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Baby (Almost) On Board! What this Means for Business

Posted in Miscellaneous, Shows , on May 28, 2011 ,

As most of you know, my husband and I are expecting our first child at the end of June. The official due date of our little geekling is June 29, but you know how babies are… unpredictable! He could be early, he could be late, but no doubt about it… he IS coming. What does that mean for my two small businesses, GEEKSOAP and The Pink Toque Shop?

Let’s get one thing straight: I’m not going anywhere! GEEKSOAP and The Pink Toque Shop are not going to disappear, however, I’m sure you understand that some temporary time off will be required to handle the priority that is a brand new baby. As first time parents-to-be, Lucas and I would LOVE to think that we’ve got this under control and we’re fully prepared for what bringing a baby into this world is going to mean for life, the universe and everything, but let’s be honest… we’re 42 shades of clueless.

To be safe, I’m blocking *at least* a month off and plan to have both the GEEKSOAP store and The Pink Toque Shop “closed” – as in, everything being set as “sold out” with a note referencing this blog post for details – for that period of time. I will not be accepting new orders or filling orders from either shop during that period as we become new parents and try to figure out what on earth we’re doing. Email communication may also be sporadic and I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to reply as quickly as normal during this time; I’m sure you understand. :)

As for *when* the month will start and end, that’s as predictable as baby’s due date. If all goes according to plan, I’m going to temporarily “close” both shops a week before our due date with the stipulation that IF the geekling comes earlier than that, the shops will close earlier than that, naturally. I figure a week will give me time to get out any last minute orders that come through before baby arrives.

I’d also like to think that a month is enough time for me to feel like I can handle sneaking in an order or two here and there while the geekling naps, but that assumes A LOT of things… like that I’ll even be able to function. If I don’t feel quite ready or able to handle orders after just a month off, I may need to expand that time off a bit, too. I figure if I get at least 6 weeks off from my job for maternity leave, then taking up to 6 weeks off from my small business jobs shouldn’t be unreasonable if it’s needed.

What about conventions?! What about Gen Con and Dragon Con?
No, I will not be making an appearance at either of these two conventions this year like last year. While that’s sad, I am so happy about our growing family, and there’s always next year for conventions. (Besides, imagine the cosplay possibilities for a one year old next year helping mama out behind the table! SQUEE!) That being said, just because I personally won’t be at Gen Con or Dragon Con this year doesn’t mean my products won’t be there in some way, shape or form. I am currently working hard behind the scenes to complete a few large convention projects that I’ve been commissioned for that will take my place, so you can still come into contact with GEEKSOAP during your geeky convention gallivanting this summer. When the stores come back up after my maternity leave you can be sure there will be some special promotions, too. And because Gen Con is right here in Indianapolis, there’s also the chance I’ll go for a bit on one of the days as a regular convention-goer. If you’re going to be in town for Gen Con let me know and we can hook up! Be sure to be on the lookout for Deodorant Dame at Gen Con – she’ll be loaded with GEEKSOAP goodies at various official Gen Con events, too!

The whole point of sharing this now as opposed to after the geekling is born is so that you’re sensitive to the situation well in advance and I give YOU, my customers, as much notice as possible so I don’t just appear to drop off the face of the planet one day without warning. That wouldn’t be fair to you; I believe communication and transparency is key! I cannot control when the geekling decides to make his debut, so if he comes really early I will have to make changes to accommodate that. I hope to be able to get all orders out before that day, but please understand that babies have a mind of their own and I will be doing my very best for you under the circumstances, whatever they turn out to be.

Really, I’m just trying to be as prepared as possible. This is our first child and we have no idea what we’re in for. If the situation changes, I will be sure to keep you all in the loop as quick as humanly possible, within reason. Remember that my customers and my shops are important to me, too! But I’m sure you understand that baby and our little geeky family takes priority and I’ll be back to making geektastic soap and crochet Cthulhu creations for you all as soon as I truly feel I can handle it. It could be sooner or it could be later than my projected timeline, and either way, you’ll be in the know as soon as I know.

Thanks for being so understanding and patient with me during this unpredictable (and exciting) time! I will be sure to keep you updated on the status of the shops and when I can handle taking orders again. If you’d prefer to get an email notice from me the day that the shops are back online, just enter your email below. I promise your email will not be shared, sold, or used for any purpose other than to send a single shout out to let you know when my products are back. :)

Email

Love of love (truly, from the bottom of my heart),
Lesley


Consolidated Collection of my Cthulhu Crafts

Posted in Featured, Knit & Crochet , on May 9, 2011 ,

I just realized this morning that over the past two years, I have designed a grand total of eight different Cthulhu creations. EIGHT! Most can be seen over in The Pink Toque Shop, but I thought it might be nice to feature all of the tentacled goodness together in one place to show just how much tentacles have taken over my brain and my crafting time. So here you have it, a special post featuring a consolidated collection of my Cthulhu crafts. Try saying THAT five times fast…

