(Above photos of kantha stitching by Dorothy Caldwell herself, used here with permission)
Dorothy told us about the women of Bihar, India and how they were under cultural house arrest until one day they decided to go outside and talk to each other about their stitching. The men were nervous – very nervous – until they began to hear the whispers of ka-ching, ka-ching. Once the women huddled-up, they set about changing their lives, their families’ lives, their future’s lives.
For example, knowing that the dwindling profits from fishing were dwindling, they came up with a solution and every day for three months, the women entered the river and pulled the overgrown plants by hand, allowing the fish room to grow and multiply. They tell this story and many, many other stories in stitch using the basic running stitch – in and out, up and down. The kantha stitch they call it, and they use it brilliantly to record their history artfully.
After hearing about these women and seeing examples of their glorious quilts, I set about using the kantha stitch for one of Nancy’s drawings from In Our Own Language 3. I usually use, well, I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s a basic stitch that I use to trace each drawing, to recreate Nancy’s drawing as a line drawing in stitch. I found using the kantha stitch with colored thread a playful way to stitch Nancy’s drawings, and I ‘spect you’ll see more of the colorful kantha pieces in the future.
Presented here, separately then side by side, are two stitched versions of the same drawing. Same drawing, different looks. The plant? It’s a moon flower, a little something my husband surprised me with from this morning’s pre-workshop romp through the New Albany Farmer’s Market.
Before we thread our needles this morning, Dorothy invited me to talk about Nancy and how she draws and I stitch. I showed them In Our Own Language 3 which is not even half finished yet, and let me tell you: the open, loving reception and the ensuing stories they sprinkled on me throughout the day will warm my heart for a long, long time.
The women of Louisville Area Fabric and Textile Artists (LAFTA), who made this workshop happen, are some of the most hospitable, engaging, talented, interesting, supportive women I’ve happened upon in a long, long time. Mega, uber thanks to Kathy Loomis, Dorothy Caldwell, MJ Kinman (who will soon have a blog for me to direct you to), Rosemary Claus-Gray, Joanne Weis, Linda Henke, Linda Fuchs, Sue Yung, Marti Plager, Linda Theede, and Debby Levine for making this such a marvelous, magical time. And, as I told Dorothy as I hugged her ‘bye, I’m not much of one for sheri worship, but if I was, she’d be The One.