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 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:

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

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:

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:

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:

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

Amigurumi Fox – On Making the Best of Things

The year I turned eight my parents split for good. It was a difficult time in its way. But it also had its own kind of magic.

My mother decided to be the one to leave what was once the family home, opting instead to pack my brother and I up to housesit for a colleague in what we in Riverside call the Wood Streets.

The Wood Streets occupy an area of Old Riverside. The streets are narrow. The houses well spaced and small. And everywhere the trees. Deciduous and towering, they cast the well kept homes in a charmed, dappled light. The particular house we lived in was smaller than most, just two tiny bedrooms, so my brother and I had to share a futon in what my mother’s colleague used as an office. But the home smelled of years of well-cooked dinners, the floors were made of real wood buffed to a gloss, and the windows were wide and bright and open.

When we arrived there were two goofy golden retrievers to greet us. They loved everything and I loved them, often sneaking to the backyard to bury my face in their soft, yellow fur. I loved my time with them the most, lying on my back in the brown soil, watching the orange leaves break away from their mother trees and drift into the soft piles that lined the white, wooden fence.

I think it was this that spared me the excessive heartache I heard about from so many friends who shared my fate. The yellow dogs, the orange leaves, the brown soil, the white fence. The time alone to be a child. To play. Like a crafty little fox, to sneak around and steal away the hours of my time in a narrative of my own making, in the charmed little house cast in dappled light.

I have loved this time of year ever since.


Want to make your own crafty little amigurumi? I have opted to provide my Fearless Fausto the Fox pattern for free to celebrate my favorite time of year.

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

Amigurumi Elephant – On Forgetting

Generally, death comes to us first through the elderly. A grandparent, a distant relative, an older neighbor passes on and we learn what it truly is to lose someone. We learn what it means for someone we knew to never come back.

That’s not how it worked for me. Perhaps because I was raised on a social island by introverted parents. Perhaps because my own grandparents, who lived so far away, were so long-lived. But death came for me first just after college. I was not quite 22, living in Los Angeles, and visiting my father in Riverside for the weekend when my boyfriend called to let me know that Joe had died.

Joe. Joe who would be turning 23 in less than a week. The Joe I had known since I was so small our gatherings involved button-mashing Mortal Kombat tournaments and crackers slathered in butter and grape jelly for snack. The Joe that years later taught me how to make a proper margarita (always way more tequila than you’d think) and who I had always looked up to because he was a year older than me at a time that that one year seemed like an eternity. And because he had always radiated a kindness that so many don’t.

I remember most the feeling that there had been some sort of mistake. That of course Joe hadn’t died, because I’d written on his Facebook wall that morning. Even while seated at his memorial, watching pictures of him scroll by while music played. It all seemed a kind of terrible, strange dream.

This year marks ten years since Joe died. It still feels like a kind of dream. In fact, he does visit on occasion while I sleep. Even after all this time. Always the same 22-year-old boy with blue eyes and dark, curly hair. My first question is always why we were all told he died. As though he was so special he was spirited away to some top secret project, or whisked away into witness protection until it was safe to return to us.

This year, on the anniversary of his passing, while all of us who knew him take a moment to remember the goodness of his life, I notice that I have stopped looking up to him. That so much time has passed that he now seems a boy to be cherished, rather than the elder to be looked up to.

I notice, too, that the memories have become hazier. Distorted. Like a record that has been played too many times.

I realize that I am forgetting. That a remembered moment or a story shared brings first a smile and then the pang of loss, while for so long it has been the other way around. I realize that all of us who knew him have become such different people. That we walk such a different earth. And that even in my mind, my heart, he is becoming different. A photocopied version of himself.

And I think this is good. The forgetting. The moving on. I think he would have wanted us all to grow older and more complicated. I think he would have wanted the memory of what happened to fade as well. For the hurt to become smaller, or at least to have its hard edges worn down smooth like river stone.

You would have been a good man, Joe. So much better than most of us. Like the proverbial elephant, I will never forget that. I will always believe the world would be better with you in it. I will always mourn this truth. Bye again, Joe. For the rest of my years, I will always be saying goodbye.


This amigurumi elephant was made using Stephanie Jessica Lau’s English translation of Japanese artist, Chisachi Kushima’s pattern. Find Stephanie’s free English translation on her All About Ami blog here.

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

Simple Amigurumi Succulent – Multiplying Joy

I spent the better part of my Sunday on the floor of my garage with blackened hands and a paring knife.

Technically speaking, any invasive action to a plant’s root system should take place during a period of inactive growth. For aloes, this is apparently late winter or early spring, but my mother plant had been a busy woman, and she sat, full to bursting in her green and cracking pot, with ten healthy pups ready to branch out on their own.

It was time.

And because I live in a second floor apartment, I have no hose or backyard space to do the easy work of washing down roots for separation…thus the garage floor and the blackened hands.

I must admit I was very content in the silence of the small concrete box that comprises my garage. Clawing my hands through the rich soil, shooing the spiders and other miscellaneous arthropods to the dark corners behind the plastic tubs of Christmas ornaments and camping supplies.

