I’ve spent the last few weeks and months thinking about where I’d like to take Next to Nicx, both as a blog and as a store. I’ve hinted at some exciting projects in the past, some that will involve the creation of kits, and physical products.
But some big life changes have appeared on the horizon and I’ve had to put the creation of some product on hold until these things are settled. Thankfully none of this will stop me from being able to blog.
Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you more very shortly but we are waiting for things to fall into place. And these things involve other people, which takes time, and so for the moment there is nothing we can do but wait!
In the meantime, I have been busy! I took myself off to Playtime Paris last weekend and that visit confirmed something I’d been thinking for a while. I’ve felt a little hampered over the past few months as I’ve really wanted to share loads of the amazing kids things I’ve found, bought or made for Munchkin, but Next to Nicx hasn’t felt like the right medium.
I’ve decided I need a kids blog.
I’m not leaving Next to Nicx, it will just revert to more of what it used to be; crafting and making and baking. And my new blog will be purely Munchkin based. Including craft, recipes, fashion… anything Munchkin.
So with a grand TA… DA…! I introduce you to a sister blog to Next to Nicx:
Have a look and let me know what you think? It’s still in very early stages and will grow and evolve just like Next to Nicx has. For the moment, it only has it’s own Facebook page. Next to Nicx is still where to find me on Instagram, Pinterest, Ello and Bloglovin etc
Whilst out shopping last weekend we stumbled across these little foam chairs for children. Munchkin immediately fell in love with them. It was just her size! And light enough that she can push it around on the floor easily. As we’d been discussing seating options for her for a while (bean bags and big cushions) we decided to get one.
Just after purchasing it, Munchkin decided it would make a fantastic walking aid. And so with her teddy and dolly sitting comfortably, she commenced doing laps of the living, dining and kitchen areas.
There was only one problem. It was a twitch inducing colour, with a dreadful print on the front and was covered in exceedingly poor quality cotton. It needed to be rectified, and as quickly as possible!
Note; this blog mainly consists of ramblings about the past year with Munchkin and motherhood. The photos are a sneak peek of our recent celebration of Munchkin’s first birthday. I’ll have more photos, templates, recipes and tutorials to share in the coming weeks.
I can’t believe that at this time just last year I was desperately trying to sleep and failing. I was due to be induced the following morning. After 12 very long days of regular contractions that just weren’t strong enough, the doctor decided enough was enough. Munchkin was coming out, one way or the other.
Late that night, DM and I had a discussion about what we hoped our bundle, of what then felt like all elbows and knees doing the hokey pokey in a very confined space, would be like.
A year in, and I can say she’s everything we hoped for and a little bit more. She’s generous, loving, independent, strong, social, gentle but no pushover, scarily intelligent and just because she’s ours, perfect.
It hasn’t been an easy year. My fitness, sanity and health has taken something of a beating due to iron deficiency, sleep deprivation and adjusting my life expectations to my new reality.
Breastfeeding and getting our little one to thrive took about four stressful weeks to work out. There were what seemed like endless days as my butt became one with the couch as Munchkin fed every hour threatening my dwindling sanity.
Our marriage feels stronger, as it feels it has now been forged by fire. The fire of months of colic and walking paths around the dining table, our hearts breaking as we tried anything and everything to soothe our tiny, sweet bundle.
But it’s also been the most amazing year of my life. Read more
One of Munchkin’s favourite toys, ever since we bought it for her when she was just 6 weeks old, is a soft ball made of cotton that has a bell in it. It was fabulous as all the seams are on the outside and she could grab, throw and play with it very easily. And as she’s grown, she’s continued to enjoy it. Almost every day it gets launched across the room or skittles over the floor, tinkling as it goes.
I’ve a couple of friends who are pregnant and so I went to buy some to give as gifts. Only to discover that they no longer make them. So I took this as a sign that I should change the pattern, make it a whole heap more colourful and get crocheting! The only down side is that Munchkin has discovered them and now thinks that they’re hers. It looks like I’ll be making some more!
I started this pattern in much the same way as I did the crochet baby noise makers. By filling a Kinder Surprise cylinder with popping corn kernels and taping it firmly closed. But you can use film canisters, small take away sauce tubs, anything that you can tape closed and that makes a good rattling noise. Or you could even recycle the rattle or bell out of an old baby toy.
Then you get crocheting! I used a 3.5mm hook and 100% cotton. Just check the hook size nominated on your yarn and adjust the hook size appropriately. You don’t want large holes in your work so that little fingers can’t pry out the stuffing.
Increase (2 single crochet in the same stitch) = inc
Cotton yarn in at least two colours
3.5mm crochet hook
Cotton wadding (using this instead of normal stuffing makes it much harder for little fingers to get at it, but either will work fine).
Plastic container insert from a Kinder Surprise or alternate small plastic container that you can seal.
