String figure glossary

Millipede Climbing Tree

string figure Invented by Martin Probert 1998. Use an eight foot wide loop of 1 mm diameter woven nylon cord. The figure takes a couple of minutes to construct but, once set up, the millipede can be made to climb the tree repeatedly. A millipede has two pairs of legs to each body segment. The figure can be dissolved in a few seconds.

Steps 1-2 form the rear of the millipede:
  1. Position 1 on the left hand alone.
  2. Hang the lower end of the hanging loop over the left middle finger.
Steps 3-10 form a pair of legs of the millipede:
  1. There are four hanging strings: the near left thumb string, two intermediate strings, and then the far left little finger string. With the right hand, take hold of the second of the four hanging strings (the near left middle finger string) and carry it to the left under the left thumb, then up and around the thumb clockwise until it passes between the left thumb and left index to the left palm; release the string with the right hand. Touch the tip of the left thumb to the tip of the left little finger and (with the aid of the right hand) transfer the freshly made loop from the left thumb to the left little finger. (Check: the near left middle finger string should pass over all intermediate strings to become the far left little finger string, then should pass anti-clockwise around the left little finger, then under the left middle-to-little-finger-string to become a hanging string that connects to the near left thumb string.)
  2. Repeat the last step with the near left little finger string, taking the near left little finger string with the right hand, wrapping it clockwise around the left thumb, then transferring the freshly made loop from the left thumb to the left little finger.
  3. Pull down gently on the near left little finger string in order to keep the left little finger loops wrapped snugly around the little finger.
  4. Pass the right hand between the near thumb and near little finger hanging strings, then with the right hand take hold of the hanging string between them (the far left middle finger string) and carry it to the right under the left little finger, then up and around the left little finger anti-clockwise until it passes between the left little finger and ring finger to the left palm; release the string with the right hand. Touch the tip of the left little finger to the tip of the left thumb and (with the aid of the right hand) transfer the freshly made loop from the left little finger to the left thumb. (Check: the far left middle finger string should pass under the near left middle finger string, over the palmar string which runs from thumb to little finger, over the far left thumb string, then clockwise around the left thumb, under the string running from left thumb to left middle finger, and becomes a hanging string that connects to the far left little finger hanging string.)
  5. Repeat the last step with the far left thumb string, taking the far left hanging thumb string with the right hand, wrapping the string anti-clockwise around the left little finger, then transferring the freshly made loop from the left little finger to the left thumb.
  6. Pull down gently on the far left thumb string in order to keep the left thumb loops wrapped snugly around the thumb.
  7. With the right hand tuck the far left little finger hanging string up through the two little left little finger loops, then pull the whole hanging loop up through the little loops and then let the loop hang down.
  8. With the right hand tuck the near left thumb hanging string up through the two little left thumb loops, then pull the whole hanging loop up through the little loops and then let the loop hang down.
Steps 11-18 form another pair of legs of the millipede:
  1. There are again four hanging strings: the near left thumb string, two intermediate strings, and then the far left little finger string. With the right hand, take hold of the second of the four hanging strings and carry it to the left under the left thumb, then up and around the thumb clockwise until it passes between the left thumb and left index to the left palm; release the string with the right hand. Touch the tip of the left thumb to the tip of the left little finger and (with the aid of the right hand) transfer the freshly made loop from the left thumb to the left little finger.
  2. Repeat the last step with the near left little finger string, taking the near left little finger string with the right hand, wrapping it clockwise around the left thumb, then transferring the freshly made loop from the left thumb to the left little finger.
  3. Pull down gently on the near left little finger string in order to keep the left little finger loops wrapped snugly around the little finger.
  4. Pass the right hand between the near thumb and near little finger hanging strings, then with the right hand take hold of the hanging string between them and carry it to the right under the left little finger, then up and around the left little finger anti-clockwise until it passes between the left little finger and ring finger to the left palm; release the string with the right hand. Touch the tip of the left little finger to the tip of the left thumb and (with the aid of the right hand) transfer the freshly made loop from the left little finger to the left thumb.
  5. Repeat the last step with the far left thumb string, taking the far left hanging thumb string with the right hand, wrapping the string anti-clockwise around the left little finger, then transferring the freshly made loop from the left little finger to the left thumb.
  6. Pull down gently on the far left thumb string in order to keep the left thumb loops wrapped snugly around the thumb.
  7. With the right hand tuck the far left little finger hanging string up through the two little left little finger loops, then pull the whole hanging loop up through the little loops and then let the loop hang down.
  8. With the right hand tuck the near left thumb hanging string up through the two little left thumb loops, then pull the whole hanging loop up through the little loops and then let the loop hang down.
Step 19 forms the remaining legs of the millipede:
  1. Repeat steps 11 to 18 over and over again until about seven pairs of legs have been formed on each side (28 legs in all).
Steps 20-26 set up the millipede and make it climb the tree:
  1. Pass the right thumb from below into the hanging left thumb loop.
  2. Pass the right little finger from below into the hanging left little finger loop.
  3. Release all pairs of legs from the left thumb and little finger (leaving only the original palmar string that runs directly from thumb to little finger).
  4. Hold the right hand vertically above the left hand.
  5. Release the left middle finger.
  6. Raise the right hand: you have Millipede Climbing Tree.
  7. Raise the left hand (maintaining grip of the end of the loop in position 1) and take hold of the far right thumb and near right little finger strings just above the millipede. Raise the right hand until the millipede has folded up into the left hand. Release the left hand hold on the far right thumb and near right little finger strings. The millipede is all set to climb the tree once more.
Step 27 dissolves the millipede:
  1. Raise the left hand and lower the right hand; release the right hand; open out the left hand loop.

Copyright © Martin Probert 2003
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