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.
A friend recently asked on Facebook for “the most challenging and enlightening resource you have read/watched about the problem of racism in America”. This question received numerous responses within the day: half a dozen films, dozens of books, podcasts, courses, and other hubs of information resources (as well as the astute reply, “Conversation”, which is, of course, the most relational and human of “resources”).
I think that this experience was shared by most people in early June (as protests & concerns over racial injustice had reached a critical volume): so many resources, so much to learn.
But now, 2 months later… what have we done with the magnitude of worthy, fascinating, perspective-altering information & insights that have been brought to our attention?
And this it only in the area racial injustice. In other interests & concerns: How much do we know? How much have we learned & read & listened to already?
Approximately 25 years ago (in March 2020), we did a customer/reader survey. I asked what you like to read on the blog & one of the respondents suggested a post on "living generously". What a fabulous idea and perfect for this time in history!
[The title of this post implies some kind of authority or expertise — ha! Nope, no experts here... just some thoughts on generosity from a fellow human, trying to make my way!]
A few weeks ago, I bumped into another grade 1 parent at the park, an acquaintance I knew from school events. As we chatted about our strange time since mid-March (working from home; restless but resilient kids; he hadn’t stepped foot in a store for 3 months...), he made an interesting remark:
We’ve looked at our bank account at the end of each month and thought, “what were we spending all that money on?!”