On the Need for Art – Amigurumi Moon

And who told you you weren’t an artist? Who took that from you?

Shame on them.

Did they forget our legacy? That our bodies are made of each other, of the earth, of that great, limitless, black-diamond sky? Did they somehow miss that our very personhood, the very thing we think of as “I,” is made by the body, electric?

Maybe they forgot how good it feels, how necessary it is, to explore the internal, emotional, carnal world. Or perhaps they have learned to fear it, to cower at what is discovered of our humanity (our mortality?) in relation to the inanimate. The violent, sensual slap of hands against clay. The uninhibited joy of fingers in acrylic paint or garden soil or animal flesh. The good sorrow of the caught scent of our lost youth. The earned relief of sweat and tears and laughter. The raw, vivid, wildness of undulating hips, of our collective voices as we sing into that sparkling night.

You knew this when you came in. Clean and sure of your right to creation.

Take it back.

Don’t bow to their fear.

I don’t care if you don’t think it’s art. Of course it is. If it was born of the desire to create, made with the body, of course it is art.

Don’t ever doubt your legacy. Love the body, every body. Are we not all the inheritors of 13.8 billion years of creation?

Live like it. Sing into that unfathomable, sparkling expanse.

Take back your art.


This amigurumi moon was made with my own, personal pattern using a US F/3.75mm crochet hook and Lily Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn.

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


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 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.

On Quiet Spaces – Crocheted Poncho and Bear

Downstairs my neighbors are once again making Panlasang Pinoy garlic fried rice and the scent alone is enough to send me straight to heaven. I like to listen to them in the evenings, laughing and shouting at each other in Tagalog, or on the weekends, waking up early to blast 70’s rock and tend to the lush container garden and fairy lights that have overtaken their patio.

It’s so different from my quiet life lived just a few feet away: dinners of chicken thighs and broccolini, evenings spent reading on the couch, my cold feet tucked up under my husband’s thigh, weekend mornings spent crocheting and quietly making tea while my night owl husband sleeps almost until lunch.

I’ve given myself a hard time for my quiet, simple life. Shouldn’t I be more like my Filipino neighbors? Great big, boisterous parties that end in hilarious attempts at karaoke? First-name relationships with the rest of our small community’s neighbors? Shouldn’t I also be gregarious and outgoing and fun?

It’s taken me a long time to realize the people that have proclaimed my quiet a deficit are wrong. Because the trouble with quiet is that it leaves space for narrative, and it seems most people are quick to pour in their own insecurities.

But my quiet is not your fear or loneliness, it is not evidence of crippling shyness. It is just my quiet. It is the space I create to discover the world on my terms. To listen to the sizzle of the Panlasang Pinoy and breathe the garlic. To learn the botanical loves of my neighbors so that, come Christmas, I can walk downstairs with a plate of cookies and a sweet potted thing to add to their jungled collection.

Sometimes it is the space I create to let my friends gush about their excitement for their upcoming little ones. I feel I learn more this way. Most recently, a friend’s plans for an animal-themed nursery. But the husband wants a few touches of pink because, you know, why can’t a little girl have a little pink?

I use what I learn in my quiet to add to their joy, to amplify the dreams they have for the little girl we’re all eager to meet. In this case, I crochet a sweet, cotton poncho with a little bear hood. Perfect for little ones that fight sleeves despite the cold. And a little pink bear to match. Because every little one should have something soft to cuddle.

I love my quiet space. It’s not what everyone needs, not all the time. But when they do, I’m here. Ready to listen and absorb, and once everything has been processed, to add. Because I want the world to be a kinder, more beautiful place. And this is the way I know how to do it.


Want to make your own? This poncho is a slightly modified version of Marie of Muki Craft’s Teddy Bear Poncho pattern. The bear is a slightly modified version of J.A. Poolvos of Little Bear Crochets’s Bear Amigurumi pattern.

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

Amigurumi Llama – On Unnecessary Burdens

There is so much of our lives that is out of our control. That’s a cheerful first thought of 2018, Cass! Way to go!

But in all seriousness, I think much of my struggle in life has resulted from my misguided attempts to control the uncontrollable. I do not control whether or not someone else will enjoy my particular brand of highly sensitive, introverted, overly philosophical nerdiness. And more than that, it’s not my job to try to be what they want. I do not control the news cycle. It’s a force that exists entirely without my input. I can only decide whether or not I want to engage. I also do not control the weather or traffic or the speed of checkout cashiers.

