I know, it’s such an adorable and silly name for a thing, but a crochet twiddlemuff is a fun and easy crochet or knit item you can make to help someone with dementia, Alzheimers or Autism.
But, what is a crochet twiddlemuff? Good question! It’s a hand muff with lots of different textures and embellishments such as ribbons, buttons, beads, zips and pom poms designed to provide sensory therapy for dementia patients. It provides not only warmth, but a focus for often-restless hands, and has been shown to calm and sooth dementia patients. You can also make them as mats, wrist cuffs, lap blankets or quilts, and the mat versions are also known as “fidget mats” or “fidget quilts”.
A news story on the ABC from 2016 described them as:
“Twiddle Muffs are sensory comforts for people who have restless hands,” Bundaberg Regional Council community development officer Bev Devlin said.
“They’re actually called a Twiddle Muff because you put your hands in the muff and then you get to twiddle.
“Inside the muffs there are lots of different objects of all different shapes and sizes, textures and colours.”
Restless hands are a common symptom of anxiety that people with dementia, autism, Asperger’s and mental health issues can suffer from.
“Twiddle Muffs originated in the United Kingdom, where they have been found to lower anxiety because people have something to do with their hands,” Ms Devlin said.
“They lower anxiety, reduce medication and bring people comfort.”
Twiddle Muffs have been found to be useful for many people with special needs in aged care homes, hospitals and schools.”
There’s no set pattern for a twiddlemuff – you can knit, crochet or sew the base, and then embellish as you see fit. Some of the items I’ve seen used include buttons, ribbons, beads, zips, velcro patches, shoe laces, pom poms, squeeze balls, fluffy yarn, crocheted curlicues – basically anything, as long as it provides some sort of sensory stimulation, is securely attached, and is either washable or removable for washing. Small pockets are also great for holding a tissue or similar – I’ve made some small granny squares in matching yarn and sewn them on as pockets.
The crochet twiddlemuffs above are ones I’ve made in the last week, and instructions for these particular ones are as follows:
Scrap yarn – for the base, keep it roughly the same weight of yarn – I used DK acrylic
Crochet hook to suit yarn – I used a 4mm Clover Amour hook
Embellishments – here are some suggestions with links where you can find them – Recycled ribbon, buttons and beads,
Darning needle and strong thread (embroidery thread, upholstery thread or dental floss are good)
Backing fabric – I used really thick polar fleece for softness and warmth
Chain 60, or enough with your choice of yarn and hook to obtain width of around 27cm (10.5″)
Turn and chain 2 (does not count as stitch here or elsewhere), then Half Double Crochet across. You can, of course, use any stitch you like, but I’ve found HDC provides a nice, dense base, while still being quite flexible. You can mix up your stitches throughout the piece, too – I like to put in a few rows of bobble stitches for texture. I also do a few rows of DC so I can weave ribbon in and out of the stitches. Just use your imagination and have fun!
Repeat rows, changing stitch and colour any time you like, until piece measures around 36cm (14″) and finish off.
You should now have a crocheted rectangle measuring 27cm X 36cm (approximately)
Add embellishments to crochet rectangle, making sure everything is very securely attached for safety.
Next it’s time to sort out the backing fabric. Measure your rectangle carefully, and cut out a rectangle of fleece that is 1cm smaller on all sides.
You’ll also need to embellish the fleece, so that there are sensory objects on the inside of the muff, too. I like to use a bunch of crocheted curlicues, a pom pom, and a few beads or buttons sew on securely.
Put the wrong sides of the crocheted rectangle and the fleece together and stitch together, leaving a space around the edge of roughly 1cm. I hand stitched mine with a basic blanket stitch, but you could easily use a sewing machine, too. As I changed yarn colour in nearly every row with mine, I obviously had a heap of yarn ends, which I just knotted and tucked inside the backing fabric to avoid having to sew them all in, I mean, who wants to do that?
Another option is to leave all the ends sticking out of the seam and trim them evenly into a cute fringe for some extra texture.
Fold your crochet twiddlemuff in half, fleece side up, so that your starting chain and finishing rows are at the sides, and securely sew together to form a tube.
Attach yarn on the side, next to the seam, and crochet 2 rows of HDC around the cuff, and finish with a row of slip stitch to give a nice finish. Repeat for the other side, turn inside out and your twiddlemuff is ready to go!
The Crochet For Charity group I’m a part of are making these to donate to hospitals and nursing homes with dementia care units, where we hope they’ll bring some joy and calmness. You may want to make one for a friend or family member – they’re also popular to help kids with autism, anxiety and many other conditions.
As always, Pins, shares and comments are all much appreciated – if you’ve made a crochet twiddlemuff before, or have seen how they can help, please do drop me a comment below.
While we all loving making beautiful things for our friends and family, or to sell, there’s something really special about putting in the time and care to crochet a handmade item to donate to someone in need.
I’ve been getting quite involved in crochet for charity since I’ve been off work. I started with the Scrappy Lappy blankets, and have made 3 so far, ready to donate once the weather here cools down a bit. They are a fabulous way to both use up scrap yarn and make something warm, cosy and cheerful to brighten up someone’s day.
