In my attempts to constantly say what an inspiration Leah Day is, I do have to say that this past weekend I started the beginning of what could be a very long year-long experiment in the scientific quilter household. Which is a good thing.
I started up my own 6 inch squares with dark fabric, light thread, batting, paper, a list of beginner designs by Leah that I printed off on my black-and-white printer, and my own variations of those designs. I do have to say that:
I don’t own her DVD of designs – yet!
I don’t own her worksheets
I don’t get paid to say this
I haven’t been asked to do this experiment
I have not discussed this particular adventure in any way (yet) with Leah Day.
I simply LOVE the idea of learning how to machine quilt and I love how there is structure to the ‘unstructured’. The post where she set everything up is really what got me started thinking that I could do this too. Along with several other posts of hers as well.
Realize I should also have broken my foot as she suggested, but was not going to cut through plastic that easily without a replacement foot.
Now I need to cut the designs down and put them in my clear plastic sleeves into my folder.
This was my sketching the designs to my liking and practice with one long pen stroke.
Loading my “quality machine” with the darning foot – see gloves on the side!
This was the first design and I listened to her video suggestion on this one and just did a grid and then the flying geese pattern. I like them up and then down without the bars in between.
I have a love affair with daisies and instead of making them in rows like her Dresden daisies, I thought I’d rather see them in random patches. Not my best work, but these are interpretations of daisies. It’s a process.
So far practiced curves and straight lines. Boy was this fun and getting me excited to try more!
Occurences with complex vocabulary in technical disciplines
What is it about all this scientific and mathematical vocabulary, notation, jargon, acronyms? Is it there to make us smarter and understand more or is it there just to confuse us? The following are some scientific examples of extreme vocabulary (look at your own risk)
In math you have all the integral signs and the large sigma and the n-notation everywhere.
In physics, essentially you learn the greek alphabet, math, equations everywhere!
Chemistry is no better, with all the organic chemistry notation. For example one diastereomer is trans-3-methylcyclopentanol (I have no idea what that is used for, but it looks complicated, right?) The other enantiomer is cis-3-methlycyclopentanol in case you’re wondering.
Biology for me was hard due to endless lists of vocabulary. Just opening one page in my book gives me: squamous cells, cuboidal cells, simple epithelium, stratified epi…… (okay I’ll stop here!)
With terms like this, its easy to stop in your tracks and run the other way. Sure. Go ahead. See ya next podcast and post if you follow suit. But for a vocabulary adventure, keep reading.
Eschew Obfuscation in the English Language and what to do about vocabulary intimidation
But you don’t encounter intimidating vocabulary only in the science classroom. Or in any classroom. There are things all around us that cause us to feel intimidated just by saying them out loud.
The English language being one of the great intimidators. The existence of the word irregardless. Spelling bee words. A new (to me) phrase brought to my attention by one of my commenters: Eschew Obfuscation
After doing a little bit of research, I found out that “eschew obfuscation” means “avoid confusion“.
Sometimes intimidating vocabulary can be used (like I did with the science words) to intimidate you. Or as Timelady says: “sometimes (people) genuinely do not realise that it is unreasonable to expect others to understand such words – perhaps they are (using) technical jargon, abbreviations, acronyms”.
Do I feel that a lot of people in my life do this on a regular basis? – NO.
Do I feel that quilters have such a crazy complicated vocabulary such that they cannot express their meaning to me in a way I can’t understand? – Also NO.
If someone does intimidate you verbally, Timelady says to counter with something to the effect of: “oh I don’t know what that word means. Could you tell me? Thanks for increasing my language skills”.
To avoid confusion when writing, an Eschew Obfuscation website suggests to
assume the reader is naive
use the active voice
organize thoughts sequentially and logically
(a few of these I have to work on myself.)
Possible confusing vocabulary in our hobbies
With hobbies of any kind, science fiction, fishing, quilting … etc. there is usually a learning curve to understanding the hobby.
Learning product and equipment names can seem confusing to use. Materials used in creating a project have their own names, brands, and acronyms.
Other times it is a specific technique that is being demonstrated, and a skill that has to be learned.
