parents’ culture, my parents weren’t exactly on good terms with each other and other family, and my parents divorced in 1989.  Thanksgiving really is only part of my sister and my culture since we grew up here.

When I was in high school, my mom took my sister and I to my maternal uncle’s house for Chinese-style hot pot a few times for Thanksgiving, where the table was mostly Asian food unless the kids forced the adults to buy a pie or something to be more “American.” We never had a holiday thing with my dad. Christmas was very much the same or nonexistent. On Xmas eve and Xmas day, my cousins and I would often end up at the movie theater with all the Jewish kids, other non-Christian Asian and Asian-American kids and others whose families didn’t celebrate those “American” holidays.

Dad and stepmom. Their very first Thanksgiving with us! #family #glutenfree

When I went to college, I started my own traditions and cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas orphan dinners for myself and friends. After both my sister and I moved to California, away from our parents in Texas, I continued my own tradition and hosted holiday dinners for her, my friends, my soon-to-be ex and brother-in-law’s family. My mom, dad and stepmom had never come to participate in the celebrations (again, it’s not really part of our culture and tradition) and the few times I went home during the holidays, we just ate regular meals at home or went to a Chinese restaurant.

Thanksgiving 2012

This year, my sister, her boyfriend, their dog, my dad, my stepmom and a good friend of mine all came out to visit for Thanksgiving. A first for all of us! So I cooked up a feast that included a brined turkey and about 8 other dishes. All the dishes were gluten-free and vegetarian, except the turkey, of course (sis and her bf are vegetarians and both sis and I are on gluten-free diets as well). It was quite a delight and fun having our first family Thanksgiving. My sister and I always have a good time hanging out with my dad and stepmom, and I know that they enjoyed the experience Untitledand all the good eats as well. I hope that this may be the start of a new bicultural tradition for our small little family. My only regret in this is that we won’t ever get the chance to share this with our mom, though I’m sure wherever she is, she’s happy for us.

I am thankful everyday for my life, friends and family. I hope that all of you had a wonderful weekend, whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving 2012
1. Turkey brining, 2. Butternut squash and carmelized onion tart with goat cheese & gluten-free crust, 3. Wine-roasted pears with super gingery ginger snaps, 4. Gluten-free kabocha pumpkin pie, 5. Roasted Turkey with fennel, carrots and baby potatoes, 6. Cornbread stuffing (sister made), 7. Harvest medley of purple yams, jewel sweet potatoes and pears, 8. Vegan Almond & Cashew nut loaf, 9. From-scratch green bean casserole (sis’s boyfriend made), 10. Teff muffins with almonds, flax & cranberries, 11. Cranberry-Orange relish and Mushroom ragout, 12. Thanksgiving spread

Many of you friends, fans and followers have requested the recipes for some of my gluten-free dishes. I’m working on getting them out and will post them shortly!

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me @AnneKuoLukito on Twitter or “Like” my Crafty Diversions page on Facebook!**
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So, I finally moved.  Both houses closed by Oct. 31. It was quite a bit of work moving and cleaning the old place out, and my body didn’t exactly want to cooperate with me. Thankfully, a couple of good friends came by to help me move and clean out the old place.

Dining room and kitchen of new place looking into the living room.

I’m still living in a sea of boxes and disarray. My knitting and work stuff are all stacked in a corner in the living room with more stuff stacked in front and on top. I don’t have internet yet and have next-to-no 3G on my phone at the new place. However, I’m empowered by the changes and the possibilities. My stuff will be stacked in a corner until I decide what flooring I want to replace the existing brown carpet with, and how I want to remodel the really tiny master bathroom.

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Right side 5 Back near family room 3

The backyard of the new place is really really messed up. There are mass arrays of exposed and badly DIY sprinklers. However, the plus is that there are several delicious fruit trees! Persimmon, guava and Chinese dates (jujubes)! Unfortunately I’ve developed an allergy to persimmons (which I love), but at least my friends will be able to benefit from its bounty.

 

When things are stressed, I try to focus on the positive and often think about and am humbled by my former work and others less fortunate. I’m think about how lucky I am to have what I do have, my family, my friends and my colleagues. You know, things could always be worse than they are. I’m thankful for my friends’ support and allowing me to shed some tears upon their shoulders. I’m extra thankful that my parents are able to help me find a new place. Furthermore, I’m quite excited that for the first time in years, we’re having Thanksgiving together. I think my sister may be coming down from San Francisco with her boyfriend too!

