On St. Brigid’s Day in Ireland it is customary to make reed crosses named after the saint. But, if like me, you live in the city, it is not easy to find an abundant supply of reeds. In America, reeds and rushes don’t grow as prolifically as in the wet soil of my homeland.
Determined to mark this day by making some crosses with my kids, I decided pipe cleaners would be the best solution. ‘Chenille stem’ seems to be the new name for this trusted craft supply. Add a little glitter and a good old pipe cleaner is transformed into a chenille stem.
To make your cross you will need 18 or 22 stems, depending on how big you’d like to make the center square of your cross.
Lay one stem straight and bend all others, except one, in half. Cut the last one in four equal pieces for binding the ends of each arm of the cross.
Step 1: Loop one bent stem around the center of the vertical stem, pointing the ends to the right.
Step 2: Loop the next bent stem around the first arm, pointing upwards.
Step 3: The next bent stem is looped around the upward arm, pointing to the left.
Step 4: The final arm is created by pointing a bent stem downwards around the left arm.
Repeat these four steps 3 or 4 times to expand your cross, starting each round on the right and underneath the arm.
The final stem must be secured. Pull the last loop of the right arm back a little, and slot the last stem downwards and through this hole. Re-tighten each loop.
Secure the end of each arm using a small piece of pipe cleaner.
And there you have it, a St. Brigid’s Cross made with pipe cleaners, even if it’s a little more glittery than the saint’s original.
We got a little carried away this morning, making big ones and small ones, multicolored and glittery crosses. But let’s face it. St. Brigid loved a good party, so I think she would approve of a little sparkle.
Happy St. Brigid’s Day to all.
Slán agus beannacht leat!
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
P.S. Thanks to Maureen at “Make Time For Nature” for her lovely photo of St. Brigid’s crosses made with reeds.