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Dear friends,

So, those Jane Gaugain mitts? It’s a good thing I finished them, because I’m wearing them right now so I can type. Paris is about as cold as Paris gets. It even snowed this week, for the first time since I moved here. I took this snapshot of the aftermath.

My neighborhood lost its ever-loving mind. Terrified commuters, skittering down the slick sidewalks with haunted faces, were bundled up like extras in Doctor Zhivago. Parents muttered about the inhumanity of forcing children to go to school in such weather. There were extended discussions on the news of how best to survive.

The cat, meanwhile, has taken up permanent residence under the duvet, emerging twice daily to poop and refuel.

Mind you, the temperatures in question are slightly below freezing. As one who not long ago lived in Chicago, I find it all rather hilarious.

I can’t laugh, though, because it still hurts to laugh. I’m at the tail end of the worst bout of sickness I’ve had in years. Not Covid, no. Not the flu. And yet, sufficiently awful.

It jumped me on the way back from a teaching engagement in California. My first big fiber arts show since the Before Times. The teaching went well, the knitters were a delight. The journey back, however—thirty-two sleepless hours of jostling by a hostile crowd of fellow travelers—was too much. I arrived at home utterly pulverized.

The doctor gave me a pharmacopeia of pills and elixirs but warned, “This thing that is getting about everywhere, it is difficult to shake off.”

He warned, “It is necessary that you you go to bed,” this is how they talk in French, “and you me are promising that you—you will rest in the bed, and rest, and rest again.”

Easy for you to say, doc.

Early on, I was able to lie down and turn out some little crochet medallions in vintage cotton to use on the Christmas tree.

My inborn American optimism encouraged me to believe I would live to see Christmas. My nascent French pessimism had doubts.

I developed a constant cough so bad that it made me see stars, my ribs cracking with every fit. I will spare you further disgusting details, of which there are many. But I couldn’t knit, I couldn’t crochet, I couldn’t even read. In fact, for the first time in my life, thinking hurt.

During one spell of feverish half-sleep I developed hallucinations. The cat changed color. The furniture revolved and rearranged itself. 

Then my late grandmother appeared. 

For hours, she stood at the foot of the bed telling me over and over how foolish I was to move to France, how sorry I would be to die in a strange country far from home. That’s how I knew she was a hallucination. My grandmother’s actual ghost would have pulled up a chair.

Anyway, as you will have gathered, I am not dead. I am wobbly, but I am alive.

Sapin de Noël

I have decorated my new German feather Christmas tree with the little medallions (I got them from one of my 1880s crochet guides) . . .

. . . and the crochet garland (okay, fine, it’s an antique edging pattern intended for underwear) that I made last year.

Let’s go a little wild in 2023.

And, inspired by the Great Parisian Frost of 2022, I’m about to begin making a knitted crazy quilt. Perhaps you remember this crochet lap blanket I did to use up odds and ends in my stash?

Well, it didn’t work. I mean, the lap blanket worked fine. I’m happy with it.  What didn’t work was the stash busting part, because there is still this to be dealt with.

The trouble is, I was so particular about the colors in the blanket that I ended up not so much busting the stash as extracting bits and pieces of it in a persnickety fashion. 

I need space in the cupboard. So this time? I’m going wild. Wild, I tell you. No rules, no limits. Really. I mean it. Check in with me next year.

Joyeuses fêtes à tous,*

*Happy Holidays, y’all

About The Author

Franklin Habit has been sharing his brainy and hilarious writing and illustrations with the knitting world since 2005.

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  • Cats are so wise! Oh that humans could take a lesson. Love your picture of the snowfall!!! Have Parisiennes heard of Buffalo snow?
    Love the underwear lace garland on your tree. You crack me up!
    So, so happy you are on the mend. Rest often, stay warm and heal on.

  • Wishing you well, happy friend!

  • I love your posts ❤️

  • I love to hear of your adventures Franklin. The French attitude to weather sounds more English than I think they would like to admit ;-). I’m glad you’re on the mend xx

    • Glad you are mending. Absolutely adore your posts

  • As always, I loved your column and hope your prescriptive rest time pays off quickly. As for the cold and your fellow French: One of the coldest weekends I ever experienced was in Paris about 20 years ago when a cold snap in December ended up killing 60 people in parts of Europe. As a Minnesotan, I know cold but there was something about that cold that just penetrated the bones. So wrap up, stay warm, get better! Happy New Year.

  • As always, a joy to read!

    • Joyous Noel and adored the crochet ornaments and ribbon! Travel these days is not pleasant. Hydrate, menthol steam, sleep!!

  • Franklin,
    I am happy to read you are on the mend. Thank you for all of your writings in 2022, I looked forward to them and enjoyed each of them.
    Wishing you all the best in 2023.

  • I love reading your letters! I hope we will hear and see more about the knitted crazy quilt in future letters. Glad you are on the mend, take care!

  • Love the lap blanket and can’t wait to see the wild one next year. You are living my dream in Paris! Hope you are feeling well again soon.

  • Reading your essays is like unwrapping a gift! Thank you for this gift and hope you are well soon!

    • I totally agree! The best gift ever! Drink plenty of fluids and let Ricola lemon mint lozenges soothe that cough! I fractured 2 ribs coughing so beware! Onward & upward because we need to hear from you more often. Blessings on you as you continue to heal.

  • Feel better soon! I love your posts. Happy blessed New Year

  • For me to have a wide smile on my face after only a half cup of coffee is almost unthinkable. But this did that! What did I ever do without you, Franklin?

  • I’m happy that you have crossed and are on the healing side. Your writing just cracks me up! Hope the cough eases some. Blessings in the New Year!

  • It’s always such a pleasure to read your missives from the City of Light! Wishing you health and happiness in 2023!

    • I have so missed your posts! I’m glad you are feeling better. I crave your posts and anxiously await what will come next!

  • I’m glad to hear that you continue to mend, Franklin. Love the medallions!

  • Who knew a big laugh first thing in the morning would feel so good? As ever, thank you, Franklin, for your wonderful stories.

  • Thanks for the snow report – we are from Chicago and know what a snow storm looks like, how long it can last, and the after effects of all those lovely snowflakes. Glad to hear you are on the mend. Anxiously await your knit crazy quilt and hope you will share the instructions with us. Now on to a Happy New Year you lucky man living in Paris. I envy you.

  • I’ve been wanting to use up my stash in a blanket too but than I get very particular and I get nowhere! Sending healing thoughts

  • I am absolutely in love with Franklin and his writing. I need more of it.

    • Totally agree!!

  • The pictures of your tree make me smile. Lovely.
    Do hope you you float your way back to the peak of health quickly.

  • So happy you are recovering!

  • Ah. One can always count on the wisdom of M. Mimmi and his feline brethren. My Siamese kept yelling at me to Hurry UP Already with his Warm (hot water bottle) this morning.

    Franklin, that Christmas tree is delightful. It’s the one and only artificial tree I have ever coveted.

    Thank you for your letters from Paris. I love them.

  • Franklin you and your posts are a joy. Be well soon and happy new year to you.

  • I’m glad you are on the mend! We had the Flu spread through my family at Thanksgiving! It left no person standing. Eat well and rest!

  • Oh, Franklin! I am so glad you are still alive. My life would be only a sepia version of its usual colorful self if I could not enjoy your insights! Please follow that Dr.’s advice and stay under the covers with the cat. Please! 2023 needs you. xoxox

    • So good to read your letter, Franklin. I would recommend following M. Mimmi’s excellent example during this cold snap while you’re still recovering. Your decorations are lovely, and I’m quite looking forward to seeing your knitted crazy quilt. I’d love to learn how to sew, but machines and I don’t get on well; I still do all of the mixing for my baking with a fork rather than risk using the electric mixer after The Incident of ’87.
      Keep warm and write whenever you feel up to it

  • I just found myself saying aloud: You know, it would be impossible to every get “enough” of Franklin . . . sigh . . .
    I have my basket at hand, eagerly awaiting the start of the crazy quilt project. I have a new supply of Pu-erh tea and my favorite mugs at the ready.

  • Staci of Very Pink Knits just posted a pic of a blanket where each row is a different color of yarn. You leave the ends as fringe. You can repeat row colors until the yarn is gone. In your case it would be a big blanket but hers covers a King sized bed so I suspect she had a similar issue. Just a thought.

    Glad you are better! Hopefully the Doctor included antibiotics and benzonatate in the mix. If not, my faith in French Medicine just died. And yes, I know all about viruses and antibiotics but it’s reasonable to assume a virus led to bacterial pneumonia. Anyhow – you made it!

  • So glad you’re on the mend! That was a doozy of something you had. You did miss the blizzard of 2022 in Chicago- aren’t you glad?

  • Tho you are starting to feel better remember you are in the rest some more phase! Can’t wait to see your wildness! Thanks for all your letters pictures and wit!!!

  • Take care of yourself, this illness is everywhere. Hubby had it, so did a friend who actually cracked some ribs by coughing. No joke, and I bet you can relate! Love your posts from France, you’re the best!