Sometimes abstract concepts are best described with a certain word or phrase like “color value”, gradation, contrast. Some of these techniques are simple in idea, but also complicated such that it takes a lifetime to master.
Space saving when communicating is facilitating our use of acronyms and symbols. Text messaging, tweeting, and constant communication is shortening our words and ideas to “WIPS” “UFO’s” “HSY” (haven’t started yet – heard by me first on Annie Smith’s Quilting Stash).
Referring to loved ones as DH, DD, MIL, …. is necessary sometimes to protect privacy.
The reason I haven’t pursued crochet and knitting is the pattern and symbol notations used in patterns as space savers. I see the pattern notation, don’t take time to analyze it, and put the project down, never to start on it. I COULD figure it out if I had the desire to learn, but for now I’ll just do quilting with its visual blocks.
iPhones (with access to dictionary.com) and Kindles have places to look up vocabulary too, so you don’t have to carry around a large dictionary everywhere you go.
Listen to Podcasts, listening to complicated words spoken several times gets you familiar to the words and ideas. This makes it easier when you actually do the technique or use the product.
Watch Videos - Same as podcasts – gives you exposure, ideas, lets you see and hear together what is meant by various techniques and words
Write the word down several times – in context
Make up your own story or your own sentence
Ask someone who brings it up to explain, then give them an example sentence or situation and see if you understand (my personal favorite a lot of times)
Learn the rootwords, prefixes and suffixes. That organic chemistry compound earlier can be explained in its parts. For non-chemistry examples: hetero- means different, chrom- means color, epi- means above -graph means write …
Use word clouds to gain familiarity. Create your own on Wordle or Tagul.
Google search – or your favorite web search engine.
Post on a forum about what other people know. People are generally helpful enough to answer your questions.
Use mnemonics to help your brain link common terms and objects to more complicated ones
Do teacher-type techniques for extreme vocabulary learning (like for tests when you HAVE to know words)
Make it fun. Create word crosses, word searches, and puzzles at discovery puzzlemaker site
Matching quiz. Write or copy the list of words and the list of definitions and paste each into two separate columns in a word processing or spreadsheet program. Then alphabetize all the words alphabetically, and alphabetize all the definitions reverse alphabetically. Do a matching game.
Create flashcards. Used this to demonstrate the idea of stoichiometry in equations. Physically moving something around helped with movement and learning. As quilters, we move around the parts of our quilt blocks – that is similar to how to learn balancing equations.
Create a blog about a new word or idea. Chances are that teaching someone else something will help you learn it better yourself. Blogs are good for this.
I hope you enjoy a little crossword that I created using words from Quilt University’s own Quilt Glossary. You can find the PDF below.
Another departure from the “normal science podcast.” This week we explore the idea of how quilting, scientific, and mathematic glossaries, terminology, and notations can trip you up from trying something new.
Before I learned the word “stoichiometry” I was terrified until I understood that the concept was much easier to deal with than the word itself. I hear that quilting has some words and terms like this as well – like “trapunto“.
By the podcast I will come up with some strategies to deal with intimidating vocabulary. Any advice to share from english-literary people would be nice (yes I want to use both sides of my brain here).
Later today, I should be expecting to have a guest blogger post on Quilting Gallery. I contacted Michelle Foster from Quilting Gallery about two weeks ago to let her know about the podcasts I listen to. The next day she sent out the call for guest blogger posts, and then graciously asked if I would want to have a guest blogger spot. I am very flattered and honored to be asked to do this, and hope you all like it.
In it, I write the “origin story” of the Scientific Quilter which is mostly a tribute to the quilting podcasts I listen to. This is an attempt to expose some more of the quilting world to podcasting from my perspective. The post is rather long, but shares my experiences and why I like each podcast, how I came into quilting, and how I started blogging.
A small excerpt from the blog post below. Go to Quilter’s Gallery blog for the entire post.
My name is Darla and I am one of the new bloggers out there. I am a beginner quilter with a lot of quilting and blogging ambitions, and a unique perspective.
Rather than spending a lot of time talking about my blog Scientific Quilter, I wanted to share a (long) story of my experiences of the past year that lead me to be a quilting blogger.
