Giving Voice Stitch by Stitch

Earlier this week, Thrums Books had the extraordinary honor of being guests at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D. C.  We were co-hosts, along with the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council, of a book launch reception for Rangina Hamidi and Mary Littrell’s new book Embroidering within Boundaries: Afghan Women Creating a Future.

Linda Ligon at the Embassy of Afghanistan reception for Embroidering within Boundaries.

The evening began with Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib’s welcome to over 60 guests and an introduction of a very special guest, Her Excellency, Rula Ghani, First Lady of Afghanistan. Well acquainted with Rangina and the excellent embroidery work of Kandahar Treasure, Mrs. Ghani, said, in a moving introduction of Rangina, “She did what I think needs to be done, which is to gather people and give them knowledge. Give them back knowledge they used to have and maybe had forgotten . . . give them the ability to create.”

Rangina and Mary presenting Ambassador Mohib with a copy of Embroidering within Boundaries.

And then Rangina and Mary recalled for the audience the key steps throughout the making of Embroidering within Boundaries: Mary’s offer to co-write the book after Rangina’s lecture at the Textile Society of America symposium; Mary and Linda Ligon’s visit to Kandahar in 2015. Rangina also described the process of interviewing the women and girls profiled in the book. She shared one story of asking a 17-year-old girl what it meant for her to be embroidering for Kandahar Treasure. The girl, pointing to Rangina’s writing pad and pen said, “Just as you have that pen in your hand, each stitch that I take is my expression, as are your words.” As Rangina pointed out, those are profound thoughts from a young woman who has never left the strict boundaries of her family: “For her to recognize that her stitches are her expression to the world, I think we have a lot of listening to do.”

Photo by Paula Lerner.

Despite her remarkable humility, listening to Rangina speak about the work she is doing with Kandahar Treasure is to recognize the impact she is having in Afghanistan; it is to see the boundaries she is stretching; it is to understand how carefully she is listening, one stitch at a time.

—Karen

You’ll see that in addition to the gorgeous paperback edition of Embroidering within Boundaries, we also now have a limited edition hardbound edition. We’ve only printed 150 of these. Each numbered book features a piece of khamak embroidery inset in the cover, stitched especially by the artisans at Kandahar Treasure. This book is available exclusively at ClothRoads.
It’s a perfect gift for the embroiderer in your life, or for yourself. Sales of the book support women in Afghanistan. It ships December 1, just in time for the gift-giving season.

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