Thursday, June 25, 2015

Turkey's Magical Hideaways

Shop in Antalya with felted vest made by Mehmet Girgic

I had always dreamed of going to Turkey.  I imagined the world of ancient ruins, flying carpets, hookah smoke invading exotic bazaars and cafes, the alluring music of belly dancing and whirling dervishes, unfamiliar spices and Turkish taffy, lying on very old tiles in a Turkish bath while wearing nothing but a Turkish towel, reading coffee grounds, and colorful and tactile textiles. The reality of my recent trip did not disappoint.

Shop in Antalya with master rug repair specialist

Joe and I, along with Joe's high school buddy Mike and his fun-loving wife Veralee, and a small group of like-minded aging adventurers recently traveled with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) on a 17 day adventure throughout Turkey.  In total there were 11 in our group plus our outstanding guide, Arzu who was extremely knowledgeable, informative, fun loving and above all, very patient with us and our unbridled enthusiasm.  Her English was impeccable and she made this trip absolutely outstanding. I would definitely recommend OAT if you are 50+ and prefer small group adventure travel.

And what made this trip so personal and outstanding for me were all the textile adventures. I learned about silk production and Turkish carpet making and how the classic double knot technique distinguishes a Turkish carpet from others. I saw wool and silk fibers being dyed in madder root and indigo, and learned that mint leaves are used to dye protein fibers black. 

I saw felted hats being made for the Whirling Dervishes and saw a felt maker cleverly use a whisk broom to apply water to the felt.  I saw village women using thin silk thread and tiny needles to crochet the edges of scarves with darling flower patterns and designs.  

I am still reeling with such good feeling and warmth from all that was given to me on this adventure.  Thank you Turkey.

madder root for dyeing red
Wool yarn dyed in madder root
Silk threads being pulled from the cocoons

Village woman crocheting the edges of a scarf
Felt Workshop in Konya run by master felt maker and Whirling Dervish

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