As you enter the Bazaar from Çarşıkapı and keep on walking in the fountain’s street, Şark Kahvesi and old Prayer Field welcomes you. And when you follow Yağlıkçılar Avenue, in front of perhaps the littlest shop in Bazaar you will find two people, who always keep their hands busy and sit on two smail stools with a board hanging behind them saying “Knitter Şükrü”. Let’s say that you spent a foıtlme and bought a nice tuxedo or a shiıt. On the same day, it got ripped and there was a smail or a big hole on it which drove you crazy. You felt bad and pity for your money. That is the moment when you say ”Fortunately there are stili knitters”, even though there is not many left. When you follow Yağlıkçılar Avenue, the gate that leadsoutside of the Bazaar is Örücüler (Knitters) Gate. Those masters, after whom the gate was named, are the ones with skillful hands anel patient hearts, which save both your money anel happiness. When Master Altan looked at me above his eyeglasses and said “Hello”, he had already arelereel my tea. “How are you cloing Master?” “Stili struggling” said he anel continued: “Once, A man tolcl eveıyone araund him “I will not work any- more. I will sit and wait at home anel God will sene! hiı11 the foocl he neecl anyhow.”
Then, he shut hiı11self into his house anel put a cushion ın d1e midelle of the room. He doseel his cloor, went anel sat on d1at cushion. Two days later, one of his neighbors passeel away. The neighbour’s family anel friencls staıtecl to make halva. As they were giving halva that they cookeel to the neighbours, one of them remembered d1is man. ‘He is not seen for two clays, lets look to see what he is cloing anel give hiı11 some halva” said they.” “They knockecl the man’s cloor. The man ımıele some noise to let d1em know d1at he is inside. All his neighbors pushecl d1e cloor harcl anel got in. They saw the man sitting with a grin ın l1is face. When they gave hiı11 the halva, he said ‘You see? Dicln’t I tel! you that Gocl woulcl sene! me the food I neecl even if I do not work?” One of his neighbors coulcln’t stop anel said “If you clicln’t make any no ise, Gocl would give you none” With this stoıy, as Master Altan was explaining his struggle of workillg inside of a half square meter shop clespite of his old age, our teas anivecl. This is the Grancl Bazaar. Eveıything stans wid1 a cup of tea in here, even frienclsl1ips. “My father, Baki Öıme, was bom in 1326. You calculate the Gregorian year. Both my grandfather and clad were knitters. My granclfather was also working in the Bazaar. People usecl to ca ll my Iate granclfather six fingered Ali. He had an additional sixth finger on Ilis hane!. My granclfather anel clad were from İstanbul. Father of my granclfather cameli-om Pıistina.”"My fad1er worked in the Grand Bazaar until 1936. Then, he maveel to Emillönü. When the suıname law was passecl, sunıame lists were sent to village heaclmans’ offices. When my fad1er went there, d1ey asked him what his profession was. For he was a knitter, he got d1e last name ÖRME which means ”knitting”. “I was a naughty kid. In school breaks my father was taking me to work with him. In the summer of my first school year, when I first went to work with him, he gave me a piece of cloth. I knit my first weft in the first year of school. The first step in knitting is weft. Then comes warping. I worked with my dad during the break in my second school year as well, the same situation continued in every school break. He was so disciplined. However, I was more bored in school. When I told him that I didn’t want to go to school he didn’t insist that I had to go and after that, I went to work everyday” “Actually I wanted to be a mechanic. I used to make steering wheels out of pan lids and pretend !ike I was driving a car. I would lay under the bed, pretending that I was repairing a car and play games. At that time, cars were very popular. But, I followed my dad’s footsteps and became knitter” Master Altan was bom in 1938 but his soul was stili young. When I saw his partner Metin Çubuk, who was bom in 1957, I was amazed that he looked so young. “I took my son to the military for his service, they almost took me instead of him” said he smiling. Metin Çubuk is the son-in- law of knitter Master Şükrü whom the shop was named after. His name is stil! written on the signboard. ” It takes ten years to become a fareman in this business, let alone a master” said he while talking about the clifficulties of his job. Master Altan’s joyful life came across with Master Metin’s, while working with Knitter Master Şükrü.” Master Altan kept on talking while he was repairing a sweater in his hand. When he said: “My father was a very disciplined man. One day, I got angry with him and came to Master Rüstem”, I asked him about the old masters. “Mr.Şükrü was my father’s uncle. He was an excellent master. Then, my father Baki Örme, Knitter Seyfettin and Master Rüstem Görmez. His shop was right next to the store numbered 1 in Yağlıkçılar. His son, Ertaç Öget, was also a knit- ter. His step son is stil! a knitter but not in the Bazaar.” “I worked with master Rüstem til! I was recruited for my rnilitary service in 1959. After I came back, I opened a smail shop in Galatasaray. As the business declined, I went to Germany in the first month of 1964. I worked as a laborer in a textile factory. I retumed in 1981. I retired in here from Social Security. In 1983, I again restarted knitting. I worked with Knitter Mustafa in Osmanbey. Mr.Şükrü asked me to work together and we became partners. In 1990, I came back to the Bazaar. In 1992, Mr.Şükrü passed away. We, Metin and I, kept working. May Gad be pleased with Mr.Şükrü? Thanks to Mr.Şükrü that we can still eam money through his name.” Ye s, I was feeling the same things again.
