Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Hello, hello!

We have some N-E-W-S for you!

Midwest Needles has decided to move to big cartel in the form of the following shops:

www.otilliescloset.bigcartel.com – here you can find hand-knit jewelry, reproductions of vintage patterns, and creative repurposed vintage clothing

www.hellotricotee.bigcartel.com – here you can find hand-knit home accessories, featuring the Doxie Door Draft Dodgers, and other home goods

You can also follow our new blogs of the same names!  🙂

www.otilliescloset.com and www.hellotricotee.com

We hope you find us on twitter and facebook, too!!!

So, that brings us to the sale!!!  Please use code, “AWESOME” at our etsy shop to receive 30% off all our products!!!  And we’ll even send you an extra lil’ coupon for our shops (15%) with your purchase!!!

We think you guys are tops, first rate even!  We appreciate all your support and love and encouragement!!!  We hope you follow us on our new adventures!!!


kerith & kate


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Hello again!

As you may remember, my parents spent Father’s Day up in the mountains doing a little photo shoot for me (I forgot to take pictures of a sweater that took me a million years to make).  And, boy, did they take it seriously…!!!!

Ok!  I’d like to note that my parents REALLY focused on the “Scandinavian” aspect of the sweater, and found really great places to take pictures of the sweater in what may look like Norway (actually Loveland Pass, Dillon Lake, and Idaho Springs, CO)!!!  But they took no photos of the details or the stitches of the sweater!!!  But I’m ok with that!!!  Because they spent Father’s Day together having fun and making an adventure out of the fruits of my labor!!!!  🙂



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For a while now, my dad has been really wanting a traditional Norwegian sweater, but as some of you may know, they cost roughly $400-$500 (hand knit, of course).

Well, clearly, this is out of my budget (even though my heart wants to pay it), so I decided I would make one for him instead!  I’ll use a traditional Scandinavian pattern, order the yarn direct from the source, and get crackin’.  It’s LIKE he bought it from the ol’ motherland, it’s just my little hands that are doing the work!

Upon doing research, I stumbled upon this beauty!  A KIT!  PERFECT!  It’s Icelandic, but it was the most accessible for what I thought would work for my dad (and me), so I ordered it!!!  No only do you get all the yarn you need to make the sweater, you get a complete book of about 20 scandinavian patterns!

I ordered everything right before Christmas so I didn’t want to get started!  I wrapped up the yarn and the book for my dad and put it under the Christmas tree!  He was so happy to receive a box of yarn!!  🙂

My parents came to visit at the end of May, so I made sure I had it done by then.  The pattern was easy to follow and moved quickly.  It was PERFECT!  My dad was born to wear that sweater!   I was in such a zone, I took ZERO pictures of my progress!!!  And off my parents went with my very best work ever!!!  And no proof I made it!!!

And fast forward to today, Father’s Day!!!  My parents live outside of Boulder, CO, and I received this little gem of a photo from my mom and her cell phone:

My parents drove up to the mountains (Idaho Springs, I believe) this morning to do a little “photo shoot” of my dad in his sweater!  My mom says she has 30 photos total!!!  I can’t wait to share them with you!!!

Happy Father’s Day to all you handsome dads out there!!!



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Remember me? I’m Kerith!  And I’ve been an absentee member of Midwest Needles for a few months!  But please…let me explain!!!

My husband and I bought a house a year ago in Milwaukee, and, well…you know how it goes, just a few months later, I was offered a position in Chicago I just couldn’t refuse!!!!

We planned on renovating the house as we could, doing it ourselves and planning every little step to make the perfect place, but that changed once we realized we would be moving…!

So, we went into hyper-speed and made a few compromises…

Here’s what we started out with…



Yes, we have several things to discuss here…

1.  Yes, that is carpet on the floor.  It was a nice office/outdoor type of carpet.  Very clean (I hope you sense the sarcasm);

2.  Yes, that is an avocado green electric stove.  One might say, “AWESOME!  RETRO!  VINTAGE!”  I say, “Could I please have an oven door that does not take two hands to open and close?”

3.  Yes, that is a peach sink;

4.  Yes, those curtains have mushrooms on them (not in a cute way); and

5.  Yes, the lamp/fan is a classy combination of wicker, gold, and yellow and orange flowers.

Then, it turned into this:

After we moved in, I spazzed out, to put it lightly, and took all the doors off all the cabinets because the kitchen was so dark, it was making me claustrophobic.  We lived with the kitchen like this for almost a year.  We got a new fridge (the old one was from the 80s) and my husband’s parents gave us their “old” stove, which was about 30 years newer than what we were previously working with, so we were more than happy to accept.

