We were introduced to the concept of a Twiddle Muff (also called a Fidget Mitt or Sensory Sleeve - though this name can refer to another item as well). If you're not familiar with the concept, you can Google or search Pinterest with any of those terms (and others) and see variations on the theme of an item that has attached to it all sorts of "twiddly" things. Dementia patients and autistic children or adults may find these items a great relief to play with or focus their attention on.
If this is a new concept to you, you might find some of these links interesting:
Video showing a commercially made twiddle muff
Video showing how to make a crocheted twiddle muff
Knit a mitt for patients with dementia
Could you knit a twiddle mitt?
Twiddle Mitt Knitting Pattern
There are some basic patterns (both knit and crochet) out there for making these twiddle muffs, but basically, you just knit or crochet a tube (approximately 11 inches long and 8 inches wide) and attach stuff to it. Suitable stuff to attach is really anything that's safe for handling and is machine washable. To add body to a muff and to hide the messy stitches that happen on the inside when you attach twiddly stuff to the outside, a liner is recommended.
Without a particular pattern, but understanding the concept, I came up with the following for the outside fabric of my first Twiddle Muff:
First I made a chain that I thought looked about the right size, joined the chain and began crocheting in the round. I confess, I didn't apply a lot of forethought before beginning this sleeve. I think I used an I (or J) hook and after chaining 45, I just kept crocheting in the round. At some point I consulted a book of stitch patterns and chose some stitches that I thought would provide interesting variation of texture over the length of the muff. Most of the irregularities caused by different stitch patterns were blocked out when I was finished crocheting the outer sleeve.
The first (bottom) section has some front post stitches, then the greenish section has four rows of "shells" (which I like for its own twiddle-factor, as a person can stick their fingers in the holes and explore what that section feels like). I followed that with a stitch pattern that approximates a basket stitch, followed by a simple linen stitch and I finished up with some ruffles made by chaining and front-post-single-crocheting around a series of double crochets.
I think my favorite part is this "ruffly" bit.
When I had this outer sleeve finished I set to work crocheting a lining for my mitt -- by starting with a chain (joined together) and then crocheting half double crochets in the round until I it matched the outer sleeve in length:
This liner is about 1/4 inch smaller around than the outer sleeve.
I may add a pocket or two to the inner lining and then when I'm finished adding "twiddly" things to the outer sleeve, I'll finish by crocheting the lining to the sleeve.
Figuring out the twiddly stuff is both fun and time consuming. And I can see that it will be hard to know when to quit. But knowing when to quit, it seems to me, is just as important as starting one of these in the first place. Hopefully, I'll know when I'm done - otherwise, I can imagine that too much twidde-ability might lead to sensory overload for someone.
So far, the outer sleeve has gotten some flower treatment
And a short ribbon of twiddly beads
To see what other Yoppers are up to, visit our group on Ravelry.