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I Got Your Holiday Bonus Right HERE December 16, 2012

Posted by J. in Genius, Sticks and String.
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It’s been quite a year for me, business-wise. Last year at this time, I was pretty close to reaching my emotional rock-bottom. My Etsy shop had been languishing, though the nice thing about Etsy is that you can keep stuff there for very little cash forever if you feel like it. And that’s all it was really doing.

Then I got me some happy pills and things looked a lot brighter. And my creative mojo–among other things–came back. I was making cool stuff again and feeling good about it. I opened two more Etsy shops to show off my creations. I started writing again, more seriously and every day, and on a whim I self-published a few books, more as a vanity exercise than anything else. And more than one friend on more than one occasion asked me the same basic question: why aren’t you famous?

I deflected the question a lot, for awhile. But as so often happens with friends, I have this one friend who didn’t let it go. He really refused to accept any of my excuses as to why I wasn’t throwing my time and energy behind promoting myself. He saw money to be made and saw no reason for me to not go after it.

I had to be honest with myself, and when I figured it all out, tell him that I hate self-promotion. I mean I loathe it. With every fiber of my being, I cannot abide telling anyone how great I am. I mean, I know I got some mad skillz, yo, but talking about it for real makes me all cringe-y inside. And as so often happens with friends, he wouldn’t let me get away with that either. He may actually have said, “Suck it up, cupcake,” or something to that effect.

We also discovered together how deeply my mental block against tackling big projects goes. He started listing all the things I should be doing to promote myself: you need to have a Twitter account–make that two, one for the knitting and one for the writing. You need to have a Facebook fan page that combines all three shops. You need to be posting to Facebook every day. You need to promote something every day. You need to blog. You need to write. You need to create new things. You need to write up your patterns…

I couldn’t handle it. I cried. Twice. Made him feel bad, too. Pushy bastard.

And it got him to back off, but only a little. Only enough to regroup and come at me in a way that wouldn’t overwhelm me. He took the time and the mental energy to form a big picture of what needed to be done and then handed it to me in small bites. He never let me see the whole thing, just gave me a task to do and when it was done, praised me, and gave me another one. And he did this over and over until I was doing the things I needed to do as part of a daily routine.

It seems like a small thing when I say it that way, but make no mistake: it’s not. I’ve given up on so many things, or not even started them in the first place because I couldn’t break the big picture down into bits that I could handle. I never had anyone behind me pushing me when I didn’t want to keep going. He let me rest and whine and bitch about it when I needed to, and then he kicked my ass into gear so that I would keep going. And I’ve kept going all year long. And not once did he ever do it with anything other than good humor and calm resolve.

We started joking about his role and we kept referring to him as my PR advisor because with all the work he’s been doing to help me promote my self-image and brand myself he certainly deserved a title of some sort. But a couple of weeks ago as I was looking at my full page list of special orders that I have only because I’ve been promoting the hell out of myself at his constant and unrelenting urging, I promoted him to Vice President of Public Relations. It’s a heady title, and someday when I can afford to, I’m going to make sure Bill has a corner office and an unlimited expense account. And his holiday bonus is going to involve either the corporate jet staffed with sexually permissive and scantily clad beer wenches and  an offshore account in the Cayman Islands, or the corporate condo in Vegas full of hookers and blow. Maybe both.

So I was sitting here at my desk knitting away like a squirrel on crack working my way through my many orders, watching the Netflix on the computer. I was viewing my way through the entire series of Arrested Development when I noticed in one of the episodes that the character of Tobias Fünke had on a green sweater with a gray skull motif on it. And I wondered if such a sweater pattern existed. To the Google!

This is the cardigan in question. I'm still pretty sure I could make this, and don't think I won't.

This is the cardigan in question. I’m still pretty sure I could make this, and don’t you think I won’t, mister.

But while I was looking for that sweater, I found pictures of a plush Tobias doll that an Etsy artist made. It was glorious. I went to her shop looking for it, knowing Bill’s love of Arrested Development surpasses my own, and that his imitation of Tobias’ line “I just blue myself” is unrivaled. He needed that doll. It was going to be his Christmas bonus from me, the CEO and talent behind the Fiber Arts Empire. I could feel it. It was meant to be!

