Flexing

Four years in the making…..

photo of a flexagon face photo of a flexagon face

In 2012 I cut out triangles of paper to glue together into a dodecahexaflexagon (documented in a post about a smaller flexagon). I also found instructions: scanned typed instructions from David Pleacher, and instructions incorporating triangle orientation from Kathryn Huxtable.

A dodecahexaflexagon is a 12-faced (the dodeca-, as you will know if you’ve read The Phantom Tollbooth, or been a long-time reader of this blog), 6-sided (hexa-) flexagon; each face is made from 6 equilateral triangles. I had cut each face from a different scrapbook paper, and I had small squares of white paper to serve as hinges.

In the summer of 2014 I dug out the paper pieces and started gluing them together. I glued one side of the strip together in an evening, but didn’t get back to the other side until now. The second side was quite easy, since on side 1 the faces were scattered around and on side two they were much more orderly.

photo of in-progress flexagon strip, one side glued together photo of flexagon midway through folding process

There was some confusion in the folding and a length of time before I found all 12 faces. I didn’t know the trick! To flex, you’ll pinch the hexagon so that three of the lines between triangles are outward corners and three are inward corners (see photo below). Which edges are inward and which outward will change which face you see next (in some cases you’ll only be able to flex in one configuration). To see all of them, you can simply pinch out the same corner over and over again, only rotating to a neighboring corner if it is impossible to flex the first one. I found hanging on to the same pair of faces with one hand, doing the rest of the work with the other, was the best way to enact that. It is awkwardly thick and I’m glad I spaced the triangles apart a bit with the paper squares.

photo of flexagon mid-flex

Each face is connected to at least two additional faces. I haven’t explored thoroughly enough to know whether I found the full set of options, but I made a little map and had each face connected to 2, 4, or 6 others, with complicated interconnection. This lines up with a diagram on Kathryn Huxtable’s general flexagon page, where I also learned about the “pinch one corner repeatedly” method of finding all the faces.

Want more flexagons? Harold McIntosh has an interesting read about the history and theory of flexagons, and Vi Hart’s videos and more (the first of which inspired my flexagon crafting) are all on a hexaflexagon page of puzzles.com. Woolly Thoughts, a bastion of mathematics-inspired crafting, has a page of crochet and knit flexagon cushions.

Crochet-covered earbuds

My young sister-in-law loves music (or at least Fall Out Boy) so for her birthday we thought we’d get her a new pair of earbuds and I would cozy them up to avoid tangles and kinks. Here they are:

photo of earbuds, coiled up

I went around in my head about how to do the covering, since crocheting a tube in the round that would be as tight as I wanted seemed awkward if not impossible. I ended up doing it semi-flat. My yarn was light worsted (on the level of Caron Simply Soft: marked as 4 but decidedly thinner than a lot of 4s) and I used an E hook (3.5mm)

In dark purple: make a chain the length of the wire, ear to jack. Don’t stretch the chain when measuring but don’t add slack either. Turn and single crochet in top loop only, slightly longer than the doubled part of the wire. Chain to match the leftover starting chain. You now have a Y-shaped piece where the stem of the Y is wider than the arms.

In light purple: Attach at the base of the Y. With the earbud wire enclosed and the jack pointing out the base of the Y, slip stitch the sides of the dark purple strip together to make a tight tube. When you get to the junction of the Y, single crochet up one arm in top loop only. Then slip stitch back down, with a single earbud wire enclosed, earbud itself pointing out the top of the arm, to make the strip you just widened into another tight tube. Repeat on the other arm of the Y: single crochet in top loop only to the top of the arm; slip stitch to form a tube from the top back down the the junction, encasing the wire.

photo of earbuds laid out

I chose to stitch the arm in the front of the work first (closer to my final loop when I finished joining the base of the Y into a tube). When I got back to the junction the second time, I slip stitched in the back of the base’s last slip stitch so there wouldn’t be a gap in the light purple.

Your slip stitches will likely scrunch the tube so it doesn’t cover the full wire, but you can easily stretch it back out again, tightening the fit at the same time. When slip stitching I caught only one loop of the single crochets and one of the initial chains, and never worked in the back bump of the chain. When you’re done, secure your yarn and then weave it through the tube; there should be a lot of friction to keep it in place.

A fibrous self-portrait

Over on Aquilino Arts, we planned to lend some personality to our site by creating an artistic version of a photograph of ourselves. As the crafter of the group, my medium was fiber. I’m quite pleased with how it came out.

photo of fiber self-portrait

The photo it represents actually came from this blog, from the post discussing the creation of the hat I’m wearing in it. Here it is for direct comparison.

original self-portrait photo

We did not end up using this for the team page as originally intended; the idea sort of fizzled out. I wanted to show it off somewhere, though, and in case you’re curious, I have for you some material lists and process photos.

Visible components:

  • Fabric
    • satin (sky, glasses)
    • fleece (white part of jacket)
    • home dec type (dark green trees, gray part of jacket)
    • netting (overlay for gravel)
    • cotton and/or cotton-poly (everything else)
  • Sewing thread
  • Bulky acrylic yarn (hat)
  • Fabric paint (lips and teeth)
  • Blanket binding (frame)

Invisible components:

  • Flannel (to pad up my nose-cheek-chin region just a tad, though I think it ended up being irrelevant)
  • Heavyweight nonwoven interfacing (face/head, line of trees on left, glasses, two full-size backings)
  • Fusible web (glasses, mouth)
  • Tacky glue (glasses)
  • Fray-Check (glasses)

The first two photos are the back view of the piece that formed my head and neck, and a partially laid out background. I used the head piece to help align the background pieces.

photo of back of head/neck piece photo of partially completed background with head/neck piece laid on top

Next, a shot I call The Invisible Bozo, and a taste of the oddness of cutting up three or four copies of your face to do a project.

photo of completed background with head, hair, glasses, and jacket photo of in-process hat

The back, before and after I covered it with a second layer of interfacing and with calico.

photo of finished back without decorative cover photo of fully finished back with decorative fabric layer and binding

Finally, a shot of the finished item lit from the right instead of the left. It really shows how much dimensionality the piece has.

photo of finished piece lit from right instead of left

This isn’t a project I would have done without someone telling me “hey, you should to do this,” but it was an interesting challenge. I don’t know what I’ll do with it now, but my rationale for backing and binding it was that if I was going to put as much time into something as I did into this (I didn’t keep track, but 10 hours give or take) then I was going to finish it properly.