Tying up Loose Ends, One Craft Project at a Time

Busy family lives, two-career households, and a more hectic pace of life may leave many family caregivers struggling to meet the demands of work, home and looking after an elderly loved one.  After a loss comes the enormous task of deciding what to do with all the earthly possessions left behind – unfinished craft projects included.  

For many middle-aged adults, the interest and patience for sewing, knitting, woodworking, rug hooking, or embroidery have skipped their generation.  When an unfinished project is left behind by a deceased love-one, it can be a challenge to decide what to do with something that required hours of precise attention and care.  That is where Loose Ends, a volunteer group of quilters, knitters and other crafters, comes in to help complete projects left unfinished when a loved one has become disabled or dies.  

According to a recent NPR Health News report, the Loose Ends program was launched in August 2022 by two long-time friends and knitters who recently lost their mothers and were looking for a network to help them finish projects left incomplete.  Since its inception, the program has matched more than 600 unfinished rugs, tapestries, mittens, quilts, and many more projects with crafters skilled to complete them. 

The project started locally but has grown to include 9,100 craft finishers in 42 countries. With its rapid expansion, the group founders are applying for tax-exempt status and have formed a board.  But Masey Kaplan and Jen Simonic continue to match projects with crafters that possess the unique skills for each project – a time-consuming labour of love. 

The finishers volunteering with Loose Ends usually mark the spot where the original artisan stopped and they took over the project.  The mark might be a stitch of another colour, a tiny embroidered heart, or a glint of sparkle.  Sometimes a sentimental scrap of fabric is woven into the project, or a familiar item is added to the project to enhance its meaning and the comfort the article provides families.  The program gives people a unique opportunity to share love, even across many miles with a stranger, and know they have helped bring closure to many families.