So why put any effort into fighting against these things? It’s an untenable burden. And I often find myself exhausted.

I want to learn to let these things go. I’d rather learn to recognize the burdens that are fit to carry. Did I get any exercise today? Did I give myself breaks when I noticed I was starting to feel overworked? How is my posture? Am I breathing well?

Simple things.

I want to remember that life doesn’t have to be SO SERIOUS. It’s OK to back away from things that don’t feed your well being. Even from people, no matter how closely related. Here is your permission slip. For God’s sake woman, take it.

In short, I want 2018 to be my llama year. Hear me out! I’m going somewhere with this!

The llama is equal parts regal and goofy. She is a pack animal, strong and hardy, but too irritable to bother with trying to carry more than she can shoulder. She is social and loving, but push her past her limit? She’ll spit at you and walk away. And she’s got 3 stomach compartments from which to choose the potency of that…uh…expectoration. My hero! Everything a girl could ever wish to be.

So here we go, 2018. I hope it’s a llama year for you as well.


Want to make your own amigurumi llama? I’ve opted to provide this pattern (Lovely Lola the Llama) for free to celebrate the new year. I’d be honored if you’d check it out!

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

Amboise Cable Scarf -Peripheral Highlights

When I was a little girl, most weekends my brother and I were packed into my father’s dusty silver Ford Ranger along with an orange cooler filled with Corona beer, Diet Coke, and ham and cheese sandwiches to set off for the mountains. You see, it was my father’s greatest joy to fly. Over the years he had several Wills Wing hang gliders, a rotating selection of harnesses, packed and repacked emergency chutes, and helmets he decorated with stickers shaped like bandaids that said, “Stupid Hurts.”

Mostly I hated these trips. The long drives. The too-warm American cheese. The boring expanse of hours that could not be fully filled by books or doodling or my brother’s incessant company while my father lived his dream in the sky.

But I learned things.

Like when my father finally returned to the ground as the sun began to arc low across the dusty, Southern California horizon, there would sometimes be a faded point of light just to the left or right of the sun. “Sun dog,” my father told me from behind his great, big sunglasses and mussed mop of thick, dark hair, “or parhelion. Caused by ice crystals high in the atmosphere.”

I liked this. Not just the scientific explanation, but the poetry of it. The little rainbow locked an angular distance of 22 degrees from the sun. Its beauty overshadowed, but also made possible, by the greatness of the sun.

I try to think this way about big things in my life. The great, overpowering, stressful things that hog all my anxiety and attention. Like the holidays.

This year my husband and I are hosting his family. There’s gifts to buy, decorations to put out, a meal to plan and create, seating to arrange, all on top of the creative pressures of doing my craft for a living (fulfilling orders, making donations and gifts). It’s easy to allow the great force of this holiday pressure to crowd the sky of my mind.

But like the little girl in the dusty field watching her father pull batons out of the wings of his glider, I’ve learned to look 22 degrees to the right or left, to find the little beautiful things that so often accompany such great stress.

My Etsy sales this year now entirely finance my yarn habit. This is an exceptional gift. With orders and donations completed, I now no longer have to feel bad about heading into my favorite yarn shop and purchasing two skeins of $30 luxury, fingering weight yarn. Just for me; just because I want it. I can head home, after the gift wrapping but before the cooking, play Bing Crosby’s White Christmas on repeat, and make something lovely and extravagant and frivolous just for me. Because, despite the planning and organizing and overpowering grunt work that goes along with the holidays, it also makes this gift and this moment in time for myself, possible.

A cabled scarf in glittering, variegated green yarn. Warmth and beauty and light.

When things seem too big to handle, don’t forget to look 22 degrees to the left or right. Sometimes beautiful things are just waiting for you to notice them.


Want to make your own Amboise Cable Scarf? Find Noelle Stiles’s pattern on Ravelry here.

Yarn is Anzula Nebula in Keola.

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

Amigurumi Sunflower Doll – On Light

Normally I lament the winter’s early dying sun, but this year I find myself embracing it.

I like the way the old amber streetlights come on, all at once, a shimmering chorus, after the sun dips into the ocean. I like, too, the multi-colored Christmas bulbs that come on more slowly, as each neighbor makes his or her way home. But mostly I like the evergreens as they peek out, bedazzled and glittering in their holiday finest, from behind half-drawn curtains and through the open slats of Venetian blinds.

