Loose Ends makes sure that handmade projects get to their intended recipients when their creators can no longer finish them.
I’ve seen so many half-finished craft projects at thrift stores and yard sales. Sometimes I’ll even buy that mostly-pieced quilt or nearly-complete embroidered tablecloth and incorporate it into my own projects… but mostly, I just notice it, wonder about what might have caused a person to abandon a project they once clearly immersed themselves in, and move on with the rest of my browsing.
I even have a couple of unfinished projects passed down in my own family–I didn’t finish, per se, the beautiful postage stamp quilt that my husband’s grandmother pieced, but I did sew part of it into heirloom Easter baskets for the great-grandchildren born after she died.
But what if a person didn’t have to abandon a project when they were no longer able to immerse themselves in it? What if they could hand that project over to a stranger to carry on their legacy and make sure the final product ends up with the recipient it was originally intended for? In that circumstance, no half-finished quilts would need to go to Goodwill. No half-knitted sweaters would need to sit forever half finished, long after their intended recipients have grown out of them.
Carrying on the legacy of love created by these handmade goods is the goal of Loose Ends, founded by knitters and friends Jennifer Simonic and Masey Kaplan. Loose Ends matches unfinished fiber arts projects (think knitting, crocheting, embroidery, quilting, and the like) with volunteers who can complete those projects with fidelity to the intended design. This can sometimes include matching missing yarn or fabrics, guessing at the continuation of an incomplete pattern, or other problem-solving.
Recent projects have included sweaters, afghans, embroidered pieces, and shawls, all finished by volunteers. Here’s a beautiful wool rug finished by a volunteer, and here’s a tapestry turned into a cushion. Here’s a blanket that completed a grandmother’s legacy of giving a knitted blanket to each of her grandchildren, and here’s the last crocheted chain of another grandmother preserved in a wall hanging for her granddaughter.
Of course, I’m a quilter, so MY favorite finished project is this set of eight quilt panels! But knitting/crocheting are such skilled arts that it’s understandable that knitting and crocheting projects take up most of the submissions to Loose Ends.
If this detective work/craft project sounds like fun, then you’re not alone, because Loose Ends currently has close to 11,000 volunteer finishers! The program is growing exponentially, and is currently welcoming both new volunteers and new project submissions.
For a project to be eligible for completion via Loose Ends, its original crafter must be unable to finish it due to illness, disability, or death. The project should be partially begun, and in workable condition–moths, mold, rot, and mothball fumes all make a project unworkable.
I do like that Loose Ends will try to connect projects from smoker households with volunteer finishers who don’t mind the smell; I don’t smoke, but my Mammaw, who was my primary crafting influence when I was a kid, smoked like the typical wife of a World War II veteran, and I know both how gross secondhand smoke is AND how precious those handmade projects still are.
I actually volunteered to work with projects from smoker households as a way to honor Mammaw’s legacy… and as a way to reparent tiny little Past Julie, who surely smelled like a stale ashtray every day until she moved away for college.
In related news, please feel free to spam me with all your best tips for getting the smell of cigarette smoke out of vintage fabrics!
Organizations that craft for good, not evil, are one of my favorite topics to write about here. Along with upcycling, crafting with natural materials, and finding substitutions for petroleum-based or disposable craft supplies, craftivism is one more way that we can Craft a Green World. Crafting these connections between makers and their loved ones builds bridges between all of us, and it’s a beautiful way to utilize your hard-earned skills.
If you’ve got the skill and the space to help, you can become a volunteer finisher. If you don’t, you can share out the information so that other volunteer finishers can find their way to the program, and those with an unfinished craft project can find a way to complete their legacy.
P.S. Do you know of an organization that’s crafting for good? Tell us about it in the Comments, and it might be featured in a future post here on Crafting a Green World!
P.P.S. Are you inspired and need some craftivism that you can do right this minute? An animal shelter or wildlife rescue near you definitely needs one of these projects!