My Cthulhu Toque

The Cthulhu Toque
First up is my crochet Cthulhu Toque, which began to take shape in my mind in late 2008, but was not fully ready and released until spring of 2009. One of my favorite things to knit or crochet is hats, and after being inspired by a  Cthulhu amigurumi, I decided to test my pattern-making ability and design a toque with tentacles. After a couple attempts and sizing tests on my husband, I finally felt like I had come up with a design I was happy with, and my Cthulhu Toque was born. Back at the time, there were no crochet Cthulhu toques like it. There were fleece toques with tentacles or knitted beanies with a fair-isle Cthulhu pattern around the band or full-on crocheted Cthulhu face masks that covered the entire head and transformed the wearer into Cthulhu, but nothing quite like mine, with Cthulhu on top. It’s still my best seller, even seven new Cthulhu designs later! It’s made from soft, washable acrylic and features button eyes.

The Baby Cthulhu Toque
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I got a lot of requests for a baby and/or child version of the Cthulhu toque over the years. I finally put one together and released a Baby Cthulhu Toque, too. The model for my first trial run of the baby design was timed well with the birth of my nephew, who tried hard to fight the brain suckage. There’s not many things cuter than a baby wearing an evil toque. The baby version is also made from the same soft, washable acrylic, but I omit buttons for eyes and instead stitch on felt eyes for safety reasons.

Sock-Thulhus
Back before I learned to knit and crochet, I made a lot of plush creations. I spent nearly a year when I first moved to Canada waiting on immigration to give me a permanent resident card so that I was legal to work. During that year, I instead learned how to sew and bought a sewing machine to keep from going crazy. I made a lot of purses and plushies, including several sock monkeys. After my Cthulhu Toque took off, I sat down one day and drew up how I would make a Cthulhu “sock monkey” using some fuzzy chenille socks I had. The Sock-Thulhus that resulted were so adorable and popular, but I found it hard to find enough of the socks to keep up. I quickly sold the first set of Sock-Thulhus I made, and have yet to find a good way to keep a steady supply of “just the right socks” to continuously make more. Instead, I think I see me writing up the sewing pattern and instructions someday and offering that instead, much like I offer the Cthulhu Toque pattern for crocheters. That way those who use the pattern can make a Sock-Thulhu from whatever socks they want. One day I’ll get that pattern put together!

Cthulhu Soap
While most of my Cthulhu creations are crochet, I also have a geeky soap business called GEEKSOAP, and of course Cthulhu found his way into my soapmaking. While I had made a few bars of Batman soap which were technically the first bars of GEEKSOAP ever made, Cthulhu was what inspired GEEKSOAP to grow into a small business featuring a wide variety of geeky themed designs, and was the first set of soap I offered for sale under the GEEKSOAP name. In late 2009 on Etsy I released the first Cthulhu soap before I moved GEEKSOAP to its own storefront. When GEEKSOAP.net opened up separate from Etsy in early 2010, it came with a newly re-designed (and better) version of the Cthulhu soap.

Baththulhu Cthulhu Bath Mitt
Soap inspired my next Cthulhu-theme design, which is also sold over on GEEKSOAP.net – my Baththulhu Cthulhu Bath Mitt! I am so in love with the expression of this super soft, 100% cotton bath mitt creation. It pairs well with the soap, don’t you think? I wrote up the pattern and released the one and only Cthulhu bath mitt in mid 2010 and it has gone over really, really well! I currently make a right or left handed version in both one-size-fits-most and an extra long one. The tentacles are great for working up a good lather and acting as a loofah-like scrubbing surface.

Scarfthulhu Cthulhu Scarf
Next on the list is a scarf design! Towards the end of 2010 came the Scarfthulhu Cthulhu Scarf. I like how the faces at either end remind me of my Cthulhu toque; together the scarf and toque make a great matching set! The scarf runs approximately 63 inches long; that’s over 5 feet of pure awesome to wrap around your neck on a cold, winter’s day. Just like the toque, the scarf is made of a soft, washable acrylic. Like the little Cthulhu plush model in the photo? He was made by Ruth, and you know you want one!

Puppethulhu Cthulhu Puppet
In early 2011, a crafty friend of mine was expecting her first child and asked me if I would modify my bath mitt pattern to create a custom Cthulhu puppet for her to play with her baby. With a little work, I then released Puppethulhu, a crochet Cthulhu puppet. Similar to the bath mitt, and also made from soft cotton and featuring the bath mitt’s expression, the puppet features two “arms” instead of just the one thumb opening of a mitt so that the wearer can manipulate both arms like a puppet. She loved this so much and it went over so well when I shared it with the masses that I also made it available in my shop for others.