Much thanks is also owed to my fans and readers, who encourage me to continue to design and create by buying my patterns and by your words and interactions with me on social media. To that end, I think I’m going to have a special Black Friday sale and release a new pattern that I’ve been holding onto for a while. 🙂

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me @AnneKuoLukito on Twitter or “Like” my Crafty Diversions page on Facebook!**

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Moving. Moving on.

Moving There are many moments in life in which we all experience transitions and changes. Some are good, some are bad. In most cases, I think many are just a mixed bag. As for me, I’m looking forward to my move, both in the physical literal sense and in the more esoteric emotional and psychological fronts. I want to close several chapters and my life and starting anew, beginning with my move.

I’d like October to be over ASAP. I’m starting to hate this month. When we bought this house 9 years ago in Oct. 2003, I wasn’t here to pick out this house or sign the papers because I had flown back to Houston to take care of my mom, who had endometrial cancer. Two years later, on her 55th birthday, Oct. 24, my mother died. Needless to say, October has been an especially tough month for me since her passing. Now hubby and I are selling this house and no aspect of the process hasn’t been easy. This October has been much harder than usual with everything else that’s transpired. Life has thrown me many difficult obstacles in the last 15-16 months…more than I could reasonably handle, but I think I did an okay job. All of them overlapped one another and the hurdles seemed never-ending. The top 3 in order of their occurrence:

  1. Hubby and I decided to split. We married in 2001. Things just weren’t working and I think we’re both happier now, but the way in which it happened was really messed up. I won’t go into all the personal details, but I felt very devalued and disrespected. It’s not the kind of news you want to tell your parents, so it took me a while to tell them. I didn’t want my dad to feel worry, disappointment or shame for me, especially since it’s not that culturally acceptable, even though my parents divorced when I was 15. My dad was none of those, except concerned, as all parents are. My sister’s reaction was surprisingly funny: “Are you okay?” Yes. “Oh good!” I feel a weight has been lifted. “Yay!!! Since you’re ok, I guess I should tell you then…” Tell me what? “Well…[boyfriend] and I have been plotting to breaking you up for years.” WHAT?!? “You deserve better! I know it was so hard being with [him]….I had this idea that you should be with some sort of artist, like a metal sculpture artist.” Apparently she had been fantasizing about setting me up with a variety of people.
  2. UntitledMy allergy/ immune issues got worse than ever and 80-90% of my body flared up for more than 9-10 months. I looked like a red boiled lobster stung by 100,000 bees. It was gross. To keep my skin from cracking, I had to moisturize several times an hour with straight oil and chemical-free lotion bars I made. I even wrapped myself in plastic wrap. That meant lots of laundry, ruined clothes, sheets and towels, and grease everywhere. I had to toss half of my clothes and sheets because they got stained and/or started smelling like rancid oil. Eww. My whole body burned, hurt and itched 24/7. Sleeping  was nearly impossible even with drug intervention, and work and just about everything else was also nearly impossible to achieve.
  3. Around Thanksgiving, I was recommended for surgery to remove painful fibroids that had been troubling me for long while and getting worse. I always assumed a decision like this would be easy for me; however, I was very surprised at  the sense of loss I felt when faced with losing part of my womanhood. I started wondering whether I never reconsidered not wanting kids because I knew that with the issues in our marriage and our personality differences, I would be doing a huge disservice to any kid and myself if I had one. Other questions ensued. Will I regret this decision in the future? What if I really do want kids? What if I waited? What if I really need it and I don’t have insurance later? IMG_2909 I resolved not to dwell on the what-ifs and just weighed more tangible factors like my age, upcoming divorce, fears of getting uterine cancer like my mom, and loss of affordable insurance. I had surgery 5 days before Christmas. My sister came to take care of me, but she could only do it for a couple of days (I didn’t want to worry my dad & stepmom, so I didn’t tell them). For the most part, my recovery was very lonely, depressing and painful, though I was very grateful that a good friend came and helped out as much as possible in between family obligations. The loneliness was my own doing though. I really didn’t want to bother other friends for help or company because I didn’t want to interrupt their busy holiday plans with their families.

Those major events triggered a domino affect: body and mental stress made my immune system even more sensitive, exacerbated my chronic back problems and other issues, which all negatively affected my health more. It was an endless looping nightmare. I got increasingly worried and anxious about health, insurance, work productivity and other scary issues, though I really tried to keep as positive as possible. (I’m more of a “glass half full” kind of gal.) Nonetheless, I had a few bleak moments where I totally broke down in frustration and cried like a baby for hours, especially when there didn’t seem to be a solution to my immune issues, no matter what I tried. The months of incessant itching, burning and lack of sleep didn’t help my mental state either.

