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Strangers step in to finish the work of love left incomplete by those who have died

'Loose Ends' volunteers are helping those who have lost loved ones by taking on their unfinished projects or tasks.

Strangers step in to finish the work of love left incomplete by those who have died
Cover Image Source: GettyImages/Photo by: Westend61

It is common in many communities, especially those with a strong sense of connection and cooperation. In some cases, people will volunteer to help those who have lost loved ones by taking on some of their unfinished projects or tasks. It could range from helping to prepare for an event to completing a home improvement project or even just running errands. Karen Sturges was a passionate knitter. She was lovingly crafting five baby sweaters, one for each of her future grandchild’s babies, when she was shockingly diagnosed with lymphoma. Karen knew that she did not have much longer to live and the one thing that concerned her most was finishing these sweaters.

Image Source: GettyImages/ Photo by: 	Westend61
Image Source: GettyImages/ Photo by: Westend61



Karen’s daughter Annie Gatewood, 53, held onto the two remaining unfinished sweaters, not knowing what to do, as neither she nor her sister knew how to knit. However, in the late summer of 2022, Annie matched with a "finisher" in Portland, Maine, named Sarah deDoes. Sarah was part of a group called Loose Ends, which connects crafters around the world to complete unfinished fiber arts projects for grieving loved ones. Sarah completed the two tiny sweaters, soft white acrylic wool with little owls across the front. When she handed them off to Gatewood in late October, Gatewood burst into tears because of their similar look and manner, both of Danish descent.

The group, Loose Ends, was started in September by friends Masey Kaplan and Jen Simonic, both avid knitters. They created the Loose Ends website to put a call out for volunteers and unfinished projects. The condition is the projects must be left behind by a deceased loved one or someone unable to complete them due to illness or disability. There is no payment to complete the project, the only cost being postage. However, with more and more volunteers joining, they are often able to make local matches, so postage is not necessary.



Eugenia Opuda, 33, of Portland, Maine, signed up as a finisher to crochet a large navy blue blanket for someone in Portland, Ore., whose mother passed away. The blanket was one of three the mother was working on throughout her cancer treatments. Although the stitches were inconsistent, the children wanted to keep every stitch their mother made.

Valerie Thornburg, 37, of Lynden, Washington, also volunteered for a project. She was told that the project holder's wife had been learning to knit and was doing it through her medical treatments until she no longer could. There was no pattern in the package of materials left behind, so it took Thornburg some time to research patterns and learn new stitches to replicate the work. She also added a lifeline to the scarf to show where her stitches began, so the family would know which part of the blanket their mother's hands had touched.



Loose Ends is a way for crafters to express their love and appreciation for others. The devotion all finishers have toward the project holders is what creates such meaning and that is the most important part. These small acts of kindness make people realize that there are amazing people out there willing to help. It is a tiny way to start to mend the hurting and divided world.

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