Just got done brushing the fringe on my towels.
Along with apple tea, friendly people, fresh air and a gorgeous skyline, one of the bright stars in the starry, starry sky that is Istanbul are hand-woven towels.
This one store employs and inspires weavers to work their looms like it's a hundred years ago and machines for mass-producing towels haven't been invented yet.
Jennifer, the owner, understands the instant devotion her merchandise inspires. She thought it was normal when we spent two hours in the shop touching everything but her. "Oh, you'd have to stay another three hours to even approach the record," she said.
Jennifer started with one weaver making sustainable, ecological, organically-grown silk scarves, cotton and linen towels and blankets. Now she spends half her time driving around the Turkish countryside looking for traditional artisans with still-operational antique looms who can produce work to the standards her devotees around the world have come to cherish.
When we visited, merchandise was set aside for a Saudi wife who likes towels in sets of at least six, and a special-order terry-looped robe for a Romanian prince.
Our first day in Istanbul, on the way to the Blue Mosque we found one of Jennifer's shops, got the story on the towels and bought a pile of them. Later we walked past another of her shops and ended up buying MORE towels. When we saw the third shop and went in and bought MORE, I knew I had contracted a disease.
Hand-loomed of ecologically grown cotton and colored from dyes made "in the garden" say her weavers, these towels fluff up to an organic whipped-cream luxurious-ness. I bought some textured white towels and some colorful ones, thinking the colorful ones were probably a little over-the-top for me. Now that they live with us, I love the subtly-stripped multi-hued ones best.
You only need to go to Istanbul every twenty years to buy towels because they are going to last that long, longer if you don't put them in the dryer, says Jennifer. But make sure you buy enough. Because somehow, in spite of visiting all three of her shops, I need more.
It's just a towel! But having something you use and touch everyday, especially something you get naked with, to be amazing--these are life-enhancing towels!
Before using, the towels need to soak for twenty-four hours so the cotton becomes acquainted with water and learns how to be absorbent. Hang dry the first time. Somehow these towels when hung outside on the line, do not dry to a rough, flat board. They dry fluffy and plush with the soul of something made row by row by human hands.
These are the sports cars of towels--the same way you might find yourself polishing the wheels of your fancy car--you too might find yourself outside on a sunny spring day after a trip to Istanbul brushing the fringe of your towels. Not because you have to, but because you want to.