Meet the Crafters Completing Unfinished Labors of Love

These volunteers are making a tangible gesture from the heart.

Mar 22, 2023
Meet the Crafters Completing Unfinished Labors of Love | These volunteers are making a tangible gesture from the heart.

Ever thought how good it would be if an unfinished handwork project, halted because the hobbyist passes away or is too unwell to work on the labor of love they enthusiastically started, could be lovingly completed? 

Friends and avid knitters Jennifer Simonic and Masey Kaplan, based in Maine and Washington did, and were moved to start the Loose Ends Project in September 2022. The pair personally match ”volunteer finishers” with unfinished craft projects so they can carefully complete them and then return them to the people they were being made for.

Picking up stitches for others
The Loose Ends website has a heartwarming tagline: “Sometimes things are left unfinished. We keep your loved ones close by completing the projects they’ve left behind.”

It all started when founders, Simonic and Kaplan, realized that they had both been asked by friends to wrap up sweaters, blankets or other unfinished projects started by their deceased moms. As Kaplan explains to WGN News, when more requests came in, they felt it would be a good idea to: “Bring in an extra layer to this… and have strangers be able to finish things for each other.” 

Helping strangers this way, which also assists them through their grieving process, was something that the duo had happily agreed to do, understanding how wonderful it feels to be dressed in something a loved one has created.

Adding a touching couple of extra steps, as Interweave notes, once the finishers receive the project, they mark the last stitch worked by the deceased maker before they restart the work. Many will go back once the project is complete and highlight the last stitch in a special way. 

In just a few months, Loose Ends has built up a global team of over 7000 volunteer fabric crafters, whom they can call upon to help out on precious but unfinished creative projects. Finishers do not charge for their work, while families are only asked to cover the shipping costs.

"We have almost all the provinces in Canada, we've got people in the UK, people in the Netherlands, we have a finisher in Paris, and a finisher in Qatar right now," Simonic told King 5. Flyers are available in English, Dutch, French,  Hebrew, Czech, Spanish,  and German, and Loose Ends welcomes other language requests. 

Making craftwork matchmaking work
Today, Loose Ends welcomes fiber art crafters from around the world to meet the varied unfinished projects coming in from everywhere that need some tender loving care. These volunteers can work on embroidery, knitting, crocheting, sewing, quilting, basketry, felting, applique and weaving projects among many other crafts.

The group tries to match projects to qualified volunteers living nearby to minimize shipping costs.  

New recruits ask to join an impressive list of volunteer finishers here, sharing their skill sets and interests in their profiles. When Loose Ends receives a “project submission”, the founders identify a good fit based on these skills. As they explain on their Facebook page: “Loose Ends now has more than 7000 volunteer finishers in 38 different countries. Hundreds of projects have been matched and many await being matched (matching is a thoughtful, time consuming, manual process done by two humans).”

The next step involved them running the idea by the finishers to “check if they’re feeling it too,” as Simonic and Kaplan never want the work to be a chore. Once a finisher agrees, emails are shared and the founders let the project evolve with this new connection. The Loose Ends team do check in with the finishers from time to time to ask how a project is going, and can try to reassign projects if necessary. 

Helpers into ambassadors
Loose Ends volunteers and supporters naturally gravitate towards becoming ambassadors, helping bring more helpers into the Loose Ends’ orbit. The community enthusiasm is touching. 

Testimonials include this message from S.D. “What an incredible project!! Love that you are doing this. The handmade things passed down in my family are absolute treasures. The finished and unfinished works tell deep stories,” this message from S.K. “Sooo fricken cool and what a beautiful way to give something back to the family after losing a loved one,” and this from S.B. “Some of my most satisfying work has been legacy knitting for others.”

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Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.