build a blob
by: Carrie Sundra
A few weeks ago, I had the awesome opportunity to visit Debra Ansell of GeekMomProjects in real life. There are all sorts of colorful creations in her electronics lair, but this super cute Blob caught my eye. It had a happy bounciness to it, these great big googly eyes, and it lit up in fun patterns that were reactive to her voice. When she asked if I wanted to make one, I was like "HELL YEAH!"
She used a 200 light strand and bent each LED into a swirly pattern, and then zip-tied them to each other as she went around. I thought - hmmm, I wonder if you could do it without zip ties? After a few weird wraps at the start, it occured to me that I could totally knit the wire together, making one stitch per LED. I did this all with my fingers, so I could easily fish the wire through the stitches and turn the LED so it was right-side out. Mine isn't voice-reactive yet, but that will come soon! Here are instructions so you can finger-knit your very own Blob, and you can also check out Debra's post on her Blob.
Step 1 - Start
Start at the end nearest to the USB dongle. Form 8 loops, one loop per LED with each LED at the top, and twist each at the base three times to lock in the shape of the loop.
Bend the loop in a circle, and wrap the wire going to the USB connector to fix the circle.
Step 2 - Knit
Pull the next LED through the very first loop you created. This one will be a little offset from the middle, and that's OK. For the next one, bend a U-shape with the LED in the center. Pinch it with your fingers, and pull it through the next loop.
Keep pulling LEDs through loops, and as you go, turn the LED on the strand so that the rounder more translucent "top" is facing out. The Blob will eventually start to form a tube shape. You may need to bend each "stitch" inward as you go, to prevent the previous one from popping out (or in knitting parlance, "dropping stitches"). You'll figure out what kind of bends work for you as you go!
Step 3 - Finishing
When you have 2 LEDs left on the strand, fish the end of the strand through all the "active" stitches - the ones that don't have another stich on top of them. Pull through and cinch as much as is practical.
Wrap the last few inches of the strand around the cinched hole to fix it in place.
Add googly eyes! The end you just finished is the head, it's a little more practical for the string and USB dongle to exit the "tail" end. You might want to hot glue the googly eyes to keep them on, or add tape to the underside.
Congratulations! You've now made your very own Blob. GeekMomProjects will also be writing up more instructions for how to create a Blob with the zip-tie swirl method, and for adding sound reaction with a Micro:Bit, and we're working on more microcontroller options, so keep checking out this blog and her blog and follow us on twitter and GeekMomProjects on twitter for updates!
Want some company for making your Blob? Join Debra and I for our Build-A-Blob-Workshop livestream next week Oct 13 2021 at 5pm Pacific (which will also be recorded), watch it here.