Monday, February 7, 2011

Applied skill and necessity

I've mentioned a couple of times that I grew up in rural Maine. There are many things about my present life in the village that remind me of my childhood years spent in fields, the woods, barns, and gardens. Something about the similarity between the two ways of life keeps bringing back old adages that I often heard in New England when I was young; then they didn't mean much to me. Now they do.

"A stitch in time saves nine." This one gave me trouble when I was little -- I remember working really hard to understand what it meant, to no avail. Now I know! And I have a shirt and a sock that will need more than nine extra stitches if I don't get to mending them soon!

"You have to eat a peck of dirt before you die." I'm not sure if I heard this more from my dad or my grandpa, nor am I sure it is one of ye olde adages.... but I have thought of this saying many, many times since coming to Georgia. Sanitation is not rampant in the village -- the water that is drawn from the well is not filtered -- dirt finds its way into just about everything.

"Necessity is the mother of invention" -- and those from New England summarize and personalize this particular adage and call it "Yankee ingenuity." "Yankee ingenuity" is a prized characteristic of New Englanders, and as a proud Mainer, I am glad to have inherited this knack for thinking about things in a  new way -- applying the skills I have to practical problems and coming up with solutions.

My hand warmers and headband --
they just about match my red nose!
A week ago, I bought a skein of yarn to give my knitting needles -- and my hands -- something to do when I'm tired of reading while sitting by the stove in the kitchen. I made a couple of headbands wide enough to cover the ears -- one for me and one for Tea (although I may make another for her since Koba keeps stealing hers!). I wanted to make some mittens, but I don't have any double-pointed needles with me -- and the needles I have are too short to make a hat. I kept coming back to mittens or gloves..... then I got an idea. My hands are always cold ("Cold hands, warm heart," right?), and with a less-than-effective heating system at school, I wear my gloves everyday during classes. But when I need to write on the chalkboard, I have to take off my right glove to keep it from getting chalky. So, I thought about making some fingerless gloves -- basically an extension of a sleeve with a thumb-hole. I got out a piece of paper and sketched out a rough pattern for my creation. It took a little finagling and ripping out a couple of rows that didn't go as planned, but in the end, my idea worked great! I have some cute little hand-warmers to go with my headband. Now my hands stay warmer at school, and I can write on the chalkboard with ease.

Applied skill and necessity -- the results of this combination are rewarding!

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