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Archive for the ‘general craftiness’ Category

As I try to balance getting ready for Stitches West, like teaching and getting products and samples to vendors, trying to finish the collection for Manos del Uruguay yarns, a recent health scare and other normal life things, I find that my brain won’t stop! It seems like that’s always the case…when I’m super busy, my brain always seem to go into overdrive and come up with lots of creative thoughts and ideas, ideas for which I don’t have time to develop when I’m super busy. One of the many reasons for the inspiration is all the lovely colors, yarns and other products that I find and see at TNNA.

TNNA sample yarns & products. TNNA sample yarns & products.

TNNA sample yarns & products. TNNA sample yarns & products.

Clockwise from top left: (1) amazingly deep rich colors of fingering weight yarn handdyed by Baah Yarn; (2) I love the versatility of Berroco Ultra Alpaca and got a sample of the Ultra Alpaca Fino, along with a couple skeins of Flicker to swatch and experiement with; (3) a fantastic new line of yarns from Erika Knight featuring British wools. I’m super-excited and inspired by Fur and can’t wait to play with all these yarns; (4) I love HiyaHiya sharp stainless needles! I already have a set of their interchangables but I bought a 2 more sets, since a designer can never have too many needles!

TNNA sample yarns & products.

I mentioned earlier and on Twitter that Anzula would be selling kits of my new pattern set, Fantome Hat and Cowl at a retailer-only event at TNNA. If you’re going to Stitches West, Anzula will be selling the kits to the general knitting public, as well as several of my patterns like Haiku and hats from the Liberation collection.

Brave knitting is grafting live stitches off the needles. #knitting Teaching materials.

Above left is a photo of Project 5 for the Manos Collection. I made a mistake in my spreadsheet and ended up cutting out 5-6″ of my knitting, which was faster than ripping out everything. After correcting it, I reattached the border by grafting the edging back to the body of the garment. I guess it was a good refresher for the “Kitchener Like  A Pro” class I’ll be teaching at Stitches West! The right photo is a peek at the handouts for another one of my Stitches classes.

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In my last post, I promised to put up some of the recipes that I cooked over Thanksgiving. I had big plans of recreating and properly photographing some of the dishes, but work got in the way (in a very good way). I’m very busily getting ready for TNNA, doing work in collaboration with Anzula as well as working on a collection for Manos del Uruguay yarns. I also will be teaching at Stitches West and the Craftcation Conference.

I also made butternut squash and carmelized onion tart with goat cheese and #glutenfree  crust. #family #thanksgiving

The following crust recipe was what I used for my Butternut squash and carmelized onion tart with goat cheese. I loved the result from it…buttery and flaky! I adapted it from the Flaky Pie Crust recipe in The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide Part 2. Most of the flours I used are organic flours from Bob’s Red Mill. I also used organic butter and eggs.  Unfortunately for those who are vegan or have an egg allergy, this is not a vegan recipe. I haven’t tried a vegan crust yet, as I’m not sure what the comparable substitution for eggs in a pie crust are. I don’t think using psyllium husks, flax or chia seeds will get you the same results. As for the butter, you can always substitute a vegan shortening or butter.

Gluten-Free Savory Pie & Tart Crust Recipe

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup cold water

  1. Combine the white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, salt and xanthan gum into food processor.
  2. Cut the butter into 1″ chunks and add to food processor. Pulse food processor until the butter is cut into small pea-sized pieces.
  3. Add eggs and water. Process together until it becomes a thick dough. The dough should be soft and easy to work with.
  4. Roll dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper or on a silicon mat. It might be necessary to flour the surface with additional white rice or brown rice flour to prevent sticking. I roll mine out to about 1/8″ thick or a little thinner for mini tarts. For a really flaky crust, I recommend refrigerating the dough ball (covered in plastic wrap to prevent drying out) for at least 30-60 minutes before you roll out.
  5. Place on pie plate or cut into desired shape/ size for mini-tarts.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until slightly golden. Bake time will depend on how thinly you rolled your crust and to what size you cut it.

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

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In June, I traveled to TNNA’s  (The National Needlearts Association) trade show. Since I exhibited at the Winter show in Phoenix, I decided to exhibit again at the larger Summer show. Exhibiting is A LOT MORE work than just attending. For one, I could not pack everything in my car and had to think of more portable and transportable displays that wouldn’t cost a ton to ship or check in. A few things that made exhibiting this time easier: (1) I shared a booth with Pam Powers again and (2) my health improved after discovering several new allergies that had made my life miserable for almost a year.

