Twiddlemuffs: the biggest holiday gift trend you've never heard of.

Brenda Moore was helping her husband take care of his ailing mother when she noticed a peculiar habit.

Moore's mother-in-law, who had Alzheimer's, constantly picked at her face, a nervous tick of sorts. After some research, Moore learned that restless hands are an extremely common problem for people with dementia, leading to them to fidget with buttons, clothing, small objects, or whatever else is in reach.

In the case of Moore's mother-in-law, the fidgeting led to awful sores and scabs all over her face. Moore knew she had to help.

After lots of research on restless hands, Moore stumbled upon a strange solution she'd never heard of: twiddlemuffs.

They're short, knitted, tube-like creations (imagine a handwarmer made of thick yarn), and they're covered in buttons, ribbons, and other small doodads for people to, well, twiddle with.

A fuzzy purply twiddlemuff! Photo by @nursemaiden/Twitter used with permission.

Twiddlemuffs provide comfort and stimulation for folks with dementia. They also get rave reviews from dementia patients, their families, and health professionals alike because they actually work to calm people's hands. It doesn't hurt that they have an adorable name either.

Unfortunately, Moore never got the chance to knit her mother-in-law a twiddlemuff; she passed away last year at the age of 92. But this year, Moore, who has been knitting since she was 6 years old, challenged herself to create 200 muffs to donate to a local Alzheimer's society. She says they take about two days each to make. But she's up to the task.

All over the world, knitting groups, nursing homes, and lone wolfs like Moore are knitting thousands and thousands of twiddlemuffs for folks with dementia.

It's the biggest movement of the holiday season you've never heard of.

And isn't it just fun to say twiddlemuffs over and over?

Twiddlemuffs are far from a cure for dementia, of course. But anything that provides comfort and warmth to people going through a challenging time is worthwhile.

And the best news is that you can make your own twiddlemuffs at home, either to donate or to give as a gift to a loved one who could use it.

Moore explains, "Twiddlemuffs are made a bit like making a scarf. The first half of the muff is made by using textured wools of every kind for about 11 inches," she says. "You sew the ends together so that you have a long tube."

Then, it's time to decorate! Add on "buttons, zips, pom poms, ribbons, anything of a tactile nature that can be twiddled," she says. Just make sure it's securely attached for safety.

If you're interested, you can download a full set of instructions here.

And if knitting isn't your thing? No worries. Just spread the word to other people who might be able to help. With a word as fun to say as twiddlemuffs, that part should be easy.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates


The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

This article originally appeared on 11.21.16

Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."