Saturday, April 18, 2009

Damascene Silk

Yes. I've been knitting in the desert. Those are Roman remains in the background (Palmrya). The project is a top-down take on Rambling Rose

knitting with ruins in background - landscape

My baby brother's been working in Damascus this year, so my Mother and I decided a visit was in order.  The last family holiday together before baby-bro gets married in the summer. Mum and I flew into Istanbul then made the rest of the trip overland.  We explored Crusader castles, sacred churches and mosques (e.g. where St Paul had his sight returned), amazingly empty Roman ruins, drank minty lemonade and generally pretended to be Agatha Christie (we had coffee in the hotel where she wrote Murder on the Orient Express). I've put some of my favourite photos at the trip at the end of this post, but first: the yarn. 

yarn shop display yarn - pinks and purples

After managing to avoid anything more yarny than spotting a lady knitting socks outside Istanbul university, on our last day I discovered a little store hiding in the spice souk of Damascus's old town. Surrounded by a heady scent of cinnamon, cardamon and freshly ground coffee were shelves upon shelves full of gleaming silk, all in the deepest, brightest colours. Plus, possibly the rudest shop-keeper I've ever met (though I suspect he was watching the shop for a friend, he seemed to care so little about selling anything). Above are some of the yarns I saw, these are the two I bought. 

purple laceweight silk gold silk laceweight 2
scaling for gold laceweight scaling for purple laceweight

I had just bought 3000m of cobweb purple silk from Fyberspates, but the aforementioned baby-bro wedding is set to be a giant Malaysian/Scottish triple-event extravaganza, so I've been planning a bit of a summer of lace as it is. 

lights in handicraft market Froth on minty lemonade
carvings on column satellites

Bell in Bel

light

22 comments:

Liz said...

You really can't avoid the Christie connotations out in the near east. My boyfriend spent his recent trip to Egypt keeping a careful lookout for Belgians with large moustaches and sinister men pushing large rocks off temples.

I'm glad the shopkeeper didn't put you off buying that gorgeous silk.

Ali said...

Ahh, so you have to do the triple-play wedding dealie, too? Hubster and I had to do that when we got married. If it's going to be as mad and extravagant as ours was, that purple silk will look absolutely perfect for the occasion. :)

Good luck to your baby bro!

cseneque said...

Wow! So jealous.
That silk is stunning.
Now I have that Istanbul/Constantinople song in my head...

Nina said...

Mum and I were considering just such a trip when we met up over Easter. I have read about a train from Istanbul to Damascus. Is this what you took? If so what did you think?

Alice said...

To Nina:

Yes, the train looks great. It only runs a couple of days a week, and we couldn't work our trip around it though.

We took the coach, which was a bit tricky to book (our hotel in Istanbul did it for us though) and took a long time (like 24 hours). It was comfy, but it was still a coach, so unless you like long bus journeys... I think the train takes as long, but you can get a sleeping carriage. We took trains inside Syria and they were wonderful.

If you can work your holiday around a date that allows a train, I'd recommend it.

the-meanest-cat said...

OMG those silk yarns are gorgeous! I would have been out of control in that shop... the colours you bought are beautiful.

littlelixie said...

Beautiful photos!

Daisy said...

What a wonderful trip!

Nina said...

Thanks so much for that info Alice. I think we will try for the train. I had enough of loud kung-fu movies on long distance coaches in Egypt!
Nina

Team Knit ! said...

The photos are gorgeous! I especially like the last one of the interior of the Hagia Sofia. I taught English in Istanbul for a couple of years, and was very impressed by the knitting there. Although not many of the younger women do it now, so how knows how long the traditions will last.

- Julie

fuchsiaknits said...

wow, all of those pictures are so beautiful! i want to go there.

great colors of yarn you bought, too!

HeyYeah said...

I love the photos and that silk yarn is fabulous!

Sheri L (Burhoe) Larsen said...

Wow ! Truly amazing ! How fortunate are you. Traveling, knitting and silk three of my favorite things combined. The colors of your yarn are to die for.

YowlYY said...

What a fantastic trip - and all the sights! And on top of that you get to bring home with you some incredibly gorgeous silk...hmmm...!

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