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$800 pledged of $5,000 goal
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By Catherine Salter Bayar
$800 pledged of $5,000 goal
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About this project

Who we are:

I’m an independent knitwear designer who moved from free-spirited California to a small Aegean town in the multi-faceted, often misunderstood country of Turkey. I married into a large Kurdish tribe. Culture shock? Oh yeah. So how did I bridge the gap with my new female relatives? Turned out we shared a common language – knitting.

Fast forward 12 years. My husband and I have moved to Istanbul’s Old City. Here in Sultanahmet, the melting pot of the Ottoman Empire has become the stomping ground for global visitors. But beyond quick interactions with Turkish women who may run hotels, restaurants, or lead tour groups, the average visitor may not get a chance to see what local women are all about. When I talk to travelers, the #1 question they ask:

“What’s it like to be a woman living in Turkey?”

What we’ll do:

We may not speak the same language, but the diverse women of Turkey do share the common language of craft with women around the world. Our handcrafts project will create a gathering place, an ongoing workshop, starting next International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2011. Visitors will join with locals one afternoon a month from March through October to exchange ideas, techniques, tulip-shaped glasses of tea and hopefully lots of laughter. As the workshops continue, we’ll explore other Turkish fiber arts.

Our goal is to work together to create modern versions of traditional handcrafts, while simultaneously designing a dialogue of communication and understanding between cultures.

I’ve been heartened to meet educated Istanbul women savvy enough to sell their handcrafted goods online. There are also traditional artisans struggling to survive I’d like to assist. Of primary importance to me however are the women who have relocated here from the rural regions of Anatolia so the men in their families can find work. I’ll offer these women the opportunity to earn a living through their crafting skills.

In the past, all women here socialized within a steamy hamam, whether they were members of the Sultan’s multi-national harem or village women across Anatolia. While that would be too uncomfortable for our project, we’ll honor this tradition by starting with knitted items for the hamam…cloths, scrubbers, slippers and whatever else our creative women will dream up. We’ll use all natural materials, such as the therapeutic silverized cotton produced locally by small collectives who could use our support to revive their timeless skills.

Beyond collaborating on our handcrafts, I’ll be documenting each workshop via video and still photography, then transcribing the wonderful stories sure to evolve from creative hands and voices of these artisans, most of whom came to live in Istanbul from hometowns in far-flung regions of Turkey and face a challenging economic and social environment.

How you’ll contribute:

Your collective pledges will fund our materials, as well as help us set up and get the word out about our monthly workshops. You will also assist in funding the cost of documenting our stories, in e-book and video formats of each workshop. As we create a wealth of fiber art designs, I’ll compile our work into a series of e-books for crafters not able to join us here in Istanbul.

We may not totally dispel the stereotypes women East and West have about each other, but maybe we can clear some of the steam.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A signed thank you commemorative photo from our first workshop

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    E-book download of the workshop of your choice, including visuals, dialogue and craft pattern

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Our hand knit soap bag/mitt in natural Turkish sifa cotton, treated with 5% silver for healing and therapeutic effects.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A gorgeous pair of KB Knitting’s hand painted wood ‘ebru’ knitting needles in the size and color of your choice, and 100 grams of their sifa silverized cotton yarn. KB Knitting supports artisans in the Marmara region, hard-hit in the 1999 earthquake. Plus an e-book download of the workshop of your choice, including visuals, dialogue and craft pattern.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    E-books download of 2 workshops of your choice, including visuals, dialogue and craft patterns, plus a hand knit soap bag/mitt in silverized Turkish sifa cotton, AND a bar of Vie En Rose’s natural peppermint + sage soap. Vie En Rose is Istanbul’s exclusive source of innovative herbal solutions.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Our silverized slipper kit, lovely for any member of your harem, including sifa cotton yarn, wood needles, marker and pattern, plus e-books download of 4 workshops of your choice, including visuals, dialogue and craft pattern.

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    4 backers
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A basket of hamam delights from Vie En Rose, Istanbul’s exclusive source of innovative herbal solutions: organic coffee & rose facial scrub, geranium & grape cleansing bar, and organic rose cream with rosehip seed + our silverized soap bag/mitt. Plus e-books download of 4 workshops of your choice, including visuals, dialogue and craft patterns.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Lots the goodies!
    Our hand knit soap bag/mitt in sifa cotton, Vie En Rose’s natural peppermint + sage soap. Plus our sifa + hemp natural back scrubber. A pair of KB Knitting’s hand painted wood ‘ebru’ knitting needles, plus 100 grams of sifa silverized cotton yarn. A basket of hamam delights from Vie En Rose: organic coffee & rose facial scrub, geranium & grape cleansing bar, and organic rose cream with rosehip seed. PLUS two tea blends: vie calm for de-stressing & sleep with organic chamomile & lavender, + vie energy, for energy with organic rosehips & ginger. AND: e-books download of all 8 workshops, including visuals, dialogue and craft patterns.

    Please note: all shipping is included if shipped via the Turkish PTT. If you'd like your reward shipped via DHL, please add $15 for rewards of $100 or more. Thanks!

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Funding period

- (68 days)