Getting the knittin' train rolling

Knitting is generally a seasonal activity for me, and when the weather turns cold and nighttime comes early, I regularly knit obsessively, staying up too late and ignoring lots of dirty dishes. Other times, like now- in Kentucky in July, when even wearing clothes feels insulting and unbearable, I can't imagine holding some wool on my lap, and I don't touch my needles or yarn for weeks at a time. 

My last completed knitting project was finished in May. It was Laura's and my 30th birthday and I knit a sweater for her using Peace Fleece. I love it and was very proud to give it to her. I have been knitting for several years, but this was the first sweater that I knit that I was very pleased with. I can't rest on my laurels though, gotta keep knitting, and while I have dallied with some socks and felting projects this summer, a friend's new baby is spurring me into serious knitting action. I am dying up the yarn to use, so I can't start knitting today, so I wanted to share some knitting inspiration.

Earlier this summer I found two knitted objects in a bin at a church rummage sale. Here are some knit mittens that I paid one dollar for:
At first, I thought they were for a little girl, but they fit my somewhat mannish hands. They have personalized tags; apparently they belonged to "Molly Belt." They are from Best and Co., Fifth Avenue, New York. Here's a shot of the tags:
Until today I thought the mittens had not been worn or used, they're in great shape and the colors are incredible. But when I was photographing them I noticed they had been darned, oh so carefully and precisely:
Considering that these are knit at 11(!) stitches per inch, I feel like a slacker for thinking about changing the gauge and yarn on my next project so it could be whipped up on size 4 or 6's for some faster knitting. My knitting often brings to mind long-distance travel or running: planning the journey, starting, stopping, hating the journey, mental "trip math," etc. These mittens are the equivalent to driving cross country with no AC, and I can't even imagine knitting something like this at this stage in my knitting journey. And I know it is inevitable, but I have to consider Molly Belt and who she was, how she got these mittens and the story behind how these were made. I've done some research about Best and Co, and this type of mitten, but haven't had much luck, and am on the look out for more information about mittens like these.

As if one old knitted artifact wasn't cool enough, check out these socks.They were pricier- $2.00:
I have not read any of the books about folk socks, but these incredible socks make me want to do some reading. Their construction is so crazy and cool, I cannot figure them out. You can actually see some stitching that looks like whip stitches attaching the cuff to the sock body, and I am very curious about the twisted, twining gold thread embellishment, it looks like it was sewn on after the knitting and construction. Here's a shot of one sock, that I stuffed:
They have no tags or identifying marks. They reeked of moth-balls when I bought them and the bottoms were quite dirty. I washed them and line dried them, and while they don't smell bad anymore, the bottoms still look worn. They are too small for my size 8.5's, they look like they might fit a women's size 6.5. The gauge on these puppies is about 10.5 stitches per inch and they are so tightly knit, it's almost like the stitches were twisted or something. They have almost no stretch or give, they are very firm.

Whew. I can't imagine knitting anything like either of these pieces, and I think it's cool that both of them were well-used and appreciated, much like I aspire my knitting to be- aesthetically pleasing, but also useful, sturdy, warm and classic. A tall order for a baby hat, but I will get knitting and we'll see if I get there.

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