  • Once I was so sick my grandmother and her son in law, my father, both visited and sat and argued. I knew it was a vision because they adored each other. Those visions are, ah, “unique”. I had to tell the nurse to please shoo them away and she graciously sprayed the corner with Lysol. Be like the cat. Emerge only twice for the necessary functions of life. Pleased to hear you are better.

  • The fact that you are planning a blanket indicates that the inborn American optimism is still fully functional and that you will, in fact, be able to enjoy the new year. Whew.

  • Oh Franklin! Do take care-so sorry to hear of your illness and your tender ribs. Rest, rest and then rest some more, yes?
    You are treasured.
    The wee medallions are just perfect.

  • As always, loved this Letter from Paris, just like all the others. Can’t wait to see the evolution of the crazy quilt…wonder how many of us will jump on that bandwagon…count me in as my stash is quite high and useless sitting on the shelf! Hope the croupy cough dissipates soon…even with all that “snow” and cold temps.

  • So happy to know you you are on the mend, Franklin! As an Ohioan this snow in Paris thing made me laugh out loud. Visiting with you is always a delight!

  • Glad you made it thru the worst of it !

  • Parisiennes sound like the people here in eastern South Carolina. It snows every ten years in my town but when it does, the whole town shuts down. Hope you feel better soon good luck on the stash busting.

  • I can recommend Frankie Brown’s 10 stitch blanket – I made one with bits and scraps of yarn, and it is crazy. Also, I made another crazy stash-busting blanket. The central part involved sections of different patterns and colors, surrounded by two different border sections, in stripes of random colors. I got my yarn stash down to one large bin – the lid had to be sat on and taped shut for the move though…

  • Whenever I see the MDK newsletter is from Franklin I drop everything, sit down, and read it slowly to ENJOY every word and picture!! Merry Christmas and thanks for your post.

  • Stash busting is like trimming a hedge: It promotes bushy growth. You’re probably better off getting another cupboard. (Feel better soon!)

  • Thank-you for your post I enjoyed it as always. I would add that I live in rural Saskatchewan Canada and I contracted the same illness minus the hallucinations, not covid, not the flu but cough until I thought cough my lungs out might be more than just an expression. Be well

  • Texans have the same response to cold weather as the Parisians. It doesn’t even have to snow, just drop below freezing, and people storm the grocery stores. As opposed to knitters who are thrilled to wear as many handknits as possible.
    Stay healthy! We need your perspective on everything!

  • Quelle horreur! So glad you survived. I adore your letters from Paris. I have tatted lace snowflakes, similar to the ones you crocheted, that were made by my grandmother and great aunt in Kansas, who would have guffawed at your snowfall while carrying bales of hay through 4-foot snowdrifts on the windswept plains.

    • You have my complete sympathy – one never forgets being too sick to read or knit. It is endless and frightening to be that ill. So I am grateful you are back with us.

      Also glad that someone mentioned that we can support you via a membership on Patreon.

      Your columns delight me.

  • Wishing you Happy Holidays and a full recovery! All the best for 2023, looking forward to many more updates

    • Keep well, Franklin, and keep writing. My go-to meal for getting well is a huge bowl of pho from the best – and only – Vietnamese restaurant in my little town. The aroma itself makes me feel better.

  • Dear Franklin, first – be well. Two recommendations: big bowl of hot & sour soup; hot toddies (or hot buttered rum). Both will help relax you so you can get that desperately needed rest. Best wishes for the New Year!

  • Wishing you a happy and healthier new year. Bust that stash, baby❣️

  • I’m sorry about your illness. It’s no fun to be sick. Thank you for your letter. It’s always such treat. Best of luck for the new year.

  • As a former Paris resident, I particularly love Franklin’s updates. I only wish there were more of them.

    • Dear Jane, I would like to subtly suggest a (really rather inexpensive) Patreon membership for Franklin. As I’m retired and no longer have to keep myself in pantyhose, drycleaning “good” work clothes, travel expenses and cafeteria lunches, I consider this a gift I give myself. Also, on a bad day you can go back and read All the episodes you’ve missed. Happy new year.

  • I was in Paris during a cold snap about a thousand years ago. I was surprised that there were so few people out and about. I was living in Oklahoma, where weather assaults of all kinds of weather are comme il faut. It did not stop those thrifty Parisians from crowding the Louvre on free day though.

  • Feel better, my friend!

  • Oh, I am very familiar with your malady, as I endured it myself for 3+ weeks. Terrible! Then we decided to celebrate an oasis of health in Quebec City and caught covid so spent Christmas in bed as well. Fortunately we are surrounded with chocolate and other holiday treats (plus knitting) so I think we will survive. Good health to you in the New Year!