I’m reminded of that old Edith Wharton quote, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” And this time of year I often find myself wondering, which am I?

I suspect that I’m meant to want to be the candle, the bulb, the shimmering chorus. But if I’m honest, I’m not one to burn. I wouldn’t make much of a David. I seek no Goliath. And I would, most assuredly, as Dylan Thomas warned against, “go gentle into that good night.”

But in the dark hours of this season, I do not lack for light.

There is a stack of gifts by the bookcase that sparkle with string lights. Birch branches on the mantel that glow. Candles that flicker in the fireplace.

Just enough to read by, to crochet by, to create the little dolls and toys and delights of the season. Little gifts and reminders of our reflected goodness. And this season that is enough for me.


Want to make your own sweet little sunflower doll? This amigurumi was made with Bas den Braver’s adorable Sunflower Sam pattern. Find all of his work on his website: zabbez.com.

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

Amigurumi Doxie – On the Cost of Beauty

From the top of my green flecked hill the setting sun is as yellow and fat as a fried egg yolk. The sky that surrounds it creamy as orange sherbet veined with a swirling raspberry ribbon of clouds. 

Terrible things can appear beautiful, given enough distance.

People the world over marvel at the loveliness of a Southern California sunset, but only locals know the price: the smog, the windblown dust, the smoke and ash and ember that rise from the wailing hillsides to scatter the dying sun’s light to this enchanting creamsicle rainbow.

And with enough distance it does seem beautiful. But a body, born and raised in these hillsides, can feel fire in the air before it strikes. Our noses finely tuned to the differences between the woodsmoke of a cozy fireplace, a backyard barbeque, flaming brush.

And what can be done? It is in the nature of these hills to burn. While we all danced in relief at last year’s rain, we knew this would be the cost.

And what can be done? But to watch the horizon and mourn? To pray the howling winds ease and spare our northern neighbors? To wait for news of damage and what is needed of those of us whose only saving grace is that we happen to live just a couple hours further south?

What can be done?

From the top of my green flecked hill the air smells old and ravaged, but her face is made up in the finest rouge. She is beautiful. A glowing sherbet rainbow. And horrible. Made of ember and dust.

And I can only behold her. And wait.


In distressing times, craft can be a welcome relief from anxiety. Need a productive distraction from the worries in your life? Find this pattern (Dachshund Sam) from Stip & Haak at their website: http://stipenhaak.nl

Looking to help the victims of the Thomas Fire in Ventura County? Consider checking out the Thomas Fire Fund, a joint effort from the United Way of Ventura County, American Red Cross of Ventura County, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services. If you’re an animal lover like me, you might also consider checking out the Humane Society of Ventura County, which has taken in hundreds of animals since Monday as a result of the fires.

Amigurumi Harp Seal Pup

In December the sun goes down and the lights go up. Store entrances chime with little gold bells and the smell of pine and sugar cookies and cold, damp concrete transform me into the small girl I sometimes forget that I still am.

That little girl loves this time of year. She loves the feel of a warm mug in her cold, gloved hands. She loves to walk through the neighborhood in the early dark and marvel at the candy cane colored lights. She especially loves picking at the glitter that falls in a soft ring around the base of the tree and sneaking off to the forgotten places to hunt for unwrapped gifts.

I love what it feels like, the memory of her. I love the lightness of her being. The strength of her joy. Her delight in small and simple things.

I think she would like me, this person we have become. I think she would inhale my toffee bars and lick her lips after every sip of the hot chocolate I make with whole milk warmed on the stove. I think she would want to touch every glittering ornament and peek through every craft box stuffed with yarn and ribbon and shining beads.

On Christmas morning, I think she would want to run her hands over each well packaged gift and light up when she found one that had her name. I think she would love my amigurumi, especially this one, a harp seal pup, her favorite, and wonder at all the things my (our) creativity can call into being.


Want to make your own? I’ve made my Huggable Hugo the Harp Seal Pup amigurumi pattern available free here on my blog. Click the link to check it out!

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

Photographing Southern Utah – Desert Perspectives

I like desert places. Places where life is scrappy and small and leaves bare the raw geology of the earth.

In southern Utah there is a place that has been molded by ancient seas, its sediments crushed to stone by time. An old place uplifted by tectonic forces and cut back by the Virgin River. The native peoples called this place Mukuntuweap, Straight Canyon. The Mormons declared it Zion, a word with a complicated etymology, perhaps from the old Hebrew for Dry Place.

