Monday, November 24, 2014
To Knot or Not
I have heard folks say that one of the greatest inventions is the wheel. Now I won't say it wasn't a great improvement in the lives of people and is a direct contribution to our modern forms of transportation. However, that idea needed earlier creations to come to fruition.
I'm talking the whole concept of all aspects of sewing. Think of what that craft brings to mankind. How do you come up with the idea of all the necessary steps to sew a project from beginning to end when you have never seen it done before. And yet it happened, and not just in one place on the globe. No, it was a world-wide development for people in very different environments.
Going all the way back to the Neanderthals, humans have benefited from the ability to obtain hides from animals, treat the hides properly to use them usefully in providing clothing, shoes, blankets, and probably other things we have forgotten about down through the ages. One aspect of the process is the skill of making threads and laces and learning how to knot them to come up with a finished product that serves a specific purpose.
You know how little kids look when they learn to tie their shoes? They have spent years watching the adults in their lives tie shoe laces. These tykes determine to learn the process and work diligently to twist the two laces around and through just so, then pull tight, loop around a make a bow then pull and tighten. And they must learn how to do at least a couple of types of knots - the hard knot necessary to secure a seam in a piece of clothing so it doesn't unravel, and of course the easy bow knot to do a shoe so you can pull it apart later to remove the shoe without effort.
This learning takes awhile to get right, even though the adults have been familiar with the concept for thousands of years. What must it have been like to be the first to come up with the idea? Were they sitting around the campfire discussing ways to keep those scraps of hides close to the leg so the scraps would stay in place as they walked or ran through the forests? Did someone suggest a skinny strip of hide to wrap around the scrap of hide to hold it close? How much experimenting was necessary to wind up with the final draft? Did the naysayers laugh and call them names for trying to do this?
But aren't you glad they did it? Without the laces and the ability to knot them, how could they ever have learned to attach the sharpened rock to the end of a long stick to aid them in killing those animals. How else when you came up with a wheel could you manage to put two of those things together attached to another stick (the axle) to have a pair of wheels to later be added to a cart which could then be pulled with a horse/mule/oxen?
No, I can't see the wheel coming around without first learning the skill of sewing. And this one craft/skill provided shelter, warmth, clothing and shoes for everyone in the community. This was one thing that benefited all in just about every aspect of daily life. So hats off to those unknown people who made such a positive change for everyone.