Archive for the ‘misc babble’ Category

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.

Right side 3 Right side wall 1

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 haven’t had a chance to touch my knitting, other than organizing some of it, for weeks. I’ve been organizing, tossing things and cleaning like a mad woman to get our house for sale. Right now, I also have family visiting…my dad and stepmom are here helping me buy a home in the meantime with plans to move in together so that I can help care for him and stepmom as they age. I’m very lucky that my family is able to help me out like this so that my transition back to singledom is easier. I also have a cousin visiting here from Australia for the first time. So, it’s been a non-stop process for the last 4 weeks. I really can’t wait until this process is over so that I can resume working again. I have some major upcoming knitting-related projects that I must focus on, such as a project for Knit Culture’s Studio Club and something for a yarn company.

Another benefit of my dad’s visit: homegrown and home-dried persimmons and the yummiest and sweetest pommelos you’ll ever have.

So sad. :( having allergy issues w/ persimmons. Can't eat any of dad's homegrown and dried persimmons. #stupidallergies #boo Mmm. My dad brought me some of his homegrown super sweet pomelos and persimmons. #yum

I hope all the hard work on the house pays off. The market is getting better, but it’s not great. It’d be nice to get more out of the house so that I can have a nice fresh start. If my house wasn’t 2 stories and didn’t have a pool, I’d try to buy it out from the ex. I really love this house, especially since I put so much sweat into it, from designing a new master bath layout, to painting all the ceilings + walls, to my favorite — bamboo floors. However, if the plan is to have a home that is friendly and accommodating to aging seniors, then a 2-story home is certainly not the most ideal.

I don’t have pictures of my new office (converted from the ex’s very messy office, and sadly, not one I can use for long) or my craft room, but perhaps I’ll put up those pics later. From top to bottom, then left to right: house front, kitchen, kitchen nook, back of house, master bedroom, guest bedroom, front balcony, family room, dining room, living room.

house front
kitchen kitchen 2 pool
master guest1 front balcony

family room dining living

Did you spot the spinning wheel? Can you identify it? 😉

In knitting news, like I said, I haven’t done much due to the house and family consuming all of my time. However, I did manage to wind up the Sweet Georgia Superwash DK yarn that I’m using for a design for Knit Culture‘s Studio Club (awesome yarn club, subscription info here) and do some initial brainstorming and concept sketches. My initial attempt to wind the yarn ended up in a bit of yarn barf…I was trying to wind it on my knees at a cafe.

Winding yarn off my leg made yarn barf, made worse by the most awful singer at this open mic night. #myearshurt initial design concept

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Blog Face Lift

Does the blog look different to you? I gave it a long-overdue face lift!

My website is getting redesigned as well, so the blog may change later to be more in-line with the overall site look. However, I just couldn’t stand looking at the old black background and gray text in the previous blog template. Ugh. Anyway, because I changed templates, some of the formatting in my older posts (especially photos and photo descriptions) might be a little off. Please forgive me for that.

Diet Face Lift

In other news, I’ve been gluten-free for over 3 months now. I’m seeing incredible improvement to my skin. I definitely is not hot, inflamed, itchy and gross like before. In fact, at first glance, most people don’t even know that my skin is still not 100%. The plus side is that I can now wear t-shirts and shorts during this hot summer heatwave! I think there’s still a long ways to go until my skin is back to “normal.” There’s still discoloration from the 10 months of inflammation as well as some residual inflammation. I also still break out in random hives 2-3 times a week, though the breakouts are no longer super intense.

Photos of my adaptation to GF cooking, Taiwanese style using veggies I can have and GF soy sauce: Left: Garlic stir-fried ong choy + rice + fish, peas and beech mushrooms; Right: Yam leaves with organic ground turkey + quinoa and rice + mushroom medley (trumpet, maitake, beech, wood ear mushrooms)

Dinner: fish with beech mushrooms, garlic stir-fried ong choy Dinner: Yam leaves w/ ground turkey, mushroom medley (trumpet, maitake, beech, wood ear) & quinoa+rice #yummy

I still find the whole ordeal incredibly frustrating though. My list of can’t-have foods is long and extensive. Even the nutritionist with whom I was consulting had no ideas for me. She and her department head were not able to suggest any new foods or ideas that I wasn’t already doing or couldn’t have. She was mystified when I sent her my excel spreadsheet with a log of those no-no foods.

Photo: My first recipe experimentation – Gluten-Free Lemon Coconut Cookies. I’m still tinkering with it. When I’ve got it *just* right, I’ll share the recipe on the blog.

Lemon-coconut cookie experiment 2; 8 dozen, 2 batches. Different texture than the 1st experiment. #glutenfree #yummy

Thankfully, I have several friends who are also gluten-free and they’ve offered me some suggestions. One cookbook suggestion is The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen. I was also referred to the blogs Gluten-Free Girl and FrannyCakes. When I was researching books, I decided to buy The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guides 1 and 2 and have found the books to be simple and informative — great for a beginning GF baker like myself. The one thing that I have NOT yet gotten used to is the idea and fact that gluten-free baking and cooking is not always going to taste like what you expect and are used to from gluten-containing foods. For example, while I am no stranger to rice pastas due to my ethnic heritage, spaghetti with rice pasta is just not the same, and neither are GF potstickers. It’s just simply a different animal altogether. Pepe LePew can pretend to be a cat and love cats all he wants, but he will still be a cute little skunk. (Not that GF foods are skunky, smart asses.)

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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.

sale general

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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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,


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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