Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Making a Twiddlemuff!

Now I just assumed that everyone knew what a twiddlemuff was, and it’s nothing to do with Ann Summers! At the Thornton Dale Show the WI had a whole table of them! “What’s with all these twiddlemuffs, they are everywhere!” commented a lady standing to next to me. I’ll tell you what I told her.

People with dementia have what is known as restless hands, and they fiddle with everything, especially medical equipment when they are in hospital. A twiddlemuff, is a muff to keep their hands in, and warm, just like Lady Up Her Own Nose in her posh carriage, back in the day. And the twiddle is the buttons, textured yarn and other bits and bobs attached to the muff to twiddle with , rather than the needle stuck in a vein! It also helps stimulate the senses, and no more about Ms Summers here !

Instructions abound for them on the internet, usually with diagrams and descriptions which quite frankly bamboozled me. Then a very nice lady came to the library hoping to recruit knitters and with her she had some real life examples. Now all of the instructions say helpful things like cast on 40, 48 , 45 stitches, use size 5-7 mm needles. But Which ones!!

So here’s what I did. I used 5mm needles, I cast on 50 stitches and used chunky or two strands of DK yarn. I used machine washable yarn figuring it would get grubby and need a wash or several washes.

I then knit for 24 inches swapping yarn frequently. I tried to use a variety of yarn and strong colours , figuring that old eyes are weak eyes. I also varied the patterns but only using knit and purl stitches. I was tempted to put in some bobbles but I didn’t.

There is some of the lovely snowflake yarn in there all fluffy and soft and some tinsel yarn which I paired with a strand of matching DK yarn. I tried to make the cast on and cast off ends quite dense in texture to enable a strong join.

Next add buttons and other twiddly bits. I didn’t add lace or anything which I intended to do as I found whilst I was knitting it I kept stroking the fluffy and tinsel yarn and decided it was quite tactile enough!

You are going to fold it in so leave the middle section without any extra bits,

Now fold in half , short sides together, right side inside and stitch the two sides together, not the cast on/cast off sides.


Then turn right side outside.

So you have this on one side, I left the yarn sticking outside for a bit more twiddling, having secured it tightly inside already.

The other side looked like this.

Now fold it middle to top to creat a muff with twiddly bits inside and outside, and sew the middle to the cast on/off edges.

I used a ladder stitch and then over sewed it to make sure it was really secure.

And voila a twiddlemuff!

which I have to say is incredibly warm , strokeable and twiddliable!

It was also the most fun I have had knitting in a long while! Now can I just ask you to look at this bit again.

Apparently there is also a demand for twiddle blankets. I wondered if I knit in strips like thisΒ  but longer with a garter stitch border and then joined them together to make a blanket, would it work? Or would it look a mess? Be honest Yes or No?

Anyway I am off to a Repair Cafe now, wish us luck! I find I am nervous, what if no-one comes…..




Comments on: "Making a Twiddlemuff!" (36)

  1. My mom has mild-moderate dementia and I can see the beginnings of those busy, restless hands. These muffs are ingenious *and* handmade with affection–gotta love it!

  2. What and excellent idea. I hadn’t heard of them. I think your plan for a blanket would work very well.

  3. Well, not quite as exciting as my first Ann Summers imaginations but much more worthwhile I’m sure πŸ˜‰
    Thinking about what somebody said about a treasured doll, what about, instead of a button on a cord to go in and out of a pocket, a small knitted figure of some sort on a length of yarn to put in and out.

  4. I have never heard of this, but I can certainly see how it might be just the thing for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. What a simple, yet wonderful idea! Looking forward to hearing about the repair cafe!

  5. Here in the U.S. we make “busy blankets” for those we love with dementia. Last January I made this one for my Group Home gal/Love. Here’s my blog post about it http://uncontainablejoy.blogspot.com/2017/01/making-diy-busy-blanket-for-my-love-ma.html

    She did wonder what it “was”. But it kept her very busy. Once in a while she’d try to put it on. She’d ask over and over who made it! I’d tell her I did. Then later she’d tell me her sisters made it for her. :o) Sadly she passed away in April. Now I keep the busy blanket on my computer chair.