Cthulhu Bib
And speaking of babies, I am expecting MY first child in June 2011, and so I decided to whip up a crochet Cthulhu bib for my geekling this past weekend. While not the first Cthulhu bib in existence or anything, I wanted my bib to have the same look to it that would match the style of all of my previous crochet Cthulhu designs. I really love how it turned out! It took four (horrible) attempts to get the bib shape just how I pictured it with the telltale tentacles and wide-set eyes that I like to do. Every baby needs at least ONE evil bib, right? And those tentacles would be happy to catch any dropped food for you, too. The bib is also made from soft 100% cotton for easy washing, but I haven’t decided yet if I plan to sell the bibs individually over in the shop or if I should write up the pattern and offer that instead.

And there you have it! All eight of my crochet Cthulhu creations in one place, not including the two other ideas-in-progress I have been mulling over that I may or may not ever get around to finishing, especially now that there’s a geekling on the way! (And expect that the shop will be closed for awhile once June rolls around and the baby is born. More information on that a little closer to my due date…)

All of my Cthulhu goodies can be found at The Pink Toque Shop, with the exception of the Cthulhu Soap and Baththulhu Cthulhu Bath Mitt, which are over at my other shop, GEEKSOAP.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my collection of tentacled goodness! If you’re looking for even more Cthulhu cuteness, as I mentioned, you just have to go check out my friend Ruth’s plush Cthulhus over at CthulhuChick. She makes Cthulhu plushies with a lot of love, and as a personal owner of no less than three of Ruth’s Cthulhus that I keep in various places in my home, (including a baby one for my geekling in the nursery!) I can testify for their evil yet adorable awesomeness. You really do need one.

Need to contact me? Drop me a line! You can also fan The Pink Toque on Facebook or follow me on Twitter as @geeksoap or @ThePinkToque. Take care! :)


Update: Operation Geekling Dinosaur Project

Posted in Projects , on April 30, 2011 ,

It’s been over a month since our call for submissions went out about dinosaur art for our geekling’s nursery wall, and in that time, we’ve received so many amazingly fantastic pieces of dino artwork from all over the world! I thought I’d take a moment to show you how it’s going and update you on the project’s progress.

Last weekend we went out and bought the first round of frames for the artwork we’d received so far and began hanging it on the wall. Call me crazy, but we have around 8 weeks left and suddenly it seems SO CLOSE, and somehow, hanging dinosaur art on the nursery walls helped me to feel like we were being productive towards getting “ready” for baby.

I posted the updated photos online to a special Flickr gallery we’ve created for the project when I finished, and shared the project’s progress on Twitter. @ThinkGeek, who gave us a shout out on Twitter the first time the call for submissions went out, posted about our project for us again on Twitter this past week, (thank you!) and suddenly a whole slew of new submissions came rolling in fast. So fast, we had to run out to get more frames just to keep up! Here is a quick look at the gallery; the photos go in order from the first inspirational piece by Katie Doyle that gave us the idea in the first place, to where we are today. The order tells a story of the things we’ve been sent and the stages of hanging to show the wall’s growth over time so you can see the project’s progress. As of today, we’re currently on “Stage 2” of hanging art.

Are you feeling the warm and fuzzies like we are? I am so in love with the way the dino wall is turning out it gets me all teary-eyed. I can’t help but gaze at it when I’m in the room and reflect on just how many different people are involved and the level of kindness involved to make the wall a success.  It’s somewhat of a “mural”, but every piece is by a different person and no two pieces are the same, so the wall seems to have this personality all its own. It’s exactly what I pictured in my head when the idea came to me, which gets me all sappy; even more so as your stereotypical emotional pregnant woman. Truly, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We now have not a single piece of art by one person, but a large collection created by many that comes together as one cohesive and stunning piece of artwork that means so much to us.THANK YOU! Whether you mailed us something or emailed us a digital piece to print, every single submission has filled us with joy. Every piece has added its own personality to the wall, and we can’t wait to explain the making of the dino wall to our geekling as he grows up surrounded by its awesome.

I’ve been asked a few times about a “deadline” on this project. Baby Liam is due June 29, but truthfully there’s no real deadline; we’re always up for adding more to the nursery’s dino wall. (Find out how you can contribute, here!) As I mentioned in the original call for submissions post, I even picture myself one day sitting on the floor with Liam and a box of crayons or finger paints making dinosaurs to add to the wall ourselves. The best part is that the core of the project started with all of you, and will continue to build out from there over the years. We are so appreciative of everyone’s generosity; thank you for taking the time to add to our project! We’ll continue to update the official gallery as new rounds of artwork are submitted and added. Credit to the appropriate people, whether by name, Twitter handle, or link to their websites or Deviant Art sites will be in the description for each photo in the gallery, so please be sure to go and check them out! Digital art posted to our gallery with credited link to the artist’s site were posted there with permission. Those of you that submitted something to us via snail mail should have received (or will be soon receiving) a thank you card that I made, and a little sketch in thanks to reciprocate the love. If you’ve sent us something digitally, I will be emailing you back a digital version with a note in thanks as well. I really can’t thank you all enough, though!

Want to contribute? Check out the details here!

