Saturday, July 28, 2018

Words and Numbers

I love words. I like everything to do with words. I like the way a multisyllabic word rolls off my tongue. I loved being able to use "antepenultimate" correctly recently when talking about the next-to-next-to-last peach in the fridge. I like to spell; I was the fifth grade spelling champion, though I confess that some of that facility has diminished. I once could type 105 words per minute with zero errors. I like crossword puzzles. I like cryptograms. I like acrostics.

Numbers, not so much. In elementary school I did okay with arithmetic. I got the hang of long division, and still know how to use the carat to move the decimal over to the right when need be. I knew the various equivalencies of fractions to percents and took special delight in 87-1/2 percent being equal to 7/8. At least I think that's still the case.

In seventh grade, my math all started to go downhill. I squeaked past Algebra I and while I truly enjoyed plane geometry, I failed it during sophomore year and had to go to summer school. That was the end of math and me. Solving for x held no appeal and it seems like by now somebody should have found the least common denominator.

Moving right along . . .

Recently I became appalled by the number of finished quilt tops I have waiting to be sandwiched, quilted-or-tied, bound, and sent to their forever homes, wherever those may be. I've got a bunch of soon-to-be quilts over at the machinist's now, and another small stack to go next.

But there are still so many more. And, what's worse, there are pieces of yardage that I know must have been purchased to be backs for projects now long gone.

Over the past few days, I've measured each of the remaining tops (and I won't tell you how many there are). I've also measured each of the pieces of this-looks-like-it-was-meant-to-be-a-back fabrics. Dimensions are recorded in pencil and pinned to each piece.

So far, so good.

But being mathematically challenged, I'm breaking out in hives considering, for example, what I would have to do to a 55 x 110 piece of fabric to turn it into a back for a 63 x 72 top.

I hate this. I can almost hear my seventh grade math teacher crowing, "I told you that you don't know your fourth grade fundamentals!" (Miss Godfrey was the terror of our junior high and universally regarded with a combination of fear and loathing. I can still picture her brandishing a ruler and wearing a moth-eaten gray cardigan even though the school was uncomfortably warm. And she smelled bad, too.)

See? I'd much rather be writing than calculating.

But it needs to be done. And tomorrow, Scarlett, is another day. Perhaps I'll be able to face it all then.


Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Well, all those things you were saying about your love of words sound like you were talking about ME, though I do admit you sent me to the thesaurus twice. In school I COULD have won every spelling be, but Janet Campbell ALWAYS beat me out. At my 25th class reunion years ago I found out she is not a teacher so that makes me feel a lot better. I dumped math when they tried to feed me algebra and I can't believe that a few of those formulas HAVE come in handy in my lifetime.

I have only made a couple of quilts, but I totally understand how flimsies can pile up because after all, after the pieces are stitched together...the thrill is gone. I'm thinking Quilt As You Go is for me.
xx, Carol

Quiltdivajulie said...

What would happen if you tried drawing out what you need instead of using a calculator? I find it VERY helpful to sketch the quilt top then draw a larger rectangle (usually) which represents the width of the top plus 12" (6 on each side) and the length + 12".

THEN I can take the dimension of the backing and sketch out how best to cut it up to give me what I need.

If you want to send me the measurements of one top and the proposed backing's measurements, I'll draw it out my way and then scan and email my drawing to you . . .

(and I am absolutely mathematically challenged - words are my thing, numbers are not)

AnnieO said...

Spelling and making a living from it with words has been my thing for 30+ years—in addition to loving to read. I can’t tell you how often quilt math has stood me up! Good luck with your calculations :)
P.S. I love your writing, as usual!

Janet said...

I stopped understanding math when the alphabet decided to get involved 😁😁😁

stitchinpenny said...

I feel so sorry for you. I am a math person very strong in geometry who has a brilliant National Merit Scholar daughter who would have looked at your problem and said it can't be done. There are people who just don't see some things and after dragging my child through geometry and calculus kicking and screaming because she didn't get it, I know that. Good luck. BTW there are lots of tricks that the math team coach and I taught her to make it through, but maybe a geometry understanding friend or quilt shop employee are your answer.

Anonymous said...

I was trying to figure out what you can do with the 55 x 110 backing. I figured you could cut off 30 inches from the 110 length, leaving 55 x 80. The piece cut off would be 30 x 55, divide that in half to make 2 pieces that are 15 x 55. Sew those together to make a 15 x 110 piece and sew that to the 55 x 80 piece, making it 69 x 80, with a 15 x 30 extra piece.
I don't know if that helps, but I think that is what I'd do. Hope that helps.

Barbara Anne said...

Julie's suggestion to draw it sound perfect to me. That's my sure-fire method for figuring out that kind of puzzlement.

On the other hand, you can use any complimentary long length of fabric sewn on the long side of the backing fabric and you'll have 94.5" x 109.5" instantly! :) Then again, you can cut the complimentary fabric the l o n g way and sew it on both long sides of the backing fabric so you'd have 94"x109".

I came to junior high the year that "new math" books arrived. New, my foot! All those stick figures looked like they were from ancient Egypt. They were (still are) incomprehensible to me, my classmates, the teacher, and my parents.

Amen, Janet!


Robby H. said...

This is one of those projects where I have the rare gift of being able to see it in my mind's eye and do the math in my head almost without thinking. But if I must talk you through it... I'm dead. Somehow explaining it whilst I'm calculating just doesn't function well. I did want to point out though that I'm pretty sure I know that terrifying math teacher from junior high. Her name was Miss Erkslaben, otherwise all the rest of the details are exactly the same. Maybe every school was issued one of those. Good luck with the backings.

Helen said...

I kind of hate to admit it, but I almost always refuse to piece a backing. I find it's better for everyone (cause I get so frustrated and grumpy when I am unable to "do the math") if I purchase extra-wide fabric and forget the piecing. In the rare event I do piece a backing, I have one devil of a time centering said quilt on the back. Hence, I spend the extra money for the back and find my stash grows because of my inability. I rationalize that it's only money, it's only fabric and release my frustrations to the wind.