Finishing the unfinished

One of the sorrows of death is the “unfinished” things. No matter how well-planned or how expected death is, there is always going to be something left undone: Conversations, experiences, adventures, goals, and more. And, for many people, craft projects.

My husband left many things undone: He never ran the marathon he was training for; he never got to be a father; he never got to grow old. There were far too many undones in his life that was cut short too young. We never had important conversations about funerals, but we had many other important conversations during our time together.

And I know that there were things left undone in Mum’s life because I know what some of her goals were and I know what some of her projects-in-progress were. And whilst I can’t have any of the conversations Mum might have wanted to have, or the experiences, or the adventures, I can finish some of her unfinished projects.

After Mum died, I inherited her vast collection of yarn along with some unfinished projects she had been working on. I catalogued the bulk of the yarn last summer – and even made a large blanket for Dad – but I didn’t have the time to go through the scraps and the rest of the collection.

I have now gone through the rest of the haul and have catalogued the rest of the yarn, craft supplies, and unfinished projects. It’s a little overwhelming, but I am really looking forward to turning all of this into something wonderful (for me and for others).

There were several bags to go through. Some were just yarn (of varying lengths) and others were projects in progress. There were also a few completed things in some bags – although I don’t know if those completed things were part of a larger project or not.

The first step was a “rough” examination to see if bags with both yarn and projects were meant to go together, or if they were just placed in a bag to move them out of the way. Then I began to do an inventory of the bags of yarn.

It quickly became clear that one bag was for unusable scraps – small pieces of yarn no more than 3 inches long. I set that bag aside so that I could add any further small scraps to it. This bag will get stashed away with my small scraps bag, which is generally made up of the bits of yarn from crochet projects after I weave in the ends. My plan for this stash is to (eventually) use it as the stuffing for a toy or pillow. (Much of the material is acrylic, so not bird-friendly for nests and such.)

Another bag contained larger pieces of yarn. Some are only 5-6 inches long, but others are a little more than a foot long. I straightened those out to bundle them together. There were also several bundles of cut lengths of about 18 inches. I would generally put large scraps like this aside for gift wrapping, as they are rarely incorporated into my crochet projects. But the large scraps will be useful for finishing Mum’s plastic canvas projects, and for doing other similar projects of my own (more on that later).

There were also bags that contained very large chunks of yarn. Not full skeins but chunks long enough to create a solid row or multiple rows of crochet stitches for a blanket or scarf. A few were quite tangled, but most were just not well organised or wrapped. After wrangling and detailing these, I wrapped the smaller quantities into twists and wound larger quantities into balls. Some of these scraps will find their way into scarves that I am making for Celeste and Jessica, some will go to complete Mum’s projects, and some will be used for a large blanket I plan to make for myself.

Yet another bag contained nearly three complete skeins of yarn (lavender, purple, and black). There were several plastic canvas ladybugs in the bag, using those colours, and some matching ribbons along with thread and pins. I also found a couple of blue/turquoise ladybugs in another bag. As with so many things, I am unsure what the ladybugs were for and no one else seems to know.

In some ways, I’m a little overwhelmed with it all. I know that some projects were for specific people, like a wall hanging Mum was making for a young woman she knew or her “12 Days of Christmas” ornaments she was making for me and my sisters. Those are projects I can complete with confidence.

Other projects, however, are a bit vague. In some cases, there are lots of little bits of work that seem to be nearly complete (stitched, but not assembled) but I am not quite sure what the assembled project is meant to be. Then there are several completed or nearly completed cut-out designs of fruits, animals, hearts, and random shapes, as well as several Christmas-themed designs (and more). I don’t know if there was a bigger project in mind for these things or if she was working on making enough to give everyone (siblings, daughters, grandchildren, others) a set of something.

And then there are the pre-cut pieces of canvas. Looking at the sizes, it seems that they are for coasters, baby blocks, and “kissers”. (And some pre-cut hearts and holiday shapes, too.) Again, I can’t be certain what the intention was for these things.

I do know that Mum would use scrap sizes of canvas for bookmarks, which were stitched with scraps of threads and yarns from other projects. And I know that some of her reasons for stitching were specifically about keeping her hands and fingers moving – hence her growing collection of coasters.

Ultimately, I want to do my best to complete Mum’s projects. But I don’t know what all her plans and ideas for her yarn and canvas supplies were. And I will sadly never know. So, my plan is to complete the projects that I am completely sure about first – after all, those need to be passed along to her intended recipients. Then I will move on to the partially completed and/or ambiguous projects to see what I can create from them. I have a few ideas in mind and will run them by Dad or others to get their opinions. I will also use some of Mum’s canvas to create my own projects for people I know – including a little trinket box for a friend’s 5-year-old daughter. (The very last project Mum completed was a set of baby blocks for the same friend’s newborn daughter. I got to watch her make those last stitches when I was home for Christmas, about a month before she died.)

I am expecting the coming months to be busy with “other” activities and priorities, but I will do my best to add these projects into my weekend routines so that I can finish the unfinished for my amazing Mum. I will share completed projects here on Just Frances, and I will offer them up to my sisters, nieces and nephews, and others who might want one of her (now) finished projects.

I’ve heard of others finishing projects for their loved ones, so I would love to hear about your experiences. I’d also love to hear any ideas for how I might finish up some of my Mum’s unfinished projects.

4 Replies to “Finishing the unfinished”

  1. What a wonderful legacy you are finishing for her! I envy creative people and know your mom would be so happy that you are working on these for her!

    1. I am really looking forward to it, and have already made a couple of things with the yarn. Once I get back from my summer holidays, I’ll try to craft a little bit each weekend. I just need to decide what to start with …

    1. I think you’re right, but no one seems to remember anything about it. Still, I will check with Bug to see if she wants a bug or two… and I have plans for a nice spring wreath to brighten up my office with a couple of them, too.

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