Almost a year of parenthood celebrated

Munchkin's first birthday

 
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.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
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.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
But it’s also been the most amazing year of my life.

I never dreamed I could want to do nothing but stare at my baby for days on end… and I did. I’ve experienced the seemingly indescribable joy of seeing my little one accomplish something and look at me with pride as she’s just learned to roll over, clap her hands, say “Mum”, stand up, bottom shuffle or get a spoon into her mouth and not her nose, ear or forehead.

I’ve loved living in this little nest we’ve made. My priorities and goals have shifted in ways I never dreamed would be possible. I thought Motherhood and I would be a tough fit and avoided it for as long as possible. It turns out I’m not as terrible at it as I feared. I love it.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
And through all of this DM has worked tirelessly, both at his job and then when he got home. He’s perfected cooking and has made dinner more times than I. He can cook some of “my recipes” better than I can now! He’s been home most of the time to give Munchkin her bath (and me a few quiet moments alone). He’s rocked, soothed, fed, bathed, read, played, chatted and revelled in fatherhood. He’s done an excellent job. Frequently, in the early days, he’d arrive home, take the screaming Munchkin, soothe some of my frazzled feathers, make me a cup of tea and take over. Definitely not the easiest year!

And, in amongst all of this, he’s almost completed a thesis.

I have no idea how he has done it. My admiration, pride in and love for DM is limitless.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
All of this needed to be celebrated. So we invited our nearest and dearest in Lausanne and threw a party to celebrate the amazing miracle that is Munchkin’s first year.

I got to making, designing, baking, crocheting, adding faux gold foil to invites, making packaging, trying my hand at floristry and stocking up on champagne.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
I’ll share patterns, templates, recipes and the rest with you in the upcoming weeks.
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 
I’m so happy with the result! It seems worthy of what feels to us, and I’m sure to all parents, the gorgeous accomplishment of a lifetime. And we’ve only just begun!
 

Munchkin's first birthday

 

All the amazing photography in this post is by the fantastically talented Hayley Hay

Crochet rattle ball

 

Crochet Rattle Ball

 

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.

 

Crochet Rattle Ball

 

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!

 

Crochet Rattle Ball

 

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.

 

Crochet Rattle Ball

 

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.

 

Crochet Rattle Ball

 

Crochet Rattle Ball Pattern

 

Stitches you need to know:

Magic Ring

Chain = ch

Double Crochet = dc

Single Crochet = sc

Increase (2 single crochet in the same stitch) = inc

 

Materials

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

 

Pattern

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.

 

Crochet Rattle Ball

 

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.

 

Crochet Rattle Ball

 

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!

Nicx

My templates and tutorials are free for personal use only.

T&Cs-2

Finally finished

Next to nicx quilt

 

They say that every quilt tells a story.

This one certainly does!

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.

 

P1060371

 

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.

 

Munchkin arriving home

 

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.

 

Next to nicx quilt

 

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?

 

Next to nicx quilt

 

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.

 

See Kate Sew Quilt

Updated – Crochet Cherry Pattern

Crochet-Cherry-Lifestyle-photo

 
I’ve updated this blog post to include the images and clearer pattern I created when Mollie Makes printed it. I hope it helps!
 

Crochet Cherry

 
One of my all time favourite wardrobe items is a silk and cashmere cardigan by Alana Hill that I’ve owned for about 7 years (bought when Alana Hill still made luxurious garments and not the disappointing polyester items you find now). I’ve worn it until it’s almost falling apart. My favourite part of it? It’s covered in crochet cherries! A few years ago I decided another of my cardigans needed cherries and so created a few crochet cherry brooches. I sold a few of them on Etsy and then started to teach myself letterpress, and so the brooches were put to the side.

But today I decided that one of Munchkin’s onesie/ bodysuit needed a little decoration and pulled out one of my brooches. I’ve re-worked the pattern and I’ve decided to share it with you. They’re quick to do and look fabulous as brooches, sewn onto clothing, glued onto cards… the options are endless. Never crochet before? No problem, go to the end of this post for a list of video tutorials and links you can use to teach yourself the stitches you need to make this project. All that’s required is a 2.5 mm crochet hook and some thread.
 

Crochet Cherry

 

Crochet Cherry Pattern

In the colour you have selected for the Cherry (I used DMC 351 Embroidery thread as I needed such a little bit of thread for this project, I love the colour and it’s beautifully soft) and using a 2.5mm crochet hook create a ‘Magic Ring’. ch 3 and tr 17 into the Magic Ring. Pull the Magic ring tight and join to third ch using the Invisible Fasten Off Method.