I started quilting when I received a free sewing machine from work in February of 2009 and somehow in my head I had thought you had to have a sewing machine to be a quilter. I’ve wanted to be a quilter for several years, but kept putting off that idea because I kept putting off the idea of buying all the supplies. A year earlier I had purchased a book on quilting – Your First Quilt Book by Carol Doak and it sat in my car for most of that year while the quilting idea kept bubbling up. Once I got the sewing machine, the book was opened and read cover to cover. …
To find the comprehensive list of quilting podcasts and TV spots go to Quilting Gallery, click Quilter’s Fun tab, then click on the Quilter’s TV/Video and Podcasts under the Quilter’s Resources section.
I have some good news that should come out on Wednesday that I’m really excited about. This news is not only for me, but for all the other quilting podcasters out there. As always, I hope to do the other ladies proud.
This weekend I got almost completed with my binding from the help of some sewing ladies nearby. I have one seam left to whip down on the back. I hope to post this early Wednesday on the blog. Here’s a sneak peek:
Thinking about my mother, the cancer that took her life, and all that stuff that goes along with that. Luckily, I had put it out of my mind most of the day and pretended I forgot what today was – I even went to work today and it kept me pretty busy, but when anniversaries come – even of bad events – sometimes its hard not to notice.
I will update again on Wednesday. In the meantime I need to finish this last edge and go to the guild meeting tomorrow with a fancy show-and-tell.
Thank you all for your comments and support so far!
I really should get together a new idea for a scientific podcast post here – thank you all for visiting me today. However, now I am a little upset and can’t think about my science or math at this time, so no new ideas – all blocked up.
I have just gotten word that we are cancelling my upcoming sewing night on friday due to the snow. This is cancelled in addition to the (extra) guild sewing day on saturday and I’m bummed. The normal guild meeting is next week on Tuesday and I am worried that may be cancelled too.
Not that the guild is everything, but I was starting to get excited about talking to people in real life about quilting and it’s already been 2 months since I’ve seen nothing but family members (don’t sew at all) or co-workers (some appreciate sewing, but don’t do a lot of it).
I had already gotten all (some) of my stuff in some nifty 2 gallon bags ready to go and I was going to set my mind up to tackle my binding on my first quilt. I found my missing misplaced book that tells me how to cut and sew binding. I also had a plan of basting my applique quilt to a backing fabric, and I had my current applique in my bag already for backup projects.
I was planning on asking the ladies about what color binding to use – because I changed opened my mind about the binding, considering other colors. I was going to either a) self bind or b) straight double fold bind with the same fabric I used for the backing, but now I think I’d rather open the colors up a little bit. Any suggestions from any of you?
Anyway, if I’m at home, I don’t get things done. When I was a student, I had to discipline myself to go to the library or the “study room” to force myself to work on my homework. I get too distracted at home. And yes - I think I just equated quilting with homework – STOP it Darla! – but I know my habits of getting things done and I had worked around my limitations, and I was pretty pleased with myself.
I set a deadline and psyched myself up and here is a disappointment that I can’t finish this quilt again. The first weekend I podcasted, I didn’t attend the binding class where I was going to do the same thing – finish this quilt. And then when things came up – I couldn’t financially justify going to the class I so eagerly wanted to take.
So here is my weekend resolution: I am going to take this weekend to see if I can muddle through this last part of my quilt – and try NOT to sit on the computer all weekend long. Of course this means
a) no research
b) no podcast
c) no blog entries
d) no constantly checking my stats & comments
e) no (little) facebook
f) no blog surfing
g) no other time-wasting computer time
Not that I don’t enjoy those things, but I have to find a way to discipline myself ot get this quilt done, and it ain’t happening otherwise. I’m going to set a timer for the time that I am on the computer and hopefully this will motivate me.
Of course a video about putting up binding (the last bit somewhat intimidates me) may have to be an exception to the computer rule.
You have until Saturday morning to encourage me. (of course you know I’ll check it saturday too, but right now I’m pretending that isn’t the case) Not that I am ordering or anything. OR you can give me more ideas to be inspired by for the podcast – I’ll love to hear them too!
In the mean time go check out my podcast and get up to date on them.
A wonderfully simple, but visually pleasing mathematical topic is called the Fibonacci sequence.
