Kantha is a traditional form of embroidery that’s popular in
Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal. For hundreds of years, women
in India and Bangladesh used kantha stitching to create something to keep them
warm. Using a small, straight running stitch, they took old pieces of cloth and
sewed them together to create blankets, throws, scarves and shawls.
Now, a skill passed down from generation to generation, kantha
refers to both the tradition of creating a beautiful and useful product out of
discarded items, as well as the kantha craft itself, which features a signature
running stitch. While kantha traditionally refers to upcycling old materials,
some kantha items are now also made with new fabrics.
This beautiful, reversible kantha throw was handstitched by
Najmeen. Najmeen is 29 years old and has been working with Prokritee for five
years. Prokritee provides work for women in Bangladesh with little or no
income. Makers work in a safe environment and are given a fair wage, which
helps them take care of their families and send their children to school.
Prokritee provided training for Najmeen and taught her how to do kantha
stitching. This particular throw is made with recycled cotton fabric purchased
from a local market in Bangladesh. It took Najmeen almost six days to make this
Before Najmeen joined Prokritee, she and her family
struggled to make ends meet.
“We didn’t have enough income to pay for food or give our
children an education. We didn’t have enough money for medicine.”
After joining Prokritee though, things got better for
Najmeen and her family.
“I am now able to buy good food and clothes for my family. I
can now pay for my children’s education.”
Najmeen’s dream for the future is to continue giving her
children an education so they can be literate and have successful futures.
This is Celestino. He was living with his wife and young
daughter in Santa Barbara, Peru when political violence forced them to leave.
“They killed my brother-in-law, a cousin and a nephew. Two
other brothers-in-law went missing and another was put in jail. Three of my
sisters are widows.”
Celestino left Santa Barbara with his wife and daughter and
moved to a village outside of Huancavelica, his hometown. There, he bought a
rustic loom and taught himself how to weave.
In 2001, he started working with Allpa, a fair trade
organization that aims to improve the living standards of handicraft producers by
providing technical help, product development advice, skills training, tools
and equipment. His work involved developing products and fulfilling export
orders. Today, Celestino runs a sophisticated workshop with Allpa, providing
good jobs to over 70 weavers (using improved looms) in Huancavelica, one of
Peru’s poorest cities.
Makers at Celestino’s workshop create textiles with alpaca
fleece. Alpacas are raised in the foothills of the Andes, near Lake Titicaca in
Peru and Bolivia. Their fleece is sheared by Peruvian herdsman. Alpaca fleece
is hand spun into yarn, dyed by hand and then handwoven by makers using an
ancient technique. Each throw is then washed and ironed. It takes three days
and five people to make an alpaca throw.
Watch this video to see some of the process.
*Video created by Allpa and used with their permission.
Unlike sheep’s wool, alpaca fleece does not contain lanolin,
so it’s naturally hypoallergenic, warmer and softer.
Celestino is proud to say that his textiles travel around
the world and reach homes in Europe, North America, Japan and Australia.
Stay warm and cozy this winter with beautiful, handcrafted alpaca throws.
Happy first day of fall! Here at Ten Thousand Villages, we’re
a little sad that summer days are over but we’re excited for all the fall
things that autumn brings like pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather and scary
movies. With Thanksgiving dinners and Halloween parties approaching, fall is also
a great time to refresh your home! Here are some tips for giving your home a cozy,
Baskets are great because not only do they add a rustic, fall touch to your living room but they double as storage space too. Elle Décor suggests warming up a room with “cozy accessories such as pillow-and-throw-filled baskets.”
Keep your feet warm on hardwood floors and add a decorative touch to your kitchen or family room with a rug. House and Home says that a standout rug is like “artwork for your floor.” They believe that a standout rug “pulls the room together, interjecting life and personality into the space.”
Add warmth and decoration to your living room or bedroom with a fringe throw, blanket or quilt. Country Living encourages homeowners to “find throws with different textures and colours for a bit of visual variety.”
This fall, trade colourful summer flowers in for a statement plant. House and Home says a statement plant “creates major impact – especially when potted in a standout planter.”
Candles are an easy way to add those fall vibes to your home. Shutterfly says that candles give homes “rustic charm.” For Halloween, add pumpkins and pinecones to your candle display.
Do you have
any fall decorating tips? Let us know how you decorate your home for fall in
the comments below!
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