WARM TOUCH: Dougherty Villa activities co-ordinator Ros Houlahan and craft group organiser Jenny Vickery with some of the varied and colourful work made by Warm Touch 2460 members.
WARM TOUCH: Dougherty Villa activities co-ordinator Ros Houlahan and craft group organiser Jenny Vickery with some of the varied and colourful work made by Warm Touch 2460 members. Belinda Scott

Creative twiddle muffs have caught our imagination

BUTTONS, baubles and bows are being supplemented by zips, laces and buckles in an unusual craft project designed to make life more interesting for people experiencing dementia.

Twiddle muffs, sewn with all kinds of objects from everyday life, are designed to stimulate the part of the brain that recognises these familiar objects.

The recognition can in turn awaken responses.

Grafton's Pat Hewitt embarked on making twiddle muffs after she heard about a group making them on the south coast last year.

"You knit something that looks like half a sleeve and you start with all different yarns and patterns, then you decorate them,” Pat said.

"I put all sorts of weird and wonderful things on them.

"I get big buttons and other bits and pieces from the op shop.

"I make them while I'm watching tele.

"Apparently they have created in some patients the possibility of talking for the first time in years.”

Pat has donated her first batch of twiddle muffs to Grafton's Dougherty Villa's activities coordinator Ros Houlahan.

The project has been a welcome distraction for 91-year-old Pat, who is recovering from an eye infection and a stroke which has affected her writing as well as many of her other activities,

Previously proud of her penmanship, Pat describes her current writing style as "like a spider crawling across an ink blot”.

Twiddle muffs have now caught the imagination of Grafton-based support group Warm Touch 2460.

Warm Touch members, who held their first craft gathering at the South Grafton home of member Suzanne Boyle in early April, have added twiddle muffs to their list of projects for members' busy hands.

They have expanded the idea to include twiddle pillows, twiddle toys and marble mazes for children in hospitals and care homes.

Begun in 2015 by retiree Jenny Vickery to knit beanies and scarves for cancer patients at Grafton Hospital, Warm Touch 2460 has grown like topsy, with members now numbering more than 200 and spilling well outside the 2460 postcode.

Linked by their public Facebook group, members make and donate needed items.

Spread throughout the Clarence Valley and Coffs Coast and even further afield, they meet rarely but share a common purpose.

Some members make Knitted Knockers, special soft knitted cotton inserts for breast cancer patients, while others make knitted or crocheted rugs, beanies, scarves, bags and soft toys.

They make booties for babies and chemotherapy kits for cancer patients; rugs for renal patients and chilly Community Transport travellers; toys for sick children and hosts Yarn Bombs to provide warm things to homeless people.

Their creative minds, busy hands and whirring sewing machines see them turning wool and fabrics into a host of colourful and welcome items to wear and use.

Some of their work goes to make gift baskets or raffle prizes to raise money for local causes

Ros Houlahan, who was a guest at the April craft morning, spoke to the members about the importance of stimulating sensory experiences for nursing home residents, praised their work and was delighted with the selection she was given to take away for her residents.

"It's so lovely to hear about those things, we all love doing it,” Jane Berger said.

"We're going to be there one day and I want things to play with,” Jenny Vickery said.

Jenny explained that they were able to send their work anywhere to those who needed it by using the family and work connections of members and their families and friends.

"We couldn't afford postage,” she said.

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