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Thinking about the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V

Douglas Adams

A towel, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.


 Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
February 23, 2020 — Derya Aguday Merakos

Top 10 Gifts For Beach Lovers That Will Save The Oceans

Many thanks to Felice from WonderSpark who featured us as one of the Top 10 Gifts For Beach Lovers That Will Save The Oceans 

Here's what they had to say: 

Kaftan by Anatolico

Ocean Safe Kaftan

Why We Chose It?

We love creative! Anatolico has put a modern spin to the classic Turkish towel by turning it into a stylish beach robe, Kaftan. Their kaftans are very lightweight, absorbent yet dry quickly. Each of them is handwoven by Turkish artisans, in an old traditional way, which makes them unique and not over-produced. It's a perfect companion for the beach or even at home.

#Giveback:

Anatolico conserves our planet's resources by making sure their production is energy-efficient. Their products are also safe for the oceans as they don't leave after-washing microplastic that usually comes from other non-natural materials. 

What Do Others Think?

ParkerWe’ve bought many of your towels and continue to LOVE them!! 💖

AmbercetLoved the kaftan...it's for my mother, so I am excited to give it to her on Christmas!

December 16, 2019 — Derya Aguday Merakos

Our beloved artisan partners

We'll upload pictures of our artisan partners here from time to time.
 
November 20, 2019 — Derya Aguday Merakos
Tags: artisans

How do I leave a product review?

Many of you were asking how you can leave product reviews or a testimonial on our site! Reviews are a great way for us to get valuable feedback, and for customers to learn what a product really feels like. 

Well, it's pretty simple:
If you go on one of our product pages, right under the product images and description, there is a field for reviews. That's where you have to click on "write a review". This is what it looks like on the web and on mobile:

 

web product review

mobile product review

 

Good or bad, your honest feedback is all we need!

Thanks, 

Derya

 

 

October 23, 2019 — Derya Aguday Merakos

How eco-friendly is cotton?

Why is cotton so important in today's energy-conscious environment?
Cotton is the largest natural fiber supplying the global demand for textile products. In 2005, the world's demand for textile fibers was 130 billion pounds. In 2006 and beyond, world income and population growth will stimulate a 4.5 billion pound increase in global fiber demand each year. That means enough fiber will be needed for nearly 9 billion tee shirts or 2.3 billion pairs of denim jeans. And the main alternatives to cotton are non-renewable chemical fibers.

Cotton

Can cotton supply the market in an environmentally-friendly manner?
Absolutely. Cotton is sustainable, renewable, and biodegradable, making it an excellent choice as an environmentally-friendly fiber throughout its entire product life cycle. Most chemical fibers are petroleum based, which means they come from nonrenewable resources.

I've heard that it takes a tremendous amount of pesticides to grow cotton. Is that true?
No. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only about 1.2 pounds of insecticides and 2.1 pounds of herbicides are applied to each acre of cotton. The average acre in the U.S. produces about 800 pounds of cotton. That works out to around 0.09 ounces of total pesticides applied per pound of cotton produced. More importantly, with the advent of new technology, the number of pesticide applications has dropped dramatically in the United States. Farmers who live and work on their land have every personal and economic incentive to use FEWER chemicals in production, not more! Globally, only 8.5% of all pesticides applied to crops are used to grow cotton.

Even so, aren't there toxins left on cotton products that could be harmful to one's health?
No. In the United States, cotton is regulated as a food crop by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Cotton is grown just like other major food crops, meaning that there are tight restrictions. Worldwide studies consistently show no pesticide residue on the raw fiber or the textile products made from the fiber.
What about water? I have heard claims that growing cotton takes a lot of water.
Cotton is very drought and heat-tolerant. Cotton does NOT require excessive amounts of water. In fact, cotton uses less water than many other major crops produced in this country. Only 35% of U.S. cotton acreage requires some form of irrigation-the rest of the cotton land is supplied by natural rainfall. Furthermore, producers have become more efficient in their water usage. Compared to 25 years ago, U.S. farmers are now using 45% less irrigation water to grow a pound of cotton.