We tested a little area to see what was under the carpet, and sadly, the carpet was glued down to a linoleum floor, under which was just floorboards…  😦

  We covered up the square we cut out of the floor with this rug because we didn’t know what else to do!  We’re super classy.  And as you may remember…JT loves a good photo opportunity!!!

Oh, oops!  How’d she sneak in there!!!??!!  That’s our little Ginger Snap!  We finally caught her with the camera  (p.s. you also get a nice close up of our kitchen carpet)!

What we did:

1.  New floors;

2.  New hardware on the cabinets;

3.  New appliances;

4.  New counters;

5.  New sink;

6.  Crown molding; and

6.  New paint EVERYWHERE (trim, tile, wall…)

And here it is!  It’s about 98% done, just a few minor things to fix up!  Pre-heatin’ the oven for some cookies!!!



And the cookies will go right there on the cake stand!

And that’s why I’ve been absent!  I hope you’ll forgive me…



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As we all know…the U.S. of A. has been hit with a crazy storm of freezing rain and snow.  Yesterday it looked like this…cars still out and about…

Today it looks like this…obviously, no one is driving down this street…

I took a little walk around my neighborhood this morning (after making muffins and posting a new cowl on Etsy), and I found one guy laying in the middle of the intersection.  He told me he likes to “play dead” in the middle of intersections during snowstorms because…”when do you ever get the opportunity to lay in the middle of the street in Chicago?”  Fair enough, my man…fair enough…

Here’s my favorite little strip in my neighborhood…and the coffee shop is open today!  But you have to go through snowdrifts 3 feet high to get there…

And after playing with Peanut, a neighbor’s pooch, I found this poor Volvo…

It’s so nice seeing families outside playing and laughing.  I love seeing little kids buddled up, running around, and falling over.  I love it!  But I thought it was cruel to take pictures of that…  🙂

Stay warm…or don’t!  Go play outside.



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This weekend was forecast to be “much” warmer than last Friday, 19-21 degrees Fahrenheit.  Friday, it was 1 degree Fahrenheit!  ONE!

I had some errands to run Saturday morning, and although I didn’t need to be as bundled up as I was on Friday, this is what I wore…


I’m going to be honest…that sweater…I thought I had looooooooooong thrown that away…but I found it. saturday morning. in a bin…!  I got it at J.Crew in 2000.  I think about that time, and I think, “oh, Kerith…that’s not that long ago…”  Um, hello!  That was over 10 years ago!!!

That’s me and JT.  JT is my, ahem, “little” doxie.  You can find him in some other posts, too.  I have one other doxie, her name is Ginger Snap, but she doesn’t like photos as much as my little Tubtubs.

I love that this outfit just pulled together out of pure luck.  When I come up to Milwaukee, I don’t really know what to pack or what my weekend is going to be like, so having this fluffy sweater here was the “cerise sur le gâteau” on such a snowy day!!!

The breakdown is this:

Sweater: J.Crew, ca. fall 2000 (!!!)

Blouse: Anthropologie, ca. fall 2009

Belt: Anthropologie, ca. summer 2008

Skinny cords: J.Crew, ca. holiday 2010

Boots: J.Crew, ca. holiday 2007

And we’re off!



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This week’s vintage craft love post is all about the Creative Hands series!  Last fall during a trip to the thrift store to find Halloween costumes I stumbled on a lone volume from this series. I immediately fell in love and tried to find as much about these books as I could. 

Unfortunately not much knowledge is out there other than people selling single volumes or entire sets.  Eventually I purchased all 22 volumes (minus #13 and #15) for a whopping $11.00 including shipping!!  From what I can gather they were originally published as articles or chapters in other books or magazines and collected together in what is meant to be an encyclopedia of all things crafty.  Most of the projects are sewing, knitting, embroidery, tatting, or macrame.  (Thank heavens since I don’t take much interest in projects involving glue!) They are a little confusing to follow since the skills they teach are meant to build off previous ones.  For example, in one volume they may talk about sewing a skirt but then refer to pockets covered in a previous volume.  However, I mostly browse through these books for inspiration.  The photos are lovely and there is a wonderful mix of drawings as well.  The art historian in me also loves the artists that they sometimes feature, although it baffles me they don’t always give a name.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite pages from the books- enjoy!

I love this embroidery pattern!

Isn't this photo dreamy?

Creepy projects are not absent from the series, however....EW!!!

Snazzy skirts!

Make a robe for your sophisticated man.

Super mod stitch pattern.

LOVE the yellow and gray.

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