Things are still stressful, but are much better. The ex and I are amicable, my flares are all gone now that I’ve cut many more foods from my diet (frustrating too, but better than flaring), and I have no more uterine pain. The rest of my body is still healing slowly. My family has been supportive and very helpful with my life transition, especially my dad (we don’t have an emotional touchy-feely kind of family, definitely not by American and Western ideals, but we are close and supportive of one another in our own way). I’ve been trying hard not to let the many frustrations and snafus with the house-selling and buying process and other things get to me too much, though it’s hard not to stress about uncontrollable circumstances that led to a 2-day moving window.

with mom

My mom and me in May 2001. Lately I’ve been wondering what she might say to me about my choices if she were here today and whether she’d be disappointed that my marriage is ending. At the same time, I don’t think there’s much to think about in that respect because the marriage wasn’t working for us and the truth is that I hadn’t been happy or myself for several years. I think she would understand.

Enough! I’m close to the home stretch. October is almost over. I’m sure there will be additional bumps along the way, but I’m looking forward to locking up this chapter of my life and starting a new one, although I can’t really toss the keys until the ex and I ink those D-papers. Even with all the stress and obstacles, I feel more rejuvenated and much more like myself than ever. I look forward to starting fresh, to finishing my books and a host of other things to come! Wish me luck!

Get you Knit On. 25% off sale

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me @AnneKuoLukito on Twitter or “Like” my Crafty Diversions page on Facebook!**

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I got duped into an Alaskan cruise the last week of May/first week of June. Short version: Dad told me that he had “arranged” the trip already, implying that he already bought it without asking me first. I wanted to go, but didn’t think timing was great since I had planned on exhibiting at TNNA in mid-June. I finally agreed, then he quickly added that family friends were coming too. Family friends are great, but sometimes they have a whole different meaning and feeling of dread for the “kids” no matter how much you like them, especially on a vacation (if you come from an Asian, Latino or other cultures where family friends are your “aunties” and “uncles,” then you know what I mean). There were 8 of us (before I got on the plane, I though there would only be 5) and the “adults” designated me as the group’s tour guide/ translator/ navigator/ negotiator/ reservation-maker, which was a bit stressful since 7 other people’s vacation-happiness weighed on my shoulders. Of course, I relieved stress with lots of knitting, which really wasn’t since it was work-knitting on deadline for TNNA. I packed lots of yarn though, including some Anzula Mermaid, Rowan Revive and Bijou Basin Ranch Lhasa Wilderness. My dad, who still sometimes thinks I only knit sweaters to sell to consumers online, thought I packed too much stuff. Um, I had one carry-one and a backpack for a 9-day trip.

Alaskan sunset from the ship and knitting on deck:
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Anyways, I really can’t complain much. It wasn’t how I would’ve liked to vacation if it was just me, my dad and stepmom, but it was still a nice trip. I even had a chance meeting with Allison Haas of Alaskan Purl, due to my losing my passport, credit card, $150 cash and $900 of train tickets in Skagway. Allison totally made me blush with her blog post about our encounter. In the way that the knitterly web works, I tweeted about Allison returning my passport, which led to Lucy Neatby recommending a visit to Skagway’s quilt/yarn shop and saying “hi” to employee Jean, which led to Jean asking me for yarn substitution suggestions for a lace weight version of Weekend Shawl, which led me to introduce her to Anzula‘s yarn, and of course, since I was at the shop, I bought some gorgeous Alaskan-produced yarn. Whew! See how wonderful our knitterly web is?

Words and photos cannot really describe the beauty of nature or the feeling one gets witnessing these wonders. In fact, while someone much more gifted in the art of words and photography still cannot match the true sight, sounds, feelings and experience on such a trip.

Click on photos to enlarge.

I saw the Dawes glacier up close and saw it calf! In the first photo, you can see the splash of the water as a piece of ice fell from the glacier. I even managed to capture the calving on video with my iPhone:
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There were several groups of harbor seals resting on bits of floating ice all around us as we watched and observed the glacier.