Photo: Setting up the booth.

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For our booth this time, Pam and I wanted something organic and nature-like, but at the same time we wanted something brighter. We came up with the idea of doing custom-printed curtains and a cherry/ plum blossom them to pay homage to both of our heritage. Pam’s ethnic heritage is Japanese (country flower: cherry blossom), and mine is Taiwanese (country flower: plum blossom). Being closely related, both cherry and plum trees have flowers that look alike. Thus, designed cherry blossom curtain panels and table cloths, which Pam arranged to get printed. My dear friend Denise (and very talented glass artist who makes the most gorgeous and high quality stitch markers), came along and helped us with our booth.

Photos: L: My trip started out rocky with an inconsiderate passenger who kept bumping me and stuck her nasty bare feet on my seat and too close to my leg. Ewww; R: Me & Denise’s luggage. They’re mostly mine, including that long box, over 5 ft long! You gotta love duct tape!

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Our finished booth and some extra shots of my half below. I really wish that I had room to pack my good camera. The iPhone camera is pretty good, but not great, especially with indoor lighting. All and all, Pam and I were both very pleased with our booth. We received lots of wonderful compliments on it, which made all the hard work worthwhile. If you like our stuff and your LYS doesn’t carry our patterns, please tell them to order Crafty Diversions and Pam Powers patterns from our distributor, Deep South Fibers.

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While TNNA always results in hard work and little sleep, it is also a wonderful time spent with friends and colleagues new and old. Some of the must-have food items when I’m in Columbus are multiple trips to Jeni’s Ice Cream, drinks, dinner and laughter with friends. One of the events to which I look forward is always the Designers’ dinner hosted by my friend and hostess with the mostest Marly Bird.

Photos: Top, L & R: My first food stop after setting my stuff in the hotel was some wonderful Plum Sake and Pear Riesling sorbets at Jeni’s. OMG it was so so good!; Center, L & R: With my roommate Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark and boothmate Pam Powers at Marly’s masquerade-themed designer’s dinner; Bottom L: Hanging out with Denise in the booth; Bottom R: My friend Stephannie Tallent and I have to travel all the way to Columbus to see each other. She lives in the LA area, not too far from my home. She’s showing off her wonderfully written and inspiring new book, California Revival Knits.

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Photos: Top, L: Wendy Bernard (author of the fantastic Custom Knits series -buy it from her site; you’ll learn lots from her) and I never get to hangout outside of email, Twitter and Facebook. It’s always fun seen her, sharing stories and having a few drinks (or more); Top, R: Enjoying a nice vodka cranberry and wearing Friday HarborBottom: On the last night in town, Denise, Pam and I (“The Americans”) had dinner with my dear friends and talented designers “the Brits” Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, Woolly Wormhead and Ann Kingstone. Man, we were loud!

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Speaking of Woolly, make sure you come back and read my blog on Friday, Aug. 14 for a Woolly Wormhead book review and giveaway!

** 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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Hello Friends! I’ve been rather amiss from my blog. Life has been more than crazy and has been dealing me several obstacles. I’ve conquered a few but I have several more that I need to climb over.  I haven’t even had much time or energy to spend on my knitting work and designing.

The most recent update is that I’m going on an Alaskan cruise tomorrow. I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise to Alaska, but while I’m lucky to be able to go, this trip did come with several attachments and caveats. The short version is that I was duped into going on this trip and I will be going with my dad, stepmom and my “auntie” and “uncle” family friends. If any of y’all are Asian or Latino, you might know some of the pressures and caveats of “family friend aunties and uncles.” The timing is also terrible given that I have a trade show to get ready and plan for in Columbus in June. To celebrate the wonderful wonders and complications of family vacations and my long hiatus from blogging, I’ve decided to have a “I got duped” sale. Sale ends on June 9, 2012 and is 20% off any products from my pattern store on my website or on Ravelry. Code: AlaskanCruise. Don’t forget that I have more stuff for sale on my website than on Ravelry.

