Chaos Theory

23 September 2010 to 18 October 2010
Earl and Lynette
Original: based on 8.8.4 tiling
Level of completion: 
Completed and given away

The story of "Chaos Theory" is the story of an unlikely set of friendships, the kind of friendships that happen far more commonly in a far-flung internet age. It's also a story of introverts stepping out of their shells, of red-wine and third-story hotel rooms; of sign language and little girls with big brown eyes and bright smiles.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It starts at my desk, at work, about a year and a half ago, as I prepared to head to my first DrupalCon. After years of being swaddled in the familiarity of Dragon*Con, I was more than a little daunted by the prospect of going to a convention where there would be a thousand or so of THEM and only one of ME. Cue Introvert Panic™.

What's the saying -- the life you save may be your own?

I sent a tweet, just once, in response to Jeff Eaton, a guy I'd never met. Another person in the Drupal developer community had put a call out for gaming, and I wasn't sure if it was okay for a random stranger to speak up and ask to join. His response -- which I now know was utterly predictable for him -- was to say, absolutely you should show up!

So I metaphorically raised my hand, got in on the action, and suddenly was committed to hang out with a bunch of people I didn't know. Fast-forward to Washington DC and the remnants of that freak snowfest that happened right before DrupalCon DC, and you have the JeffSpouse and me, trudging from one hotel to another, shrugging to each other in the elevator and giving ourselves an out.

If it's not awesome, we'll concoct an excuse and go.
If these people are scary, we'll plead tiredness and go.
The exit's over there, the elevator's over here, and oh what the hell, life's an adventure right?

Well, somewhere between four and six hours later, we hadn't managed a single bit of gaming but we'd laughed our asses off and made new friends.

I was warned that the Sprout was lethally cute. I am a believer now.Sprout: Cute, but lethal.

['Sprout. Cute, but lethal.']

The next day, I had multiple someones to hang out with at DrupalCon. I met up with the person who had been so helpful to me online. I had Earl and Lynette (aka merlin and esmerel), and once I knew them, I started meeting other people. Suddenly things were somewhere between peachy and damned awesome.

Sprout nails Merlin.Nose-licking!


Then there was Paris. I ended up staying in the hotel they recommended for me, and many of my days in Paris contained me starting down these stairs,

Three flights of these led to my room.Tiny stairs to the garret

['Tiny stairs to the garret']

and walking down this street

Welcome to Rue Beaunier. There are several small hotels here. This is not a touristy section of town, here in the 14e.On the street where I live

['On the street where I live']

to an apartment building where, three flights up, they were.

There were two more visits to San Francisco, one for socialization and one for work:

Jeff watching Sprout play in the park near our rental apartment in San FranciscoJeff and Sprout (2 of 2)

['Jeff and Sprout']

and somewhere along the way (see?) I realized it was becoming a given: if we were anywhere near San Francisco, we would be stopping by.

("Somewhere along the way" seems to start many of my stories. Funny ... I don't mind.)

In San Francisco, esmerel told us quietly that she was pregnant. I was sick at the time, so I kept my happy dance internal, and didn't hug -- but I did buy fabric. We also got photos.

Proving that people will buy any damn shirt just to get in a photo!Angry Donuts Family Photo #1

['Angry Donuts family photo']

When it happened, I don't exactly know, but somewhere along the way I became aware of their wedding present from their friend Andy, and his penchant for complicated origami, and the evil plan began. I looked at his wedding present to them and saw possibility.

Andy's wedding present to them

I contacted him. We plotted. I started scribbling:

I've had this sketch for a while. I knew I wanted to play with the octagons and other design elements in their wedding present, but I wanted to put my own twist on it.

Based on an 8.8.4 tiling, often seen in Islamic designs.

Blog entry: Theory ... in theory

['Chaos Theory ... in theory']

I smiled when I remembered the lovely, fun Naomi Itaya fabrics I'd purchased during DrupalCon San Francisco. Bonus points: I'd even shown them to esmerel:

The yellow-and-red batik Jacob picked out for me. The green-and-blue Naomi Itaya fabric I bought in San Francisco. My favorite blue-purple batik of all time, and leftover backing from Asai's quilt. Oh yes. This will do nicely.

Blog entry: Consider. Oh hell yeah.

['Stop. Consider. Oh hell yeah.']

I kept making octagons, even though I didn't know what order I wanted to put them in -- the Japanese fabrics from San Francisco, the handmade batiks from Minnesota, and lots lots lots of warm toned fabrics from my stash that Jacob had indeed told me a year ago that I would need.

Oh. SO MUCH better. Now you can actually see the bright, rich colors.

Blog entry:, in sunlight

['Outside, in sunlight']

Thanks to Andy, I had a handle on tiling notation: I now understood that this was an 8.8.4 tiling because, if you found a vertex of the basic shapes, it'd be where two octagons and a square met.  Yep.  8-sided, 8-sided, 4-sided. Spiffy.

I rejoiced when I could finally see that my idea of playing with reversing dark and light colors would actually work,

It was time to take the plunge and do the dark stars. I still worry that the green-and-blue was TOO dark.

Blog entry: stars at last

['Awaiting backing fabric']

and I decided a little frill and frippery wouldn't be a bad idea, so I spliced in some little multicolored thread designs in the black squares:

I sprayed what were, essentially, chalk outlines to help guide the lines for the little flowers in the black squares.

Blog entry: outlines

['Chalk outlines']

I couldn't figure out what to do for the backing. When it hit me that the backing fabric should be fabric for 'their' team, I knew I had it:

Merlin never asked what the backing was. He should have. 

Blog entry: yeah, and by the way...

['Oh yeah, and by the way...']

I had the finished quilt in my hands for only a half-day before I sent it on its way to California. I took this photo so I could remember how the multicolored threads looked against the black fabrics, and it was stuffed in a post office mailer about two hours later:

A slanted shot of the quilt as it's ready to be packed up.

Blog entry: shot into the goal

['Slant shot into the goal']

Chaos Theory, of course. He's "merlinofchaos" most everywhere online. What else COULD I call it?

It'd be easy to call it a thank-you card, but I hate doing that; it sounds like tit-for-tat when there's none of that involved. Let's call it belated appreciation for opening a hotel room door to a couple of relative strangers on a really cold evening.

The rest has taken care of itself.

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