The Witch's Broom, sometimes called the Fishing Spear by the tragically PC, is one of the simplest and coolest Cat's Cradles (aka string figures). It's been made by bored children and elders ever since woman invented string, found in cultures from Iceland to the South Pacific.

All you need is six fingers and a loop of string. The loop of string should be about the legth of a shoelace; between two feet and four feet circumference; and not too stiff or slippery. A shoelace knotted into a loop, in fact, works perfectly.

The six fingers should be three on each hand; it doesn't matter which three, really. I recommend thumb, middle finger, and pinky on each hand. And I'm assuming you're right-handed; reverse all the diagrams if not.

(O        O)   first finger         Starting position: view from above. 
O)        (O    middle finger(s)
(O        O)   last finger

Begin with the string in standard starting position, hands held open and apart, palms inward. The string passes behind each first and last finger and in front of the middle fingers.

(O      __O)    first finger        Second position: view from above
O_____><(O)     middle finger  
(O        O)    last finger 

Take the middle finger of the right hand, and slip it, from the top down, under the loop of string in front of the middle finger on the left hand. Pull it back, putting a half-twist in the loop you've picked up on your right middle finger as you return your hands to the starting position.

  (O O)      first finger       Third position: (very rough) view from above
   \ /  
(O  X  O)    middle finger
   / \
  (O O)       last finger

Now take the middle finger of the left hand, and reaching inside the loop you've just twisted around the right middle finger, pick up the string that passes in front of the middle fingers of the right hand (left over from the starting position.) This time, hook the string from the bottom up, so there's no twist. Pull this string up through the loop on the right middle finger.

(O\       O     first finger      Final figure.
(O X    O)    middle finger
(O/       O     last finger

Last, release the string from the first and last fingers of the right hand. Pull your hands apart so the figure is stretched tight. Ta-da! A witch's broom, with a handle and three bristles. Or a rocket ship, or a trident, or a propeller, or . . .

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.