I was on Pinterest the other day and came across another idea, the one with the fabulous name – Twiddlemuffs! These are sensory hand muffs, mats, cuffs or lap blankets used to help calm people with dementia, Alzheimers or autism. I will be writing up a post and full tutorial on these very soon, so stay tuned!
I’ve also started a local Facebook Group for crocheters who would like to make items to donate, and for charities to request donations. So far it’s going really well, we’ve been gifted yarn, and have made items for both human and furbaby recipients so far!
There are so many items you can make to donate, so with this in mind, I’ve put together a round up of a whole range of free patterns, tutorials and ideas for crochet items for donation.
YARNSPIRATION – Charity Crochet Patterns – There are quite a few on here, ranging from chemo caps to pup jackets, baby blankets to place mats.
THE CROCHET CROWD – 27 Crochet Charity Patterns + Ideas – Again, a full list of free patterns to try
MAKE AND DO CREW – Crocheting and Knitting for Charity – some great patterns on here, and I especially love the hooded blanket one that you could make to any size.
AID ANIMALS – Crafting, Crocheting, Knitting and Sewing for Charity – this great page has heaps of patterns and ideas of items you can make do donate to wildlife refuges and animal shelters.
REDHEART – Charity Knitting & Crochet Ideas – this lists both charities that accept handmade items, as well as a whole bunch of free patterns you can use.
MARTHA STEWART – 8 Ways to Knit or Crochet for Charity – this post has a list of charity organisations, and links to them, where you can find out patterns and more information. I especially love the giant granny square blankets for chilly elephants!
Photo Credit – Roger Allen
If you’ve got any more links to free patterns, tutorials or stories on crocheting for charity, please do feel free to pop them in a comment below and I’ll update this list regularly!
As always – any shares and pins are most welcome to spread the word of #crochetforcharity! Be sure to use the hashtag on your social media and let’s get this growing!
I’ve been sadly neglecting this blog over the last year, mostly because I was ridiculously busy with a demanding job, but I’m b-a-a-a-ck. I’ve unfortunately had to leave my job due to some ongoing health issues (yeah, I’m looking at you, stupid neck pain), but the upside is that I can concentrate on my beloved crochet.
One part of my health issues has been dealing with some really sucky anxiety and depression, which has had a huge impact on my well-being. I’ve found crocheting to be one of the best therapies around, and quite honestly don’t know what I would have done without having it as an outlet in both a creative / artistic fashion, as well as emotionally. Try checking out the #craftastherapy hashtag on social media, and you’ll see that there are many of us out there using our craft to help our mental health.
Another way I’ve been trying to address the black dog is to try and do something kind for others, which is how the Scrappy Lappy came about! If you’re like me, you probably have an embarrassingly large stash of scrap yarn, in quantities too small for most projects. Well, how about using that up and making a warm, cheerful lapghan for someone in a nursing home or who spends a lot of time in a wheelchair? It costs you nothing when using up your own scraps, and I’ve found friends are happy to donate their scrap yarn to me, too. There are so many organisations around that would be most grateful for these, so I hope you’ll consider having a go at making one – they work up SO quickly and are so warm and snuggly, although working on this one in the extreme heat of an Australian summer was rather toasty work, I can tell you!
The inspiration for the stitch / yarn options for this came from the fabulous Jayda InStitches and she has a full YouTube tutorial on how to make it, which you can find HERE. The entire blanket is made from easy half-double crochet stitches, and uses 2 strands of yarn at once. I used a 7mm hook and found it coped well with a range of yarn weights, but most of what I used was 8ply / DK weight.
I would very highly recommend using a magic knot to join your yarns together, unless you’re the type of person who loves sewing in hundreds of ends! You can even make a “Magic Ball” of yarn in advance, so you don’t have to knot as you go. Coralie over at Stitch-n-Smile has made up a great tutorial HERE on how to do this – just make sure you get those knots really secure and follow the instructions. I found the mantra “over one and under 2” helped me make sure I was tying the knots correctly.
You can see below the Magic Ball I’m currently using on my lavender fields inspired Scrappy Lappy. For this one I’m keeping the grey-ish beige yarn as the base throughout, and using it along with my magic ball of gorgeous greens, blues, pinks and purples.
For my Rainbow Scrappy Lappy I had 2 magic balls made up – one was made up of greys, silvers, off whites and pastels, and the other was made up of the bright rainbow colours, and I also used a few yarns that had a bit of a metallic sparkle, just to give the blanket a bit more bling and happy vibes – I mean, who doesn’t love glitter? A navy border just finished it off, and I truly hope it brings some cheer to whoever ends up with it – it’s destined for a local nursing home as soon as I’ve finished a few more off to take a whole bunch of them along.
The recommended size for a lapghan is around 100cm X 120cm, and with the bigger hook they really don’t take much time at all to whip up, and it’s easy, mindless crochet that you can do while watching TV, or listening to an audiobook (yeah, I’m a huge fan of audiobooks!)
So, if this has inspired you to Kon-Marie the living crap out of your yarn stash and create something that will be sure to spark joy in someone, break out the stash, put on a good book and get cracking!
And, as always, shares and pins are much appreciated – I’d love to see the #CraftAsTherapy and #CrochetForCharity movement growing by leaps and bounds!
I’ll definitely be posting more about both, so do stay tuned xxx