The Official Operation Geekling Dinosaur Project Gallery

In other somewhat-related news, Lucas and I are doing the March for Babies next weekend with my 8 month baby belly on May 7, 2011. It seems fitting that we’re doing a walk to raise money for babies with my baby belly on Mother’s Day weekend, no? It’s a 2 mile walk and I’m really looking forward to it; helping to raise healthy babies and support premature babies who need the right start hits close to home, and is such an important cause. Read all about our progress here! (And hey, if you’re in the area and want to join Team Karpiuk on May 7, please let us know!) Thanks for your support :)

Lots of love,
Lucas, Lesley, and Liam (the geekling) – aka @thekarpiuks on Twitter (or as some of you know me, @geeksoap or@thepinktoque)

 


Geekling Knits & Crochets: A Summary So Far

Posted in Knit & Crochet , on April 27, 2011 ,

The first week of March I began the first of many geekling knit and crochet projects that I had slated to make for our little boy due in June. Here it is the end of April and with just 9 weeks left before it’s go time, I thought I’d share all of the things I’ve made so far and what I have left to work on. Something exciting to note is that Ravelry, the hugely popular knit & crochet community, has made it possible for users to share their project pages by allowing us to make our projects public. The links below for each project I’ve made will take you to my Ravelry project page for it, where you can get all of the details… including the pattern name I used, who wrote the pattern, what yarn and needles/hook I used, and more pictures and a more detailed description of the project. So cool! If you have any questions about any of the projects or patterns, do let me know. Here we go!

For my first project, I started with the diaper covers that I mentioned in my previous post. Considering how warm Indiana summers are, I thought these cute covers would be better than pants over a diaper. They were super, super easy to make, too! You could easily get 2, maybe even 3 out of one skein of Lily Sugar ‘n’ Creme. Then you can get cute or fancy with your button choices to really dress it up.

Next up was the dinosaur toque. Our “theme” for the nursery is dinosaurs, so I whipped up a cute crocheted dinosaur hat for our newborn. Yes, it is being modeled by a pink plush Murloc in this photo. Try not to squee too loudly. I used a slightly lighter yarn for this toque than the pattern called for and have since picked up some worsted weight yarn instead.  I am a little worried the hat will be too small because of the lighter yarn, so I may go back and re-make this toque using worsted weight just to be on the safe side. We have been generously given a photography session with Rachel Vanoven as a baby shower gift from our dear friend Laura, and I’d love to have the dino hat in at least one of the photos. Better make sure it fits, eh!

I then had fun making a couple dinosaur bibs – one each of a stegosaurus and a bronto/apatosaurus/brachiosaurus looking dino. While I’m not crazy about the whole tying part (in hindsight, I should’ve modified the pattern to snap in the back or velcro instead), I have come to the realization that these won’t be used all the time and are more about cute than being super easy to use. I’ll use them for sure, (being 100% cotton means they’ll be easy to clean at least!) but I have a feeling that more practical bibs will get used more often.

After the bibs, I spent a week or two cranking out a half dozen dinosaur burp cloths. These will be so handy! They, too, are made from 100% cotton to make them durable and easy to wash. All six of the cloths are of the Brachiosaurus variety. I can see having these stuffed in a diaper bag and using them for everyday baby messes around the house or on the go. These were really easy to make, and after the first few, I really got in a groove with them and could crank one out in an evening. If I find time, I may go back to making a few more of these before the geekling arrives; you can never have too many cloths with a baby around.

The most recent project isn’t dinosaur themed, but is a staple for any new baby: a baby blanket. I went with a familiar pattern that I used for my nephew’s baby blanket two years ago, but this time I alternated colors reminiscent of the ocean and called it the Ocean Fade Baby Blanket. The feather and fan openwork pattern naturally made these beautiful ripples in the design that looked great in these colors, just like the ocean. Fitting, since I started the project on our roadtrip to Savannah, GA where we spent some time on the river and then on the ocean at Tybee Island. We try to take one trip a year over our anniversary (June 20) where we end up in a bed and breakfast on the ocean, and this year because the geekling is due 9 days after our anniversary, we decided to make that trip a bit early and stayed in an oceanside bed and breakfast on Tybee over spring break instead. The other pictures of the blanket and me working on the blanket over on my Ravelry project page comes from our trip. At the time of this writing, I am about 95% finished with the blanket; I blocked it last night (this was the second blocking, actually… it was so long and I didn’t have a long enough place to block that I had to do it in two parts!) and I hope to find time to weave in all of the ends securely this week.

So what’s next on my agenda? Well, I’ve decided that I need a “newborn hospital cap” because even babies born in the summer will wear one for a little bit. I’d like the cap he wears to be made by mama instead of provided by the hospital. I’ll be using the pattern located here by Annika Barranti at Through the Looking Glass. I’m also considering (time permitting) another blanket; this one a Sweet Swaddling Blanket by Dawn’s Dream Designs. We’ll see if I have time! I’m also considering this dinosaur amigurumi plush by Lan-Anh Bui & Josephine Wan. Isn’t it cute? Oh if I only had more hours in the day…


Call for Submissions: Operation Geekling Dinosaur Project

Posted in Projects , on March 16, 2011 ,

So I had this crazy idea. (And this crazy idea is a cross post from our personal blog, by the way.)