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Dawes glacier is located in Endicott Arms. The surrounding area getting in and out of it is just gorgeous and included lots of super-large and majestic glacial waterfalls:
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I had the opportunity to spot several humpback whales as we came out of Endicott Arms and as well as on a whale-watching tour in Juneau. This one was when we were going from Endicott Arms towards Juneau.
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We booked a special whale-watching trip in Juneau in a much smaller boat. The water was really really choppy, but it was a fantastic tour. Spectacular! Our boat came across a pair of whales feeding close to the shoreline: a mama and a baby. Spot the large white spout first – that’s the mama. You can also see mama’s head and a bit of her tail poking out. Behind her tail, you can see a very faint misty spout coming out of the water – that’s baby’s spout! In the second photo, they are swimming in the other direction. Mama’s spout is on the left and baby’s is on the right. In the last 2 pictures, you can see a bit of mama’s tail.
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After leaving mama and baby, our choppy boat came across “Flame.” The captain and naturist identified her by the patterning of her fluke. She gave us a pretty good show, but my fingers missed some of the best shots of fractions of a second. Still, I think I got a few nice ones. And in honor of her, I am naming of my soon-to-be-released patterns after her.
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We also went to Skagway, where we took the train up the Yukon trail. We didn’t go all the way up to the Yukon territory, due to time constraints, but we did go up the mountain, up to White Pass at the Canadian border.
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Lastly, I leave you with images of a sunset I caught at sea. This gorgeous sunset occurred at around 10-10:30pm. It was the only day I caught sunset, since it was too overcast to see it on other days.
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Happy Thanksgiving to all my real life, knitting and crafting friends out there! If you are not American and don’t celebrate this holiday, I wish you a wonderful weekend and thank you for your support!  To celebrate this holiday and my gratitude, I’m having a sale on my site and in my Ravelry shop. All PDF patterns and ebooks are 25% off through midnight PST on Monday, Nov. 28, 2011. To get the discount, enter the code “GOBBLEGOBBLE” (not case sensitive) upon checkout. The sale includes all my patterns, including my two most popular patterns (Pfeiffer Falls and Weekend Shawl), all the hats from the Liberation collection (incl. the ebook), and my newest patterns (Friday Harbor & Anacortes and Lakedale). Stock up on accessory patterns for all your holiday knitting!

ThanksgivingSale2011 Ad

This has been a difficult year for me, but I’m a glass half-full kind of gal and have lots to be thankful for. I have wonderful friends, I love being a knitwear designer, I love working from home and have a great family. While my health has not been the best and my body has been through lots of stress, I’m still very thankful that I’m relatively healthy. One thing I’ve been stressed about is that all the health and other personal setbacks have  negatively impacted my productivity and work quite significantly. However, my wonderful friends, knitters and fans out there have been fantastic cheerleaders, and I feel quite lucky to be in an industry made up of such warm and generous people and friends!

Wishing y’all a wonderful, fun, safe and delicious Thanksgiving,

Anne

P.S. Come back and check the blog again soon. Coming up: Book tour, review and giveaway of Woolly Wormhead‘s new book, Bambeanies!

For up to the minute updates and news, follow me @AnneKuoLukito on Twitter or “Like” my Crafty Diversions page on Facebook!

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Eyepatches & Eye Surgery

As if my sister didn’t have enough to worry about between her in an intense nurse-practioner program at Yale and her bf’s recent brain aneurysm and craniotomy, she recently had to be hospitalized for sudden and unusual vision loss in one of eyes. After a visit to the school’s acute care center, the ER, 2 nights at the hospital, an MRI, several tests and countless exams from doctors, optometrist, opthalamologists, neuro-opthalamologist and other specialists, she finally got a diagnosis of central serous chorioreinopathy (CSCR).

The good news is that she was able to get a diagnosis and it didn’t drag out for a long time. Further good news is that she doesn’t have multiple sclerosis, other neurological pathology or an autoimmune disorder. The bad news is that while her condition can be treatable, it may not always respond to treatment, and either way, her vision will never be the same again.

Until her eye improves to a point where her brain does not have too much trouble reconciling the disparity in images, she will have to wear an eyepatch whenever she reads or studies. Otherwise, she will suffer intense headaches and migraines. She had one so bad at the hospital that they had to administer her IV pain medication.

My sister is an artist by trade – a medical illustrator to be exact. She loves things like skulls, bones, anatomical things and other things that people might consider macabre. So, since she’ll have to wear an eyepatch, there’s no rule that it has to be boring black, right? Plus, I’m a knitting designer so I designed and knitted her some fun eyepatches: Skull-patch and Eye-patch (<– Ravelry project page links)

"Skull-patch" - this one is reversible, side 1.