But it was not in her shop! Fuck a duck. I sat here and looked at the picture of that doll on my computer monitor and then something caught my eye. It looked something like this:

I call him Leering Bill. Long story.

I call him Leering Bill. Long story.

Leering Bill started as a plush toy.

You know where this is going, don’t you? I dove into my stash looking for some blue yarn and I set to building up those single crochets. I took a break only long enough to order a recordable voice box from Amazon–the kind you put in a teddy bear. It got here and I recorded a short 10-second clip from Arrested Development of Tobias saying the immortal lines:

I crammed it up his ass, finished him off with blue cutoffs and little felt glasses, and I have to admit, I’m pretty pleased with how it came out.

Tobias Fünke, Analrapist, never-nude, and Blue Man Group understudy. Sort of. Lovingly rendered in wool and felt.

Tobias Fünke, Analrapist, never-nude, and Blue Man Group understudy (sort of). Lovingly rendered in wool and felt.

Now here’s hoping that as the Empire grows and expands that the rest of my new hires will be as content as Bill with a bit of crocheted fuckery as a holiday bonus. At least until I can afford the hot tub full of Cristal and the cabana boys with low morals and mercenary motivations.

Merry Christmas, Bill. And thanks for all your help this year. I honestly couldn’t have done it without you. You’re a gem.



WIP Wednesday: It Came From the Deep October 3, 2012

Posted by J. in Genius, Other People's Genius, Sticks and String.
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Technically, it’s a Hexapussy, since it’s an octopus with six legs instead of the usual eight.

Here’s the deep sea critter I was working on last week. It came out even better than I had imagined it would in my head.

If there’s one thing I can say about my friend Mary, it’s that she comes up with fantastic ideas for headgear. She showed me a picture of a squid hat that someone had crocheted and asked if I could do “something like that”. Sort of a carte blanche to do with the basic idea what I will. I chose “ocean” colors and just started knitting. I kept the basic structure of a hood with a tentacle scarf, but that’s where the similarities ended. After much figuring out of things and a couple of false starts, the Hexapussy should arrive at its forever home today.

I went right from finishing the Hexapussy Hat into another dead pony hat. It’s going to look like this when it’s done:

But right now, it just looks like this:

Hanging out on top of my 12 item to-do list next to my Harrod’s knitting bag, my Hellephant picture, the Smutmaster 6000 and Leering Bill. I have my own little wonderland here.

But it’s better than what it looked like a couple of days ago when I pulled on the working yarn and instead of getting a nice, single strand, I got a pile of yarn barf.

*blllllaaaaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh* It’s pretty, but a bitcharooniedoonie to untangle.

I have a feeling I’m going to become known as The Broad Who Knits Weird Hats and Crochets Dead Things. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying. Though the next project in the queue is some pretty fingerless mittens, and a cute, crocheted doll that hasn’t been disemboweled or anything, and another pair of Norwegian mittens. But then there a Cthulhu hat too, just to keep me on track, I guess.

I also have a new pattern that’s a work in progress and if all goes well and the creek don’t rise I should have it in my Ravelry pattern shop and on Etsy by the weekend. I’ll keep you posted. It’s a masterpiece of fuckery indeed, but man, are my pattern-writing skills rusty. It was like pulling teeth to get it on paper!

Oh, and speaking of patterns, it seems I always forget that I have patterns for sale on Ravelry, probably because I seldom visit there. I was looking at hat patterns the other day and found one of mine in search and it stopped me short for a minute. I was all “I knit that hat!” And then I was like, OH YEAH. *facepalm* I’ll put a handy link in the sidebar later, but today is my 14th wedding anniversary and Mr. Poops has taken the day off. After the kids are all safely off to school, we’re going out to breakfast and then home to enjoy a brief stretch of a blessedly empty house to each other’s company with no little voices interrupting.


WIP Wednesday: Release the Kraken September 26, 2012

Posted by J. in Sticks and String.
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I know what you’re thinking: what happened to the green sweater? Answer: it’s been shelved for awhile. It’s too late in the year for a summer sweater now, so I’ll pick it up again this winter and hopefully have it ready for Spring. Custom work has been taking up most of my time and I’m not even really into holiday knitting yet.

