The first night I am in Istanbul, I come upon the warmly lit windows of Mehmet Cetinkaya’s gallery. Inside are precious mountains of rare antique rugs, exquisite in their faded hues, as well as vibrant vintage textiles that make my heart race. This is not your everyday souk. This is heaven.  

My host leads me through the amber glow of the gallery, curated over 30+ years where wine and music, beauty and magic make the night. A few weeks later, back at home, a bundle arrives from Turkey with an ikat robe inside - the same robe that hangs above my piano now thirteen years later - reminding me of the warm hospitality of that night.

A couple of years ago, at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, I chatted with a charming woman offering the finest of hats. Made in Armenia, she explained, 400 women are reviving a 17th century Caucasian embroidery tradition; a project she has undertaken along with her father. Imagine my surprise when father turned around, and he was Mehmet.  

I bought a hat that mattered. I adored the fine embroidery, the detailed totems and the footprint (or head print, in this case) of so much culture distilled into a hat. I wear it constantly, still, and you ask, every time I don my beautiful hand-dyed embroidered silk hat, why you can’t have one too?

So, this year, I brought home an armful for you. Because everyone should look so chic as Zehra in her chapeau. I wear mine down on my forehead and love the mystery that brings. Either way, you will be the classiest, sassiest gal at the party in this number.

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This spring, I’m headed toward Istanbul to see Mehmet’s gallery again, and now, also, to discuss with Zehra the work of these 400 women who are artists of the needle and thread.  

How life circles around is a mystery. I live in that mystery; I live the only way I can imagine...daily, daily in that wide place of wonder.   

All the Best,

Susan Hull Walker