When I am not out enjoying myself eating, drinking and reviewing places to recommend on my food and travel blog I am generally kept well occupied with my other hobby which is hand-knitting! I usually knit fashion accessories as gifts for friends but last November I asked the Volunteer Office at my local hospital (Addenbrookes) if they had any knitting projects I could get involved with. I was delighted to hear that they were looking for volunteers to knit Twiddlemuffs for patients suffering from dementia. I wasn’t unfamiliar with the concept as I was aware that a Fidget Blanket is a lap quilt that provides stimulation for the restless hands of someone with Alzheimer’s. Knitted by volunteers, Twiddlemuffs are used in lots of NHS hospitals throughout the UK and given out to dementia patients to take home, so a supply is always needed.
So what is a Twiddlemuff? A Twiddlemuff is a decorated hand muff which in addition to keeping hands warm provides a wonderful source of visual, tactile and sensory stimulation. The muffs are decorated on the outside with haberdashery bits and bobs like buttons, ribbons, sequins, and beads. The exterior of the main body of the muff should ideally be knitted in a variety of textured yarns to give added interest. This is an excellent way to use up any odds and ends of wool, which is what appealed to me about this project.
People with dementia often have restless hands and like to have something to keep their hands occupied so knowing that I am creating something useful for a good cause gives me the feel-good factor! Since I started knitting Twiddlemuffs the word has spread amongst my friends and family and consequently, orders for my muffs have now been sent to other places far and wide (including Denmark). I don’t accept any payment because the muffs don’t cost me anything to make, but I do accept donations of wool and haberdashery which I can use to make and decorate more muffs.
If anyone reading this post is interested in making Twiddlemuffs to donate to their local hospital the best part is, you don’t even need to be a good knitter as they are actually very simple to make and it’s hard to get it wrong as each one can be different. To decorate you can add anything from wool to buttons, beads to zips or ribbons, which most craftspeople already have in their sewing box. Just make sure that all the attachments are sewn on firmly and that the finished muff is machine washable.
How to make a Twiddlemuff
- A selection of leftover and odd balls of wool (DK or Chunky)
- Needles: 8mm circular or 6.5mm straight needles
Cast on 45 stitches using 2 strands of double knitting wool or 1 strand of chunky wool (one plain colour works best). Work in stocking stitch (knit a row, purl a row)
for 11 inches.
Continue with stocking stitch, but use up oddments of various textures of wool such as chunky, mohair, ribbon etc until the work measures 23 inches. Top tip: two strands of double knit for two rows each gives a lovely assortment of colours. Cast off.
If working with straight needles, lightly iron the long strip of knitting, then neatly join the sides together using edge to edge stitch along the seam with the finished side on the inside. When completed turn the muff inside out so that the finished side is now on the exterior and push the cuff up inside the muff body. Sew the two ends together, again using a neat edge to edge stitch.
Now you can decorate the outside of the muff in any way you choose with ribbons, beads, flowers, zips, loops, pompoms, buttons, etc. For an added extra you could knit a separate pocket for a favourite photo, a key or a hanky. Be creative, but it is important to ensure that each item is securely attached!
These are just a small selection of the different Twiddlemuffs which I have knitted over the last few months. I have made so many now that I stopped counting after donating 50! They are very quick to make and I find that I can knit a muff in a few hours but the finishing and decorating is more time-consuming. I can only hope that my muffs have given as much pleasure to the recipients as they have given me to make!
Finally, the above Twiddlemuff is my latest creation which I was asked to make for a ten-year-old autistic boy who has restless hands in class and finds it hard to concentrate.