Twiddlemuffs – How You Can Help Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients
Knitting for charity is a wonderful and rewarding project. Here we discuss how twiddlemuffs can help those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
What’s a twiddlemuff?
A twiddlemuff is a knitted, crocheted or fabric tube with accessories such as ribbons and buttons sewn on to them. They are usually made up of many yarn textures, with notions sewn on the inside and outside of the muff. This allows for the person’s hands to stay warm while they are able to twiddle with the bits and pieces.
Why are Twiddlemuffs used?
For many people with dementia, there are developments and changes to their personalities, one of which is to become increasingly agitated. Twiddlemuffs help to ease agitation and calm the person’s mood, as they can keep their hands and minds occupied. Many hospital wards have found that the muffs have a positive effect on patients by keeping them comforted, as well as encouraging movement and brain stimulation.
How can I make a twiddlemuff?
There are no real rules for knitting a twiddlemuff, as long as the colors are bright, the yarns have good texture, and you add some great accoutrements. You can use any type of stitch (garter works nicely), and you can knit as many rows of as many different yarns as you’d like. Generally a good size for a rectangle is 12″ x 24″ / 30cm x 60cm. Here’s a short video we made demonstrating how to knit a swatch in the twiddlemuff style:
You can download a pattern by Knit for Peace by clicking the button below:
Which yarns are best for twiddlemuffs?
It’s important to create different textures to help keep fretful minds occupied, and you can do this by using yarns of different fibres and weights, along with attaching items to twiddle.
Colors: some research has shown that pastels are soothing for ladies, whereas men prefer bright, contrasting shades, but if you know the recipient in person, choose colors that you know are favourites!
Textures: use as many textures as you like – soft chenille, eyelash yarns, thick and thin, and different weight yarns to create ridges and dips. Conversely, some people may prefer regularity, so creating something less varied might be helpful too.
Here are some of our favourite yarns to inspire you!
Yarns with different shape add to the change of textures too – Lion Brand Homespun comes in a glorious range of variegated shades, and Red Heart Boutique Filigree is a super tape yarn that will either make up into ruffles or knit flat. Stylecraft Ruffles, Wendy Frills and Rico Creative Loopy PomPom Print are all scarf yarns that have features built into the yarn construction.
Extra things to twiddle
Buttons, attached securely are perfect for holding, either attach tightly, or tie to a strong loop. Felt balls can be strung and attached as a row of balls to feel, or stitched on individually. Tie on bows or strips of ribbon, and thread beads along securely. Attach a faux fur pom pom, or make your own with these extra small pom pom makers! Small zips can provide activity for fretful hands – and some locking stitch markers can be an extra tactile touch.
How can I get involved?
To find out more about Alzheimer’s and dementia, you can visit the Alzheimer’s Society website.
The wonderful organization Knit For Peace has a knitting pattern, and provides an address for you to send your finished twiddlemuffs to. They will then distribute them amongst NHS Hospitals around the UK.
Last updated: September 20th, 2017.