Unleashing the Power of Data


Unleashing the Power of Data

Well April just flew by! This post documents the inclusion of my Reul-iùil quilt as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Photograph of quilt displayed at the National Museum of Scotland

The quilt is a data visualisation of the stars over Edinburgh on 15th July 2016, where my second daughter was born.

The technology involved in this quilt is the same as the Reulanach quilt pattern creator. Behind the scenes there's a digital telescope, computer vision, data on location and star brightness, and a spreadsheet of fabric calculations. I’ve made some subtle changes to how the Reul-iùil pattern creator will function but the main difference is in the piecing approach. Reulanach is a machine piecing pattern whereas Reul-iùil uses foundation paper piecing. Reul-iùil will be launching soon (May/June), which is why life has been busy the last month.

If you’re joining me here in this blog post – welcome! It’s probably worth me saying that Reulanach translates as ‘abounding with stars’ and Reul-iùil as ‘guiding star’. The Gaelic names are a nod to my interest in sense of place. It was a key concept in my doctoral research (some years ago) that has followed me on this journey of data-driven design in the quilt industry and also my recent use of Generative AI to develop a small collection of stitch maps.

Photograph of the main gallery at the National Museum of Scotland with quilt on floor alongside iron and ironing board

It was a complete joy to have my quilt included in the Creative Informatics ‘Unleashing the Power of Data’ showcase. The exhibition brought together 14 organisations displaying their work using data in the creative industries, from children’s building blocks that make music to a physical/digital model reimagining Edinburgh’s ‘Lost’ Empire Palace Theatre. The showcase marked the end of a programme that has funded more than 300 individuals and organisations since 2018.

Two weeks before the exhibition I dropped my quilt off at Edinburgh Science Festival HQ. From there it travelled to the museum freezer to comply with textile department regulations. I had a few sleepless nights wondering how the residue from my clover marking pen would react in the freezer. Then I spent a slightly odd Friday evening in the museum after hours, unpacking my quilt, pressing and hanging it ready for the opening on Saturday 30th March.

On Thursday 4th April, Creative Informatics hosted a gathering of exhibitors, stakeholders, and friends. This event rolled in to a Museum Lates opening, an adults only event from 7-10pm with music and drinks. The exhibition ran until 7th April, with over 100,000 visitors to the museum during that time. I got the chance to chat technology and quilt making across these events. I met some fascinating people with interesting things to say about the nightsky in paintings, the relationship between stars and standing stones, and fractal designs. 

I’ll be following up with a blog about the quilting in Reul-iùil in the next month. Enormous thanks to all involved in staging the showcase and to anyone that came along to the exhibition. Definitely one of the highlights of my quilt making journey to date..


Creative Informatics ‘Unleashing the Power of Data’ exhibitors

Edinburgh Science Festival


Stitch maps