Running with stitches...


Scraps.  Lots and lots of them.  Fabrics piled according to color are starting to commandeer an entire corner of my workroom.  Recycled, discarded, second-hands and third-hands, the entire lot has come from being something else.  This idea sits well with me and I think I could spend the rest of my life and never touch new cloth again.

Stitching a few bits & pieces together now, making "components" for use in the upcoming Cloth to Cloth workshop, taught by Jude Hill.  Still working with raw, torn edges...admitting here that I am completely smitten with all things frayed.  

Also smitten with the simple running stitch.  What a restful enterprise coming from a stitch named for so much movement!  Nosed around, trying to learn more about it & came upon this magnificent book:

Kantha: The Embroidered Quilts of Bengal
from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz and the Stella Kramrisch Collections

It's the catalog from an exhibition I wish I hadn't missed, on display earlier in the year at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  This is the first book-length study on kanthas published outside of South Asia - 304 pages of gloriously illustrated splendor.  More examples from the exhibition can be found on the museum site here

Some potent words from Darielle Mason, the Stella Kramrisch Curator of Indian and Himalyan Art, who organized the exhibition,

"Like American patchwork quilts, kanthas are about memory.
They connect families and generations and they connect
the present with the past.
The everyday lives of Bengali women were seldom recorded
prior to the late 20th century, so kanthas are often
the only surviving physical traces of women's presence,
and the only way their personal voices may be heard."


  1. Lovely! I've had a hard time finding info to help with research into Kantha. Thanks for passing this along. I know what you mean about old cloth vs. new cloth.

  2. That looks like a wonderful book to own, the cover is worth a year's study and contemplation. enjoy it all, k.

  3. Simple stitch on worn used cloth is so luxurious and peaceful!!! jude Hill is helping us to re learn so very much!!! love your post! happy stitching!!

  4. kantha stitch is so simple, and yet it can convey so much. used with the beautiful coloured thread and linen here it looks gorgeous joei.


  5. Probably my favourite stitch! The colour is fabulous.

  6. oooo that book is really making my mouth water - mmmmm maybe Christmas x

  7. hi christi, i was fortunate enough to see this exhibit. was truly transporting. if anyone can get to philadelphia to see it, i promise it is worth the effort. the book is also fabulous. i'm in your c2c class as well... and kantha is really an amazing stitch.. don't know if its part of this class or not... this is my first jude class but my friend grace of windthread has taken them all and her work has transformed.

  8. running stitches and frayed edged
    isn't that the story of our lives
    like the women making kanthas
    you are recording your story
    and that of 21st century women!

    I'm so glad I live nearby
    where someday you'll show me
    this splendid book

  9. Just lovely! YOu are making my fingers itch to hold a needle again. I must sew today....

  10. I'm feeling the same way about new material...well except silk for dyeing, it's a little hard to find in thrift stores.

  11. I too have been enamored with kantha...and the stories woven by the women of Bangladesh.

    I wrote a post about a wonderful woman names Surayia Rahman back in March


    You may find her history interesting. There were a number of pieces at the museum and included in the book. She opened a school (of sorts) for Bangladeshi women to make kantha for sale. There is a group trying to raise money to tell her story. And there is an attempt to try to locate some of the story cloths that were made by her.

    I am enthralled with the idea that the story cloths were made entirely by running stitch...

    Have a beautiful day...


  12. omg....could that kantha be any more beautiful!