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:


Amigurumi Snowman – On Inheritance

I recently found out that my grandmother, my father’s mother, the one that died of leukemia long before I ever came to be, was something of a seamstress.

My aunt tells stories of her mother walking down the main street of their small town in post-Dust Bowl Oklahoma, trailing a line of needful children, by the early 50’s, 5 in all. Without enough money to buy the latest fashions, she instead brought pen and paper and stood in front of the window displays of the department store. With just her eyes, she poured over the latest lines, a wider lapel here, an A-line hem there, making notes and drawings on her little pad as her mind worked away. And then she walked home.

She pulled apart the clothes that no longer fit, the sacks of flour that she bought in patterned fabric, and she set to work making her 2D sketches into patterns for beautiful clothes. And so her poor family never looked quite so poor. And everyone grew up with what they needed.

My maternal grandmother has always proclaimed she needs a pattern. That she’s not creative enough to making something brand new. I always believed I took more after her. After all, we both crochet. We wring our hands in the same way when we’re nervous. We have the same sweet tooth for peach cobbler in the summer and toffee peanuts come Christmas-time.

But unlike my maternal grandmother, I do make my own patterns. And I’ve always started in a very particular way: with a sketch pad and pen and my eyes. I decide what I want to create…maybe a snowman. I look at photos on the internet, I scour my imagination, and I sketch, I scribble largely incomprehensible notes, and then I grab my yarn and hook and begin.

I make the 2D image on my paper into a 3D image in my mind, and then I build my pattern, row by row, stitch by stitch.

I have always felt so disconnected from my father’s mother. I knew I had her dark, dark hair, her brown, hooded eyes. But who she was, how she lived, has always been such a mystery. But now I know I have this, too. This ability to make something from an idea, a sketch on a pad becomes a physical, beautiful object, and I see how her memory lives on through me and these little, happy things I crochet into being.

I like to hope that, were she still around, she would like me, that she would be proud of these things I create, that it would bring her joy to see her talent carried down the line.

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Want to make your own little snowman? Find the free Chill Charlie the Snowman pattern on my blog here!

Want to see more of my work? Find me on Instagram: @acassafrass or on Etsy:

Amigurumi Mermaid – On the World’s Goodness

Lately it seems easy to discount the world as ugly. It feels impossible to ignore the dangers of modern society as they’re broadcast to our simple, tribal minds in stunning, 4K Ultra HD.

But I still strive to find its goodness.

I think some of what makes our world is good is its inherent beauty. The way the waves fold against each other at high tide. How the bright gibbous moon rises fat and orange over the hills.

But mostly I think the goodness of the world is a thing we make and give to each other. Good as a verb, not a noun. Allowing a frantic motorist to merge in front of us during rush hour. Catching, gently, the lost bee that has made its way inside with a drinking glass covered with a magazine and returning her to the flowering trees outside. Listening, with true interest, to the often inane and broken stories of young children just learning to express their hearts. Putting our headphones on while gaming so our spouses don’t have to listen to the gory throes of Skyrim battle while they bake chicken in the next room.

The vast majority of the goodness of our world is made in this way. In a thousand tiny acts. A thousand little compassionate choices.

These choices are easy to make when we’re paying attention. So I strive to pay more attention.

I watch the world and its unfolding and then I do what I can to try and add to its collective goodness.

This week, I crocheted a mermaid. A small thing with a pink tail and hair as red as Ariel’s. A little toy that might one day make its way into the curious, not-yet-coordinated hands of a toddler. I know it is not a grand act. I know there are, perhaps, more efficient ways to do good, that will impact more people. But this, this amigurumi mermaid, is what I know I can do today with the tools and knowledge I have on hand. And so I make my good and send it into the world.

And I hope others choose to do the same.


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Love this amigurumi and want to make your own? This little mermaid was made with Ilaria Caliri’s fantastic Sandra the Mermaid pattern.

Want to see more of my work? Find me on Instagram: @acassafrass or on Etsy:

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.

Amigurumi Penguin

What is the shape of your spirit?

In your heart of hearts, what is the best and most honest version of your self?

I’ve always thought myself a bit of a penguin. Gawky. Squawky. Awkward on land. A bit unnecessarily proper. Prone to fade into the background; easily mistaken for someone else. An unsteady creature born of stark conditions.

But the thing about a penguin is that it’s not really made for land. A penguin is a creature of the sea. Built for cold, open water. A salt sea fisherman.

And maybe this has been my problem all along.

Waddling my way to the back of the line, tripping at each unsteady step, toppling against each strong gust. I’ve always wanted to be at home here. On land. I’m desperate to be a part of the crowd. Normal.

But maybe it’s time to admit I’m meant for other things. Return to the waiting sea. The place my graceless body becomes lithe. A bullet aimed squarely at my pelagic prey. Feed my starved spirit to bursting.

I will, clumsily, try to find my way.


This amigurumi penguin was made freehand with a US H/5.00mm crochet hook and small amounts of black, white, red and yellow cotton yarn.

Amigurumi Cactus

I am from and of the desert.

I prefer my skies wide and blue, my earth rough, dry. If love is the water of this emotional life, I, like the desert, have learned to survive on little. I make do with what I have.

There is beauty in this barren place. There is uncertainty, too. Fear. Like the cacti that fleck this brown landscape, I am blossom and spine.

I wish I could be other. I wish I could be open, like bright-faced daisies flourishing in expansive crowds, casting cheer across wild hillsides. I want to be like great sheets of blue lupine waving in meadow breeze, drinking deeply from great wells with trusting taproots.

But I was born to drought and I know the scent of brushfire. I can be only what I am. Barbed. Succulent. Alive. Blooming, fiercely, against this parched earth. Breathing the peace of this quiet place. Pulling what moisture can be found from cool morning air.

May there always be strength enough for this. To, as the saying goes, bloom where we are planted.


This amigurumi cactus was made freehand with Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn and a 5.0mm/H hook. ❤