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Loose Ends Finds Stories And Love In Unfinished Craft Pieces

Photo Courtesy Loose Ends Project

Loose Ends Project connects craft volunteers with people who have found unfinished knitting projects from loved ones who have passed away. The Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Maine-based nonprofit hopes “to ease grief, create community, and inspire generosity” by matching volunteer handwork “finishers” with projects people have left unfinished due to death or disability.

Founders Jennifer Simonic and Masey Kaplan — both “rabid knitters” — started Loose Ends in the autumn of 2022 after they helped a grieving friend who had lost her mother. While helping, they found two unfinished blankets and decided to complete them for their friend.

Photo Courtesy Winky Lewis

“Masey kicked the idea around for a while,” Simonic told Garden & Health. “We had been talking about working together and knew we wanted to do a nonprofit. Both of us are crafters, and both of us have gotten bags from somebody’s mom who passed away.”

“Our friends who don’t craft might not understand why it’s special, but they know they can’t throw it away or gift [it] to Goodwill, something a family member started on,” she continued.

“It’s always an honor to go through somebody’s craft bag. We found unfinished things and offered to finish them for friends. Crafters just do this — it’s something we do.”

In just two years, Loose Ends has knit together a network of more than 25,000 finishers in 64 countries worldwide, volunteers who have offered to finish pieces after a loved one’s death. The organization knows that having a finished piece can be vital to the grief process.

Photo Courtesy Winky Lewis

“I’m not a counselor, but what I know in what we’ve done and when seeing these projects finished, how meaningful it can be to people,” Simonic said. “This morning, someone got a blanket back his grandmother was making [and] told us it was like a ‘warm hug from his grandma saying everything would be okay.’ I have been doing this for two years, and I still tear up.”

Simonic said the coincidences that happen are extraordinary. The group recently matched a finisher and project in Georgia, and it turned out the two went to school together and lived in the same dorm more than a decade earlier. She points to knitting clubs and church-sponsored knitting bees as the genesis of the idea.

Photo Courtesy Loose Ends

“The idea isn’t new, but how we handle it is new,” Simonic said. “Finishing the craft a loved one started is a chance for that story to be told. This is just one more thing somebody did that made them a complete human being.”

“In finishing that project, we get to continue the story of that person,” she continued.

“If the original crafter was making a blanket for their soon-to-be grandchild, we’re letting the grandchild experience the love from their grandmother they wouldn’t have gotten any other way.

Nurturing is crucial to the process and shines bright in the organization’s work.

“We have a majority of finishers who identify as female,” Simonic said. “I think they are drawn to us because it’s that invisible work that doesn’t often get recognized. These things need to happen all the time, like grocery shopping, and this handiwork isn’t always seen as valuable; it’s seen as a hobby — but it’s really important to the person who gets the project. Nobody picks up needles, buys yarn to be a nuisance — they pick it up with an intent to make something for somebody. These pieces remind people that they are loved.”

Photo Courtesy Loose Ends Project 

People can become volunteers by signing up directly on the Loose Ends website. Those who wish to submit an unfinished project can also do so through the company’s website. All projects must meet the nonprofit’s criteria.

“You might be the person who can help in your area,” Simonic said. “We match by location and skillset and type of person. It’s important that we have a multitude of people who sign up. You might not get a project fast, but they come when they come. As long as you represent your skill set appropriately, we are happy to have you.”

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