Expat in Korea · My Neighborhood

Daegu café and yarn shop + weekly prompt: “Is there anything you feel too old to do anymore?”

I am deep into my winter break in South Korea, and between trips – just coming from one in Hanoi, and preparing for another in Tokyo next week.

Last month I participated in the WP Bloganuary challenge, and had fun writing a blog post every other day or so. I probably won’t be able to keep up that pace when I’m slammed at work next month, but I have since discovered some interesting daily prompts on my WP homepage, so I will attempt one of those from time to time.

This week WP asked, “Is there anything you feel too old to do?” I had to sit and think about this for some time. There are categories of doing that include the physical, emotional, and psychological. To answer this question, I imagined myself to be half the age I am now, and recalled some things I dared to (or didn’t) do then. In truth, I am much more daring today than I was at 25. For instance, I would now do many more things alone, including go to a nightclub and dance, and not feel at all self-conscious. Over the last 25 years, I have pushed the dare envelope, for sure, with some activities that tested my mental and physical limits.

These days, I frequently travel, dine, and attend performances alone, and do so without thinking twice. Occasionally, people (usually older, foreign men and sometimes women), are incredulous at this – it is beyond some people’s imagination that a woman, of any age, can live abroad and flit about unaccompanied, like a queen on a chessboard. And yet, here I am.

When I was in my 20s, I often felt awkward alone, but I no longer let people put me in a box. This mindset has kept me young, and confounding people provides endless amusement.

One thing I am more careful about as I age is doing high-impact exercise, such as the hard skiing and taekwondo that I used to do. I worry about my creaky knees. My preferred exercise now involves less stressful activity, such as yoga and walking. I’d like to get back on the ski slopes, though, but I’ll have to take baby steps, as it has been about five years.

Psychologically and emotionally, there is one thing I am certainly too old for – an idea that ties in with my comments above. I am too old to care about fitting in. Yes, sometimes it hurts a little to be rejected or to have someone criticize my lifestyle. I know how I live now is a little unconventional, and 20 years ago, I could not have envisioned it. I was headed for a future as a white-picket-fence-doctor’s wife with all the trappings, which would have been ok, too, but a different life. I think back again to that person who was half my age. The younger me cared what people thought, and this was stifling to my well-being and my personal freedom. I was smaller then.

I may be one of those lucky, middle-aged women who took a purposeful hard-left turn at some life juncture, and instead of being disastrous, it lead to extraordinary, character-building experiences. One is never too old to make a change.

On Wednesday, I went to the Seomun Market area of Daegu and followed a small side-street to a cluster of hanok that house a yarn shop and several charming cafés.

The yarn shop is called Linea, and the building is a hybrid workshop and retail space. The manager, Kim Young Ran, greeted me, allowed me to take photos, and showed me some of the new yarns in stock. The shop carries a mix of imported yarns from the U.S., Europe, South America, and Japan, as well as its own brand. It is not super well-organized, though, so I had to get some help finding specific yarn types. The jumbled yarn selection gives the shop a lived-in feeling that I like. There are also notions and tools, as well as many hand-made items for sale, including sweaters, scarves, toys, and bags. If you are in Korea, you can also buy Linea yarns online here.

What I absolutely love about the space is the lighting, the quiet, and the location right around the corner from Daegu’s biggest traditional market. Moreover, the ladies who work here are serious about their business. They hold regular classes, and private knitting lessons are available on request. Check out the Daegu academy dates here (in Korean only, but private classes can be had in English). There are also Linea shops in Seoul and Busan.

A hanok right next door is home to Mulden Dongsan, a beautiful two-storey café with lots of light, wood, plants, books, hushed conversation, and traditional Korean and classic Western menu items. I ordered an egg tart and a hot omija-cha 오미자차, an herbal tea with five balanced ingredients.

VIDEO: A bit trepidatious here as I give you a peek at the second floor of the café 🙂 I was in absolute heaven to have it all to myself. (It allowed me to focus on a new crochet toy, which I’ll post about soon: I’m about 30% finished with a giant, rainbow-hued millipede.)

This café is perfect for a solo, coupled, or grouped retreat. The music is soft and every corner has a nice view. The second floor also has a large room with a table big enough for about eight people, which could work for a party, a meeting, or a stitch circle.

Korea is well-known for its variety of coffee-houses with many different themes. I’ve enjoyed so many, but my favorites are in old buildings like this that serve traditional beverages and snacks.

Both Linea and Mulden Dongsan are on Instagram.

To see another example of a hanok coffee house that I love, check out Shin Old Teahouse in Insadong, Seoul: here and video here.

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