  • Hope you are fully recovered by now. Lovely letter.
    Ah, knitting from stash…. I just bought 5sks in order to use up 2sks of stash by making a cardi. The craziest part is I honestly think this was a rational decision.

  • Can’t wait til April to see the beautiful city that you moved to. Until then stay safe and healthy. Feel better soon. Love from New York.

    • Love your writings. You are gifted
      Get well and rest.
      Merry Christmas and Happy New

  • It is nice to hear you are on the mend, Franklin. Love hearing from you and your new adventures. Thank you

  • You are wonderful! Merry Christmas and a very Happy, Healthy 2023!!!!

  • Happy holidays, Franklin!

    Glad you are slowly recovering, that sounds like it was just terrible.

  • Take Care! I can’t wait to experience this new fiber adventure.

    • Franklin…I feel as if I’m in Paris myself as I read your stories…. Glad to read that you are on the mend…,stay warm … can’t wait to see your wild creation in the New Year !

  • Delightful, as always!

  • Still amazing to me that folks in Chicago don’t really complain about cold and snow, they just go on with their day….but other places? Not so much!

    I remember driving my son to school in Chicago in what was an actual snow storm and both of us being surprised that school had just been cancelled for the day – not a typical thing to happen! When we moved to Maryland we drove to school on a cloudy January day and staff chased us out with ‘Go home! It might snow late this afternoon!’ We were flabbergasted!

    Enjoy your winter in Paris, Franklin!

  • In 1979, my father took my mom, me, and my husband to Paris for Christmas. It was bone chilling cold. I remember the moment my mother and I realized we were the only two women in Paris not wearing a gorgeous fur coat. Happy New Year, Franklin. Feel better.Your posts always make my day!

  • Get some rest, you!

  • That will teach you to go to California! Next time, come to Oregon. Happy New Year!

  • Are you resting in bed? And resting? And resting again? Monsieur Mimmi would have it so! Moi aussi.

  • Happy Holidays to you!
    So happy you are not dead, and feeling so much better.
    Start each square/ medalian, with a different color. Have fun making this warm cozy blanket that the cat will love.
    See you in the next times….

  • Love your letters!

  • Oh my goodness, that sounds like an awful case of bronchitis. I have had too much experience with that. Rest and fluids and high-test antibiotics are the only cures.

    Love the crocheted ornaments and garland! I’m inspired.

    A votre santé! (I’m raising a cup of hot tea to you)

  • Aahh, yes, Paris in the cold. The Real Cold. I was a student there in 1985-1986, and that winter, Paris FROZE. Avant la neige, they scoffed at our boots from LL Bean and unstylish parkas; we were transfers from VT, after all. And then a few understood how practical our “ugly” accessories actually were. I have photos of a man jaywalking in that huge intersection by the Tour Montparnasse. JAYWALKING! In a location where doing that usually means certain death, because Paris did not know how to handle 4″ of snow so there weren’t any cars on the road. Not one. They didn’t have plows! The National Guard had to come & shovel the streets by hand. Oh, it was a sight!

  • LOVE reading your posts, Franklin! As others have mentioned, I feel I’m in Paris, even for a petite time. Get well soon! I always say, rest is best. Cozy up with your cat and perhaps a comforting book. We heal when at rest. zox

  • My memory of snow in Paris is that everyone gets out their umbrellas. It kept waiting for it to rain. So sorry you were sick, and selfishly glad that you are well enough now to write this post. Those crochet medallions must really look beautiful on your tree. To Pam Wood – warning, April in Paris is usually rainy. Paris is beautiful anyway, but hope this is a freak un-rainy year or at least pray for a few dry days.

  • I love the crocheted blanket! Do you have a pattern?

  • LOVE LOVE LOVE your fabulous letters. I giggle, I weep, I coughed as well, but SO. MUCH. FUN. Thank you, Happy ALL Year, and feel better soon.

    • ❤️

  • Glad to hear that you are beating the creeping crud !
    Joyous New Year, friend.

  • And a Happy New Year to you also. I can visualize so well from your description. Thank you for taking us along on the romance that is Paris. Merci!

  • Franklin I’m Glad you surviythe frost of 2022 and this terrible cold. Hopefully the new year will bring better weather and better health

  • I really love you Franklin! Hope recovery comes swiftly now.

  • I know there is a French equivalent of chicken soup… so I would have sent some virtually; plus tea and honey.

    I love your ‘using those 19th c. Godey’s patterns ‘…. feel better so you can translate more.

    and yes, laughing …. that weather! as if they’ve been in Chicago in January or NYC when the wind whips.
    (I was in Manchester — it snowed about 1″; people were paralyzed. I did, however, visit the Gaskell House before it snowed…)

  • Soup, water, and rest. I have caught a cold (just after Christmas) for the first time in years. Soup, tea with honey, and lots of rest.

