String figure glossary

String Figure Maker's Garden with Young Loops Growing

string figureInvented by Martin Probert 1998. Use a three foot, or 1 metre, wide loop. Construction time 30 seconds.

  1. Opening A.
  2. On each side insert the whole hand from below up into the index loop and let the index loop drop to the wrist.
  3. Untwist each thumb loop (by passing the index finger towards you under the thumb loop, touching the tip of the thumb to the tip of the index, then rotating the thumb towards you, down, away and up).
  4. Untwist each little finger loop (by passing the thumb away from you under the little finger loop, touching the tip of the little finger to the tip of the thumb, then rotating the little finger away from you, down, towards you and up).
  5. Transfer each little finger loop to the ring finger.
  6. Transfer each thumb loop to the index finger.
  7. Release the wrist loops (by shaking them off the hands); extend.
  8. With each thumb pick up the near transverse string (i.e. to the far side of the loop surrounding the transverse strings), and simultaneously with each little finger pick up the far transverse string.
  9. With the index and ring fingers pick up the palmar string of the opposite hand (as in opening A). Keep the loops just picked up on the index and ring fingers above the loops already there. Extend.
  10. Navaho the loops on the index and ring fingers (four fingers in all). Extend.
  11. Dip the right index and ring fingers down into the left index and ring finger loops, and dip the right middle finger down into the space between them, then, drawing the right hand to the right, slightly enlarge the left index and ring finger loops. Repeat with the other hand. (This step enlarges the little loops on the index and ring fingers. Donít enlarge the loops very much.)
  12. Extend firmly.
  13. Use the right index and ring fingers to remove the loops from the left index and ring fingers by reaching over the back of the left hand and over the loops on the back of the fingers and then dragging both loops off at the same time. Repeat with the other hand.
  14. Extend gently. The little loops, if of the right size for the type of string used, will stand up. These are the Young Loops Growing.
  15. To dissolve, with the index pick up the single string between the loops, release the thumb and little fingers, then extend.

Copyright © Martin Probert 2003
HOME PAGE: The Survival, Origin and Mathematics of String Figures