This article, originally published in SlipKnot, is by kind permission of the Knitting & Crochet Guild. It was written by Judith Morley.
My husband has early onset Alzheimer's disease. He and I have been attending a weekly support group, run by the Alzheimer's Society for carers and people with dementia for the past three years. We both sit on our local Branch Committee. A few months ago we were planning a Collection Day in Luton for Alzheimer's Awareness Week, and talking about making an eye catching display. My mind naturally turned to knitting and crochet. I was inspired by "Woolly Thoughts", the book by Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer, about the many possibilities of diagonally knitted squares. I thought I might encourage other carers in our group who "used to knit - but no one wants it any more" to join in. We decided to make a knee blanket, firstly for display and then to give to the next one of our number to go into residential or nursing care. They could take this "cuddle" blanket with them with all our love. I seem to have unleashed a torrent of knitting and crochet. Crochet squares from different people are more difficult to join than knitted diagonal squares as peoples' tensions are different, but in the first fortnight one lady made not one but two crocheted blankets by herself! The knitters were less confident about their skills; "I knit very slowly" and "my tension is very loose" were common comments. But actually I found that each individual had a consistent tension and, provided they made the required six inch sided square, it has not been difficult to sew different tensioned squares together. A lady who was not confident about increasing and decreasing has the knitted plain strips for the borders. About eight people have contributed to the striking blanket, in Alzheimer's' colours of blue and gold. I am now being inundated with squares, and will have to call a halt to the blanket project. I plan to encourage the ladies to use their skills on other charity projects such as simple jumpers for disaster areas, and "teddies for Tragedies". One of our friends visits her ex-headmaster husband in care most days. He hardly knows her any more, but now she takes her knitting and can feel that her time with him is doubly productive. The simple process of knitting squares has brought my friends the joy of a joint project and a sense of value for themselves and their craft.