“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”
– Robert A. Heinlein

I believe strongly in knowing how stuff works and my work history reflects it. I’ve been a sailor, a gardener, an office temp, a warehouse worker and now a programmer trying to become an author. Besides all that I half grew up on a farm and know a lot about the skillset that comes with that. By now I know how to do a lot of those things in Heinlein’s list above and then some. The thing is I think that list is inherently lacking (as it is no doubt meant to be). Here are some skills that I would add to the list.

Knit a sock
While it can be deemed debatable whether or not being able to knit Shetland wedding ring lace (basically a shawl knit so fine that the whole of it can pass through a wedding ring without difficulty), it cannot be debated that everyone needs socks. Especially if you’re lost on some desert island, because socks equals civilization, amirite? And if you need more convincing, the Samurai actually knit socks and gloves during times of peace to gain more income. And you can’t seriously claim to be cooler than a Samurai.

In light of that, here’s a video of how to start knitting socks:

(part 2, part 3, part 4)

Spin your own yarn
Lost on a desert island or even a distant planet, how will you knit your socks (or wedding ring shawls) if you don’t know how to spin your own yarn? This is something I have yet to learn so I’ll have to learn it right along with you.

As usual, youtube to the rescue:

(she also has tutorials on how to prepare the stuff about to become yarn

Make a fishing net
So last summer we started to Steampunkify our bedroom because I really, really wanted to and my husband is an incredibly patient and awesome man. While the process is still ongoing, one of the ideas I have for it is a purple ceiling lamp that doubles as a hot-air balloon. And for that I would need a net. And while I learned all kinds of knots during my seafaring life, I’ve never made a fishing net. So I learned how to make one. Youtube to the rescue!

There are probably lots of survival skills that might come handy on an alien planet and I don’t think I’m ready to survive even on Earth. So I put this to you, dear readers, what other essential skills should humans know?