    Your tree decor is lovely. I love that you make old patterns and use what you’ve made. Oh I can just see that crazy blanket! I’d go easy and knit a few stripes of each color, alternating randomly as I go. The picture of the yarns looks lovely, it’ll turn out beautifully. And the idea of leaving the ends as fringe (as someone else mentioned someone else did) seems genius – unless you’ve a cat who likes to eat that sort of thing.
    Stay warm, stay healthy, and I look forward to your missives in the new year!

  • Oh it’s so bad when you can’t knit or read. I wish you are back in shape soon and have a healthier happy new year.

  • Franklin, we commiserate completely! We too got RSV in Paris! From Santa Barbara to France while you were heading in our direction. The coughing, Oy, the saving grace was delivery of Misnons from the earth roasted vegys & an eggplant lasagna that was life saving.. & a few pastries . So smart of you to have a cat, yarn & a feather tree to cheer you ❤️ be well…if you make it over to Notre Dame there is a gal selling hot mulled wine @ an outdoor cart on the west side very comforting

  • As my mind wondered “why have we not heard from Franklin?” (as if we were on first name basis) I refused to let my thoughts then wonder to you not being well. Checked the calendar, checked it twice…”yup! he should be back home by now in his new Cozy French apartment”. Yes I talk to myself about you. Well, I am happy to see your letter again & I pray for your speedy recovery, my friend! God bless your New Year & may he keep you from future health issues.

  • Thank you, Franklin, I hope you are all better now, or at least continuing to mend at a reasonable rate.

  • That illness sounds horrible (similar to what I had – for me, they called it influenza A and put me in the hospital when I was seriously out of it). I’m so glad you’re better enough to write a letter; I enjoy them immensely. (From Minneapolis, flying back to AZ in a few days. Blessed to have houses both places.)

  • Glad to see that you are on the mend.

    It’s funny how people react to weather they’re unaccustomed to. Being from Wisconsin, we laugh at sprinklings of snow. But now living in Georgia, there’s only a handful of snow plows and salt trucks, and millions of drivers not used to snow and ice, so it does behoove us to be careful too.

    Lastly, those yarn colors look yummy. They will definitely make a wonderful crazy quilt for you and the cat to huddle under.

  • Franklin loved your story. They need to experience a real snow storm. Hope you start feeling your old self soon.

  • So glad you are feeling better. I too giggle at the Parisian frost panic. I grew up in the Chicago suburbs and now live in Holland, Michigan, land of lake effect snow. Vive la neige!

  • I love reading your letters, Franklin! Wishing you a quick recovery and much health. Bonne année!

  • Always look forward to your letters!!!

  • hi Franklin, another suggestion for a cozy stash busting blanket, and you dont have to go far to find the pattern, it’s from the MDK Marls field guide, and it is so fun and uses up a lot of yarn…i used worsted weight and large-ish needles, maybe 10;5 or 11 and ended up only doing 3 panels, crocheted together at the end… but it is the coziest, warmest thing i have ever knitted…you won’t be sorry

  • Best thing for a sore throat (and not bad for a cough) is YEP tea – yarrow, elderflower and peppermint. I add lemon and sugar to taste; feel free to splash a little brandy, rum or whisky if appropriate.

  • Love your articles and have for sometime. Here’s maybe a weather you can relate to – I live in Wellington,New Zealand. It’s called windy Welly. It’s considered windier then Chicago to take the records as the windiest city. Though we don’t get snow very mild temperatures in a way. But the windy part you should be able to relate to !
    Hope you keep getting better!
    From the Southern Hemisphere where it’s summer, opposite seasons!

  • Dear Franklin,
    I love your posts! What a great way to start the day. So happy that you are feeling better. Take good care and rest and recuperate. Can’t wait to hear more about your crazy quilt. Best wishes for a Happy New Year from Toronto, Canada where we also parler Fancais.

  • Oh, dear! Travel like you suffered, Franklin, can kill. My folks, Dr. and Mrs. Moore, had experienced those horrible delays, sitting on the suitcase, waiting, wanting warm soup and a bed. During the flight home, Dad was called forward to attend to a woman. Despite being an inspired, fine osteopath, he could not help. When my brother arrived at LAX to meet the plane, he was called aside and told that his mother had died. No way! Another Mrs. Moore. But my folks, in their late 60’s at the time, were lingeringly ill much like you, still coughing and going limp for a long time. Let’s get back to our best selves de prisa! Oh, sorry, my Spanish rises to the top.

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