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We had a blast at SOLstreet pop-up market last week

We had a blast at SOLstreet pop-up market last week

Last Saturday we had a blast wile making new friends at SOLstreet pop-up market. Katherine from katherine-laurel.com did a great job covering the event and made a fantastic blog post about it. Here is the original post from katherine-laurel.com:

Last Saturday, Kristen and I walked downtown to check out a relatively new pop-up market. Originally, SOLstreet was just an online platform to purchase all kinds of locally made products (check out their market page!). But now they have started to host a monthly pop-up shop here in NYC as well so that you can go check it out in person! This was their second event and I’m looking forward to the next one already.
Handmade decorative fiber arts by Gabrielle Mitchell – shop on etsy!
While you shopped sustainable fashion and check out handmade products from local NYC vendors, the location (Pourt Cafe) also offered $5 wine & beer. Awesome.
Really cool jewelry by Jennifer Rabinowitz at Left Angle.
We actually spent a lot of time talking with Derya, the founder of Anatoli, learning about these beautiful handmade Turkish towels. She and her partner, Fotis, work with families in the villages of Anatolia who have been weaving for generations.
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Kristen bought this gorgeous kaftan ^^ and I bought this Turkish towel (which I’m currently using as a wrap/scarf while I write this post!!). The towel is really versatile and can be used as: a towel (duh), a scarf, a shawl, or a blanket. The towel (and all other products) is hand-woven by local artisans in Turkey using 100% cotton threads in the authentic traditional technique, so the material dries super quickly and is perfect for everyday use.
Accessories for you + your home by Lun Made. Those coasters are SO cute.

I’ll definitely be back for their pop-up in June! I’m always looking for things to do around NYC, so I’ll post more information for anyone who wants to go too!
May 26, 2017 — Derya Aguday Merakos
"Oya" a Secret Language for Anatolian Women

"Oya" a Secret Language for Anatolian Women

oya example

Anatolia’s thousand and one species of plants and gaily colored flowers are reborn in the imagination and inner eye of its women. The history of the decorative edging known in Europe as ‘Turkish lace’ is thought to date back as far as the 8th century B.C. to the Phrygians of Anatolia. Some sources indicate that needlework spread from 12th century Anatolia to Greece and from there via Italy to Europe. Traditionally, the headdresses and scarves women wore on their heads, the printed cloths, and prayer and funeral head coverings were decorated with various kinds of oya, which was also used on undergarments, to adorn outer garments, around the edges of towels and napkins and as a decorative element in many other places. In the Aegean region even men’s headdresses were decked with layers of oya.

Oya edging, which appears all over Anatolia in various forms and motifs, has different names depending on the means employed: needle, crochet hook, shuttle, hairpin, bead, tassel to name just a few. Sewing needle oya is a variety that was produced by affluent, aristocratic, urban women. The most beautiful examples of such oya, which was usually made with a sewing needle using silk thread, were produced in the Ottoman Palace.

Crochet work can be done in different ways in colors of one’s choosing by using a single crochet hook. It differs from sewing needle oya in that it employs thicker thread and is less delicate in appearance. Shuttle oya is produced more by women in the villages and provincial towns, using a small shuttle made of bone. Either one or two colors are used. ‘Firkete’ or hairpin oya is made by threading beads, sequins, coral or pearls onto thread of a single color. ‘Çaput’ meanwhile, which is more common in the villages where very beautiful and creative examples are produced with limited means, is done by cutting and folding colorful pieces of coarse cloth into squares and using a crochet hook. Crochet hooks are also used for adding tassels. Beaded edging, which is frequently encountered in Anatolia, is done by threading beads of various colors onto the ends of oya made either with a sewing needle or a crochet hook. Finally, silk thread and cocoon fragments are the materials of ‘koza’ or cocoon lace oya, whose primary motifs are created by the cocoons and later added on to oya produced with either a sewing needle or a crochet hook.

another oya example
Young maidens, new brides, and young women traditionally conveyed their loves—whether hopeful or hopeless, their expectations, their good tidings, their happiness and unhappiness, their resentment and their incompatibility with their husbands to those around them through the oya they wore. In the Marmara and Aegean regions, for example, floral oya is a phenomenon in and of itself. A woman adorned her head with oya embodying flowers, nature’s loveliest gift to man, the species of the flowers differing depending on her age. Aged grannies used tiny wild flowers, which symbolize the return of dust to dust. Virgins, brides and young women employed roses, arbor roses, carnations, jasmine, hyacinths, violets, daffodils, chrysanthemums and fuchsia in their oya. And all of them carry messages which are conveyed through their shapes and colors. Women reaching forty used a bent tulip. As in the poem ‘Narcissus’ written by the Roman poet Ovid in the 8th century, a woman who wrapped yellow daffodil oya around her head was declaring a hopeless love. A woman whose man had gone abroad to work bound wild rose oya around her head; new brides, on the other hand, wore oya of roses and arbor roses. Girls engaged to marry the man they love wore oya of pink hyacinths and almond blossoms, while a girl in love wore purple hyacinths. Plum blossom oya was worn by brides. A new bride who has a disagreeable relationship with her husband chose ‘pepper spice’ oya for her head, as if to say ‘my marriage was unhappy from the start’. But if she bound red pepper oya around her head, this was a sign that her relationship with her husband was as spicy as red hot pepper.

