Being a firm believer in keeping things in case they one day come in useful, it is probably no surprise for you to learn that I have a considerable button collection. I have the spare buttons in their clear little plastic packages, carefully saved from garments going back donkeys’ years. I did have a phase of attempting to label them, so that I knew which garment the button belonged to, but the trouble is as the years go by you do wonder which particular pair of beige trousers this specific button belonged to. Was it a pair that went to a charity shop a couple of decades ago? Quite possibly. And then there are the buttons that were cut off clothes before being thrown out altogether.
However, some of my buttons did indeed come in useful for a project I completed just before Christmas. It was also a great opportunity to use up some of my equally large collection of fabric off-cuts. I decided to make a ‘twiddle rug’ for my Dad for Christmas. Now, I already had a knitting pattern for a ‘twiddle muff’, but I somehow didn’t think that would work for him. But a bit of hunting around on the internet revealed designs of ‘twiddle rugs’ (sometimes also called ‘fiddle rugs’) – basically a lap rug with lots of things attached to fiddle with. People with dementia and associated conditions (my Dad has Parkinson’s, so some days are more lucid than others) can often be seen fiddling with their clothing or bedclothes, so a twiddle rug gives them something else to play with and can offer stimulation.
Basically I made a patchwork of variously textured fabrics and backed it with a lightweight fleecy material, attaching buttons to fasten, buckles to slide, a zip, a pocket, a large popper and dog motif. I also sewed on his initials. It’s no great work of art but it was made with love for a dear father.
I already had the button tins that had belonged to my aunt (my Dad’s twin sister) and my cousin. As I was on the lookout for particularly large buttons, Mum now also gave me my Nanny Wakefield’s button tin (my Dad’s mother – Lily Wakefield, nee Bryant). I think it’s fascinating to look at some of these buttons and wonder what kind of garment they came from: the obviously sixties buttons, the little shell buttons, toggles, covered buttons and downright ugly buttons. What stories they could tell of the past! But they were all kept by someone in case they came in useful.
And come in useful they have. I don’t know for how long Dad will be able to make use of the twiddle rug, but I enjoyed making it and allowing some of these old buttons and buckles to see the light of day once more.