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.
Dignify’s origin story has long been included, in brief, on our about page, and I refer to it whenever I’ve done interviews or podcasts or if I meet someone in person who inevitably asks, how did you get into this?
I'd like to share a bit of a wider panorama of the story, and an update. I have heard some tremendous stories from customers about the meaning that their blanket has had in some aspect of their life or a relationship. I'm so inspired, I would like to share more of mine, too. The story of dignify is very intertwined with my friend, Kathy.
I've taken a Halloween approach (thus far) that is almost entirely of a free-for-all. As in: Go trick-or-treating, have fun, eat candy, keep it in your room, go wild... and usually by two weeks in, it's all gone, forgotten, or lost its lustre. This week, though, our three kids brought over 1200 candies & chips back into our house (!!!). It was, to understate things... a bit much.
When you find yourself with an abundance of junk food, the idea of throwing it away feels inconceivable (at least for me). Maybe it is that candy is non-perishable, and there is a sense that throwing something edible in the garbage is abhorrently wasteful?
A little behind-the-scenes insight here...
As a store owner, there are loads of resources out in the wilds of the internet, ostensibly to help me succeed in my business. Did you know that I start hearing about Black Friday (as in "are you prepared to break through on Black Friday?") in the summer?
It is SO EASY to find ourselves as consumers in the maelstrom of other people's (and corporations') marketing efforts, and not even remember how we got there, or even notice these (very intentional) forces working away on us.
Here are some actions we can take now to simplify the noise before the noisiest time of the shopping year: —