It may have a huge turnout, it may flop. But no matter what happens, I think it would be a really cool way to decorate a room.

In this case, I was thinking about the geekling’s room and how to decorate it. Our “theme” is dinosaurs, but we are renting right now so painting is out of the question. That means the décor is dependent on the wall hangings. Last week our friend @katiedoyle mailed us a painting she did of a dinosaur for us to hang in the geekling’s room. (That’s her artwork pictured!) Inspired by this fantastic piece of original artwork made with love, I started to think… wouldn’t it be cool if ALL of our friends and family each made us some kind of dinosaur art for the wall?

I then had this amazing vision of one entire wall of the room covered in dinosaur artwork, all by different people in our lives. And not just one kind of artwork, but dinosaurs made from all different kinds of mediums, too. Some dinosaurs were painted, some were sketches, some were prints, some were done in colored pencils or crayons, and some were dinosaurs composed of fabric shapes.

The wall was covered in this variety of dinosaur artwork, but the pieces weren’t all the same size or orientation, either. Some of the pieces were landscape, some were portrait, some were large and some were small. They were arranged in a fun way like puzzle pieces on the wall, not in straight and perfect rows. Each piece was in the same simple black frame to tie everything together.

It was beautiful, and that’s when Operation Geekling Dinosaur Project was born. And for it to be successful, I need YOUR help.

How can you get involved and help? Make us a dinosaur for the wall! You don’t have to be an “artist” or even feel like you know how to draw to get involved. All forms of art are appreciated and  beautiful! You can use any medium or style you like and feel most comfortable working with, even if it means you print out a dinosaur and color it with your Crayolas. Pick your favorite dinosaur or do a scene of several dinosaurs; it’s all up to you. The only stipulation is that you work in a size that can easily be framed, since I’ll be tasked with trying to get the same style of frame for all of the artwork. The collection together would form a mural of sorts, except this mural would be made up of individual pieces of awesome from awesome individuals.

I may only have 5 people take this on or we may have none, and that’s ok. I’m still going to try! I’d ideally love to have as many people involved as possible. You don’t have to use any fancy paper or canvas or anything like that; plain paper will do. I’ll be throwing it into a frame anyway! I just think it would be amazing to have a wall full of dinosaurs in all different styles to represent all of the different people in our lives. And if you sign your artwork somewhere we’d have a lasting memory of who made each piece to share with the geekling as he gets older.

As artwork comes in (if anyone decides to participate), I plan to photograph it individually and post it to a special Flickr gallery with credit to the artist so that their part of the project can be shared. I’d like to keep a photo journal throughout the project’s progress, including photos of the finished result, too.

And maybe over the years new pieces can be added; I imagine the geekling and I in a few years spending a rainy day with finger paints or crayons making new dinosaurs to add to the wall. But the core… the heart of the project begins with all of you and builds from there. How special and how meaningful would a wall full of dinosaurs made by people we know be?! And your artwork would forever brighten the room of one special little boy, who will grow up surrounded by your original creations and learn from an early age to appreciate art and the value of handmade.

I’m starting to get sappy here, but if you’re interested in donating a piece of dinosaur artwork in any medium, big or small, to our project, we’d love to have it and frame it and hang it and share it with our geekling and the world. Your contribution would be one piece in a unique collection to make the décor in the geekling’s room grand and special. I will personally draw a little something in return and mail it with a thank you note to every single person who contributes, in addition to posting you and your piece in our Flickr gallery and sharing it on Twitter and here on my craft blog for all to see.

So the Call for Submissions is officially open; let me just say thank you in advance to anyone who participates in our project. I truly appreciate the time and effort put in to make something for someone else. Long live handmade and long live art! <3

love,
Lucas, Lesley, and the geekling (Liam)

  • Want to Contribute?
  • Email us if you need to snag a mailing address
  • Common sizes for framing:
  • 24 x 36
  • 20 x 30
  • 18 x 24
  • 11 x 17
  • 8.5 x 11
  • 8 x 10
  • 5 x 7
  • 4 x 6

Thank you! <3


The Beginning of the Baby Knits & Crochets

Posted in Knit & Crochet , on March 2, 2011 ,

I feel like Superwoman. Thanks to all of you, I’ve been making soap constantly to keep up with demand. Thanks for helping me celebrate my soapy anniversary and making it such a success!

But it’s not ALL been soap in my crafting universe this week.

Last week we found out our geekling is going to be a boy, and we are just tickled at the news. The thought of a mini-Lucas makes me so happy I could burst! We’d already had the name Liam picked out for years, so a Liam he will be. It probably won’t come as a surprise to any of you that the very next stop after we left the ultrasound appointment was the yarn store; I had a list all ready of various blue and green yarn I needed to get a head start on knitting and crocheting things for my little boy.