Currently on the needles is a squid hat. Or an octopus. Perhaps a kraken. The jury is still out. My friend Mary of Dead Pony Hat fame has commissioned another chapeau for herself, this one of a squid. Or an octopus. Could be Admiral Ackbar.

The eye will be knit as well and stitched on, and if you see the bottom of the hood–the part touching the desk–that’s where the scarf will attach. The scarf will be tentacles, of course. I’ll begin casting on for that today. I’m trying to decide between octopus and squid. I’m leaning towards octopus at this point.

Or Admiral Ackbar. IT’S A TRAP.

Mary’s also got me working on a couple of other things, but because they’re secret squirrel gifties, they shan’t be discussed.

But we can talk about the ponies.

I have just finished and mailed the worst pony yet. Worse than Inverted Pony.  Did I show you that? I don’t think I did…

I said, “An inside-out rectally inverted pony is impossible, both anatomically and in the context of the medium.” I was WRONG.

My friend Bill–not St. Joseph Bill, a different, sicker, more twisted Bill–said he wanted to see a pony that had had its head pulled out of its ass.

I said it couldn’t be done.

He said, “Just DO IT.”

I sighed and got my hook out but I was dubious that it would work. I was three-quarters of the way through it still doubting it was going to work. Then, I needle felted the inside of the eyes, and I knew it was going to work. And it was going to be the grossest thing I’d ever created.

You ever needle-felted an optic nerve? I have.

And it was the grossest thing. Until someone said the words “centipede pony” and I heard a sound in my head like a needle being pulled off an LP.

If you’re not familiar with the movie The Human Centipede, I was going to say Google it, but then I realized if those words don’t bring a mental image to mind, you’re lucky. What has been seen cannot be unseen. You can follow the link if you want a visual of what I was compelled to make, but for the faint of heart (and how did you sneak in here if you’re faint of heart?) know that it’s a horror movie in which three people get surgically joined rectum to mouth.

I know. I told you not to look.

And the friend of mine who bought the original Decapitated Pony placed her order for Centipede Pony.

Now feeeeeeeeeeed her…

I wish I could say I don’t feel good about this, but this tickled me pink to make. It has been suggested that I could use a bit of therapy if creating such truly disgusting things is fun for me, but I say PFFFFFFTTTTT. It’s cheaper than therapy.

Oh, and I finished the snowflake mittens I was showing off last week.

Wool of the Andes in Coal and Wool of the Andes Tonal in Gypsy, my own pattern.

Okay, that’s all that’s cooking and hooking over here this week. Now, I must return to my creature of the deep hood/scarf hat thing. Octopus? Squid? Cthulhu?

I probably should decide pretty soon…

Badass Saint Joseph the Worker September 16, 2012

Posted by J. in Genius, Sticks and String.
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St. Joseph the Worker by Badass Saints

I made this Badass Saint for my dear friend Bill.

He asked me awhile ago if I would make a Badass St. Jude for his godmother because Jude is her favorite Saint, and of course I took the commission. But while I was working on St. Jude, I got a clear idea in my head that Bill needs a Badass Saint of his own, and the Saint that was perfect for him was St. Joseph. It came to me as a fully-formed thought in a moment of complete clarity. I had no doubts. I didn’t need to do any research of other Saints. I knew St. Joseph was for him and that I had to make it. I believe I was divinely ordered to do so, and I don’t often argue with God. Well, I do, but I usually lose, and in this case, God and I were totally on the same page.

“Poops.” Sometimes God calls me Poops. “You need to make a St. Joseph doll for Bill. He needs a little reminder in his life that when things are hard, I’m with him.”

“I couldn’t agree more, God. That’s an awesome idea.”

“Thanks, Poops. I do have them from time to time, you know.”

St. Joseph doesn’t fit my usual mold. He wasn’t a martyr. He was one of the non-showy Saints. He was very much a supporting character, but his martyrdom was of the everyday, quiet, strong, caring kind. He gave his life for Jesus by being a dad, a provider, a husband, and a protector. He was by all accounts a good and humble man, and if there was ever a perfect intercessor for Bill, it’s St. Joseph.

So I crafted him up and when he was all done, I sent him to his new home in the Pacific Northwest. Bill sent me pictures of St. Joseph at home on his shelf, probably for the first time in his life not surrounded by his Holy Family. I imagine like most hard-working family men, Joseph appreciates the peace and quiet.