In Konya a girl engaged to be married sends a piece of oya -edged printed cloth to her prospective mother-in-law. If what she sends is ‘meadow and grass’ oya, this implies that their relations are cordial. But if she sends ‘gravestone’ oya, it means ‘the coldness between us will endure until death’. By sending ‘hairy wolf’ oya meanwhile a young girl indicates that she is displeased with their relationship. Since the oya is seen by the neighbors at the wedding ceremony, it is, of course, the wish of all mothers-in-law that their new daughters-in-law wrap ‘meadow-grass’ oya around their heads. The groom’s family, too, sends the bride a ‘bridal cloth’ with two or three oya flowers from which the bridal headdress will be made. Oya edging consisting of flowers on a branch is worn by brides in some regions of Anatolia. Such lace, of which there are many varieties, represents a sort of ‘tree of life’ for a bride who wants to produce many offspring. Not only women’s emotions but also incidents that have left a mark on society can be observed in oya: ‘Pasha star’, or ‘Zeki Müren eyelash’ named for a famous Turkish singer of the 20th century, ‘Türkan Soray eyelash’ associated with Turkey’s veteran star of the silver screen, and ‘Ecevit eyelash’ named after former prime minister Bülent Ecevit, to name just a few. Others include ‘kaymakam rose’, ‘Atatürk flower’, ‘rose of Japan’, ‘sot’s leg’, ‘shepherd’s flea’, ‘bachelor’s flea’... The list is endless. A product of the deep-rooted Anatolian culture with no exact equivalent in other languages, oya edging not only adorns women’s headscarves today, it is also used as an accessory in modern design. Meanwhile, it continues to be an indispensable addition to a girl’s trousseau chest.

Reference: http://www.turkishculture.org/ 

Sabiha Tansug, Servet Dilber / SKYLIFE

March 05, 2017 — Derya Aguday Merakos
Caring for your Turkish towel

Caring for your Turkish towel

the laundry woman camille pissarro

Before you use your towel for the first time

We recommend soaking towels in cold water for a few hours or over night and hang drying them. Natural cotton needs to be "broken in", which allows the fibers to bloom, be softer and reach maximum absorbency. Each machine wash after that will make the towel softer and more absorbent. This isn't a must, but soaking the towels gives the cotton a jump start similar to washing and drying it many times.
Every time after that
We recommend gentle machine washing in warm or cold with similar colors. We recommend not using fabric softener in your wash. Fabric softener smells great, but actually coats the fibers making them less absorbent. No bleach and try not to mix the wash with items that have zippers or hooks as they might get tangled in the tassels.


We recommend line drying where possible; otherwise use a lower heat setting on your tumble dryer. Too much heat can damage the integrity of cotton, making your towels hard. Try a lower setting, or alternate between hang drying and tumble drying.

Stain removal
Most stains will be handled by your washing machine and detergent, but for extra nasty stains we recommend rubbing a solution of baking soda and vinegar on the stain before washing. This will also brighten the colors on your towel.

Linen and silk products
Linen and silk products don't need to be soaked. For linen please follow the same care instructions as for cotton. For silk, do not dry clean. Simply hand wash and hang dry.
What to do with pulled threads or unraveled tassels
If your towel has snagged and pulled out threads, simply cut the thread off. This will not damage your towel due to the way it has been loomed.

The tassels are hand knotted and can unravel with use. These can be re-tied. Make two bunches and twist each section clockwise till fully twisted. Take each bunch and wrap around each other in an anti-clockwise direction till fully twisted around each other. Tie a knot at the end of the tassel.

How to care for Mohair rugs and kilims

Shake the dust-out and vacuum. Careful to not use the type of vacuum cleaners that have a rotating brush.

For stains, spot cleaning with water and/or wool-friendly detergent is ideal. If you need to wash the entire rug, wash by hand. Use lukewarm water (max. 86°F) and again, a detergent that is wool friendly. Very gently squeeze out as much water as possible and pull the rug back into shape. Then hang dry away from direct heat.

