Well-being by Twiddling

A month ago, I spoke on Facebook Live about twiddle muffs and how they produce well-being. That Facebook Live recording became the most viewed video on the Christmas market. It has been viewed more than 750 times.

One of the reasons it was viewed so many times was most likely the fact that many people have never heard of twiddle muffs before and the subject of the video raised the question of what twiddle muffs are all about and for who and how the muffs can be used.

What is a Twiddle Muff?

A twiddle muff is a muff that is either knitted, crocheted, or sewn. It is adorned with tassels, buttons, beads, and ribbons. It can have crocheted, knitted or sewn baubles, animal figures and/or flowers attached to both the outside and the inside of the muff, something crinkly, bottle caps where the cap has a crocheted coating with something that rattles inside, or something else to
twiddle on.

The muffs can also have pockets where you can slip a tissue that can contain a drop of the recipient's favourite perfume or a laminated photo of people, animals, or places. You can change the contents of the pocket daily if you wish. When you start designing muffs, the only limitation is your imagination! 

The purpose of the twiddle muff is to keep the users hands occupied by giving them something to do by 'twiddling'. This activity helps keep the user calm, helps them concentrate, gives them joy and comfort, and brings back and activates memories. The yarns, shapes, and decorations of the twiddle muff activate the sense of touch and also provide stimulation through the sense of sight and hearing. There is also research evidence of the positive, and well-being producing effects of the muffs.

Who Can Use a Twiddle Muff? --The Target Groups of Twiddle Muffs

I started making twiddle muffs in the summer of 2015 after reading an article about them online. I donated the first 40 muffs on Christmas 2015 to the Memory Association of the Oulu region, and they were distributed as a Christmas gift to nursing homes in Oulu for the joy of people with dementia.

People with dementia are one of the target groups who can benefit from using twiddle muffs. Of the nearly 150 twiddle muffs that I have made so far, most have gone to people with dementia, but I have also made muffs for many other target groups. In addition to people with memory problems, the target groups of twiddle muffs include people with an autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, Parkinson's disease, or people with visual impairment.

I made a muff for a person who was in the hospital, whose fingers had been clenched into fists for a long time. After receiving a dog-themed twiddle muff with tassels as a gift, she wanted to feel the tassels and her fingers straightened after a long time of being clenched.

For a visually impaired person who only had red vision left, I made a red muff decorated with things she liked and included sound effects for her to listen to. Additionally, twiddle muffs have been used during story time in schools as they help children focus on actively listening. You can also give a handwarming muff as a gift to anyone.

Paying Attention to the Recipient of the Muff

Twiddle muffs are often customised and unique to a person, so when creating a muff, one must keep in mind the specific likes of the recipient. For example, I have made cat and dog muffs for those who like animals.

One of the first muffs I made was a cow with udders. I made that muff with an old woman in mind whom I met in a nursing home in my youth. She often asked me if the cows had been milked. While I was making the cow muff, I imagined in my mind the old woman milking the cow, just like she had done on her homestead.

The most popular muffs that I have made have been landscape muffs. When making them, I have used the emotional memories of the recipient and what his/her emotional landscape is like. The starting point for designing a twiddle muff has been asking questions like:

  • What kind of things does the recipient of the muff like?
  • What is his/her favourite season?
  • What is his/her familiar landscape/favourite place like a place where he/she has felt to be at home and safe?
  • What is his/her favourite colour?
  • What are his/her pets?
  • What are his/her hobbies?

When I asked these questions, some of the answers I received included:

  • Red cottage by the lake, autumn
  • Hailuoto Island, the sea, berries, flowers, and birds
  • Car travel in Finland
  • Sports and cat
  • Red colour, black horse, and Scottish sheepdog
  • Group camping
  • Pink, soft, and fluffy cats
  • Cars.

Taking the answers into account, I have made personalized twiddle muffs that evoke emotional memories in the recipient. In addition to customized muffs, many have also found muffs related to the recipient's emotional memories among ready-made muffs.

The most popular muff design has been Old MacDonald's house/farmhouse yard with animals since many people have spent their childhood years and perhaps also a large part of their adulthood in the countryside, as farming was the most common profession in Finland until the end of the 1960s. The reason for the popularity of the farmhouse muff is most likely the emotional memories associated with it. Emotional memories are the most permanent memories of a person.

Other Things to Consider When Making and Choosing a Twiddle Muff

Muffs must be washable and durable. The recipient of the muff should also be considered when choosing the materials. For example, the yarn I generally use in landscape muffs is not suitable for everybody. For those with more sensitive skin, it is good to use merino wool, cotton, or other non-itchy yarn as the material for the muff or make the muff with cotton or fleece lining instead. 

Buttons and beads attached to the twiddle muffs must be firmly attached to the muffs. It should also be noted that buttons and beads are not suitable for all recipients. For example, many people with dementia may spin buttons and get a firmly attached button to come off and put it in their mouth. It is better to use knitted and crocheted elements or, for example, lace and ribbons to decorate the muff.

Producing Well-being

I have made about 150 twiddle muffs between 2015-2022. I have donated many of them to nursing homes. I received positive feedback about the muffs I donated at the end of 2015, even though it has been years since those muffs were donated. I have sold muffs in my online store also.

Twiddle muffs were my best-selling product in my Holvi online store in December 2022 and december 2023, when I shipped muffs to different parts of Finland to produce well-being. Now, I am starting to sell twiddle muffs in an international online store as well, because from time to time I have received inquiries about twiddle muffs from other parts of the world outside of Finland.

At the beginning of the new year, there are also new twiddle muff ideas on my mind. I will write more about them in a later post. Perhaps in the future, I will also write more about emotional memories and how they are important to well-being in regards to twiddle muffs and in other ways.

Best regards Anna-Liisa

Summer cottage twiddle muff
Black horse and a dog twiddle muff
Hailuoto twiddle muff
Koli twiddle muff
Car trip twiddle muff
Sport and cat twiddle muff
Cars twiddle muff