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How to Do Cat's Cradle
Step-by-step pictures and instructions

In cat's cradle, two people make shapes with string and pass them
back and forth. Many people know the FIRST move (the Cat's Cradle) --
but there are lots more:
the Manger, Candles, the Cat's Eye, and goes on and on.

To play cat's cradle, y
ou need:
• two people
• a piece of string tied at the ends to make a circle.

In these directions, you is the first person and she is the second person. You and she take turns:
when it's HER turn, the directions will switch sides.


1. 1. You put your hands through the string. Keep your thumb out of it
2. 2. Then you loop the string around each hand. Keep your thumb out of the loop.
3. 3. Put the middle finger of one hand through the loop on the other hand and pull.

4. Put the middle finger of the OTHER hand through the loop. This is "the Cat's Cradle."

Now comes the first hard thing. Find the two places where the string makes an X.

5. She takes her thumb and forefinger and pinches those X shaped parts.
6. Still pinching them, she moves her hands farther apart, until the string is taut.

7. This is hard, too,so there are two pictures--

a) she kind of points her fingers DOWN (through the sides) and then

b) scoops them up through the middle -- and pulls, very gently.

As she does the last part, you should let the cat's cradle slide out of YOUR hands.

8. She ends up with cat's cradle on HER hands.
Now you take it from her.


9. Now YOU pinch the X s from the top, not the sides.
10. Keep pinching the X s and pull your hands apart.
11. Keep hold of the X s and push your fingers towards the middle

12. Pull your fingers up through the middle and then pull your hands apart.


Now you have what we called Tramlines and some people call Candles.

13. She uses the little fingers of the opposite hands -- that is, with her right little finger, she pulls the left top string way over to the right, way beyond the outside strings.
14. With the left little finger, she pulls the right top string to the left. Now there are two little triangles.

15. Holding the ends of the triangles tightly in her little fingers (that's the hardest part!), she turns her hands and goes under with her thumb and forefinger.



16. Then, still holding on tightly with her little fingers, she pushes her thumbs and forefingers up through the middle.

17. Still holding onto the bottom string tightly with her little fingers, she spreads her thumbs and her index fingers while you let go.....and she's made The Manger!


18. Pinch the Xs with your thumb and forefinger.
19. Still pinching the Xs, pull them out.

20. Now, pull the Xs up a little and then --


(we didn't get a picture of this part) -- turn your hands over and pinching tightly, pointing your thumb and forefinger down, dive down into the middle.

21. Spread your thumb and forefinger apart, still pointing down, and you have diamonds.

Rachel, Cate, and Kate did the cat's cradle moves here. It was Rachel and Cate's idea to write "purrfect" and to put the cat's faces at the bottom of the exclamation points. They wrote this note to you: and if you didn't do it purrfectly, don't worry. It takes practice.

If you draw or photograph the missing picture between steps 20 and 21 (the hands diving down), please email it -- and any other moves, too!


  Copyright c 1999 Libby Koponen. None of the instructions or photographs on this page may be used or reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copright holder.
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