Pitt Magazine

A Pitt alumna is tying up loose ends for fellow crafters

Two people hold up a blanket
Pitt alumna Jennifer Simonic and Masey Kaplan co-founded Loose Ends, which has finished more than 1,500 projects for crafters in need. Photo by Winky Lewis

The sweater is supposed to be a stunner, a colorwork piece that showcases the knitter’s skill. But when that knitter begins to lose her eyesight and, along with it, the ability to create intricate patterns, she hands the unfinished sweater off to a friend, who then gives it to Loose Ends.

Loose Ends is a nonprofit that completes yarn and fiber projects left behind by crafters who have died or become too ill to finish their work. Pitt alumna Jen Simonic (EDUC ’94G) co-founded the organization with friend and fellow knitter Masey Kaplan in August 2022. Today, Loose Ends boasts a team of 24,000 volunteers from 64 countries who have finished more than 1,500 projects.

“We try to match people within a city or even a neighborhood,” Simonic says. “There are people around you who are willing to help you. It’s creating community.”

Simonic began knitting when she was 6 years old. It occupied her fidgety hands, she says. Over the years, as her skills grew, so did the calls from family and friends for crafting help. With Loose Ends, she now has a network of creative volunteers who share her passion for finishing the special gifts and heirlooms so they may pass through generations.

One rented a box truck to transport a stand-up loom with an unfinished blanket. Another learned to hand-dye wool to color-match a half-done hooked wool rug. A third apologized profusely when it took longer than expected to complete a crocheting project — she had to take a break after wrist surgery.

“That’s the amount of care our volunteers give to their craft and to the people they’re completing projects for,” Simonic says.

That colorwork sweater that arrived at Loose Ends unfinished received that same level of care. A volunteer completed the project and delivered it to the original knitter on her birthday, and she got to show off the finally finished labor of love in celebration.

If you are interested in becoming a finisher, have a project that needs to be finished or want to help Loose Ends continue their mission, go to www.looseendsproject.org.