What else is cotton doing long term to reduce its environmental footprint?New technology, such as insect-resistant and drought-resistant varieties, continues to reduce the need for pesticides and water. These same varieties will improve yields, allowing for more cotton to be grown on the same amount of land. Conservation tillage practices (less plowing and disturbing of the soil) have increased dramatically in the U.S., leading to less erosion and runoff. These practices, as adopted in the U.S. from 1996-2004, have reduced CO2 emissions by an amount equivalent to removing over 27,000 cars from the road-permanently!

Source: Cotton Campus

March 26, 2019 — Derya Aguday Merakos

How eco-friendly is linen?

Linen is one of the most biodegradable and stylish fabrics in fashion history. It is strong, naturally moth resistant, and made from flax plant fibers.
Linen can withstand high temperatures – making the fabric generally perfect for everything. Sleeping on linen bedding or using it in your kitchen or just relaxing on a tropical island. It absorbs moisture without holding bacteria. In fact, it is actually stronger when wet than dry and becomes softer and more pliable the more it is washed. It just gets better and better!

 

The Pros of Linen
Linen is one of the most biodegradable and stylish fabrics in fashion history. It is strong, naturally moth resistant, and made from flax plant fibres, so when untreated (i.e. not dyed) it is fully biodegradable. It’s natural colours include ivory, ecru, tan and grey.

Linen can withstand high temperatures – making the fabric generally perfect for raiding the jungle or lounging on a tropical island. It absorbs moisture without holding bacteria. In fact, it is actually stronger when wet than dry and becomes softer and more pliable the more it is washed. It just gets better and better!

Linen Is Older Than You Think
All these characteristics have lead many European cultures to form traditions of handing down linen bed-sheets as heirlooms. Unlike cotton, linen that’s been well cared for can last for up to three decades. It’s one of the oldest fibres known, dating back to 8000BC. The Egyptians used it as currency, and it formed an integral part of the mummifying process. At one point it was even used in a form of battle armor called Linothorax!

Versatility
Linen is used in a variety of ways, sturdiness making it ideal for upholstery and industrial products. Curtains, tablecloths, bed sheets, and tea towels are all common linen items found in the home. Linen has also been used as canvas for oil paintings, by artisan bakers, and even as part of the material that makes up the American dollar bill! In contrast, linen can also be woven to a soft and breezy finish, making it ideal for your summer wardrobe.

The Earth Friendly Flax Plant
Flax, the plant from which Linen is made, is also extremely versatile. Every part of the flax plant has traditionally been used to create a worthwhile product – nothing is wasted, and production is cost effective. A common by-product of flax is Linseed Oil, which is great for wood preservation, especially in varnishes. Flax is resilient and can grow in poor soil, using far less water in its consumption than cotton.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation state that flax uses 13 times less pesticides than potatoes, but is only approximately 1% of the world’s apparel fibre consumption. Why is this so, you ask? Linen has so many good points!

Here are 9 things that make linen an eco-friendly material:

  • Flax grows naturally and requires no additional water other than rainwater, making it the most eco-friendly fabric.
  • Because it’s a natural fiber, flax linen is recyclable and biodegrade.
  • The whole flax plant can be used, leaving no waste.
  • According to the European Confederation of Linen and Hemp, flax respects the environment and preserves the land.
  • Very little energy is required to process flax.
  • Linen yarn is inherently strong, which reduces the need for starching during spinning and weaving.
  • The Advisory Commission Report to the European Parliament stated that flax cultivation has positive effects on eco-system diversity as it allows for an “environmental pause”. One hectare of flax can retain 3.7 tonnes of CO2 .
  • Linen fabrics can be recycled into paper and insulation materials for the car industry.
  • Flax linen is many times stronger than cotton, which means clothing, window hangings, and upholstery made from linen is made to last, rather than wind up in a landfill.

 

Sources: Good on you and Perfect Handmade

 

March 26, 2019 — Derya Aguday Merakos

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 Anatolico, 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.
Processed with VSCO with c2 preset
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 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


the laundry woman camille pissarroBefore you use your towel for the first time

We recommend soaking towels in cold water for a few hours or overnight 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.

Drying

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

 

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