These two people had the same characteristic with other masters. First of all, they were at peace with themselves, and of course with their surroundings as well. Both were humble and broadminded. Şükrü Örücü was not only a master whom they respected, but he became a brand name. Just as people come to the Grand Bazaar because its name is well-known, same people visit them just for the name of Şükrü Örücü. “Master, are there any famous names among the people whose dothes you repaired? “My memory is weak but I remember the govemor Hayri Kozakçıoğlu and singer Özdemir Erdoğan. Özdemir Erdo- ğan’s jacket was wom out because of his guitar. We repaired Şank Tara’s clothes, too. He smoked too much. I knitted the holes caused by cigarette bums. There were professors and other famous people as well but we clidn’t know who they were for they would send their items with their drivers.” “We start to work at 8:30a.m and finish at 5 p.m. everyday. It is a tiring job. It makes both your eyes and nerves tired. You try to do a perfect job and focus. You work with a thinner thread than usual. You get stressed because you try to repair the item without leaving any marks on it. Sametimes my back aches !ike I got beat up with a stick, but I know it is caused by the stress of trying to do my best.” Master Metin carried on the conversation and said “You can not look straight to a job more than fıve minutes. You take deep breaths, look araund you and then keep on working. Many times Master Altan had thrown the work he was working onto the ground and went away to calm down. Every time you have a new design. You need toknit according to different designs. Master Altan is the best in this job. He is my master but sametimes even he has difficult times. You have to work for 5-6 hours.
When we need to, we go to the restroom that is far from here instead of the one which is close by in order to walk and clear our heads.” Master Altan kept on talking, “However, I get a lot of advice from Metin. He asks me for advice too. He fınished many items that I started toknit but couldn’t continue.” Master Altan got married two times. He had three children from his first wife, and one child from the second one. “My age did not allow me to have more” said he srniling and looking at me above his glasses. I asked how the relationship between him and Master Metin is. Metin answered instead of him: “We have been together for twenty years. I have three kids too. I eamed d1eir bread from this job. Brother Altan is my master. W e are !ike father and son. We get along well with everyone here, !et alone with eachother. Everyone loves us here.” When I asked the seeret of this life that he eamed by hanclicrafts, Master Altan answered: “This job is fruitful. It requires craftsmanship and elbow grease” “In our heaıts, we hope each job to be fruitful. When the job comes, we first analyse it. In same cases, I told my customers not give the item to us cause it would leave a mark and not look nice. Or I would tel! them that they have to pay 20 Tl. (Turkish liras), and they can buy a brand new one for that price. You should be honest to the customer.” said Master Altan. We were about to fınish our conversation. Meanwhile, neighbour tradesmen were visiting, telling jokes and having smail chats. We were having this conversation in front of a smail shop in the midelle of a walking zone. Lasdy, I asked about the old and new customers, and people. “For the customers, the job seems !ike just ‘repairing a smail hale” but they don’t know how it is done and how hard it actually is. When you wam them about the possibilty of the remaining stitching marks, they fırst say “no problem” but then, they reprove. In the past, people had much more respect towards eachod1er than taday. Nowadays, when you get on a boat, you see a man sitting on a place for two people, only thinking about him. On the other hand, the Grand Bazaar is stili beautiful, still elite. There is stilllove and respect in people’s hearts. This place is !ike a department of a big mail, everyone is transparent. Even the foreigners are different. A customer comes, you tel! the truth, he/she gets angry; you give him/her a price, he/she gets angry again. If you don’t want us to do the job, don’t bring it to us. No need to insult, right?” I asked him about the latest items he knitted and if there was anything interesting among them. “Firsdy, I need to say that a smail job could be a shame for the knitter whereas a big one could be a success.
W e knitted lots of items. Dresses, trousers, jackets, sweaters, shiıts and alsa car chairs, blankets … Once, Günseli Başar, the beauty queen of Turkey, brought her slippers which were made of fabric on the top. I repaired them for her. Even tom shoes were brought to us. We smiled and tried to explain that it was impossible to knit them.” Neither Master Altan’s nar Metin’s children will be knitters. When they finish doing this job, the signboard that says “Knitter Master Şükrü” will be put down. Theirs is a life that passes by knitting smail and big holes. However, !ike other masters, their peaceful and energetic characters are fed by their jobs that combine production and creation.
Altan Örme ve Metin Çubuk