String figure glossary

Eye of the Cyclops

string figure

Invented by Martin Probert 2002. This string figure sequence depicts the visit of Odysseus to the Island of the Cyclops in Homer's Odyssey:

  1. Cave of the Cyclops
  2. Legs of the Cyclops
  3. Eye of the Cyclops

Construction time: 1 second for Cave of the Cyclops, 4 seconds for Legs of the Cyclops, 5 seconds for Eye of the Cyclops.

  1. Use a 0.80 metre wide loop.
  2. Insert the thumbs and little fingers into the loop (to give Position 1). You have Cave of the Cyclops.
  3. Pick up the right palm string from below with the left index.
  4. Rotate the right little finger towards you, down, away from you, then up. There is now a whole twist in the right little finger loop.
  5. Pass the right index between the left index strings and pick up from below the left palm string. Separate the hands.
  6. Release the thumbs.
  7. Pass the left thumb under the index loop and insert the thumb from below into the left little finger loop.
  8. Draw the near string of the left little finger loop towards you with the left thumb and insert the left thumb from below into the left index loop.
  9. Bend the left thumb over the far string of the left index loop and place the tip of the thumb on the left palm.
  10. Release the left index and straighten the downward pointing left thumb by rotating it away and up. (At this point, if the previous action has been made correctly, the two strings of the left thumb loop should not cross one another.)
  11. Transfer the left thumb loop to the left index.
  12. We suppose that, peering out of the cave, Odysseus first sees the legs of the Cyclops. Hold the left hand above the right hand. You have Legs of the Cyclops. After displaying the legs, return the hands to their usual position.
  13. Pass each thumb over the index loop, then touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger and transfer the little finger loop to the thumb.
  14. Pass each little finger over the index loop, then insert it from below into the thumb loop and pick up the far thumb string.
  15. Note, on each side, the small portion of the index loop that surrounds the index finger. Insert each thumb from below into this portion of the index loop close to the index finger. There are now two loops on each thumb, the upper loop common to both the thumb and the index finger; there is also a loop on each little finger.
  16. Release the lower thumb loop from each thumb, lifting the loop up over the upper thumb loop and off the thumb.
  17. Note the triangle of three strings near the base of each thumb: all three sides of this triangle are composed of the continuation of the near string of the little finger loop. Insert the tip of each index from above into this triangle and press the tip of the index to the palm.
  18. Release each little finger and rotate each index away and up.
  19. Place the tip of each index to the tip of the little finger and transfer the index loop to the little finger.
  20. Separate the hands. You have Eye of the Cyclops.
  21. To dissolve the figure, release all fingers except the left thumb, then gently open out the left thumb loop.

Copyright © Martin Probert 2003
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