Strangers finish the craft projects left behind by loved ones

Feb 12, 2024 | News

The US-based project arranges that handwork projects left unfinished by people who have died are completed by other crafters. The women behind the project say it eases grief and inspires community.

While sorting through the belongings of a friend who was grieving over the loss of her mother, Masey Kaplan and Jennifer Simonic discovered two blankets that were unfinished. Each of them took one to finish.

In September 2022, they launched . The non-profit project pairs skilled volunteers, known as ‘finishers,’ with people who find unfinished knitting and crochet projects left by their loved ones when they passed away. The pair say that the idea is simple but can be a deeply healing experience for people who submit items.

Kaplan says that if a maker dies in the middle of a project, this tangible expression of love, made by hand, could be lost, donated, or thrown away. “Our volunteers’ goal is to finish these projects and give them back so they can be treasured,” says Kaplan.

Around 17,000 finishers are located in 60 countries. Sometimes, projects are left incomplete because of the original craftsperson’s worsening disabilities. Simonic and Kaplan, while it is not always possible to do so, try to match people up with local finishers. It can be difficult to send sentimental items through the mail, but it reduces the carbon footprint of the project and shipping costs.

Kaplan says, “That feeling that someone in their community did something generous for them adds a whole new layer of love to the whole thing.” “Some really lovely relationships have also been formed.”

Masey Kaplan and Jennifer Simonic, founders of Loose Ends (L) (R). Winky Lewis

Some of the submissions brought tears to the couple’s eyes, but others stood out. Simonic, a Seattle resident, has etched the story of Alfredo, a young man, in her mind. She says that his younger sister died violently. “He brought us a crocheted blanket and said that his sister wanted to crochet it when she made it.”

Loose ends matched Alfredo up with a woman from nearby New Jersey. “She was willing meet with him to design a blanket around the one leaf that best represented his sister. He chose all the colors, we donated the yarn and she made a beautiful blanket with motifs. “The leaf was in middle,” Simonic continues.

Kaplan says that Loose Ends sparked “some really lovely friendships.” Image: Winky Lews

Kaplan mentions an impressive quilt project started by a young mother who died in a car accident along with her husband and stepson. Her daughter survived. “The woman’s closest friend submitted the quilt for finishing so that the girl could wrap herself in her mother’s work. We hear this a lot. People feel as if they are being hugged or held by their loved ones again.

The first time people see the completed project is usually a very emotional event. “When you make a thing, your DNA is on it,” says Kaplan. “Every single piece of yarn passes through your hands, so it makes the people feel very close to their lost loved one.”

Peter Gregory holds a sweater that his wife Doris began before she died. Image: Beate Sass

A picture that was sent to them perfectly captured this for the couple. In the photo (above), Peter Gregory holds an unfinished sweater, his emotion evident on his face. Beate Sass took the photo. She told Loose Ends her mother Doris began knitting the jumper in 2011 for her father but died in 2013. Loose ends matched Sass up with Sita, an experienced local knitter who finished the jumper just in time for her father’s 99th Birthday.

Kaplan says, “I saw that photo and started to cry immediately.” “I texted the picture to Jen and told her: ‘This photo says it all. It’s why we do this.’

 

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