Bangladesh Artisans

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.

kantha throw

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.

kantha throw

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 kantha throw!

maker

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.

kantha throw

Purchasing a kantha product is a wonderful way to reduce waste and empower makers like Najmeen. Visit our website to check out all our kantha throws, blankets, scarves and shawls.

Celestino

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.

Celestino

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.

alpacas

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.

tag

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, fall makeover.

Baskets

baskets

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.”

Rugs

rugs

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.”

Throws

chair with throw

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.”

Plants

chair with plant

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

candle

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!