How to Do the Cup & Saucer From Cat's Cradle

Written by mark keller
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How to Do the Cup & Saucer From Cat's Cradle
Opening A (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

The cup and saucer is a traditional string figure, formed moving a loop of string over the fingers of both hands. Some of the steps in making it closely resemble stages of the famous cat's cradle, but the cup and saucer can be made on your own, without the need for an assistant. All you need to make it is a piece of string roughly 20 inches long, with both ends tied together.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Hold your hands upright, facing each other, and loop the string over your thumbs and little fingers. This is known as Position 1 and is a starting position for many string figures.

  2. 2

    Stick the index finger of your right hand up under the string crossing your left palm and pull back, with the string now looped over the finger. Repeat this move with the left index finger, forming Opening A, a variation on the cat's cradle shape that is also a common position in many figures.

  3. 3

    Loop the thumbs of both hands over the closer of the forefinger strings and under the further strings. Each thumb takes the string on its own index finger. Fully extend your thumbs with the strings looped over them. The thumbs should now each have two loops of string.

  4. 4

    "Navajo" your thumbs. This is string-figure terminology for removing the lower loop of string while leaving the upper loop in place. Use your teeth to pull the lower string back and rotate your thumbs out beneath it. Release the string and move your hands apart, tightening the strings. There are several ways to Navajo the thumbs, but this is one of the easiest.

  5. 5

    Turn your hands so that the fingers are pointing away from you and the thumbs are vertical. Bend your little fingers, releasing the loops of string around them. Tighten the strings once more by moving your hands apart and view the completed cup and saucer.

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