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:


Amigurumi Chicken

Endings attract reflection. In these long nights before the new year, I again find myself over-analyzing the big questions. Am I living a meaningful life? A worthwhile life?

What is it that this quivering, anxious, energetic body brings to the world? And is it good?

And I still don’t know.

But in the brightness of the short day I remember not to take it all so seriously. To appreciate the little things I have to give. The small talents that bring light. And, perhaps most importantly, the privilege of empty time in which to create.

Space to search for the place in myself where whimsy delights.

This time it finds, of all things, a plump, white amigurumi chicken. A bright blue neckerchief. A ten gallon hat. All stubby wings and chubby toes and rotund belly. I call him Sheriff McCluck. And why not?

It makes me laugh.

And shouldn’t that be enough? An ounce of humor for these black nights. Something cute and cuddly for when even the eldest among us are afraid. For just this minute, to feel a bit of ease, of peace and delight.

Perhaps meaning can be made in this way.

Happy New Year, wherever and however it may find you.


Want to make your own? I based Sheriff McCluck off of this wonderful pattern by Sarah Horrucks!

Amigurumi Reindeer

The evenings come early, draped in the sweet scents of wood smoke and pine, glittering with artificial light.

I love this time of year.

Time spent nestled deep in your warmest throw, a mug of cocoa spiced heavily with peppermint, the fireplace mantle red and gold and ready for stockings. A good time to nurture the youngest self, the small piece of you that still believes in magic, that holds tight to our oldest stories.

Holidays dusted in snow. An old man in his finery leaving brightly wrapped packages under a glowing tree. Cookie crumbs left on a pure white plate. And reindeer in flight, their telltale bells tinkling high in the breeze.

The wonderful thing about being creative is that we have the gift to bring these old stories to life. Yarn of deep, chocolate brown, gingerbread cookie beige, fresh snow white, holly berry red. Great fistfuls of polyester fiberfill and large, black buttons.

It is a kind of magic, to create a wholeness from these disparate parts. To give to yourself a token of the enchantment of childhood.

Just a little reindeer, snug in his candy cane hat and scarf. Like you, warmed by a mug of something spicy and sweet. Like you, safe, surrounded by the bright light of the season.

Dashing, isn’t he?


Want to make your own? This pattern can be found in Issue 50 of Simply Crochet. Americans be warned! All patterns are in UK terms!

Polka Bobble Beanie

Gray morning today. The kind of gray that can only be achieved by constant, biting sheets of drizzle. A world cast in television snow.

It feels apt for December. Just over a week from Christmas. A good time for reflection and solitude.

I had an anxiety relapse in July. Six years after my first serious bout. Six years of medications and therapy, meditation and yoga, self help books and art. So much work to find my health, my sanity, and still it came.

I lost three months. Swallowed. Gone. It’s difficult to make lasting memories when every waking moment feels like the catch before a fall, scrambling, searching for a foothold.

Anxiety is merciless in what it takes, how much of your attention it demands. First goes the exercise (too difficult to salute the sun when you’re so lightheaded). Then go the hobbies (not enough concentration to count stitches). Then the relationships as you retreat inside. Then you.

I felt as though trapped behind thick glass: able to see the outside world, unable to really engage.

I will say this about relapse. It keeps you humble. Hard as it was to admit, medication was my foothold. Not the yoga. Not the therapy. Not the meditation or the breathing exercises or the years of study. The pill. An absolute saving grace. Just ten milligrams of Lexapro and six weeks and I am nearly back to me. Twice shy, but me.

I dip my toe tentatively into the world. Yoga on YouTube. Brunch with friends. Therapy. Why didn’t these things protect me? Why did this happen?

What’s wrong with me?

I could get lost in the why, but I won’t. I choose gratitude. Celebration. And in this season of gifts, I give to myself the gift of creativity and return to one of my oldest hobbies. Bestowed upon me by my Dust Bowl-era grandmother, I have spent over twenty years with hook and yarn: crochet.

I choose thick, chunky skeins of black and gray. A K hook. I sit in my blue upholstered chair, pull up my pattern, stitch my little self back together. Time flows with the tick tick tick of the rain as it builds against my window. The slow, deep breaths of my tired husband. The Christmas carols plucked out by quiet pianos piping through my headphones.

Perhaps just a polka bobble beanie to you. But to me, to me a touchstone of faith. Faith in my ability to bounce back, to heal, to return to the self I had worked so hard to achieve.


Want to make your own? This pattern was designed by the talented Jessica Carey of The Hook Nook. Find her patterns at!

In the midst of your own crisis? You deserve to not be alone. The weight is lighter when shared.