What is the Fibonacci sequence?
Before you go running off to Wikipedia to find out (it’s somewhat scary – I’m warning you), let me explain Fibonacci here first.
The Fibonacci sequence is a series that can continue on forever (something to occupy your kids of school age for a period of time that can add multiple digits – challenge them to find the first 20 or 30 Fibonacci numbers and they’ll stay occupied for a while to give you sewing time).
You start with the number 1 and the other number 1.
Then you add the two numbers together: 1 + 1 = 2
Then you add the last two numbers together: 1 + 2 = 3
Then you add the last two numbers together: 2 + 3 = 5
… 3 + 5 = 8
… 5 + 8 = 13
… and so on … the numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 …. are the first numbers in the Fibonacci sequence
Square One was an educational television program in the late 80′s that helped kids learn math. There were several other shows that held my interest at this time such as: Mr Wizard, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Braingames (on HBO), Encyclopedia (also on HBO), which focused on science, geography, brain puzzles, and vocabulary respectively.
On Square One, at the end of every episode there was a segment called ‘Mathnet’. On Dragnet Mathnet, they were detectives that used math to solve crimes, and on one episode (series of episodes) there was a parrot that kept saying “1, 1, 2, 3, 5, eureka”. It was the Fibonacci parrot. Listen to the episode to hear my rendition of the parrot and some songs that I sing wonderfully that I embarrass myself for the sake of math.
Fibonacci quilt from Christina at Christina Creating
The colors, the contrast, the borders and the binding are just incredibly wonderful in this quilt! Its informational, educational, visually appealing, square, AND well received by the recipients! She talks about the process in her favorite quilt post. No wonder it’s one of her favorite quilts!
Because I missed it the first time, here is a direct quote from Christina Creating about the inspiration for the quilt that she made:
“I got the idea from the article “Pythagorean Tree” by Diana Venters in AQS’s American Quilter: Ultimate Projects (vol XIX, no 5, 2003).” I have not been quilting all that long, so do not have access to that article (without going to the library I would guess they may have it). If you’re into mathematical quilting, look up Diana Venters.
Inspired by christina’s quilt, I played around in Photoshop a little bit and got a rough draft of a few quilts (or quilt block). I turned on the grid to help with lining up in Photoshop (go to view / show / grid)
Then I added several of these blocks together and changed some of the colors
What an easy baby quilt idea this could be? You could sew strips together of the different colors and just cut and sew them fairly easily.
Here is the edges of the Fibonacci that shows the grid created by this quilt. Maybe this would be good fabric pattern? (or not?)
If instead of doing strips, you could do squares of each type. This is (my) monochromatic version of the painting on the Square One / Mathnet parrot episode.
You could also use the Fibonacci sequence to find visually pleasing border widths. If you are stuck on several borders and knowing what widths to use for these, try Fibonacci numbers.
For example, have a 1 inch border next to a 2 inch border next to a 3 inch border. Or try a 2 inch border next a 5 inch border or a 1 inch border near an 8 inch border.
I found a few other mathematical quilting sites along the road
Not all Fibonacci is straight lines and architecture. Naturally you find Fibonacci in sunflowers. I am NOT going to count them, but supposedly there are Fibonacci numbers of 34 and 55 on the following sunflower.
When you stop and look at things that you don’t normally pay attention to, you can find some unusual ideas, depending on how deep you actually look. After mentioning Fibonacci and doing some Wikipedia research, and seeing tons of sunflower pictures, I stopped in my tracks when cleaning one of my dishes (by hand) and saw the same type of pattern – a Fibonacci pattern on my dish! Amazing! Did they purposefully make 13 little “dents” in each spiral?
A natural spiral found in sea shells is shown here with this Wikipedia drawing.
And if you divide the Fibonacci numbers in this way you get the Golden Ratio, which is also visually pleasing:
5/3 = 1.5
8/5 = 1.66
13/8 = 1.6
… on and on … until you get 1.61
The golden Ratio gives you a visually appealing relationship of 1 on the short side and 1.61 on the long side – many greek architecture follows this golden ratio rule of design.
A very comprehensive study of the fibonacci sequence with many pictures and ideas