On Loving – Amigurumi Octopus

Don’t take it for granted, your capacity to give and receive love.

Do you know what a learned skill it is? To be vulnerable before another? To accept (wholly) the tangled heap of another’s humanity? Do you know how difficult it is to be gentle in the face of our faults?

Love may be as essential to our nature as thirst, but the giving and receiving of it? This is as learned a skill as the building of fire.

What I’m saying is you can get better at it.

I’m also saying it’s a precious thing, easily broken and ravaged and passed down the generations.

And if this is your legacy (as it was mine), I’m saying you can repair it.

It will take more time than you want to give it (years, years, years). It will be your most difficult feat. You will need to ask for help. You will need to be humble in the face of your ignorance. And the worst of it, you will need to accept that the better at this you become, the more alien and threatening you will be to the ones who still live with the broken and ravaged thing.

You may need to let them go.

It’s OK.

It’s OK.

I promise, it’s OK.

Because now you have this skill, this loving. And it pulls all the loving things toward it. Eventually, (again, it will take years, years, years) your life will be filled with it, brimming.

I’m saying it’s worth it. I’m saying be fearless. I’m saying you should give it your everything.


Want to make your own amigurumi octopus? This guy was made with Kate E. Hancock of Patchwork Moose’s Claude the Octopus pattern, which can be found here.

Want to see more of my work? Find me on Instagram: @handcraftingalife or on Etsy: etsy.com/shop/lascosaschiquitas.


On Grief – Amigurumi Bee

My husband’s grandfather passed away recently and I found myself surprised at the depth of my own sadness.

It didn’t feel unfair, after all, he was granted 99 years. What a gift! It didn’t feel sudden, we had all watched him fold into himself these last few years, a withering blossom. I wasn’t even particularly close to him. Just visits on holidays. Shared meals. I tried to smile a lot. He never could hear my soft, high voice above the din of old age.

But Jack Willett never forgot my birthday. He sent cards, sweet, pretty things often from the Audubon society. He accepted me wholly into his brood, simply because his beautiful grandson, Carlos, loved me and wanted me there. He seemed to delight in our union, in my presence. And that was a big deal to me, a person whose birth and struggles and accomplishments have not been celebrated or acknowledged by her own family in years.

It was Jack’s desire to go without ceremony, and so there was no funeral. Instead I found myself often in the park, usually with a book, always with a cup of iced tea, sitting in the grass weeded through with blooming clovers, letting the sun do its slow healing work.

Mary Oliver has a poem about Franz Marc’s painting, Blue Horses. There is one line that has stuck with me all these years, burned itself down into my bones. In it she says, “Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually. Maybe the desire to make something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us.”

Jack was not perfect, none of us are. He was not particularly religious, and neither am I. But he was a kindness in my life, he gifted me beauty and acceptance, and in doing so, I like to think that we shared some of the holy magic of what it is to be human.

And now he is gone. There is a rawness around that hole in my heart. And I, still in the bloom of my life, can only wait with my sadness until it is light enough to carry, hope for the day it becomes small, like a bee, its buzzing joining the sad and beautiful song of my life that follows me always.


Want to make your own amigurumi bee? This little guy was made with Holly of Storyland Ami’s Burt the Baby Honeybee pattern, which can be found for free on her blog here.

Want to see more of my work? Find me on Instagram: @handcraftingalife or on Etsy: etsy.com/shop/lascosaschiquitas.

On the Fragile and Out of Place – Amigurumi Fox Doll

When I was a very little girl my mother took me to a place called Apple Tree Learning Center for preschool.

I remember snippets. The chain link fence overgrown with honeysuckle. The naptime cots and their green fabric liners we decorated with puffy paint. The wooden kennel on the playground lined with sawdust where an iridescent and irascible peacock lived. The static-lined plastic yellow slide my friend Lyndsey would race down so quick her short blonde hair would stand on end.

And I remember the girl everyone was afraid of. I remember her blue eyes and her plump face and the colorful scarves she’d wear around her head, tied by her mother just so, so you could still see the sparkle of the studs in each of her ears.

Our teachers told us she had cancer, but how much does a little one really understand of that? All we knew was that she was strange, often gone for weeks at a time, prone to tearing off her scarf to reveal her perfectly round, bald head when the boys got to picking on her.

I remember thinking her head resembled something of an onion. Or maybe, more accurately, the wispy, round iris bulbs my grandmother sent my mother in our Christmas box, gently wrapped in newspaper and dusted with red Oklahoma soil. Fragile and out of place.

I was afraid to be near her. To talk to her. Especially to touch her. They tell you cancer isn’t catching, but what does that really mean?

But I did it anyway. And I don’t remember why. Maybe pressure from my mother or my teachers. I just remember knowing it was the right thing to do, to be her friend, even if my heart was racing and the boys were mocking and I fell asleep afraid all the hair would fall from my head.

I think about her sometimes when I make amigurumi dolls. It’s the heads. They all go through a stage, before you add the hair or the hat or the hood, where they’re just an onion bulb. Fragile and out of place.

I don’t remember her name. I don’t remember if she was younger or older than me. The place that was once Apple Tree Learning Center is now abandoned. The old vines brown and sparse. The peacock kennel now just a scar in the ground.

