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Twiddle Muffs – Therapy for Dementia Patients

Our Knit and Natter Group has had a request for twiddle muffs. These tubes of textured knitting, embellished with buttons and beads, give dementia patients something to hold, the repeated action of stroking the fabric or twiddling with a button has a calming effect. Those of us with pets know how calming it is to stroke your dog or cat – the same principle applies. In hospitals the twiddle muffs also provide a distraction to prevent patients with dementia from picking at a dressing or a cannula.

This week I’ve made three twiddle mitts. They are a great way of using up oddments of yarn, especially those with interesting textures, like mohair, chenille and boucle. Alternatively you can used different stitches to provide texture, such as blackberry stitch, moss stitch or cable.

Each mitt is formed from a double layer of stocking stitch. The pattern I used casts on 45 stitches on 6.5mm needles, working with one strand of chunky yarn or two strands of double knitting. The first 11 inches of the project forms the lining of the muff – I saved the most colourful yarns for the outer part. When the piece is 22 inches long, you cast it off .

I find it easier to add embellishments at this point – various beads and buttons, to both the inner and outer parts. It is important that these are sewn on very securely. Next the long edges are sewn together to form a long tube.

The lining is then folded to the inside and the ends stitched together.

I prefer to add a row of stitches to the other end of the mitt too.


The first mitt included a green and yellow flecked yarn, a rust coloured mohair and a very soft yellow chenille.

Once of the embellishments I used was a crocheted sunflower with a button centre.

The mitt linings had various beads, buttons and rings attached.

The second mitt was knitted in shades of pink and purple, Including a lilac ribbon yarn, variegated thin and thin chunky and a couple of different mohair yarns.

Embellishments included some tiny jingle bells, crocheted flowers with button centres….

…and a ribbon slotted through the knitting and securely tied with a double knot then in a bow.

The final mitt, in various teal shades included a deep petrol blue sequinned yarn, turquoise ribbon yarn, pale blue and metallic eyelash yarn, a very knobby boucle in black and shades of green and turquoise and two shades of teal mohair.

I’ll find out tomorrow how we can get these to where they are needed.

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Another Cable Headband

When we were looking at patterns so I could knit a headband for Daughter, she couldn’t quite make her mind up so I (rashly) agreed to make two. After the faux cable one in hansspun alpaca, she decided she needed something with a bit more colour and chose this green from my yarn stash – it’s a 3-ply so I used two strands for this pattern, the Woven Cable Headband by Priscilla Uloho (available as a free download on Ravelry)

It features this lovely woven cable design and a garter stitch edge.

It knitted up quite quickly and Daughter likes this one too. She has no excuse to get cold ears this winter!

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Faux Cable Headband

Having seen the cable bobble hat I made with my handspun alpaca last week, daughter asked if I’d make her a headband – she’d seen some similar to this, so we had a look at some patterns and she picked out a few – this one is the Twisting Taffy headband from Drops Yarn (a huge selection of Drops Patterns are available free on their website). She wanted it in natural white undyed alpaca, so I spun a bit more and got started.

The pattern said to use circular needles back and forth, but that always seems a bit pointless to me so I used straight ones. The pattern is not a true cable, but it was fun to do and the pattern repeat is only 4 rows so you don’t lose your place.

The hardest part was the twist, halfway along the strip. – You put half the stitches on a cable needle, knit the rest in pattern, then knit rest off the cable needle. As there are a lot of stitches this is extremely tight so if took me a few attempts (knitting this part more loosely). Once that’s done you just carry on with the second half of the strip, cast off and sew the two ends together.!

Daughter loves it – she wore it for a walk on a very cold day over the weekend and she says it really keeps her ears warm!

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Alpaca Cable Hat

I finished this hat last week. The pattern – Hello Yellow – is available as a free download from Ravelry. I’ve now sent it off to our friends who own Wispa and Aero – the alpacas that keep me supplied with gorgeous fibre to spin.

I spun some more yarn especially – a 3 ply (I’m loving playing with my new Christmas presents, especially the ball winder)

The hat has a deep band in twisted rib.

The cable was quite straightforward to do and I love the way it looks.

To finish I used the pompom maker to make a nice fat bobble. I’ve added a press stud to make it detachable.

This is going to be so warm!

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Knit and Natter 15th January

More lovely projects were on show at Friday’s online Knit and Natter group. I took some screenshots so we could share what we’ve been working on. My fellow spinner from Berwick is knitting this colourful child’s cardigan.

The pattern (with jumper and cardigan options) and yarn were in this month’s subscription knitting box.

Her husband was drum carding some Gotland fleece ready to spin.

Isn’t this yarn gorgeous? I love those aqua colours. A member of the group from Alnwick has just cast on with it.

It’s going to make a very glamorous/scarf/wrap.

The raspberry blanket is getting bigger.

I worked on my socks with the lovely blue Silent Night yarn.