Somehow this week I’ve managed to find time to squeeze in a workout (Hooray for #geekfit!), keep up with soap orders, play a little Rift, (More on that over on my gaming blog) AND work on baby projects each night after getting home from work. Whew! I’m excited to show off my first finished object(s) for Liam.

Crocheted Diaper Covers
Our boy is due at the end of June, and summertime in the midwest can get pretty hot. I have a feeling Liam won’t be wearing much more than onesies or even just a diaper during the hotter parts of the summer, and so I thought these cute little diaper covers would be perfect instead of pants. It helps that they are a super fast crochet project, too. I considered dressing these up a bit with different buttons, like shape buttons or something, but I really liked how the solid wooden ones turned out against the yarns.  The pattern I used is the textured Beanie & Diaper Cover set by Danyel Pink. [Ravelry]

If someone were to ask me what our baby “theme” is, I’d have to say dinosaurs. Mostly because I just mean I plan to decorate the baby room in cute, handmade dinosaur stuff and do some digital scrapbooking with cute dinosaur embellishments and kits. (More on those kits in another post!) Other things on my to-knit or to-crochet list for the geekling include an adorable dinosaur long tail toque for the fall, some dinosaur/monster baby booties, a swaddling blanket, and dinosaur themed knitted burp cloths and bibs that I can’t wait to cast on. Sure a couple of “fancy” knitted cotton bibs and cloths will be something I spend hours making only to have them be thrown up on, but that’s not the point. (And cotton is washable!) I think it’s part of that “nesting” they keep talking about that’s making me yearn for the creation of as much handmade goodness to greet and surround my newborn with as possible. Stay tuned for lots of handmade dinosaur goodness that I plan to share here as we get closer and closer to the third trimester and eventually… baby time :)


Happy Anniversary, GEEKSOAP!

Posted in Soapmaking , on February 23, 2011 ,

Happy Anniversary, GEEKSOAP!

Technically, the very first bar of GEEKSOAP (Batman) was created in May 2009 for my best friend’s birthday when I was living in Calgary. However, I didn’t get back into making soap and adding it to my Etsy store for purchase until the end of 2009, after I’d moved back to the states and gotten settled in.

Back then, the few varieties of GEEKSOAP bars I made were small and made from expensive, yet not the best quality, soap base. I had a lot to learn. I did my homework, looked into better quality bases, and took tips and advice given to me by the amazing @KyleeLane, who is a magical soapmaker and has become a very dear friend. I was blown away by Kylee’s generosity along the way and am thankful for all of her support and advice, because she helped to make me a better soapmaker. When I set out with GEEKSOAP, my goal was to create one-of-a-kind soaps that you couldn’t find anywhere else before me, and I succeeded with each bar I made. Today I continue to strive to make original soapy creations!

I’ve learned A LOT, and today am proud to make soaps that not only look a million times better, but they’re made from better materials than I used back in the beginning when I first started out, too. All bars are vegan friendly and hypo-allergenic and my custom molded bars (game cartridges, D20s on a Rope, Donkey Kong barrels, etc.) are not only 100% original, but they’re made from 100% all natural ingredients these days also. I’ve changed the way I make, color, and even wrap my soaps to provide a better overall product for my customers, who are the most important part of my business. Even my handmade labels have evolved along with my skills to better showcase the designs and ingredients inside. SO MUCH HAS CHANGED! Those of you who were with me in the very beginning on Etsy know where I started and how much GEEKSOAP has transformed. Thank you for supporting me.

Back in the end of 2009 when I was selling on Etsy, I was selling my soap alongside my textile handmade goods like crochet Cthulhu hats. My Etsy had always been a bit of a hodge-podge of handmade goods, and has seen a large variety of products over the past 5 years… from purses and pouches that I sewed, to knit products, patterns, and crochet goodies. Then soap. Sales were slow at first, but after several big features of my D20 Soap on a Rope design (including a nod & linkage from the official Wizards of the Coast site!) which made my Etsy explode in early 2010 to the point that I couldn’t keep up because they kept selling out faster than I could relist, I realized that my soap really needed to be separate from my random fibre goods. I needed a new place to sell so that I could really focus and develop all of the geeky soap ideas I had in one place, with a name that made sense. I had been referring to the soap on Etsy as “GEEKSOAP”, so on February 23, 2010 I registered geeksoap.net and began promoting it as its own brand via BigCartel. The rest is history.

Technically GEEKSOAP has been around longer than a year, but I consider today to be its anniversary since I didn’t separate GEEKSOAP from my fibre crafts and recognize it as its own brand in its own store until then, one year ago today. In celebration of this milestone and ALL of the amazing changes that have taken place over the past year to make GEEKSOAP better and better (and still striving to improve all the time!) I want to offer a special promotion code for the week – CELEBRATE used at checkout over on geeksoap.net will take 30% off your entire order!