    I love the idea of Twidlemuffs. And yes the busy blanket I made her did get quite dirty but we just threw it in the wash.

    How’d the repair cafe go? :o)

  6. Murtagh's Meadow said:

    It looks lovely. It’s a bit like those tag blankets they make for babies. How was the repair cafe?

  7. Oh you are fabulous to know!! ❀ I have never heard of this before and now I am all revved up to find out if this is a goer here. Siddy and I visit a dementia unit every week. Siddy vacuums and greets and I make crafts…….. I've often noticed how their hands fidget with small items – and how the things I make get removed from the table and placed up a sleeve or in a pocket or down the front of a dress and are taken away πŸ˜€ This twiddlymuff could be just the thing to start making – some of the women remember how to knit and with help could be knitting a few rows of their very own twiddlymuff. I love the idea!

    The blanket with added texture might also be an excellent alternative. I wonder if you could add a small pocket somewhere for some hidden treasures to be stored? Though maybe not for advanced dementia for heavens knows what you'd find in there πŸ™‚

    • I love the idea of adding a pocket to put things in, maybe I could attach a cord with a button on the end which could go in and out of the pocket. Yes, goodness knows what might go in an unattended muff!
      It would be so good if the ladies you visit could help knit a few rows on one, and lovely to make and see them in use in a dementia unit. I bet Siddy is very popular with the residents. The home my Mum lives in has a resident dog, who is adored by them all. He came with a former resident and when she passed , he stayed with them and lives in the staff room!
      Do let us know if you make one please.

  8. My goodness, I’ve learned something new again. It’s going to be an excellent day. Quilters here make something similar but distinctly different. They are called fidget quilts and do not have the opening for keeping the hands warm which I think could be quite beneficial. On the fabric you can probably sew more and heavier objects to fidget with but there is something about your soft warm knitting that would be extremely desirable to someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. It warms the heart to know there are so many working to provide these people with a way of coping with something they have no control over. Yours are just so colorful and soft looking. Love them.

  9. I made a twiddlemuff during WWKIP last year, but mine was knitted in the round as a long tube, then folded back in on itself. I made the inside section soft and smooth and the outside ‘twiddly’. I have subsequently been told to be careful putting buttons on as there have been cases of twiddlemuffs being used to lash out with… so things like pompoms might be better. It’s also nice to include a pocket and something on a cord to put in and out of the pocket.

    • Two very good ideas, had wondered about a pocket, but not thought of pompoms rather than buttons. Old people do lash out, it’s true. Thanks so much for this information.
      I was surprised while I was knitting it that I spent quite a bit of time stroking it myself.

  10. I’d never heard of twiddlemuffs before, but they sound like a great idea! I see no reason why you couldn’t go ahead and make a twiddleblanket in stripes like that – the important thing is texture and colour.

  11. Excellent directions and good idea – thank you!
    (Fingers crossed you’re having a grand day.)

  12. Good luck with the Repair Cafe.People have been making Twiddlemuffs round here for quite a while and they sound like a good idea but someone told me yesterday that the homes have stopped using them because of problems with cleanliness. Seems a shame. Sounds as if yours would wash well.

    • Yes I can believe that about cleanliness, but it seems a shame to stop using them completely. The hospital lady told me they sent them home with the patient. I expect a lot get thrown away, but if they brought comfort, I would not mind.

  13. I have never heard of a twiddlemuff before, so I just love this introduction – thank you! What a great idea, and how thoughtfully you have made your twiddlemuff. It’s excellent πŸ™‚

  14. btw – your reference to Ann Summers made me snort my cup of tea! Ha! Ha! πŸ˜€

  15. Have fun at the Repair Cafe – looking forward to hearing all about it.
    I’ve wondered about making a Twiddle Muff for my Mum, as she is very far down the Dementia path, but I’m not sure she’d respond to it well. She has a blanket in bright colours that I crocheted which she will not be parted from and a doll that looks like a baby who she talks to and kisses and cuddles. It is dressed in bright pink but it is a boy to her.

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