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Here are some quick updates on some of the events in the last 6-8 months:

In January, I went to Phoenix for TNNA, where I had a booth for the first time! I had a booth next to my distributor, Deep South Fibers. I wanted a booth so that retailers can see more of my garments and designs first hand and up close. It was quite fund designing the booth and seeing colleagues and friends. Photos below: My booth at TNNA; Tina Sanders wearing my Weekend Shawl; with my friend and fabulous crochet author Robyn Chachula; a close-up of my photo tiles for the photo/mirror installment in my booth

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In February, I went to Stitches West and taught there for the first time. I got great reviews from all 3 classes I taught and I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful students and knitters/crocheters. While there, I also hung out with my friend Stefanie and the Craftsy team and even did a demo at the Craftsy booth. Speaking of Craftsy, I have some patterns for sale on Craftsy and have a workshop based on Remy, a fun-to-work reversible cable scarf, which is also available as an individual pattern. Photos below: A student from my “Mera Shrug” class showing off her finished project; A sign with my name on it!; Me explaining cables at the Craftsy demo; Remy Reversible Cable scarf for my Craftsy Workshop (project yarn was generously provided by Lion Brand Yarns).

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IMG_3575 Remy LB 1915 logo

In March, I went to San Juan Island, WA for the Visionary Authors retreat to power up and work on my book in a very rejuvenating and symbiotic experience of support and idea-sharing with my colleagues. It was truly an enriching experience to spend a week with such a creative, intelligent, inspiring and wonderful group of people. The experience was energizing, tiring, hard and fun all at the same time. We even played knitting charades and ate wonderfully prepared foods by our caterer Deb Nolan. Sarah Anderson, Deb Robson and I even went on a short field trip to a local alpaca farm. Photos below: leaving the island on the ferry; A cutie from the alpaca farm 

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In April, I participated in Yarn Crawl LA, LA County’s first-ever yarn crawl, by being a sponsor. Some of my activities included donating lots of patterns for the prize baskets, trunk shows and brioche knitting demos at Alamitos Bay Yarn Company and Knit Culture. Photos below: a hat trunk show at Alamitos Bay Yarn Company; knitting a secret project with Slipped Stitch Studios mascot Woolfred; teaching brioche knitting at Knit Culture

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Healthwise, I have not been great at all. I had to have uterine surgery a few days before Christmas. For the last 9 months, I’ve been dealing with very acute allergies and really really bad eczema flares on a daily basis. The burning and itching on my skin is unbearable and takes so much physical and emotional energy just to stay sane. With the burning, itchy, dry skin and lotioning 100x a day, it’s been nearly impossible to function or knit, but I trudge along the best as I can and I’m amazed that I even got anything accomplished. I have to earn a living and feed myself afterall. The most frustrating this is that I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do for it and I still don’t know the cause. I’ve tried everything. So far acupuncture and avoidance of allergy-causing foods (that I know of and have identified) have been the best. I feel much better now, but my case is still considered acute and I’ve got a long ways to go. Photos below: my arms very very inflamed and full of hives from severely acute eczema and as red as my Danskos; my inflamed leg; My talented artist sister drew me 2 very cute cards commemorating the loss of my uterus.

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And finally, a few teasers on some projects that have to remain secret for the most part:

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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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If you know me, I don’t do malls. I hate them. The curmudgeon in me hates all the crowds, the teens, the overabundance of stuff and the over-sensory assaults. I only go to malls when I absolutely have to, like I can’t get what I need from smaller stores or the internet, or when my in-laws are here. My in-laws always shop when they are here, and the good daughter-in-law in me takes them to malls if they want to go. Of course, I avoid giant malls like South Coast Plaza at all cost.

Anyway, I’ve managed to avoid malls the last 2 times the in-laws were here. That means that I had not set food in a traditional mall in over 3 years. However, on Dec. 4, I made an exception.

I went to the Main Place Mall in Santa Ana for the first time ever in the 8 years I’ve been living in Orange County. I went to participate, volunteer and help out at a knit-a-thon event for the Susan G. Komen foundation. The event was hosted and sponsored by Spa Gregories, which is selling all the donated goodies at their stores and they will in turn over the proceeds to the Komen foundation for breast cancer research.

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My friend Marie, who is sporting her latest finished knit, which is one of my patterns: Carmen. Marie helped organize raffle prizes for participants.

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In addition to about 5-6 finished knits and 3 reversible headbands that I made, I also donated and gave away several patterns for the raffle prizes and also gave away lots of coupons for discounts off my pattern store.

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Lots of folks came out to the knitathon. There were also a few generous knitters and crocheters, who stopped by to drop off their donations even though they were not able to stay and knit. There were TONS of knitted, crocheted and stitched items on that donation table!

A reporter from the OC Register also came out to interview participants. Here’s the article.

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