I can’t thank my customers and supporters enough for EVERYTHING this past year. Lots of love, advice, suggestions, AND constructive feedback has helped me do things better and make better things. I admit I’ve made mistakes (especially when I was first starting out) and I’m not perfect or even close to it, but because of your support I’ve been able to learn from mistakes and create a better product over the past year. We had an astronomically successful holiday sales season with so much positive feedback that I look forward to continuing successes!

While GEEKSOAP has gotten much bigger than I ever dreamed of over the past year, you’ll notice that I’ve declined wholesale and retail opportunities along the way. Why, you ask? Why would I not want to become even bigger? Back during Gen Con I had so many ridiculously amazing wholesale opportunities come up and I wanted to take them all, but I was realistic: I am just one person with a full time teaching job and starting a family was on the horizon, and I was afraid to take on large scale orders in addition to my booming online sales. Afraid? Let me explain. Most of my soaps are made one-at-a-time, and I wanted to ensure that I never spread myself out too thin. The success was so huge this past year that I was worried if I said yes to all of the opportunities that fell into my lap, I’d lose sight of what was important: my customers. My online shop customers come first always. I know with a full time job and a baby on the way that this one girl cannot handle large scale retail orders and I refuse to stress myself out about that. Life’s too short! While it may seem “sad”, I have always been 100% okay with that and accepted that fact way early on, because I am also afraid that if I spread myself out too thin that I’d not be able to keep up the same level of quality for my customers. I don’t do GEEKSOAP to make gobs of money. Sure it’s nice, but I do GEEKSOAP as a labor of love without relying on it as a source of income. Why? Because I enjoy handcrafting something that expresses my geeky interests and makes people happy. That makes ME happy. I’d rather shut down completely than allow GEEKSOAP to become too commercial or let my quality slip because I have to rush to keep afloat. I won’t allow it to get out of control. I learned the importance of saying “no” even when I wanted to take on some of the amazing wholesale opportunities I’ve been offered because I don’t want GEEKSOAP to lose its small, independent handmade business identity… and I know me, if I said “yes” to everything I’ve been offered, I’d not be physically able to give the attention to detail that every bar deserves as well as keep up with online sales. I’m sorry if you’ve queried me about selling my soap in your stores and I’ve turned you down; I want you to understand where I’m coming from to know why. :)

As if that wasn’t sappy enough for you, I also wanted to express my most sincere gratitude to ALL of you for your love and support the past few weeks. A lot of you know my husband spent a week in the hospital, and the unknown and then waiting for answers was hard! You guys were there for us when it was scary, and you were still there to celebrate with us when they figured out what was wrong. You’ve still been there for us as he’s been recovering, and we can’t thank you enough. Really. This week has  been magical; Lucas is finally on the mend AND we found out our geekling on the way is a BOY! The outpouring of love and congratulations we received was jaw dropping. Not that this pregnant geek needs more reason to be emotional, but just know that your support has been so appreciated. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Sorry for all of the sappiness, but I truly look back to this past year and the growth and the support I’ve experienced, and I’m overwhelmed with love and appreciation for you all. I have a hard time fathoming your awesomeness. I’ve met so many of you via Twitter and Facebook and in person at conventions like Gen Con and Dragon Con, too; I’ve even made some of the most amazing friends because of it, who I hold very dear to my heart. I am so thankful! Thanks for making GEEKSOAP’s anniversary (and everything else going on in my life these days!) something to celebrate. #happy

Don’t forget: use CELEBRATE all week long at geeksoap.net for 30% off your entire order! <3


Buy a Soap, Save Boobies!

Posted in Featured, Miscellaneous, Soapmaking , on February 9, 2011 ,

Back in December, my boss asked me about breast cancer awareness soap and whether I could make her some that she could order to give to the team members of their annual Race for the Cure team that supports her mom, Ginny. I found a suitable mold from my supplier and made a few bars as an example. The team’s motto became “Clean Up for a Cure” with soapy inspiration.

This week I registered to join Ginny’s Crew and help Clean Up for a Cure. Me and my 7 month pregnant belly will be proudly walking in the Komen Indy Race for the Cure in downtown Indianapolis on April 16, 2011. I’m doing all I can to help raise money for breast cancer research and education by inviting my friends and family to walk with us, and encouraging donations towards my personal sponsorship that goes towards the overall team goal for Ginny.

Want to Help?
Starting this week I’m making the breast cancer awareness soaps available for sale at geeksoap.net, and you can buy one (or more!) between now and April 15, 2011. Purchasing a bar is a 100% direct donation towards our team fundraising goal just in time for the Race for the Cure.

Follow our progress on my personal page at the Komen Indy Race for the Cure fundraising site.

