String figure glossary

The Jabberwock

string figure

"Beware the jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!"

Invented by Martin Probert 2002. This string figure sequence depicts:

  1. The Jabberwork - from Lewis Carroll's poem Jabberwocky in Alice through the Looking-Glass. The gaping jaws are in the centre of the figure, the claws at the four corners.
  2. The Slaying of the Jabberwork.
  3. Galumphing Back With the Head (an action figure).

Construction time 30 seconds. The reader is advised, before attempting the figure, to first master the present author's Double Crow’s Feet.

  1. Use a 1.50 metre wide loop.
  2. Opening A, but using the middle fingers in place of the index fingers.
  3. Insert each thumb from above into the middle finger loop and pick up from below the far middle finger string.
  4. With each index pick up from below the far thumb string.
  5. Release each thumb from both thumb loops.
  6. Pass each thumb under the index finger loop, insert it from above into the middle finger loop, pass it away under all remaining strings, then pick up from below the far string of the little finger loop, drawing it towards you through the middle finger loop to create a thumb loop.
  7. Release each little finger from its loop.
  8. Touch the tip of each little finger to the tip of the index finger and slide the loop off the index and onto the little finger.
  9. On each side insert the index and middle fingers from above into the thumb loop and (with the ring finger assisting) rotate the index and middle fingers away and hook up the far thumb string, wrapping the string around the index and middle fingers.
  10. On each side insert the middle and ring fingers from above into the little finger loop and (with the thumb and index finger assisting) rotate the middle and ring fingers towards you and hook up the near little finger string, wrapping the string around the middle and ring fingers.
  11. Insert each middle finger in turn under the two strings which cross at the base of the opposite middle finger and pick up both strings on the back of the finger (as in Opening A).
  12. (i) Pass the middle and ring fingers towards you over the intervening strings, under the near index string, then with the back of the ring finger (and with the middle finger assisting) pick up the far thumb string. There are now two loops on each ring finger. (ii) Touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the ring finger and slide the upper loop off the ring finger and onto the thumb. (iii) Pass the middle and ring fingers to you over the intervening strings and over the upper near thumb string and use these fingers to lift the lower near thumb string off the thumb, thus navahoing the thumb loops. (iv) Extend.
  13. (i) Pass the thumbs into the middle finger loops from above and temporarily pick up the far middle finger strings (all four). (ii) Pass each little finger towards you over the far ring finger string and pick up from below the near little finger string. (iii) Pass the little finger away from you over the upper far little finger string, down into the lower little finger loop, and pick up the lower far little finger string, thus navahoing the little finger loops. (iv) Release the four far middle finger strings from the thumb. (v) Extend.
  14. (i) On each side of the figure, identify the near middle finger string which passes towards you under all other strings. This string is part of the original middle finger loop. Ensure that this loop lies below all other loops on the index. (ii) Angle the tips of the middle fingers towards each other. (iii) With the right middle finger, over the back of the left middle finger, pull the four upper strings from the back of the left middle finger (but do not remove the original lower middle finger loop). (iv) Repeat on the other hand.
  15. Extend smartly.
  16. Now, by again using the tip of the opposite middle finger, release each middle finger from the remaining middle finger loop...
    Beware the jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

    ...and extend carefully to give The Jabberwock.
  17. One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

    Release all but the thumb loops and extend smartly. This is the Slaying of the Jabberwork. A 'head' of two hanging loops appears.
  18. He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

    Insert the left index, middle, ring and little fingers from above into the left thumb loop and close the far string of the left thumb loop to the left palm. By pulling on the far string of the left loop with the left hand, the 'head' is carried off to the right. This depicts Galumphing Back With the Head.
  19. Note that, at the 'knot' where the 'head' hangs from the far thumb string, two strings of the 'knot' surround the far thumb string. To dissolve the figure, transfer the right thumb loop to the right little finger, then with the right thumb and index take hold of one of these two strings, then release the left hand and with the left thumb and index take hold of the other string of the two, then draw these two strings apart.

(For another character from Lewis Carroll, see Alice in Wonderland.)

Copyright © Martin Probert 2003
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