Christmas is in the air! It’s getting colder, and I’m already thinking about gifts to give and my parents are gearing up for sending me Christmas packages. Last year, even though I lived alone in Japan, I got two big boxes from my parents and my little apartment was transformed into a normal American Christmas. I had a tree, lights, ornaments, candy, presents, and I skyped with my family before traveling to South Korea to be with Junkyu on Christmas Eve.
The cold weather and need for things to give people I love made me realize that I’d love to get back into knitting. In the spring of this year, I went to a craft store in Japan to buy yarn and needles and a few essentials, in order to knit myself a shawl to wear at my host brother’s wedding. Unfortunately, it was a longer project than I anticipated, so I didn’t finish in time. I put the project away and sent it in one of my boxes I mailed to Korea.
Then, I started thinking about knitting stockings for Junkyu and I. We have room for a tree, and I want to decorate and put up lights, and my parents always send me stocking stuffers, but Junkyu’s never really experienced Christmas that way. I’d like to create our own traditions for the holidays, both Korean and American, and I get excited about all the things I can make for Christmas or for us to wear, and it’s things like that that will help us build our life and our own traditions.
I ended up finding my unfinished shawl, and decided it’d be a good knitting project until we had a weekend to visit the yarn store. It took me about a week of nonstop knitting every night, but I got it finished and was happy with the way it turned out. While I was knitting, I decided I needed something knitting related to watch, so I turned to YouTube and found a bunch of popular knitting podcasters, who make videos about the yarn they buy and the projects they work on. I got kind of jealous at how many cute project bags they have, the different types of yarn they are able to buy, and I remembered how much I love knitting. I also joined Ravelry, an online knitting community and pattern directory that’s helped me a lot recently. If you’re a knitter, be sure to add me on Ravelry – my username is UniKnitGal.
I read about the yarn store, called Banul Story (바늘이야기) in Seoul, on Cute in Korea, a blog I really enjoy because of all the great pictures and explanations. I knew I had to check it out, and I was overall very pleased with the store. I was a little sad to learn that the cafe didn’t have food, as I read in the blog post, but it gave us a chance to test out a Thai food place afterwards. I was hungry, but my appetite for yarn and knitting projects was bigger, so I headed into the main store.
They had tons of yarn, books (in Japanese, English, and Korean), needles, craft supplies, and lots of finished works on display. My favorite was an astonishing knitted doll set – a couple in traditional Korean wedding attire! I stared at it in amazement before browsing for my own projects. I had to limit myself to only getting yarn and needles for our Christmas stockings and the fingerless gloves/mittens for Junkyu and myself. I looked up the type of yarn I’d need for both and it was actually not that hard finding yarn that was close to what I needed.
I also bought needles for a winter set (hat, mittens, and scarf) that I’d like to make this winter, as well. I bought the exact yarn for the pattern (Bernat Chill Chaser Set) but I didn’t know if I’d have the needles or not. My mom is sending me a package with all my old knitting supplies, along with the yarn I bought (since I could only have it shipped to my house in America) so I went ahead and made sure I’d have the right needle sizes.
Knitting is an expensive hobby, so my fiancé was pretty shocked when he saw how much it was going to cost, but knitting needles are pretty much a one-time purchase, and my projects are for the both of us, so I knew I could convince him to let me splurge.
The store had a class going on while we were there, but I think they last a few months, with each class held weekly, so I doubt I’ll be able to take one. I would love to take a class or “join” a knitting community here in Daejeon, but I’m not sure if my Korean is good enough yet. I also have a hard time finding knit shops I can get to on my own (on the bus) but eventually I’ll work that out.
My friend also bought yarn and needles for a project, and it was fun talking about patterns and knit stitches together, as I really never made knitting friends my age. I learned to knit in high school at our local knit shop, which usually held a circle of knitting ladies, well over my age. It was great fun and gave me something productive to do after school every day.
I’ve already cast off my first glove/mitten, and although the pattern was written by a woman, it only really fits Junkyu’s hand. I’ll make his other one starting tomorrow, and mine will have to wait until his are done, I suppose. I wanted them to be a Christmas present, even though they aren’t really a surprise anymore, but I might give them to him once I’ve finished or when it’s cold enough for him to need them.
My stockings might take longer than I expected, and I’m not even sure I can finish them by this Christmas, but I’ll give it a try. I’m having a blast getting back into knitting, even though my hobbies list is long enough as it is. I finally finished a book I’ve been reading for a while, and I even practiced violin this weekend. I caught a cold that lasted two weeks and turned into a sinus infection, so I’m slowly getting back my energy. I’m ready to put up a tree and decorate for Christmas, but for now knitting mittens is getting me into the holiday spirit.
UPDATE: The store has moved across the street and is a lot smaller now, I hear. If you are in Korea and would like to purchase yarn, I’d recommend using their online store or shopping on Gmarket.com for 뜨개실. Note that the store is closed on Mondays. Here’s the information for the new location, still near Shinchon station: