With so many blankets that we refer to as “kantha throws”, "kantha spreads", "kantha quilts", or "kantha blankets", you might simply wonder, what is kantha?
Kantha (meaning: “patched cloth”) refers to both the tradition of producing these unique, quilted blankets (making something useful and beautiful out of discarded items), as well as the craft and stitch itself (a small, straight running stitch in Bengali embroidery).
The tradition of kantha was borne out of the same things that are now trendy, clever, and fun among crafters, hipsters, and vintage-lovers in the West: repurposing the old into new, using something with history, handmade creations, layering beauty…
But, kantha’s origins are more humble than our pinterest-inspired hobbies. For centuries, poor Bengali women have taken their discarded cloth scraps and sewn them together with a simple running stitch; taking the old and repurposing it into something useful and protective. Far from trend-setting, or even artfulness, kantha was created originally for the most basic and practical purpose: to keep warm.
There is a richness to the tradition as well, used as a means of self-expression for both rural and urban women. Kantha were stitched for loved ones, with more elaborate kantha embroidery to incorporate storytelling and well-wishes to the recipient.
Centuries have passed, and in recent years, the unique beauty and skilled craftsmanship of kantha has been discovered here in Canada and the USA. Our blankets still keep you warm, and showcase the best there is to the craft: 6 feet of the classic kantha stitch, straight and perfect, running parallel lines (every inch or less) across the entire width of the blanket. Complementary toned thread adds depth of colour and beauty.
Our kantha quilts are not actually made of rags, but are indeed fashioned from cloth that has been discarded and is ready for new life. Cotton saris have been traded on doorsteps for cooking pots & spoons, then sold at large sari markets; our "special" silk-blend blankets are made from silk-blend cloth discarded by the producers for flaws, colour variation, out-dated patterns, or as remnants. All the cloth that makes kantha blankets sold at dignify is sourced in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
It has been A MINUTE since I've written a book post! It's actually been over a year, which is a shock — I have read some excellent books this year, and I know many of you are avid readers!
In the past, I've shared book lists for: different points-of-view, family dynamics, & books to give as gifts... today's post/list is nothing more than a thoroughly biased list of books I've enjoyed recently & recommend!
Hasn't this been the refrain of the week?! "Hard to believe that it has been a year."
A year ago, I published a blog post, "A Kantha Blanket's Journey" : a behind-the-scenes look from creation of a blanket in Bangladesh to enjoyment in your living room.
But, the truth is that it was really a way to address the un-(or subtly-)spoken concern from people wondering if they would get COVID-19 in the mail with their blanket!
Somehow, impossibly, I travelled around the world one year ago!
I am deeply grateful to have taken a trip to Bangladesh when I did. I was at a stage of my life & business when the adrenaline had long worn off, and I was a getting a bit stuck in a cultural mindset trap: "I don't feel like doing this every day."
More details on that, I'll save for another day (or perhaps for a more intimate conversation!). But, let it suffice to say that my colleagues in Bangladesh do NOT operate from that mindset... it doesn't even factor into the conversation.
Being reminded of this, as well as seeing — in person — the inner workings and impact of the blanket biz on the production side... well, it was deeply regenerative for me.
If I had not visited in January 2020, I don't know when that trip would have taken place! Soooo thankful.
Here is one story of a woman artisan I met: Poli.