While St. Joseph was never listed in my Badass Saints shop, he still got a write-up of his own because he’s awesome.

St. Joseph the Worker

In the entire Communion of Saints–and make no mistake, that’s an expansive group–few are as widely and devoutly venerated as St. Joseph.

He was a different kind of Badass.

We don’t know much about Joseph of Nazareth. When we meet him, he’s just been made the most famous cuckold of all times, by no less than God himself. He’s just found out that the sweet young thing he’s betrothed to is preggers, and has friends all around him pestering him to stone the whore. Because that’s what you did back then. But Joseph didn’t roll that way. He was planning to break off the betrothal, call the whole thing off and just forget about it.

But then he talked with an angel. Discussed it. The angel told him to calm the fuck down and marry the girl. No, the baby’s not his, but God’s got big plans for that baby, and that baby needs a daddy. So man up and get in the game. And Joseph did.

We all know what happened next. Joseph takes his very pregnant wife to Bethlehem and by all accounts she rode his ass the whole way. She gave birth in a stable, there were shepherds that stopped by with a casserole, and three wise men from afar followed a star and came with some very expensive and impractical baby gifts. Only they weren’t that wise, because one of them forgot to update the star charts or something, and they had to stop for directions.

“So, where you all keeping that new king? We’re ready to make with the worshiping and such.”

Herod was understandably confused. “Don’t know, man. But…uh…I’d sure like to give him a bit of obeisance as well…yeah…so when you find him, let me know where he’s at, okay?”

“Cool! Okay, see ya!”

They go, they worship the Messiah, and then as they’re packing up their travel Scrabble games and filling the cooler for the ride home, an angel tells them to go back by a different route. Avoid the king. Trust me on this one. So they do.

King Herod is bullshit. He isn’t about to let some pissant upstart peasant baby take over his kingdom, so he does what any rational, sane sovereign would do: he orders every infant in the kingdom under the age of two be put to the sword. Think on that for a minute.

I know, right? Fucker.

Another angel knows what’s up and sees which way the wind is blowing. “Joseph. Dude. Wake up. Take your wife and baby and get the fuck out of Dodge. Go to Egypt where you’ll be safe. Herod’s got a wild hair across his ass and shit’s about to get fucking REAL in Bethlehem.”

Joseph does what he’s told for the second time, and again, he protects and shelters his little family and the rest, as they say, is history. Or theology, in this case. Baby Jesus grows up and fulfills his destiny, and St. Joseph’s legend ends. No gory death. No chance at martyrdom. No amazing, miraculous, badass feats. Just a word from a stranger taken to heart and quietly obeyed. A life of hard work and gentle care, of faith and love, kindness, and quiet bravery.

Joseph reminds us that most angels aren’t invisible, and they usually leave their wings at home.

St. Joseph’s feast day is celebrated on March 19 and he is the patron Saint of the whole Catholic Church all over the world. He is the patron of fathers especially, and of families, and workers. He is invoked in all matters involving home and hearth, jobs, and against doubt and indecision.

A different kind of Badass.

For our fathers and our families, for job security in an uncertain world, for a peaceful home and a happy marriage, St. Joseph, pray for us.

WIP Wednesday: The Never-Ending Sweater September 12, 2012

Posted by J. in Genius, Sticks and String.
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One of the drawbacks to being a Woman of Size is that when you knit a sweater for yourself, you realize it takes three times as much yarn as it would to knit something in, say, a size 8.

You realize once you start the task of casting on those stitches that are at the largest side of the pattern instructions that this might not work up as quickly as you thought it would.

As you burn through skein after skein of good yarn and you haven’t even reached the armpits, you begin to wonder if your summer sweater will actually be worn any time before Christmas.

WIP #1: my cotton, short-sleeved summer sweater that should be ready to wear around mid-February at this rate.

I started knitting this sweater back in…hell, I don’t even know. Me and mah Knittahs took a road trip to Webs back in May so I’m guessing it was sometime towards the end of May. I snagged a bag of this lovely Classic Elite Premiere Yarn. It’s 50% pima cotton and 50% Tencel. It is soft and has a beautiful sheen to it. I knit Buggy a sweater out of this years ago and loved it, even though it’s cotton, which is not my favorite fiber in the world.