When you add a Clean Up for a Cure soap to your cart, you have the option to make your donation anonymous OR you can choose to include your name with the donation. When these soaps are ordered, I will personally go and donate 100% of the soap purchase (all $10!) right to my Race for the Cure fundraising page, and either list your name as the donor (if specified) or list your donation anonymously – however you chose when checking out. And if you choose to have your name included, I will go by the default name on your Paypal account, though you can specify a Twitter handle or nickname in the notes to seller when checking out if you’d rather use that instead. You’ll be able to start seeing donor contributions listed on my Race for the Cure site within 24 hours of purchase.

The best part? 75% of the money raised stays in Indiana for breast cancer education and research. The other 25% goes towards national breast cancer research and advocacy. Which means 100% of your donations are helping to end breast cancer forever!

Please help me reach my personal goal, which helps Ginny’s Crew reach their team goal, which means more help in the battle against breast cancer. You can purchase a Clean Up for a Cure soap OR sponsor the team & I directly in the Race for the Cure this April if you’d like to specify a different amount. No donation amount is too small, and every penny counts! And if you’re local, why not register to come walk with us? We’d love to have you.

The Clean Up for a Cure soaps are made from 100% all natural, vegan friendly ingredients. They weigh roughly 5oz, and are approximately 3″ x 2.5″. Each bar of soap smells of soothing, comforting lavender.

Two Ways to Donate, Three Ways to Support!
Buy Clean Up for a Cure Soaps – 100% of the soap purchase price ($10/each) is immediately put towards my fundraising goal.

Sponsor me directly via my Race for the Cure fundraising page to specify a different donation dollar amount. Remember, no amount is too small, and every penny helps and is appreciated!

Register to participate (walk, run, or sleep!) in the Komen Indy Race for the Cure on April 16, 2011.

Thank You!
Thank you for supporting breast cancer research and our Clean Up for a Cure team – especially Ginny!


#DKContest Winners!

Posted in Contests , on January 27, 2011 ,

Congratulations to the two random winners of my #DKContest to win a FREE bar(rel) of my newest soap creation, the Clean of Kong!

After starting the contest on Monday, I kept track of all those who entered via Twitter as well as who commented on the contest blog entry. I used a random number generator to pick the winners, and one random winner was pulled from the tweets while one random winner was pulled from the blog comments. (Numerically, in order they were tweeted/posted starting with 1 for the first tweet/post.) Thank you to all who entered… and now… drum roll please!

Twitter winner: @robocake33!

Blog winner: Melissa!

Congratulations to both winners; you will be contacted shortly (via Twitter or email you gave when you commented on the blog post, so watch your email, Melissa!) with a notification and request for your mailing address so that I can ship your Donkey Kong soap out ASAP!

Thanks to all who participated :) Having a contest was so much fun – I’ll be sure to get back into the swing of more regular giveaways soon because giving goodies away was a blast! <3 Until next time… keep clean!


New Clean of Kong Soap & Contest!

Posted in Contests, Soapmaking , on January 24, 2011 ,

After several long months, I’m finally able to share a new geeky soap… Clean of Kong: A Fistful of Bubbles! This Donkey Kong inspired soap has been on my mind since last fall when my dad sent me a link he thought would give me some new soap ideas. It was a list of classic games and how they’ve stood the test of time, and I saw Donkey Kong on the list. I was immediately transported back in time where I was a kid playing Donkey Kong on the Atari at my grandma’s house. The first thing that popped in my mind when I thought of DK and soap was… a barrel! Of course! Barrels are the hallmark of the Donkey Kong game series, and I could picture this beautiful soap in my mind.

Fast forward to the present, and I finally am unveiling the Donkey Kong inspired barrel soap in all its glory. I am really proud! It took me several mold attempts to get it just right, and I’m finally happy with how my vision turned out. When I was trying to decide which scent to use, the only thing that made sense (scents?) was banana. Those of you that know me know that I don’t exactly like bananas. In fact, I loathe  bananas. The taste, the consistency… everything. But considering how much a role bananas play in the Donkey Kong series, it seemed like the best choice, and nothing else seemed like a better fit. I went with a banana coconut fragrance oil, and the final result came together so well that I think you’re really going to love it.

CONTEST TO WIN A FREE BAR OF CLEAN OF KONG GEEKSOAP

With the holiday season being so busy, it feels like it’s been AGES since I’ve given away some FREE soap! Time to remedy that. There are TWO ways to enter:

1. Comment on this blog post and tell me your favorite classic video game of all time.
2. Tweet this message on Twitter:

I am entering to win @geeksoap’s new Donkey Kong soap: Clean of Kong! http://tinyurl.com/4o5y2ft #geek #DKcontest

It’s important that you include the URL and the #DKcontest tag so that I can collect all entries easily. You may enter each method once a day all week; I will choose one winner from both the Twitter entries and the blog comment entries to give away two bars of the Clean of Kong soap. I’ll run the contest for a couple days and see how it goes, closing by week’s end. Contest open to U.S. residents only, sorry!

Tell your friends! RT like crazy! Comment away! Spread the love <3 Good luck :)

And special love & thanks to @CapSteveRogers for his help & inspiration with the final finishing touches of this project <3