We’ve had a request for twiddle muffs. These are used for dementia patients – something to hold, stroke and twiddle with, which can be immensely calming – those of us with pets know how relaxing it is to stroke your cat or dog. Twiddle muffs are a great way of using up oddments of yarn, especially if it has an interesting texture, and they can be embellished with buttons, bows and beads, inside and out. I’m going to try and make some over the next week or two and see if I can use up some of my ridiculous collection of yarn!

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New Year Knit and Natter

Friday was the first meeting of the year for our online knit and natter group. As always there were some lovely projects in progress.

My fellow spinner finished these pretty striped socks during the session.

Before Christmas she was running out of yarn for a green sweater she was knitting for her son – she ended up having to spin 200g more, but got it finished. She’s also been crocheting some cute little dolls to go in a dolls house.

She is selling one of her traditional spinning wheels and I am very tempted to buy but I really need to think about space and weight before I buy a traditional wheel – I’ll stick to my little Electric Eel Wheel Nano for now. It easily fits in a drawer so no storage problems.

Having made a load of Christmas decorations in December this member is now back to her waterfall front cardigan in this gorgeous pink shade.

This blanket is progressing well in beautiful vibrant raspberry shades – it’s a really stunning variegated yarn.

I’m finishing off a cabled hat made from my handspun alpaca. I just need to attach the pompom – I’ll used a press-stud so it can be removed for washing. This is going to be lovely and warm to wear.

It was good to see everyone after the Christmas break. We talked about how well the COVID vaccine is being rolled out in this area – local sessions are working really well. Jane from the Social Prescribing team at the GP practice, who runs our Knit and Natter sessions has been helping to run the immunisation sessions. I hope that everything goes to plan and those concerned are able to work through the different age/risk groups and get to me – I can’t wait!

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New Year Cast Ons and Knitting with a Rather Different View

No sooner than I’d finished off a couple of projects last week I was itching to get something on the needles so I started a couple of new projects.

The first one is the Hello Yellow hat which is a special request from my lovely friend who keep me supplied with alpaca fibre. It’s a cable beanie with a pompom, knitted of course in undyed alpaca spun from her own alpacas, Wispa and Aero.

I’ve now completed the deep edging band which is knitted using a twisted rib., so now I can start the fun bit – I love cable!

I spun some more yarn for the next bit and had great fun using my new gadgets, especially the ball winder.

I also cast on another pair of socks last week – I couldn’t resist this yarn – it’s one of the limited editions from the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature range – Silent Night, in shades of blue with a subtle metallic silver thread running through it.

Socks are my go to project if I’m going anywhere – I can slip it in a bag if I find myself needing to wait around anywhere – often I’ll sit and knit in the car with a beach view whole K walks the dog. When I cast this sock on I had a rather different view: Alnwick Cricket Club’s Pitch.

It was quite a special occasion. I was waiting in the car while my mother was getting her COVID vaccination. She is in her eighties and therefore in the first priority group to receive the vaccine. The Cricket Club is being used as our local vaccination centre and everything was extremely well organised. As we drove up cars were asked to stop by a steward in ahi-viz jacket – it was so nice to see that it was one of the managers from Alnwick Medical Group who used to attend our Knit and Natter Group. He explained to my mother what would happen and directed us to a colleague who guided us into a parking space. Mum was checked in (she had a pre-booked appointment), temperature taken and directed to a waiting area, with screens between the chairs to maintain COVID safety. She was then called over to a nurse, who administered the injection and after that to a heated marquee at the back of the building, where she was handed a timer and waited for 15 minutes (a precaution in case of adverse reaction). At every stage a member of staff sanitised her seat as she vacated it. Everything was running like clockwork and before long she was back in the car.

I’m so glad Mum has had the vaccine and will have some protection from the virus. An important day indeed!

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Two Completed Before the New Year (and a Knitting Injury)

I finished off a couple of projects this week, one large, one small.

The large one has been going on for ages and came about because I wanted something big to use up some scraps of yarn from the stash. I have a really useful poncho/cape, made of a lightweight fleece material, so my original idea was to knit something the same shape, but with a big ribbed collar that could be either worn open or buttoned up to make a polo neck. For the main body part I wanted to use up yarn of different thicknesses so I used multiple strands, the equivalent of two strands of double knitting or one each of 3 ply and aran, worked in garter stitch on 5.5mm circular needles. I measured, calculated and drafted a pattern, but although I did a lot of knitting , it just wasn’t working and the whole thing would have been really heavy to wear. I pulled all but the collar out and had a rethink.

I decided to use the same collar and make a jacket in the same multiple strand garter stitch, so I took some measurements and redrafted a new pattern. It’s the first time I’ve designed a knitting pattern on this scale.

I finally got it all finished, sewn up and buttons on and I’m really happy with it. It’s really cosy and warm to wear and the fit is good as it was made to measure – I have a long body, narrow shoulders and short arms so I always have to adjust patterns and knit shorter sleeves, which is a pain if they include colour work or a textured pattern.

I particularly like the collar – knitted in 3ply yarn, it’s a lovely stretchy K2P2 rib and can be worn open or buttoned up.