Oh, my God. She was so LITTLE. And I had SUCH an issue with rowing out!

I wanted to make the Petal Sweater from Knitty.  I thought it would be a great summer sweater, and I hardly ever knit anything for myself. So I printed it out and began shopping for yarn. And I did the math.

Even knit at its biggest size, that’s not going all the way around my ass . So I had to add inches and stitches. And I cast on. For the life of me, I could not get the lace pattern to fall into line.  I tried. God help me, I tried. I pulled it all out–hundreds of stitches–checked my math, and cast on again. Same thing. I knit swatches. I tried starting it at the regular size, not adding any stitches.

It would NOT work. I frogged it four separate times.

I’ll admit I got pissed. I don’t knit from a pattern very often. My problem is that I usually like one element or another but not the whole thing, so I start making changes, and by the time I’m done adapting it, it seldom looks like the original. I was thinking that I liked the overall lace, but that it might be too much in my size and that I’d look like I was wearing an afghan. I wasn’t crazy about the collar because it’s kind of twee.

And then I said, well, hell. Why not just knit the sweater you want? So I did.

I started with your basic top down raglan sweater and modified it to a v-neck. I divided for the armholes and added enough stitches to make it go around my hips and generously portioned backside and picked a cable lace pattern that I really like. And there you go. I got a good way into the lace before life took over and things got too busy to knit.

A close-up of the cable lace pattern. I’m also planning on putting a cable band all around the neck and front where the button band would go. Stay tuned. I should be ready for that by New Year’s.

Well. That’s not true. I put my needles down and picked up a hook and started making all kinds of weird things with my crochet skills. The sweater has been a WIP all summer long, poor thing. But special orders come first!

First, while not a WIP, and I am talking about special orders, check this thing out.

A special order hat combining dead ponies, soft sculpture, and it’s wearable. It’s my three worlds colliding, and I think this is the best thing I’ve ever made.

This was a special order hat for my friend Mary. She loves hats and my dead ponies and when she asked if I could make her a dead pony hat, I said yes. Honestly, it was hard to send it. I knew when I was needle-felting the bullet holes that I had nailed it.

This hat makes me feel not like a knitter, or a crocheter, but a true fiber artist. Also, that blue yarn is some of my own home-spun yarn. I am ridiculously proud of this here bad boy.

But special orders have begun picking up. It’s getting colder and people are thinking about keeping warm and looking ahead to Christmas. Smart folks getting their orders in early. *hint hint wink wink nudge nudge*

WIP #2: working the thumb of a pair of fingerless mittens.

This is a pair of wool fingerless mittens that will eventually be paired with a matching slouch hat. As I work on them, I wonder why I’ve never made myself a pair of fingerless mittens. Mostly because I’m sitting here with cold hands this morning.

A basic plait or braid cable, also called a “trinity” cable in some pattern books.

Fall has arrived in NH and it’s knitting weather!

The Only Good Pony Is A Dead Pony August 29, 2012

Posted by J. in Genius, Sticks and String.
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I like to think of myself as a tolerant person. Live and let live, I always say. I have friends of many races and nationalities. I name as my friends confessors of every creed and keepers of every covenant you can imagine. But never, in my wildest imagination, did I think I’d live to see the day when I found my tolerance tested by a Brony.

For the uninitiated, a Brony is a grown man who likes My Little Pony. No…scratch that. He doesn’t like My Little Pony. He LOOOOOOOOOVES My Little Pony. His female counterpart is the Pegasister, and you’ll know if you have stumbled across one by their use of the words “cutie mark” in casual conversation. They may offer you a “brohoof”.

Whatever you do, don’t accept it.

They want to make you one of them.

We simply must resist. The ponies, you see, are evil and must die.

One day, I was cutie-marked a step too far. I’d see one too many pastel ponies come across my computer monitor and I admit it: I snapped under the torture. I had been forced to endure all the profile pictures and embedded videos, and I finally decided enough was enough. I would not give into my captors. I might have to see their insipid, smiling pony faces, but I don’t have to take it.


I have a crochet hook and a twisted sense of humor, and I set to work decimating the ponies one by one. The first to die was Pink Pony. She lost her head.

And with a decapitated pink pony, the Etsy shop Four Lights was born.

