“Cat’s Cradle” is a simple sequence game played with a length of string that has been looped. Two or more partners use the string to create numerous forms, each one building on the previous one. The objective of the game is to reach the last shape without making any mistakes. Cat’s Cradle is a simple game to learn—all you need is a piece of string, a steady hand, and a friend to assist you to work through the many permutations.
Learning the Game
Locate a suitable length of the string. Any form of the cable will do as long as it can be wrapped around your hands. However, a piece of roughly 40 inches (120cm) in length will be the most convenient. This will guarantee that the string is long enough to allow your hands to move freely without becoming tangled or awkward. Tie the ends of the string together to form a circular loop.
Cut a piece of string, yarn, or twine to the exact length needed to suit your and your partner’s hands.
If you can’t find anything else to play with, a tied shoestring will suffice.
Get another player to assist you. Cat’s Cradle cannot be played with just one person due to the game’s sequential design. You’ll need a partner to assist you in forming new shapes as well as to remove the string from you at the following turn.
Cat’s Cradle can theoretically be played with an unlimited number of people—just go in a circle or set a precise order to transfer the string from person to person.
If you play with someone whose hands are around the same size as your own, the game will run more smoothly.
After each turn, remove your hand from the cord. Choose which player will start the game. This person will twist the string into the game’s opening formation, Cat’s Cradle. After you’ve formed this shape, send the string to the other player’s fingers without breaking the pattern. The game will continue in this manner until you miss a shape.
Carefully let go of the string to prevent it from unravelling.
Both players should practise constructing each of the different forms so they know exactly where to place their fingers when the string is passed.
If you make a mistake, you must restart the game. When you pull the thread in the wrong spot or form a shape from which no additional forms can be formed, the game is over. If this occurs, restart Cat’s Cradle from the beginning. Continue to play until you can complete the sequence flawlessly.
Slowly practise at first until you get the knack of forming shapes and handoffs.
Increase your speed each time you successfully finish a cycle for an added challenge.
Forming the Cat’s Cradle
To begin the game, select a player. This person should be the sole holder of the string. It makes no difference which of you makes the first move; the game will proceed in either case. 
By the end of one complete cycle, your roles will be reversed. The player who began with Cat’s Cradle will now be the one aiding with the next shape.
If you make a mistake, start a fresh game with the other player.
Wrap the string over both hands’ backs. Allow it to lie behind your knuckles. Keep your thumbs on the threads’ outside edges. This allows you to move freely while simultaneously keeping the string from slipping out of your hands.
Maintain a safe distance between your fingers and the string. That way, it won’t get knotted up by accident.
Some people like to wrap the string over their middle and ring fingers instead of their entire wrist. This is primarily a personal preference.
Wrap the string around your wrists again. Turn your hands around so that the loop is doubled around your palms. In addition to the strands wrapped around the backs of your hands, you should now have one strand running in front of each palm. This will put you in the right place to begin weaving the initial form.
You should rotate your wrists such that only one thread is wrapped around twice. Otherwise, both threads will tangle and damage the setup.
Allow your spouse to assist you if you are having difficulty looping the thread around your wrists a second time.
With your middle fingers, grasp the inner strand of the string. Reach over and slide one hand’s middle finger beneath the thread wrapped in front of your palm. Repeat with your opposite hand, grabbing only the portion in the front. Then, draw the threads apart to form a double ‘X’ in the centre. This is known as the “Cat’s Cradle.”
Direct your fingers through the middle of the loop, being careful not to grab any other strands by accident.
The game can begin once you’ve formed Cat’s Cradle.
Making Various Other Shapes
Convert a Cat’s Cradle into a “Soldier’s Bed.” With the thumb and forefinger of both hands, the other player should now squeeze the two middle ‘X’s of Cat’s Cradle. They’ll next wrap the ‘X’s around the bottom strands and up through the centre. Slide your hands out of the thread as they do. The configuration formed when the opposite player opens their thumb and fingers is known as “Soldier’s Bed.”
Soldier’s Bed resembles Cat’s Cradle in appearance, but the finger arrangement is different. This allows the string to be transferred to the other player when building future shapes.
“Diamonds” is an inverted variation of the Soldier’s Bed that may be produced by looping the strands over the top of the bed.
Change to “Candles.” You should notice two more ‘X’s in a configuration similar to Cat’s Cradle inside the Soldier’s Bed arrangement. With your fingers facing the other player’s hands, pinch these ‘X’s where they connect lengthwise. Bring these ‘X’s around the perimeter of the shape and up through the middle once more. Pull the thread taut and spread your thumb and fingers to form “Candles,” the next configuration, as your companion removes their hands.
Candles are distinguished by their internal pattern of parallel lines.
This is a highly helpful transitional shape since it allows you to move forward or backwards in the sequence.
Candles are also referred to as “Chopsticks” in Korea and “Mirror” in some regions of Europe.
Prepare “The Manger.” From here, your spouse will catch the top strand with their right pinky, then reach over from the opposite side with their left to snag the bottom strand. They’ll bring their thumb and pointer finger under and around the inner two strands while holding on with their pinky fingers. When you release the string, you will have created The Manger.
The Manager is essentially an upside-down Cat’s Cradle.
If you continue in the same order from The Manger, you’ll get Diamonds, which is an inverted Soldier’s Bed.
Restart the sequence. After reaching The Manger, you can continue the game by repeating the first few actions. Keep in mind that the string will be inverted at this point, so certain actions will need to be reversed in order to construct the following shape appropriately. The game will become tougher the second time around as a result. Have a good time!
The game can continue in this manner until you make a mistake or wind up with a shape that prevents you from making any additional shapes.
See if you can come up with novel configurations based on your understanding of the basic shapes.