I’d picked all the scraps of blue and grey yarn, and some white out of the stash and overlapped the colours as I worked with the two strands, to give a shaded effect. I quite like that I’ve used scraps left over from past projects – the collar is a 3 ply wool that I bought on holiday in Scotland and used to crochet a shawl. I can also spy the very first handspun yarn I made and some I bought on a very memorable trip to Iceland.

The “Scrappy Cardi” as I started to call it is going to be a useful addition to my winter wardrobe.

The other project I finished off this week was a pair of socks I’d cast on a few weeks back. It’s classic topdown construction with contrasting top edge, heel and toe. I can’t remember where the variegated sock yarn came from but I love the colours.

I was quite glad to get these off the needles because they were responsible for a minor but gruesome injury I sustained the other week. I dropped a stitch and got out a very fine crochet hook to pick it up – the kind you use for crocheting lace: more like a hooked needle. I must have put it down on the arm of my chair and it rolled on to the seat. I got up to do something and when I returned and sat down, the hook stuck straight in the back of my thigh! Fortunately Daughter came to the rescue and carefully removed it (not easy with that hook). Antiseptic spray was applied and it all healed up fine. You never really consider knitting to be dangerous but I suppose I was suffering for my art!

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New Year Resolutions: Looking Back and Looking Forward

The turn of the year is an opportunity to review those resolutions from a year ago and make new ones. Who could have predicted what 2020 would become?

At the beginning of the year my blog was only a couple of months old. I was creating content every day and that was mostly knitting related. I’d started it as part of my plan to learn a new skill every year. I set some knitting and crafting New Year resolutions last January

  1. Make a Santa hat. I completed this last January, though I had fewer occasions to use it with no choir or ukelele gigs this Christmas. I never knitted a Bah Humbug version for K (who I described at the time as my personal Grinch). Maybe this year?

2. Knit a Christmas Jumper. I cast this on in April when the Pandemic had taken hold and it became my lockdown project. I bought the yarn online and remember quarantining the parcel for 72 hours before I opened it. I stopped knitting altogether at times but finally completed it in late August. I’ve loved wearing it this Christmas.

3. Keep on stash-busting. I had set out to use scraps of blue and grey yarn to make a cape/poncho but it didn’t workout. I pulled it out and redesigned it as a jacket which I finally finished a couple of days ago! This has made a smaller impression on the blue and grey parts of the stash than I’d hoped. I need to think about a project that will use another part of the stash.

The other craft materials I’ve accumulated got used too. Quilting fabric was made into masks and I used seaglass to make mosaic coasters and Christmas baubles. I made pheasant feather baubles too, and driftwood candle-shades, wax melts….

I still have piles of material in the craft room, so the stash-busting is ongoing.

4. Finish as many UFOs (Unfinished Objects) as I can . I completed a piece of tapestry during lockdown, which suited my state of mind at the time. Now it’s finished I’m not sure what to do with it as I don’t like it enough to frame or make into a cushion. I also finished a cobwebby scarf, a needlefelted unicorn from a kit among other things. There are still more projects to finish but I’m getting there.

5. Tidy up the craft room. This is ongoing and very much linked to 3 and 4 but at least I don’t have to share it with Son’s drum kit, which has been sold. he’s more of a guitarist these days.

6. Get out more – with my knitting. I had resolved to spend more time sitting in a car with a nice view while K walked the dog, but as lockdown began and there were no essential journeys allowed, driving to the beach stopped – later it was hard to get anywhere near as more and more tourists arrived in the area. I did get out more on my scooter for local dog walks and that reconnected me with nature, particularly wildflowers, and I started regular Wildflower of the Week posts on the blog. As Summer turned into Autumn the blackberries and sloes ripened and I got into preserving and making fruit gin liqueurs.

7. Improve my photography. I began using lenses that clip on to my mobile phone, including a macro lens for close ups of flowers. I also use tripods and remote shutter controls so my pictures are sharper. Still lots of room for improvement though!

8. Learn brioche. This was achieved when I made hand warmers, both 2 and one-coloured versions. I love the soft squishy feel of brioche stitch.

Of course I did other stuff this year. I have learnt a new skill : spinning yarn since I got an e-spinner for my birthday – with more equipment for Christmas I think this will take up a lot of crafting time in 2021, especially with all the gorgeous alpaca fibre I’ve been given.

So here’s my list of crafty intentions for 2021 – they deliberately include more of the same ongoing items, and some new ones.

  1. Make a Bah Humbug hat for K (like a Santa hat but in black).
  2. Continue stash-busting, including another big project, to be decided.
  3. Finish more unfinished projects
  4. Continue to sort and tidy the craft room
  5. Continue spinning, including a jumper for myself
  6. Get out more to knit if and when I can
  7. Keep improving the photography
  8. Learn how to dye yarn and fibre (this could be my new skill for 2021)
  9. Use natural fibres and upcycle/resuse/recycle wherever possible

I think that’s enough to be going on with!

Finally, a very Happy New Year to everyone who reads this. We got through 2020 and what it threw at us so we are well equipped to deal with anything this year sends our way. I remain hopeful that things will improve with the rapid rollout of vaccines. Here’s to a safer, calmer 2021.

Have you made any New Year resolutions?