Jan 27, 2009

Necessity and Innovation

Centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Plato wrote "Necessity, who is the mother of invention. . ." With the passage of time, we have become less succinct in describing that moment when a need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet that need or solve the problem. Simply put, if worse comes to worst, people will apply all their imagination and skill to deal with the problem. Truer words and all that.

Today, one of my crochet "mentees" came to work and proudly showed off a hat she had made. For a relative beginner, just learning to read patterns, she did quite well. Her stitches were even and sure. She learned two new techniques -- the back-loop-only rib and hdc2tog. She even ripped back a part of the ribbed brim to correct several rows where she had inadvertently added an extra stitch. I had told her that the mistake could easily be hidden when the brim was attached to the main body of the hat. But she took the high road and frogged away -- she's getting good. Linda would have been proud.

So, where does necessity come into the picture? My friend's first attempt at seaming (the pattern required the hat to be crocheted flat and then seamed up the side) was not exactly invisible. To help her make the seen unseen, she asked how to make the seam more invisible. I picked the seam apart and reached for the stainless steel yarn needle that I keep tacked to the wall of my cubicle (I subscribe to the Girl Scout motto -- be prepared) but it was missing. We next tried to make do with the too-large hook (an "I" hook in permanent residence in the pencil/pen cup next to my computer), but to no avail. Then it hit me! A needle is just a straight piece of metal with a loop at one end. So why not unbend a paper clip into the desired shape. Smarticles, huh!?

You would think it would have worked but the eye of my makeshift needle kept catching the yarn -- the problem was we couldn't bend the eye into a perfectly closed loop. We were at a loss until another co-worker and fellow crocheter suggested we tape the the needle, covering the exposed loop. Simple but quite effective. We were back in business and the hat was reseamed in less than 10 minutes and looking quite smart. Even better smarticles (thanks, Mayra).

Yes, the need for some things can bring about new inventions, or in our case, makeshift whatnots.

Mater Artium Necessitas. Three words. How's that for brevity?

No comments: