Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Turkey!

The trip continued to whizz by, and our first few days in Istanbul were jam packed with visits to schools, mosques and markets. A visit to the palace where Ataturk lived and died was on the agenda, and was a marvel to tour. The detailed painted exteriors, marble and gilded interiors left no corner without design. I photographed as much of the impressive color and pattern as I could record.

When visiting a school that was working on community projects to employ and educate an impoverished neighborhood, I saw a sign in the library that read: "OKU! Cunku, bilginin sovu yok" which is translated as, "Read! Because knowledge has no limit." I love this phrase, and will be sharing it with my students. My travels always begin with some research and are certainly followed with the same. Of course, I checked out the art and craft sections of their library to see what they had to offer, as well as the shelves of a large modern book store. We are so lucky to have the wealth of literature available to us in the States, they were pretty skimpy in the areas of fiber arts and fiber shops.

The markets are ancient buildings and the architectural arched doorways were created to allow camels to enter when that was important. I shopped at the store in Bursa (known for its silks) and purchased an embroidered silk jacket from the shop that Queen Elizabeth patroned during her visit!

Outside of the mosque in Bursa, a young girl stopped me and wanted to try her English. She told me that I had beautiful green eyes and giggled nervously awaiting my response. I fumbled for a great response, but could only quickly come up with the simple, "Sogul," meaning Thank you.

The shop windows here advertised top conservative fashion as well as silk and other more contemporary wear.

We ended this busy day of travel by seeing some ancient gates to the city and a puppet show for shadow puppet theater. Beyond the short play (in Turkish) we were invited to view behind the scenes and see the puppets, props and operator with the back lighting. The puppets were made from handpainted camel hide. This was a little sad, since I had just had my picture taken on one of the beautiful beasts.

This is me on the camel, me looking nervous as the owner walked away and the camel started moving around, then started peeing, moving even more. It is a long way up on a camel's back! I used a ladder to get into the saddle. The owner returned and laughed at my discomfort. I must not have been in danger of him taking off with me on board.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day one Turkey, then Dyeing in Tobermory

My first day in Istanbul began with the airport. A clean, open building that appeared to get no use! It was so quiet!! That was my first impression, until we followed a series of marble hallways to the core of the excitement. The Turkish and their visitors do not queue up for ANYTHING! I found this was also true of driving, no following lanes seemed necessary, just jamming in was the mode for getting ahead. The large room for acquiring a visa and then passing through customs was not much different than a stockyard. A variety of languages and pushy travelers made their way in many directions until they found themselves at an open window. The movement of the crowd changed as officers directed flocks to newly opened windows and allowed non-citizens the opportunity to enter through citizen lines. I later found that there were flight delays that had many flights arriving at once, so, perhaps, it is not always quite this chaotic!
We met our tour guide, Orhan, and he ran us out through the "Taksi" (you got it, Taxi) lanes and onto our transport for the 10 days. A large air conditioned tour bus took us across the city and to our hotel. I was happy to be staying at the same location for the first 3 nights, a good chance to get acclimated. We were assigned our rooms in a lovely hotel with a fabulous rooftop dining view of Old Istanbul. The photo above is part of the expanse that I enjoyed over breakfast for those first few days.
A brief meeting gave us an outline of our trip and a chance to introduce ourselves to our co-travelers. There were teachers from Alaska, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan (of course), Colorado and Texas. Four teachers represented each of these states for our tour.
We dined that evening at a local Kebap (you are probably getting the phonetics of Turkish) restaurant for a wonderful meal. The cheese, fruit, salads, breads, and many rolled items that accompany the lamb and beef were outstanding, and way too much food. A trend of overeating and over serving that followed us to the end of our journey about 5 added pounds later!
The return to our room allowed for a little evening walk, so a few of us took a stroll. When returning in the moonlight, we heard the last call to prayer from a nearby minaret of the Blue Mosque. The melodic and almost haunting sound filled the evening air, and it was clear, we were in Turkey.

Back to fiber life:
I am glad that so many people like my new Turkish socks! Talk about a coincidence....Heritage Spinning and Weaving in Lake Orion is offering a Turkish sock class with LynnH! She had a blog entry that described some of the Turkish socks in her collection, it may be of interest to you, too.

This past week was spent at the cottage. It was just what I needed to get out of the picture sorting, unpacking and general daily catchup. I finished reading, "The Yoghurt Man Cometh" a story of a teacher from the States who takes a job teaching in Turkey for a year. I recognized so many of the places and familiar habits of the Turkish people. The book was given to us by the Turkish Cultural Foundation as a gift while we were visiting.

The pictures from my traveling companion photo pages have been pouring in. This gives me over 5000 pictures to view when I include my own. I do NOT have Photoshop, nor a Mac, so the minor edits to my own shots and organization of the pictures is a time consuming mess. I need to get these shots in some kind of order and onto discs before we leave for Korea (August 1...just around the corner!)

I could not go to the cottage without a knitting project, a little spinning, and a "bit" of dyeing. So here is the output:

I knit a pair of socks using Lorna's Laces, thanks to Hariett's inspiration. I am not fond of the pooling or repetition of some of the sock yarns, but love the slip stitch pattern that shows off the color while breaking the color pools.

On the way out of town, I stopped by Heritage to get a few dye colors and packed some yarn. The weather was wonderful and everything dried in the sun with no incident. Not even a bat in the batch! (The little critters like to hide in the masses when I hang them to dry!) I may be trying my hand at Etsy sales, since there is more here than I will be able to knit up. And I can't just pass by the stash that has been patiently waiting for my needles in favor of the new batch, can I?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Back in the USA!

Well, my trip was certainly a Turkish Delight! It was a total whirlwind of a trip, with little to no time to call home or write, let alone blog.

In a nutshell, Turkey is the place to go for history, culture, art, beaches, sunshine, water and of course, wonderful food!

I started knitting a pair of socks on the plane ride out, but the usual happened. I started reading about the destination and talking to my counterparts for the trip and the socks were returned to the luggage. My idea was to sit by the pool and knit in the evenings, until I saw our itinerary! We were getting early morning wake-up calls, repacking luggage most every night and getting on the bus for new destinations by 7-8 am each morning. Not to mention the late night dinners, sights and shows.

As the weeks progress, I will be posting the inspiring colors and textures that I encountered in this land of wonder. Heading this entry is a photo of my prize Turkish socks that I was able to purchase. They were hidden beyond the many larger needle varieties that filled the bazaars. These were an original hand knit design from a local knitter done on small needles. I feared that they would not sell them to me, since they were hung in the displays of folk clothing. But my desperate look must have told them that I would cherish the knitted treasures, and the next thing I knew, I was swapping Turkish Lira for the goods!