  1. Using the red yarn and the 3mm crochet hook provided create a magic ring. Work ch 3 and tr 17 into the magic ring
  2. Pull the magic ring tight and join to third ch, fasten off and weave in the ends. Repeat steps one and two to create two cherries.
  3. In the green yarn and using the 3mm crochet hook provided; leave a tail about 13 centimeters long and ch 16. Starting with 2nd ch from hook,** hdc in next ch, dc into next 2 ch, tr in next ch, dc into next 2 ch, hdc into next ch***, sl st into next ch.
  4. Repeat from ** to ***, ch 2.
  5. Turn work to start work on reverse side of chain. Repeat from ** to ***, sl st into next ch, repeat from ** to ***, ch 2 and connect to first chain, fasten off.
  6. Take both the start and end tails and back­stitch through the holes left by the center chain to create the leaf ‘veins’. Weave in the ends.
  7. Using the green yarn, create a slip stitch and pull through to the front of the cherry, leave knot and tail on the back and pull the working yarn to the front.
  8. Ch 5. Pull last chain through to back of 1st cherry.
  9. Ch 1, finish off.
  10. Repeat steps 7 to 9 with second cherry. Weave in the ends.

 

Crochet-Cherry-Tutorial-images-collage

 

Crochet Cherry

 
Now you’re ready to sew it on to whatever garment you’d like. I used a single thread of the matching DMC Embroidery thread to stitch my cherries to this cute onesie/ bodysuit from The White Company
 

Crochet Cherry

 

New to crochet?

Here are a whole heap of tutorials and videos for you to use to create this project:

Magic Ring

hdc (half double crochet)

dc (double crochet)

sl st (slip stitch)

tr (treble or triple crochet)

Invisible Fasten Off Method

 

Crochet Cherry

My templates and tutorials are free for personal use only.

T&Cs-2

The last 10 days in instagram pictures

Are we there yet?

I’m not on bed rest (thank goodness!) but I have been ordered by my doctor not to do anything more energetic than a walk. Maybe she knows me too well… she specifically told me I’m not allowed to clean the house or start emptying cupboards. So I’m all ironed up and feel like I should be bouncing off the walls. But at 37 weeks pregnant, I’m fighting a persistent head/ chest cold and playing the waiting game… I’m continually tired and carrying what feels like an energetic and very uncomfortable bundle of elbows and knees.

Munchkin is running out of room and I’m running out of patience with being pregnant. But we have managed to get some stuff done!

Munchkin's nursery (temporary)

We set up Munchkin’s temporary nursery. The rest of her furniture will arrive in a couple of months. But for now, we have everything she needs to start life. All of her clothes are washed and ready and she finally has her own space in the house which feels nice.

Munchkins bassinet in our room

The reason we’re not overly worried about her nursery is that she’ll be sleeping in with us for the first few months. We’ve her Leander cradle all ready and waiting for her arrival.

Munchkin shoes, cut out

On the days my brain works, and when I’ve not been trying to get all the paperwork etc together for Munchkin’s citizenship and passport or finding her a paediatrician, I’ve been playing with felt; making little shoes for Munchkin and for some friends who have recently had babies. I think I’m finally happy with the design. I love them in coral and grey! I now just have to work out the different sizings.

Munchkin shoes in progress

I can’t decide if I like the bows on the front or on the side. So I’m making Munchkin a pair of both!

Bassinet munchkin

We had a small get together with some of our friends on Sunday on the deck of my favourite gluten-free café in Cully. It wasn’t a baby shower in the traditional sense, but we really wanted to see our friends before we temporarily slip even further off the social scene after Munchkin arrives.

I wasn’t allowed to go all ‘Nicola’ on it. Frustratingly, all I was allowed to do was to book the space and to send out email/ Facebook invites. So it was a decidedly un-Nicola-like event, not a hot air balloon to be seen, but it was delightful nonetheless (DM soothed my ruffled feathers by reminding me that I have many, many future Munchkin birthdays and unbirthday parties to organise). And I have to admit, it was quite a novel experience not to have to worry about anything more than just turning up.

Present from our crafty friends, dalek, Dr Who, baby blanket

Munchkin received some seriously splendid gifts from our lovely and very generous friends. She already has a toy collection and wardrobe I’m envious of!

Some of our crafty friends had got together to create a gorgeous present for Munchkin. They each knit or crochet some panels and made them up into a beautiful baby blanket. They’d been sneaky enough to get DM to send them the colours I wanted for the nursery and in amongst the pretty patterns, they included a couple of sneaky geeky panels. One of a Dalek and the other of a storm trooper. It’s perfect and suits DM’s and my style exactly. I’m really looking forward to seeing Munchkin wrapped up in it.

Crochet aviator helmet for nephew

I spent yesterday with my feet above my heart trying to get my swollen feet back to a size that would fit inside my slip on shoes and worked out this little pattern for a crochet aviators hat/ helmet for the little nephew we’re expecting in a few weeks. I then made another one for DM’s cousin who just had a little baby boy. I’m waiting for Munchkin to arrive so that I can custom make her one that fits perfectly.

 

All photos from next to nicx instagram account