It’s a delicate job, pulling away the dirt, separating the tangled root mass into neat plaits, and finally, with a sharp, sharp knife, cutting the new life away from the old, wrapping it gingerly in old newspapers (as my grandmother taught me to do with her iris bulbs) and waiting for the oozing cut to callous and be ready for a pot of its own.

I love this about succulents. That when one is happy, well nourished, it will multiply itself, generating clones to share in its satisfaction with the world. I love that I can buy a little plant in a brown plastic pot from Home Depot for $4.99 when I’m feeling down in the dumps, and in two years send the happy offshoots I have nourished into the homes of friends and loved ones. I like the feeling that we are all sharing in the same joy. That we are connected by the happiness of this thing that loved its life so much it became more.

I try to use it as a reminder that, though it may take exceptional time, I can make joy out of sorrow. That life can flourish in my careful attention. That, in my quiet way, even with blackened hands, I can be a propagator of simple joys.


This amigurumi cactus was made using my own pattern and small amounts of Caron Simply Soft yarn.

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

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:

Amigurumi Teacup – On the Need to Burn

This has been a rough one, this week. This damn week. I have just enough energy for a cup of tea (loose leaf jasmine green) and solitude. Perhaps time spent here, on my apartment balcony, in the plastic chair that was made to look like wicker, will smooth my rough edges. Perhaps the afternoon sun on my bare toes and the rustling of the thirsty trees, the warm tea settling into my belly, will bring me toward a place of ease.

The hills behind my childhood home burned last weekend. I am used to fire (Southern California must sometimes burn to feed herself) but I am not used to it coming for the places that house my memories.

The Blaine fire, named for my childhood street, burned quick, quick, climbed the face of the first wild hills I ever ventured into, and reached, hot and angry, for the homes on the other side.

If you live in a place that burns, you know the sound of fire, the sirens, the collective wailing scream. You know to expect the rough beat of the choppers as they race across the sky with great buckets loaded with retardant, red like new blood. You know to watch for the pink spray that falls in great arcs from the sky and scars the untouched edges.

You know that tomorrow you will wake to a Martian landscape. You know the retardant will mix with the morning dew and coagulate on wilted, ruddy lawns. You know to expect the ash that will fall like black snow and coat the remaining beautiful things (the flowers, the ripe citrus, the bright tile of a backyard pool) in a thin film of death. You know there will be mourning through the long winter as you hike the black earth past the husks of great trees you knew as saplings.

But you also know the spring will bring shoots so fiercely green it almost hurts to behold them. You know what has managed to hold onto life will grow, fat and vital, to take the place of what was lost.

I expected this as I watched the video online.

What I didn’t expect was to also watch my country burn. To see faces, twisted, lit as they were in the mocking, happy amber light of tiki torches. Giddy, as they lapped at old, festering, hateful wounds. I didn’t expect to watch, helpless, as they marched quick, quick into a history I think many of us had fooled ourselves into believing we had long since left behind, and reached, bitter and spiteful, for a false enemy fashioned from their own ignorance.

I do not know what to expect in the tomorrow of this. I do not know how to walk this burnt earth, to mourn. I don’t know if I can have faith in the coming spring.

But perhaps my country, like my childhood hills, needs to burn to grow. Perhaps this is an opportunity for us to educate ourselves, especially those of us who are white, on history and power structures and race relations and violence. To break through old myths, to feel the uncomfortable, unwanted feelings that may come up, to tell the truth, ugly as it may be. To burn.

And then to watch and hope with all our might for those first green shoots of Spring.


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This amigurumi teacup was made freehand with a US F/3.75mm crochet hook and small amounts of Sugar ‘n Cream cotton yarn. Facial details are cut from felt and hand-sewed.

Amigurumi Koala – On Human Contact

You can hide in the shade of a blue umbrella on the soft sand. You can lie back on the oversized towel that’s been through too many washings and listen to the laughing and the crashing and the crying of gulls.

Or you can take the small hand that has offered itself to you. Race tiny feet to the place where the sand cools and becomes solid before it is taken in smooth sheets by water that feels more like ice. You can marvel at the small, warm body that races toward the waves that tower in the distance. You can call over the crash, “Not too deep! Not too deep!”

You can stand, arms outstretched to receive the now chilled flesh, squealing with delight. Lift it to your chest. Breathe the sunscreen and salt. Feel the grit of loose sand on small fingers that clasp themselves around your neck. Let yourself be rocked by the passing waves, toes tickled by bubbles that burst in the sunshine.

You can repeat this exercise. Releasing the body to the water. Lifting it high when it returns. Tumbling, laughing. Until the water is warm and the sun has shifted low and it is time to return to the soft sand and the overwashed towels.

You can take it with you. The trust of the small body that held itself to you against the tide. Grasped you, koala-like, as though you were the great tree from which it feeds. The warmth of flesh on flesh. The soft sand that you will find between your toes a physical marker of this memory.

Take it with you.


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Want to make your own? This is an upsized version of Mariska Vos-Bolman’s cute koala amigurumi pattern.

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