And it is, a straight canyon, a dry place. But most importantly for me, it is a refuge from the busy, overstimulated modern world.

The rocks here are, at times, red as fresh blood, orange as overripe squash, yellow as the surrounding dying leaves. What life can be found clings to the bare cliffs, huddles close to the Virgin River as she winds her way south. The air is dry and thin, especially as you climb your way up to the rim of the canyon.

It is a place to feel small, to breathe stillness, to listen for the faraway sounds of water, the rustle of deer in the grass, the chatter of the ravens. Things that were here long before you ever came to be; things that will remain long after. It is a place to feel a part of this earth, this brief moment in time, before we too must return to the sand, our small lives crushed and forgotten by time.

Amigurumi Reindeer – Good November

November brings gray skies so thick even our brilliant sun can’t break them. She brings the first of the bare trees, frozen in waiting, for better times. She trails the spiced scent of woodsmoke, a warm relief, but also a reminder, of brother October’s hungry wildfires.

In this way, she seems to slow the turning of the world, to give pause, and I think this is why I love her most.

Whatever this life we have is for, it is often hard, for every one of us. We move so quickly, grow old so fast, cause wounds despite our best intentions.

Gray November reminds us to breathe. She strips the old and unneeded, washes us clean with her rain, brings the long, cold nights needed for introspection. And perhaps for you a good night is entirely different, but for me, the best nights are amber-colored and wrapped in fleece. They strike just the right tone for all my deepest loves: jasmine tea, chocolate brownies, ambient music piped through earbuds, books filled with plucky heroines and magic, and, of course, crochet.

The start of this November brought me the opportunity to test my favorite amigurumi designer’s latest pattern: a little reindeer with a striped scarf. It was a joy, to sit in lamplight, rocked to contentment by quiet music, and create. The finished product is a perfect, optimistic look to the weeks ahead as the weather cools and the holidays near. And I thank good November, for the nights only she can provide, that allowed me such a gift.

Hans Vertical

Want to crochet your own little reindeer with a striped scarf? This little guy was made with Ilaria Caliri’s latest pattern. He’s not out just yet, but be sure to check for updates, and all other pattern selections at her website: airalidesign.com.

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

Sugar Skull Vader Mask – The Magic of Halloween

I love Halloween. I love the cool evenings that grow strong with the early dying sun. I love the pumpkins and the loose leaf litter made crisp by falling humidity. I love the flirtation with magic. With true magic.

Sometimes coming of age is described as the letting go of magical ideas. At least for me, it has been more about learning where magic truly lies.

Not in spells cast by green faced crones. Not shot from mangled wands. Not shouted by gray haired wizards to towering beasts across cavernous divides, but made, instead, by the imaginings of our beautiful, wonderful human minds.

There is magic created by the grandmother baking cookies. It lies not just in the chemistry of caramelization, but also in the practiced movements of her hands, the years of knowledge she has amassed in fussing with her stove, selecting her preferred flour, in the songs she sings as she moves about her kitchen.

And there is magic in Halloween. Perhaps not the magic we feared as children, of the ghost that haunts the second floor of the empty house down the street or the greedy goblins that wait for us in the yawning sewer grates, but instead in how we put it all together. Halloween does not exist without us. It lives and dies by our will and action. It is brought to life by our creative conjurings.

There is magic in the imagination that pulls from the wide world of possibility a single costume idea: Sugar Skull Vader. There is magic in the extreme human cooperation involved in the setting up, stocking, and running of the costume shop that will sell a $13 plastic Vader mask for just two months and then disappear until the same time next year. There is magic in the artist that can see what else that mask can become, and then pulls out her drawer of acrylic paints, makes a selection of her favorite candy colors, and begins the hard work of creation.

And there is magic in the process of painting. The water cup, half full. The paper towels folded just so. The laying out of brushes. One for lining, one for stippling, one for filling everything in. The palette loaded with dollops of paint that bleed into one another and merge.

And when it is done, there is magic in the holiday itself. In the ways we collect together and celebrate our creativity. It the little chocolates and the kettle corn we pass around and devour. In how we try out different ways of being, and the next day, return to the lives we have always known, as though the day of magic never was, only to be returned to the same time the next year, when we will find new things to imagine, to create, to try on for just one day. Again and again.


This sugar skull Vader mask was painted freehand using a selection of Craft Smart acrylic craft paints and a basic Vader mask, which can be found (at least in California) at Spirit Halloween.

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