I recently received an unusual request to Chandler’s Ford Today from Gemma, who works on the orthopaedic ward at Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.
Her first lines were: “I’m not entirely sure if you are the correct person to contact? However you may be able to redirect me!”
This intrigued me.
Gemma told me there are a lot of patients with dementia in the hospital, so there’s a huge demand for ‘Twiddlemuffs’.
Twiddlemuffs? What are they? I was lost.
Gemma explained that Twiddlemuffs are knitted muffs with items attached to keep dementia patients’ hands active. Twiddlemuffs contain strands of textured ribbons, beads, and various fabrics attached both inside and outside.
Hampshire Hospitals even have a dedicated page on Twiddlemuffs – Twiddlemuffs factsheet (pdf).
What are Twiddlemuffs for?
People with dementia often have restless hands and like to have something to keep their hands occupied. It provides a wonderful source of visual, tactile and sensory stimulation, and keeps hands snug and warm at the same time.
We are hoping that volunteers (staff, patients and visitors) will come forward to put their knitting skills to good use to help us to create more twiddlemuffs as part of our dementia awareness work.
Don’t worry if you are not an expert; the pattern is very simple. If you aren’t a knitter but still want to support the cause we would welcome donations of wool, buttons, beads, ribbons, zips, or anything else that could be used to enhance the muffs safely.
Source: From the website of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: Twiddlemuffs factsheet.pdf
I found this a worthwhile challenge, so I contacted a few local artists for Gemma.
I first contacted Lorna Jones, textile artist from Eastleigh.
Quite coincidentally, Lorna told me she already had 25 Twiddlemuffs ready to go to Winchester hospital. These Twiddlemuffs were knitted by her Loopy Loopers / Nutty Knitters group, based at The Courthouse on Leigh Road in Eastleigh.
Lorna told me she attended a Dementia Awareness Day months ago as she is interested in working with dementia patients in a creative way. She became a dementia friend.
Around that time, Lorna and her partner started singing and art sessions at a dementia home in Southampton under the umbrella of SoCo Music project.
Lorna said, “I decided to start a knitting club at The Courthouse where people could knit items for charities and, while researching dementia, I had found a hospital which was asking for knitters to knit Twiddlwmuffs for their dementia patients. I felt this was a worthwhile cause and an easy and fun project for my group.”
“We meet on Wednesdays from 6pm to 8pm and it has been an enjoyable way of meeting new people and doing some good at the same time. We just found out that Winchester hospital was asking for Twiddlemuffs and I have about 25 ready to go so it was coincidence that you got in touch with me.”
Knitting for Twiddlemuffs
I also contacted another keen knitter, Sue Potter, who helps organises regular Brambridge Craft Fairs.
Sue sent me an image of a pink and purple Twiddlemuff made by her friend, Belinda Anderson.
Sue later sent me an image of two colourful Twiddlemuffs made by Tricia Pearce.
Where could you send your Twiddlemuffs to?
If you would like to make and donate a Twiddlemuff or materials, you can drop them off at the main reception at the hospitals at Basingstoke and Winchester, or the Minor Injuries Unit at Andover hospital.
Are you inspired to try your hands on Twiddlemuffs? Have a go and share your Twiddlemuffs with us. I would like to challenge my friend Chippy Minton (who has a keen eye for detail) to make one by Christmas.
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