Saturday, December 08, 2012

Learning Math is not scary...but

When I was in first grade, one of my friends said that second grade was going to be so hard because we have to learn math.  When I actually started learning math, I disovered she was wrong.  At that point I decided not to believe aybody aymore, but to check things out for myself.  (I have forgotten who this friend was (although, since I have my first grade pictures, I can narrow it down to the female half of the class) or how well she did at math.)  I went out to get into the accelerated math class in junior high (much to my surprise) and to get A's in math all through high school and up to differential equations in college.

That was mostly because I avoided (completely by chance) any class in which my grade depended on deriving anything.  I leared how to plug numbers into formulae and find the right answer.

Enter real life and a job.  All the calculations I did involved the algebra I learned in high although I remember names like differential equations and multi-variable calculus, I have forgotten how to acutally apply them.

Enter quilting.  I now do practical which I mean whenever I have to do anything triangular, I overestimate and cut down to size.  So I blithefully designed and made Lindsey's big boy quilt.

The first thing I noticed is that this fabric is directional -- there will be a right side up to it, so I was very careful to make sure that all the fabric is right side up, and I did not screw up a single time!!!  I was so proud of myself!  Then...

It has, as you can see, diamonds in the border.  They are different sizes.  I went about calculating the size of the square using the Pythagorean theorem...only I used the whole distance from one corner diagonallly to the other, instead of just to the center of the square.  These means I cut 48 squares too large.  I discovered this after making the short border, which was oh, twice as long as the long side of the quilt.

OK fine.  I can't do geometry in my head. 

My daughter said to keep the large blocks and use them for the top of the quilt so we don't have to work so hard to keep it right side up.  Cool.

If I had done a little bit of algebra, I would have made the smaller blocks just 1/4 inch smaller, and their points would have matched the larger blocks.

Fine, I forgot my algebra.

Oh, and those 48 blocks I cut out?  It really should have been 58.

Conclusion: even though I got A's in math all the way up to differential equations, I can't do geometry, I can't do algebra, I can't even count.

Well, here is the quilt and some closeups.