Macedonia -- The making of twiddle muffs -- colorful knitted items designed for use by adults with Alzheimer's, dementia and severe arthritis along with autistic children -- skyrocketed at a mid-January event at Long Tail Knits in Macedonia where folks who like to knit and crochet attended.

"We had a huge response," owner Jeannine Hausch said. "A lot of people who do community crafts showed up. This was one of those projects they thought was a really good thing to do."

With people were coming and going, there were about 20 there at any given time, she said. They could purchase crochet and knitting kits for $10 each. She said it's a one-time cost, and she'll provide free materials if they bring back a completed twiddle muff.

"People have been coming back and asking for more yarn and kits ever since our event in January. It's a really good cause," Hausch said, adding her plan is to sell the kits "until there is no longer a need."

Hausch said the idea for the knitting/crocheting project was suggested by Kathy Arnold of Whistler's Glen Alpacas in Hudson.

Arnold said she spotted the twiddle muffs while at a knit-crochet show in Chicago and was immediately interested because her mother and grandmother had Alzheimer's.

"The more I looked into it, the more fascinated I was," she said. "I knew Jeannine had a lot of yarn, so we decided to take it on as a charity project. We've had a tremendous response.

"You don't have to knit or crochet," she said. "If people just want to help us put the kits together, or even donate materials, we'd appreciate it."

Arnold said she gave a set of muffs to her father, who puts them on his hands at night while watching TV to help battle the effects of arthritis.

Hausch said twiddle muffs were created in the 1990s in England when a group of nurses working with Alzheimer's patients made knitted muffs with attached beads and baubles "to give to their patients to calm and occupy their restless and impulsive hands."

She said it "worked remarkably well" by providing comfort and warmth, improving flexibility and mental stimulation, "and even reduced the need for medication in some cases."

Former Northfield Center resident April Thomas of Panda Promotions in Mayfield Heights provided the bags to hold the twiddle muff instructions and yarn.

"The bags also have things like ribbons and baubles in them," said Thomas, who is on the Nordonia Hills Chamber of Commerce board of directors. "There are different colors. It's a hodgepodge of touchy-feely things. They're very cool. People with different issues like to feel shapes and sizes. If you have somebody with a special need, it's great.

"It's an awesome program," she added. "That's why I offered to help. It has really taken off."

Kris Jenkins, who operates the Hot Heads Salon in Northfield Center, is making a twiddle muff for her special needs son.

"I've seen how they can help keep people calm," she said. "I'm hoping it will have the same effect on him."

Hausch is planning an open house at Long Tail Knits, 9838 Valley View Road, Feb. 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will include a twiddle muff teaching session from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. She said volunteers will be putting together more kits on the following dates from 1 to 8 p.m. -- Feb. 6 and 24, and March 10, 17 and 31.

Hausch said people that are interested in purchasing completed twiddle muff for $20 each should contact the store for more details at 234-808-4383.

Mike Lesko: 330-541-9432