Seeds, Grains etc
In yarn colour 1
Row 1: Create a Magic Ring and sc 10. Pull magic ring closed. Sl st in first dc, to join. (10)
Row 2: ch 2. dc inc 10. Sl st in second ch, to join. (20)
Row 3: ch 2. *dc 1, dc inc 1.* Repeat *to* 10 times. Sl st in second ch, to join. (30)
Change yarn to second highlight colour
Row 4: ch 2. *sc 2, dc inc 1.* Repeat *to* 10 times. Sl st in second ch, to join. Fasten off and sew in the ends. (40)
Repeat 12 times to make 12 circles.
Stitching below the last row of crochet using the holes in the crochet with a large needle. Stitch two circles together, using the increased stitches as a guide. Stitch between 2 sets of increased stitches as shown below.
Repeat with 4 following circles until your work looks like the image below. You need to stitch the sides together too, using the increased stitches as a guide again. Finish off and sew in your ends.
Repeat the above steps with your six remaining circles until you have two ball halves.
Taking the two ball halves, align the middle increased stitch on the open end of a circle with a seam on the opposing ball half. Sew together, leaving enough open to insert the filling.
Then, wrapping the shaker egg in wadding until it’s the size you want and push it in. This item is nice for younger children with less wadding making it softer and less likely to roll away. It also makes it much easier to grasp. For older children, you can make it firmer and the ball will roll if pushed.
Finally sew the remaining open portion together with the wadding and shaker inside. Finish of and sew in your ends.
I hope your little ones enjoy it as much as Munchkin!
My templates and tutorials are free for personal use only.
I started it before Munchkin was born. Last Summer, my friend and quilter extraordinaire Lynne, went with me via ferry to Thonon les Bains in France to pick out fabric. It turned out to be one of the hottest days that Summer and neither of us was dealing very well with the heat. I was seven months pregnant and feeling every bit of it!
But I was determined to get a quilt finished for Munchkin to come home in. So I waddled around Thonon and we selected the fabrics. Then over the weeks that turned into months, Lynne taught me how to cut the fabric out, sew it together and quilt it.
I struggled though-out the pregnancy. It turns out I’m not one of those people who glows and feels fabulous and honestly, I didn’t like being pregnant at all. Probably because it felt like I was unwell for most of it.
My sewing machine even attempted to die before I’d completed the project! It threw out springs and twisted bits of metal in a cartoonish fashion, only missing the associated “SPROING!!”.
Thankfully we were able to get it working again. And poignantly, this quilt turned out to be the last project I’d do on this machine. My mother gave it to me about 10 years ago, it was second or third hand when I received it and it had survived being lugged halfway around the world when we moved to Switzerland. But I now own a beautiful new machine, given to me for Christmas by DM and Munchkin.
At some point I gave up on having the quilt done to bring Munchkin home in. Only digging it back out to give quilting it one more try the day before I was due to be induced. I’d been having regular contractions for 11 days by this point. I was exhausted… and scared. In an effort to distract ourselves, DM commenced painting a robot and I finished quilting my quilt.
Amusingly you can see when I had contractions in the quilting. In places it resembles the monitor they plugged me into frequently over the last weeks of my pregnancy! The stitching goes from lovely, straight and ‘in the ditch’, to off tangent quite badly, and then back ‘in the ditch’!
Finally I packed it away, a little disappointed that I’d not managed to complete it (I had the binding and hand sewing to do), and we went to the clinic to meet Munchkin.
Munchkin entered our lives in something of a rush as I eventually needed an emergency cesarean. And she came home almost a week later swaddled in a super soft Aden + Anais muslin square instead of in one of my creations. I didn’t have time to feel disappointed. We spent the next 6 months learning about each-other, falling head over heels in love, doing all we could to help her thrive and enjoying our beautiful little spirited sprite.
Then, Lynne came around for one final quilting lesson and, at one point with Munchkin looking on, we made and sewed on the binding using my new machine.
I did the hand sewing, a little at a time, over the following few weeks (I’m not great at hand sewing, particularly when tired! ;))
And it’s complete! Almost a year since it was started my darling little girl is sleeping under it.
I love it. It’s perfectly flawed and I feel it tells the start of our story wonderfully.
I’ve been told it’s traditional to name a quilt and have it embroidered on the back. But I’ve been struggling to come up with anything other than “Contraction Quilt” which isn’t very romantic.
What do you think I should call it?
Quilting details: I used the pattern created by See Kate Sew as a guide but made a few changes. Lynne made up an alternate pattern piece that allowed for the triangle to have seam allowances added, meaning that it was much easier to get the points closer to lining up. The quilt Lynne made up as a test had the points matching perfectly! And I put my quilt pieces together randomly, only ensuring that the same colour didn’t sit adjacent.