Christina on her way to Istanbul with Kathryn Gauci’s novel “The Embroiderer”Picking a Real book out for travel is always important to me… I don’t want to rely on my iPad’s ebooks, as you never know whether you’ll be able to charge your device or have other technical difficulties.  So I’m starting my current adventure to Turkey with this one: “The Embroiderer” by Kathryn  Gauci.  It follows a family of Embroiderers from the early 19th century to the late 20th century during the downfall of the Ottoman Empire.
Some of you may recall that my daughter-in-law, Zeyneb, is Turkish-Canadian.  She and my son Ryan moved to Istanbul in March of this year, where Ryan is attending school for 2 years.  After having them live with us during the Co-vid lockdown so they could save money up for their living abroad, it was horribly difficult to see them go.  So, I got myself a ticket and here I am braving the sizzling August heat of Istanbul.
Before I go on a trip, I try to do some research into textile experiences, museums, shops, and people to possibly meet.  Since I visited Turkey twice before (most recently in March 2019, with my kids), I have already done a lot of research on their embroidery and textiles.  So this time I thought it could be fun to visit some shops frequented by modern Turkish Embroiderers.
I got in touch with an Instagram buddy who is a self-taught embroiderer here in Istanbul -@needleandbroomstick@needleandbroomstick She kindly gave me information on a few embroidery supply stores.  We decided to tackle going to one my first day here.  Now, in my defense, I didn’t really know exactly how large Istanbul is.  Compared to my native Seattle region of about 4 million (and only 775,000 in actual Seattle), Istanbul has a whooping 15.46 million people!  It was quite the adventure to traverse the city with walking, taxi, ferry and bus all playing their part.  Not only was the distance considerable, we actually crossed continents- that’s right, one part of Istanbul in in Europe, the other in Asia.
Christina Fairley Erickson and son on the Bosphorus, Istanbul
The ferry boat ride on the Bospherus was beautiful.  With the temperature in the high 90’s to low 100’s, and being unused to wearing a hijab, the cooling breeze was quite welcome and helped re-energize us.  The ferry took us to Kadıköy, only a short walk away from the district where there were several shops with embroidery, craft, yarn and fabrics.
Our first shop was one recommended: “Bursa İpek Masrafçı, Tuhafiye,”  They specialize in hand embroidery, but have lots of fun & fascinating supplies such as these:
Embroidery Store Front in Istanbul

Embroidery Store Front in Istanbul

Fabulous range of embroidery thread

And more…

Machine threads and ribbons

Yarns and more

Wonderful hand-dyed and variagated rayon embroidery thread (as a thread-aholic, I couldn’t pass up getting some of these delicious colors!)

Nazar - to ward of the “evil eye” beads

Nazar – to ward of the “evil eye” beads In lots of sizes

Cool offset punched sequins

Lots of notions

Son Ryan and Daughter Zeyneb goofing around! So thankful they would take me all the way to find this shop and Zeyneb helping as my interpreter.

Lovely lady who helped us!

Christina Fairley Erickson in front of Istanbul embroidery store

Happy with my purchases!

I found some exquisite finely woven white cotton that I purchased for dyeing and stitching with my students at such a price… only about $2/ meter!  And I couldn’t pass up getting some of the rayon embroidery thread, both in solid and subtle variegation.
We went on to another shop, but that will have to come in Part 2… jet lag has a way of sneaking up on you!