Obsessed with Oya

Fashion, Travel

Naturally, I came home from Istanbul with spices, kilims, and a craving for pomegranate juice, however, my Pièce de résistance was what I saw women in Istanbul wearing: headscarves with intricate decorative edging, mostly comprised of flowerlike motifs, an art called Oya.

The three-dimensional needlework is incomparable. The motifs and colors historically express the feelings of the woman who make them and it is traditionally sewn onto hand printed cotton scarves using (Yazma). The edging repeats or compliments the pattern of the scarf and some of the results are arresting. There are many machine-made varietals lurking in the Grand Bazaar, but an acute eye will help you separate the wheat from the chaff. Also, if you are lucky, you will find some silk embroidery or some motifs embellished with beads. So lovely.

I was told that the art is disappearing with many of the complex patterns in the imagination of the women who make then. When they die, the pattern goes with them. So naturally, I bought as many as I could.

A few related links:

  • A YouTube video showing the craft being made.
  • You can buy them (new) from Istanbul artist, Rengin Yazitas on Etsy. Rengin’s website also has a bit of information and history about the scarves, as does the Turkish government.
  • My photo shows two scarves collected by Kristin Evihan. She is a glassmaker by trade, however, over the years collected a big pile of vintage scarves. She also collects the beaded trims (minus the scarves they were originally attached to). You can contact Kristin at www.evihan.com or at her Etsy store.
  • There’s not a lot of information on the web about this art, but if you Google “Oya” or “Yazma” or “Nallihan*” you will find more.
* Nallihan refers to the decorative edging technique and also refers to the area in Turkey (near Ankara) by the same name where the craft is famous. Thank you Rengin, for clarifying this :)

Reading and Dressing Habits

Fashion, Reading and Writing

Often, books are praised too quickly, when they are basking in the warm days of their launch…when positive reviews are sometimes tied to backroom handshakes and the cozy blurb reciprocity of authors’ frends. I avoid taking recommendations from friends for fear of not liking the book and having to tell them. I evade book clubs too, even though I’d love to join the literary fun.

In the period between the sizzle of book launch and the fizzle of declining sales, I may buy a book, however, I sequester it away until the white noise of its newsiness has died down. If the book becomes a bestseller, it may sit on a shelf for years before I even crack the cover. Simply said, I am skeptical of anything that shines too brightly and quickly and leaves a comet’s tail of transitory appeal.

Russell Perrault, VP/Director of Publicity for Random House, posted on his Facebook wall that Stoner was one of his favorite novels. I vaguely knew Perrault and I had never heard of the author, John Williams (1922-1994), which seemed in perfect synchronicity with my book buying habits. A few of Perreault’s FB friends posted emotional praise for the novel too. John Edward Williams grew up in Texas, lived in Denver, and taught at U. of Missouri (which it appears his book Stoner took cues from). He also won a National Book Award for another novel, Augustus. Thus I bought it, curious about an obscure book from an obscure author, recommended by people I didn’t know.

I finished the book in two days, reading in bed until my arm hurt so much I had to take ibuprofen. I never repeat a plot, and in this case, that’s easy because there really wasn’t one. There was only time marching on to the restrained emotions of the characters, the exquisite prose, and the one shining point in the novel where there is so much hope and love, I considered, briefly, joining a book club. Stoner is a work of immutable beauty and I wonder, as did C. P. Snow writing in The Financial Times in 1973, “Why isn’t this book famous?”

Stoner was reissued by New York Review Books in 2006 (it’s 20% off on their website today).

Fashion Friday: My Foot Fetish


Chie Mihara‘s shoes are the only shoes I ever want to put on my feet (besides my Converse All-Stars). If you are ever in Madrid, find her secret outlet store which is tucked in amid all sorts of other discounted shoe stores (ask around, as it’s not on her website). I scored one of her purse’s for more than 75% off.