Sheffield Hospital Charity launches knitting appeal

People are knitting octopuses for Sheffield Hospitals Charity.
People are knitting octopuses for Sheffield Hospitals Charity.

An unusual demand for woollen octopuses has prompted Sheffield Hospitals Charity to appeal for knitters.

The charity wants kind local crafters to make dozens of the eight-legged crocheted critters, which are in demand because specialists say they can provide comfort for patients living with dementia or receiving treatment for major trauma.

They say that the bright colours and textures of the crocheted creatures, called twiddles, provide comfort in an unfamiliar medical environment.

Stocks are running low, however, meaning some departments are on a waiting list to receive the comforters.

Nigel Coulson, Matron for Geriatric and Stroke Medicine, said the twiddles provide comfort for the dementia patients.

“Being in a hospital environment can be disorientating for dementia patients. 

“Having something to hold and twiddle can have a calming effect, providing a welcome distraction for busy minds as fidgety fingers explore different colours and textures, helping to reduce anxiety.”

It’s not just those living with dementia that can benefit from the octopuses.

Staff in the Accident and Emergency department are finding them useful for trauma patients too.

Roxana Whiteman, Staff Nurse in A&E, said that octopuses had even saved the lives of young patients.

“Knitted octopuses work very well for patients  needing emergency care. I recently used an octopus during the care of a young patient that needed treatment  for life threatening injuries.

“He had it in his hand all through his care in Resuscitation Room and later took it with him when he was admitted. 

“The twiddle sparked conversations and took his mind off the severity of his injuries, allowing professionals to give him the treatment he needed to save his life."

If you are interested in making knitted octopuses, please email Catherine Kenny, at

Alternatively you can knit the twiddles t home send them, along with your contact details, to Sheffield Hospitals Charity, Wycliffe House, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield, S5 7AT.

You can also drop the twiddles off at the charity headquarters in person.