"Skull-patch" - this one is reversible, side 1.

"Eye-patch" - I got carried away and made this one too big.

 

I got carried away with Eye-patch and made it waaaay too big. Thus, I had to perform “eye surgery” before I sent it off to my sister.  I didn’t get a chance to do a photo shoot of Eye-patch post-surgery, so I just did a self-portrait and the photos aren’t as nice. My sister is really excited about the patches. 🙂

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sis wearing her patches with her skeleton, Virgil, in the background

Stitches

Stitches West is Feb. 17-21, 2001 in Santa Clara, CA. I will be attending again this year, only I imagine it will be even more fun than last year’s. Not only will several of my friends from my knit group be there, I have made lots of new friends on Ravelry and Twitter since last year and am looking to meet them. Also, I will be spending some time at a couple of really wonderful booths: Anzula (#840) and Unwind Yarn (#1245).  Both booths will be carrying some of my patterns, particularly the ones from the Liberation collection. There will be samples at the booths for you to see in person. So, please stop by! I’d love to meet all of you and also I will try to give you and tips/help if you need.

At Anzula’s booth, you will see lots of fantastic yarns by owner/dyer Sabrina. She really has a create eye for color and has some really fantastic yarns.  At her booth will be samples of Barbara G. Walker and Alice Paul worked in Squishy (merino/cashmere/nylon). I’ll be at the booth on Friday 10-12, Saturday 2-4 and Sunday 10-11.

At Unwind Yarn’s booth, you will see samples of all the hats in the Liberation collection as well as Pacifica. Stephanie (owner) had all the samples worked up in another one of my favorite yarnie’s yarn: Sweet Georgia.  Felicia (owner/dyer) is truly an artist and has some of the richest hand-dyed colors around. She provided yarn support for my sample of Elizabeth Zimmermann. I will be at the Unwind booth on Saturday from 12-2. Traffic permitting, I will also attempt to be at the booth Thursday night at the student preview market opening.

If there’s any updates or changes to where I’ll be at Stitches, I’ll post them on Twitter (you can read the feeds on the sidebar of this blog) and on my Facebook page.

Liberation FB ad

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When I saw this on my doorstep…..

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I got really excited and thought it was one of the yarns for some projects I’m doing for Knitscene and Interweave Knits. Could it be the Jade Sapphire cashmere/silk I’ve been waiting for? Or the Manos lace? Nope. Not even close! It was this…

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Any guesses?  Here’s the back story on the yarn: Last week I went down to San Diego to visit my sister and her boyfriend (G), who was in surgical ICU after having a ruptured brain aneurysm and had to have 2 major brain surgeries. (My sis is currently in grad school in New Haven. So, she had to leave school for a week to be with G.) Anyway, while visiting with them both at the hospital, I told G that I’d be happy to knit him a hat to keep his noggin warm while his hair grows back. Conversation migrated to how he had saved the fur from his Siberian husky, Flower, to be spun up into yarn by a professional dog hair spinner and how a knitter friend of his has had the yarn for a while now.

Not anymore! Yup. That’s dog fur yarn.

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My sister thought that it’d make G. happy, especially during his recovery if he could have something made up from his dog yarn. So, she took the liberty of asking his friend to mail it to me to “work my magic.” I’m not sure what kind of magic I can work. I’m not too excited about the prospect of knitting with dog yarn, especially if it’s not my dog, no matter how much I like Flower. Heck, I don’t even think I’d want dog yarn if I had a dog. I know I don’t want my cats’ fur to be spun into yarn.

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This yarn is not sport weight like the tag says. It also weighs less than what it says on the label. The spinner weighed the fiber before it was washed and cleaned, so this probably also means that the yardage is less than what the label says. I do love that the label has a picture of a husky and Flower’s name on it. (I don’t know if it’s actually a picture of Flower though.)

The dog fur length is very short and it makes for yarn that sheds like crazy. I think I’m allergic to it too. Within 2-5 minutes of handling the yarn, my sinus swelled. I don’t know if it’s from all the short shedding fibers flying around, or because there may be eau of about 1000 other dogs mixed in amongst the yarn.

I don’t know what I’m going to make with it. I won’t say it’d be the highlight of my knitting adventures to be knitting dog yarn. I may even need to ear a dust mask in order to knit it. However, I know that making something out of it will make my sister and G. happy, so it’ll be like a Xmas gift to both of them. That’s a good enough reason for me, and they are knitworthy, which is another very important factor.

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