I have to admit, killing her felt good. Real good. Like leave-your-hands-shaking good. But not as good as seeing her sell almost as soon as I had her listed. I was not alone! Others like me needed to see ponies meet their doom! So I killed another one.

Click the picture to join the resistance and take the dopey disemboweled pony home with you.

God, it felt so good. Seeing the crocheted entrails spilling out on the ground. Sweet mother of Picard, it was good.  Too good, almost.

A friend took me aside. “Poops,” he said. “There are four lights.”

“I know, man. Always.”

“You know what I’d like to see?”

“What’s that?”

“I’d like to see one get her face eaten off by a cat.”

“Which one?” He smiled at me.

“The rainbow one,” we said in unison.

Click the picture to make her your own.

The resistance caught on. More requests. More ponies destined to die. The blood lust was going to my head and I hooked faster and faster, honing my skills as more ponies fell before me.

The picture takes you to her final resting place. Click it. You know you want to.

“Oh, my God. She’s just a baby.” The Bronies and Pegasisters were horrified. But I don’t see age. I don’t see color. I don’t see cutie marks. I see pure evil and I crush it like you would a nest of baby rats.

But not that horrified. I asked my small cadre, my band of resistance fighters how the next pony should die, and from the crowd, I heard, “Dismembered with a chainsaw.”

It was a Pegasister. I had to oblige.

The latest pony to join my shop. Click the picture to make all his parts your own.

I admit that the killing spree has gone to my head. I’ve ordered more yarn and roving. My favorite Brony friend wants to see a purple pony die in a pool of vomit from alcohol poisoning, and another member of the resistance force has come up with a pony whose death is so diabolical I can’t even begin to describe it.

Keep coming back. Keep fighting the good fight. Because the only good pony is a dead pony.

Hey, Jude! August 6, 2012

Posted by J. in Genius, Sticks and String.
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I finally finished my Badass Saint for this month’s April’s Army Charity Shop. I’ll post links to it when the shop is life. Here’s St. Jude!

Of all the Saints, the Apostles are the twelve dudes who stand head and shoulders above the rest.

 Handpicked by Jesus, they were the most motley group of losers Christendom could have imagined. Jesus would tell them things about heaven and they’d sit there slack-jawed. They questioned him at every turn. They made him explain things over and over and over. He said, “Stay awake and pray with me,” and what did they all do? Fell asleep. It’s enough to make the Son of God facepalm.

 And as soon as the shit hit the fan, the twelve scattered and hid. “Jesus of Nazareth? Dude, never heard of him.”

 But then Jesus came back and this time, he brought the Holy Spirit with him. He came to them and gave them power. He gave them gifts. He gave them faith. He gave them fucking big brass balls. And armed with this new testicular fortitude, they went out and preached the Gospel message of Christ: love one another. Be kind to one another. Treat each other the way you want to be treated and you will bring about God’s kingdom on earth.

 It also got every one of them killed in spectacular fashion.

 Judas (“Seriously, man. Call me Jude.”) was a childhood friend of Jesus and was likely a relative of his, either a cousin or a brother. He walked with Jesus in life, and after his death traveled all over Persia and Mesopotamia driving out evil spirits, working miracles, healing the sick, and telling people about his Holy Homeboy. Not everyone took kindly to that, and as so often happens when you try to convert folks who don’t want to be converted, he met his untimely end by being clubbed senseless and having his head split open, because nothing says “bugger off” like the business end of a broad ax.

 To add insult to injury, St. Jude not only got a martyr’s death, but then after death he got ignored for a long time. See, his real name is Judas. Not Iscariot. St. Jude didn’t betray Jesus, but it’s kind of like going through life named Adolf. At some point you’re just going to ask people to call you Al. Or Scooter.

 St. Jude’s feast day is celebrated on October 28, and because so many miracles have been attributed to his intercession, he has become the patron Saint of desperate situations and lost causes. When all else fails, ask St. Jude. 


St. Jude has been meticulously rendered from his split skull to his sandals in 100% wool and stuffed with polyester fiberfill. He measures about 9 inches high without his removable felt broad ax. He wears a St. Jude medal around his neck which has been blessed by my Parish priest and may be removed and worn.

Badass Saints are OOAK art dolls and are not intended to be used as playthings.