I do wonder if she made it. Certainly she was fierce enough. Smart and wily. How many people do you know who would rip off their hair scarf to frighten off a pack of unruly boys? Looking back, I think her brief time in my life was my first proof that life is not fair, not kind, not always beautiful.

Each time I stitch up an onion bulb, I remember, and I hope she’s still around to prove me wrong.


Want to make your own amigurumi doll? This foxy gal was made with Lydia Tresselt’s Fibi Fox pattern. Find all her wonderful patterns on her Etsy: Lalylala.

Want to see more of my work? Find me on Instagram: @acassafrass or on Etsy: etsy.com/shop/lascosaschiquitas.

Amigurumi Pansy – On Doing Things Differently

In the winter of 2008 I lived a boxed life. The apartment I shared in West LA with my husband (then boyfriend) was a white cube just under five hundred square feet. I left that cube every morning just after 7 to hop the red brick 704 bus into Century City. I then exchanged that red brick for a glass and concrete slab off Century Park East that, 5 floors up, housed my little cubicle where I helped people fill out boxes on forms that might, one day, help them become American citizens. Then at 6pm every evening, I packed myself up and took my series of boxes home.

Every day for two years, I lived my little boxed life. It’s hard to overstate how incredibly important this was to me. I actively worked to be average. I wanted, more than anything, a safe, stable existence. I thought this was the only way to be good, the only right way to…be. I had no other model for how to live a respectable life.

But none of it was ever going to work out, because I could never quite cram myself into that perfect, little box.

There were hints. As February rolled around my boyfriend and I made reservations for a nice Italian place up off Westwood Boulevard. Because isn’t that what you’re supposed to do for Valentine’s Day? Dinner and drinks at an upscale restaurant?

Night of we hopped in the car, dress in rumpled, work-worn faces and our best clothes, and began the ascent up Wilshire.

After an hour of exhaust fumes and honking we’d made it three blocks (I don’t ever miss you LA), and I…a little bit…lost it.

I knew I was supposed to want the fancy dinner with the white table cloth and the single red rose, but for the life of me I couldn’t understand why. This was not a box that was making me happy. What I really wanted was jeans and flip flops and what I could see just out the window: Fatburger.

So I cried, raged a little at the traffic (I know, SO DRAMATIC), and then stepped out of my carefully crafted box to tell my boyfriend what I really wanted. Today, it seems so sad to remember how hard that moment was, how difficult it was to realize that, in that moment, I was no longer going to be able to hold down or hide my difference. My catastrophic brain thought that if I let it out, my boyfriend might no longer want me, that I might prove myself to be what I had always feared: weird and unworthy of love.

But all that happened was that we turned around and parked the car. We walked the three blocks back to Fatburger, holding hands on a cracked sidewalk lined with pots of pansies so I could prop my feet up on a plastic chair and cover my hands in grease. And you better believe that burger was goddamned heaven.

The little box of our apartment lasted just five more months. The job? Just one more year. And in the ten years since, I’ve had to over and over again learn the lesson that just because something comes in an average, safe, pretty little box, that doesn’t make it the right choice for me.

Because not all of us are roses and white table cloths. Some of us are cracked sidewalks and potted pansies. And all of it is, truly, fine.


Want to make your own mustachioed pansy? Find my free Proper Percy the Pansy pattern here.

Want to see more of my work? Find me on Instagram: @acassafrass or on Etsy: etsy.com/shop/lascosaschiquitas.

Photographing the Eastern Sierras – On the Need to Rest

Blue. Oh so blue.

The Eastern Sierras are awash in it. With snowmelt-fed lakes that spill down the mountains and leave wildflowers in their wake. With cool granite and old pines that rest on their sides and allow the beetles to slowly return them to soil. Friendly Steller’s Jays that chatter and beg for handfuls of homemade trail mix. And the great, swirling basin of sky that holds us all in.

I bathe myself in it. Scrub my mind with its jagged vistas. Pull the thin air deep into my lungs and breathe out the broken things that have made their way into my blood. I use my hands and swollen feet to guide me up peaks that leave me feeling good and small and ready.

Maybe after this I can return to my life with fresh eyes and unbroken skin. A well-fed heart ready to dream again. A renewed hope in the goodness that is waiting for me somewhere in that wide vista.

Sunny Amigurumi

I walk this earth always with a song in my heart.

While the song may change, the music never ceases. Lately, when the world is silent, Stevie Wonder and his piano sing to me.

“You are the sunshine of my life.”

Why? Why this song? Why right now?

I am not one to turn the dial to easy listening. I was born long after the seventies waved their funky goodbye. But still my mind has pulled this song from the dark recesses of my haphazard collection to spin over. I’m sure it has its reasons.

Perhaps my subconscious knows better than I what it is I need in this moment. A piano and a crooner and a happy thought.

“That’s why I’ll always stay around.”

My father has cancer. Prostate. Low stage. Noninvasive. Survivable. But still. It’s uncomfortable to see Death wave at us, even from this distance. And all this comes at a time when my relationship with my father is in shambles.

“You are the apple of my eye.”

I don’t know what the right thing to do is. And I don’t want anyone’s advice. I want it to be gone, but here it is, and I must find my way.

“Forever you’ll stay in my heart.”

Perhaps my subconscious knows better than I.

“You are the sunshine of my life.”


This sunny amigurumi was made freehand with a US 7/4.5 mm hook and worsted weight cotton yarn from Sugar ‘n Cream.