A stitch in time saves nine.
I think of this old proverb when I drag out this needle point piece that I've worked on for at least NINE years. The TIME part of the proverb I associate with how much time it has taken me to get this far, and how many more NINE billion stitches I have to go.
Will I ever finish? Yes! I am almost there, but I reduced my TIME and SAVED myself some NINES. Rather than a pillow, as the canvas was sized to be, it will soon be an insert for a wooden jewelry box.
Now about the proverb and what it really means. The 'stitch in time' is simply the sewing up of a small hole or tear in a piece of material, so saving the need for more stitching later when the hole has become larger. The first users of this expression were referring to saving nine stitches.
The proverbial expression was meant as an incentive to the lazy. Many English proverbs encourage immediate effort as superior to putting things off until later; example, 'one year's seeds, seven year's weeds', and 'the early bird catches the worm.'
Yikes, now I feel like a 'Times Nine Proverbial Lazy Gal'.