I knew before going to Turkey that it is a major wool producer. So, on our last day, on a whim, I decide that we should seek out where all this yarn is hiding. Before leaving the hotel for the day, I took along a ball of yarn, so I could explain what it was I was looking for. It worked! We went to the major market area (which happens to look EXACTLY like Namdaemun except with gun stores) and I whipped out the ball of yarn to show random shop owners. I managed to get the name of the district written down where I could buy yarn. So then it was just a matter of being pointed in the right direction by seven or eight people.
When we got really close I spotted the yarn about a half a mile away. My radar was on. I saw some yarn in a bin outside a store and once I got close, I realized that there were many yarn stores in the area. Then I saw the pricetags. There were "1 Lira" tags on everything in these big bins. And it was decent yarn. I nearly lost it. One Turkish New Lira is about US$0.77!! So, I was finished. In one of the first shops we entered, the owner spoke pretty good English, so it was easy for me to get prices. There were beautiful yarns, none over $2 a skein! They even had Lionbrand yarn there, with the label and everything (it's made there).....except for a fraction of the price!
But there was a problem. Being the last day of our month-long trip, our backpacks were full. So, I did what any sensible knitter would do. I went back into the market and bought a new bag!
Istanbul is an amazing place to begin with, but the fact that it also contains yarn heaven means I'll definitely be returning. At one store, I ended up buying 40 Lira worth of yarn (about US$30). For that, I got...
five 100g skeins of beautiful turquose yarn -- some kind of angora....it's 10% wool, 10% mohair, and 80% acrylic
five 100 gram skeins of 100% bamboo yarn
6 pairs of knit slippers (a few for me, a few for gifts!). He also threw in a few pair of needles and some patterns (which, unfortunately, since they're in Turkish, I can't read -- too bad because they're nice patterns).
This is where all that magic happened:
I also bought these hand knit slippers on the street near our hotel.
So that's why I love Turkey and why I WILL return to Istabul with several empty suitcases!