February 04, 2017 — Derya Aguday Merakos
Baths and Bathing Culture in the Middle East: The Hammam

Baths and Bathing Culture in the Middle East: The Hammam


Although today we think of bathing as a private activity, the public bath, or hammam, was a vital social institution in any Middle Eastern city for centuries before the advent of modern plumbing. Hammams played a central role in promoting hygiene and public health, but they also served as meeting places where people could relax and socialize.

The History of the Hammam

The hammam has a long history in the Mediterranean, which can be traced to Roman thermae. Baths were common throughout the Roman empire in a geographic range stretching from Europe to North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. Roman baths generally featured a reception room, or apodyterium, which led to a hot room called a caldarium, a warm room, or tepidarium, and a cold room known as a frigidarium. Visitors moved through these rooms, where temperature changes stimulated the flow of blood and encouraged the body to sweat out impurities. Some baths included areas where bathers could exercise.

While the tradition of public baths popularized under the Romans slowly died out in the West, it continued over many centuries in the eastern Mediterranean.

Byzantine baths in the region kept many of the same traditions of the earlier Roman baths, including trends in decoration such as intricate mosaic floors. The Umayyad caliphs (661–750) built particularly lavish private baths as an essential component of their imperial palaces, or qusur. The eighth-century complex Qusayr ‘Amra in Jordan is perhaps the best known of these. The bath’s walls are covered with elaborate paintings, including scenes showing nude women bathing. However, Umayyad baths varied somewhat from their predecessors in that the cold room was removed, reception rooms were larger, bath chambers smaller, and layouts more intricate. Scholars posit that imperial Umayyad baths were settings for courtly entertainment, and indeed period literature recounts stories of drinking parties held at the qusur.

By the medieval period, public baths had become an important part of community life, and the quality and number of baths counted among any city’s most admired attributes. Medieval authors mention hammams alongside mosques, madrasas (schools), and gardens in their descriptions of beautiful and prosperous cities. Hilāl al-Sābi’ (969–1056), for example, estimated that Baghdad at its height had 60,000 bathhouses. While al- Sābi’ may have exaggerated, the hyperbole does effectively relay the grandeur of the Abbasid capital. Although hammams throughout the Middle East resembled each other in terms of their basic outlines, the articulation of the bath’s structure and its decoration were often regionally specific Western visitors, too, were fascinated by hammams.


Orientalist painters traveling in the Middle East in the nineteenth century relished depictions of scintillating scenes inside bathhouses, using the setting as an excuse for painting nude bodies and exotic architectural details.


Bathing Necessities

Although most studies of hammams focus on their architecture and decoration, no less important were the objects used in the bath. Hammams were generally single-sex, with men and women having separate bathhouses or bathing times. Some depictions of women, including a monumental torso from Qasr al-Mshatta dating to the Umayyad period, show them carrying buckets or baskets, which likely contained toiletries, perfumes, combs, and cosmetics for the bath. Necessary to any bathing experience was a good scraper, used to scrub away dead skin loosened by ambient humidity and sweat. Although bathers were mostly nude inside the hot rooms, they were required to wear clothes in the resting areas outside the heated bathing areas. Towels dried the body. In Ottoman lands, the most luxurious examples of the havlu (towel) and peştamel (bath wrapper) featured intricate embroidery. After bathing, women sometimes donned elaborate dress appropriate to their social standing. Hamam shoes count among the identifiable items associated with the bath. Elaborate Ottoman-period platform shoes (nalins) were made of wood, with intricate patterns of inlaid mother-of-pearl.

Hammams Today

Modern hammams have transformed as developments in plumbing have rendered many of their services obsolete. Whereas people once regularly went to the public bath to get clean, today’s preference for the convenience of the home bathroom have caused the widespread decline of the bathhouse. The baths of Cairo praised by medieval authors, for instance, today lie mostly in ruins. Relatively few clients and spiraling energy costs for heat and water have made the bathhouse an impractical business enterprise. In other places, like Turkey, the hammam has died out as a place for personal hygiene, while retaining a ceremonial role, particularly for bridal preparations. In some regions, however, bath culture thrives. In Syria and Tunisia, for instance, it is possible to find both simple neighborhood baths and fancier institutions akin to Western spas. Although current-day hammams vary greatly in their levels of comfort, all offer the world-weary bather the opportunity for a good sweat, an invigorating scrub, and copious amounts of sweet tea.

Source: Elizabeth Williams Department of Islamic Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art 
Williams, Elizabeth. “Baths and Bathing Culture in the Middle East: The Hammam.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/bath/hd_bath.htm (October 2012)
February 03, 2017 — Derya Aguday Merakos