The informant is a caucasian male. His father was born in Denmark, but was raised in America. He was raised in Virginia, but attended high school in Pasadena, CA. The informant later lived in Hawaii for 8 years, Northern California for 7 years, and now resides in Southern California again. He is a professor, teaching molecular biology to pharmacy students. He was brought up episcopalian but is no agnostic. The informant is divorced with one child.
The informant first heard this proverb as a child, used generally in conversation. He does not very commonly use proverbs, but this is the one that he uses most frequently. In conversation, he says he hears it about once a year. The proverb is said to imply that a task is easier to do as soon as it is needed. If a problem is dealt with as soon as it is identified, it will be much easier to solve than if a person waits and procrastinates. The example he gives is about washing the dishes; the dishes are easiest to wash as soon as they are done being used. If a person waits the food was crusted on and it takes much more effort to see them clean. The informant says that the proverb comes from sewing. If a small rip is identified in a garment, it should be stitched up right then, for if it is not, the rip will expand and soon become a major tear, meaning much more work for the sewer.
Text: A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
Analysis: The informant offers both a proverb and an explanation for the proverb. This folk etymology was told hand and hand with the proverb itself. The informant told the proverb and directly followed it with his explanation of its origin. It is very likely that the etymology is correct, but that is not most pertinent. It is interesting that in performing, or at least explaining, the proverb the text itself goes hand in hand with the explanation of origin. This combination of the two could be an example of people’s desire to explain the origins of folklore. Throughout the history of folklore people have tried to pinpoint the origin of certain pieces of lore, through the use of the Historic-Geographic method and other such devices. This desire perhaps comes from the belief that to understand something you must know its origin, where it came from. Anyway, it is interesting that the informant considered the etymology so important to offer it unasked for in interview.