Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"A Stitch in Time Saves Nine"

Nine what?

If anyone knows, 
or thinks he has a tenable theory, 
please share it here today.


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in each daily post will be summarily deleted, 
UNLESS I, myself, find them of potential value 
to others and particular interest to me, personally.

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  2. Nominalization of "stitch."

    Nine implies plural, and of the two preceding nouns (stitch and time), only stitch has a proper countable plural.

    Let a needed stitch (repair) go undone, and the entire garment may unravel.

    Now, aren't you sorry that you asked? **wink**

  3. Oh BOO HOO!

    Now I'm more confused than ever. ;-)

    In other words: if one does what's necessary to mend a garment "in time" -- i.e. before the damage worsens --, one should have a lot less mending to do than if one procrastinates?

    I GUESS that's what it means -- and what YOU meant too, AOW. Am I right?

    People repeat these old sayings all their lives without having the foggiest notion of what they're really saying.

    Seeking clarification might be a thankless task, but it's fun.

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  6. AOW is correct. My mother was a beautiful dressmaker and taught me sewing at a very young age. I also learned that if you stitch up a small tear, you save yourself several stitches in repairing a larger one.

    "A stitch in time saves nine [stitches later].

    My mother also used to darn socks. I still remember the wooden implement she used [darning egg?] to place inside the sock and then mend it.

    She also taught me how to sew on a button to make it stayed good and sewn.

    Does anyone sew anymore? I used to make all my dresses and my daughter's as well. Made my own draperies, bed coverlets and pillow shams.

  7. I sew. But I never knew what the saying meant.

  8. Dear, Ms. Shaw,

    Your mother sounds a lot like my Grandmother Rafaella, who must have been a living miracle, because she raised eight children -- very beautifully -- in New York City, and Grandpa never made more than twenty dollars week!

    I never knew her. She died before I was born. My mother was the last of the eight children, and waited a little too long to have me -- probably because of the Depression -- but I heard so much about my grandmother I feel as though she had been a big part of my life, which in a way she really was.

    She made all the clothes for herself and her girls, marketed each day rain or shine, cooked wonderful meals completely from scratch on a cast iron wood stove, did all the family wash by hand with water she boiled in a huge copper cauldron on the wood stove, hung it all on a clothesline strung across the kitchen, then ironed everything with a flat iron heated on the stove.

    By all reports she was very strict about making sure her children did their homework, and it paid off, because her three surviving boys all graduated from college -- one from Princeton where he was given a full tuition scholarship. He graduated magna cum laude -- in 1926, and went on to become an eminent radiologist when that specialty was still called Roentgenology. Later, he was invited to teach at Columbia P&S in addition to he regular duties of his practice.

    But, no one I know has ever surpassed the accomplishments of Grandmother Rafaella. She must have been "oppressed" by today's standards, but, apparently, she never realized it. Her only recreation involved membership in the Women's Sewing Circle at her church, where she and other women in similar circumstances got together to spend some of their precious "free time" each week stitching garments for "the poor," if you would believe.

    Well, all that was more than a hundred years ago. My mother would be celebrating her one-hundredth birthday this year, if she were still with us, and my grandmother would be 145 years old.

    It really was a different world. I don't suppose we would enjoy living that way anymore -- not after all we've had -- but I never heard anyone of that generation complain about what they had had to endure, which is odd because so many members of my generation have done little BUT complain, despite having had a much easier time than our forebears.

    I'm not sure what we ought to glean from that. ;-)

    Albert Schweitzer once said something about "the beautiful dullness of long labor." My piano teacher at the conservatory was fond of those words, and had it posted prominently in her studio.

    Remarkable what human beings are able to accomplish when they don't have much time to fret and worry!

    One of my great aunts had a darning egg, which she seemed to use almost compulsively. "The devil finds work for id;e hands, " she'd say, and so she was always darning, knitting, crocheting, or running things up on her treadle sewing machine. Great Uncle Joe bought her an electric model sometime in the 1940's, but my aunt still preferred her old treadle machine. Said it kept her ankles from stiffening up with arthritis.

    I don't know how they did what they did, but I'm so gad to have known them, and so grateful for what they gave just by being who they were.

    So glad you dropped by.

  9. My cousin offered to give me a larger sampler that my grandmother and great aunt made. I told her I felt uncomfortable and felt she should leave it to one of her children.

    Pity. They used as many different stitches as they could think of and I counted at least 35 till I stopped.

    A really professional framing and this was museum quality. I wonder if the skills still survive.

  10. Yes, nine STITCHES are saved when you repair a hole when you only need one. Must say it seems rather obvious to me.

  11. Originally it meant just what everyone is saying, but, I submit that time has given that phrase a lot more meanings. As example, you have a bit of rust showing up on that 3 year old car and have it fixed now, it'll be a lot less expensive than 2 years from now. Or how about doing some minor changes to social security NOW, rather than see the whole damned thing blow up on us down the road, you know, the road where they continuously kick the can? And just maybe, if someone a few years ago had the balls to be FIRM with Iran, we wouldn't be looking at a lot more than 9 stitches right now. You get the idea, right?

    Geeeez, it always seems to come back to politics. heh heh heh

  12. Leave it to you, AA, to draw political implications, but of course you're right.

    All these little proverbs, fables and aphorisms are rooted in one basic principle or other that applies to much beyond the literal interpretation.

    Once a problem is identified it is best dealt with right away, because neglected it always gets worse and therefore much harder to solve.

  13. Ducky,

    Why were you "uncomfortable" with the idea of keeping that sampler? I hope your relatives appreciate it's value as a work of superior craftsmanship as much as you do?

    As "décor" in this modern world, where stark, bare bones simplicity seem all the rage, samplers might be difficult to live with, but as family memorabilia and, as you say, examples of fine craftsmanship they would be priceless. I wish I had one of the few modest examples stitched by New England forebears, but all that "went west" long ago before we realized how fickle and arbitrary the dictates of "fashion" really are.

    If I were you, I'd accept the gift, pay to have it properly framed, conserve it, then leave it to the younger generation, yourself, after having instructed them carefully as to its true value.

  14. The art of stitchery still survives as a domestic pursuit, I'm sure, Ducky. I've seen examples recently in a crafts museum and exhibition hall in Asheville, North Carolina, and in Saluda as well, but -- as one might expect -- the style and focus is far removed from the samplers of yesteryear. The influences of abstract and expressionist art, and op art, are felt, but the stitches, themselves, may not have changed all that much. There's more fantasy involved now, which is probably a good thing.

  15. The use of 'nine' may fit the rhyme best..as opposed to say,
    "a stitch in time saves eight" etc. That 'nine' shows up in
    sayings like 'nine tenths of the law', 'cloud 9', 'dressed to the nines', 'the whole nine yards',
    'nine times out of ten' etc, adds
    to the mystery a bit.

  16. Yes, BB, I think a general attraction to euphony -- and a love for "tradition" may have a lot to do with it.

    Three and multiples of three do seem to have been given a mystical significance.

    The Trinity

    666 as "The Mark of the Beast" in Revelation

    Nine men on a baseball team

    I'm sure there are many less obvious examples.

  17. The intermingling of language, math and tradition..reminds me of the primitives who probably wouldn't comprehend. Like the members of the Piraha
    tribe, whose expertise in the matter amounted to a counting system that went, one..two...

  18. Thanks, BB-Idaho. You just gave me a new post. The article you linked should provide a worthwhile springboard for fruitful discussion.



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