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Dear friends,

Let me tell you a little about my cupboards.

I am lucky to have cupboards. Most old apartments in Paris were built without them, expecting that well-off occupants would furnish their own armoires and kitchen dressers; and the rest would make do with a shelf or two and a couple of hooks on the wall. 

This bedroom in my apartment was outfitted with imposing new floor-to-ceiling cupboards by the landlady, who designed them to suit her own needs. Fortunately, she and I seem to have the same obsession with coats because there’s plenty of space to hang them.

In the workroom, there are two ancient cupboards dating from who-knows-when, built into the space on either side of the fireplace. One is incredibly shallow (less than a foot deep, at its deepest) with two very wide doors. The other is more than a foot deep, with one very narrow door.

I love the narrow door because it still bears mysterious markings that I like to believe were made by the seamstresses and laundresses who worked in this room when it was a buanderie, a sort of combination laundry-and-small-repairs workshop.

They’re probably just scribbles from the accountants who replaced the seamstresses, but never mind.

The Christmas decorations are down and stuffed back into the cupboards, now in cardboard boxes marked NOËL because in case of a surprise home inspection by immigration officials I want them to see how well I’m assimilating.

My scrap yarn, meanwhile, is out of the cupboards and all over the floor. This annoys the cat, who is far too old to find balls of yarn diverting and instead yowls indignantly at anything that hinders his twice-daily stroll through the apartment.

I yell that he could walk around, he yells back that my accent is atrocious.

This mess is down to the knitted crazy quilt I mentioned at the end of my last letter. I’m knitting mine while also teaching my Patreon patrons how to knit their own. 

We’ve just begun. They’re learning garter stitch intarsia, and I’m learning what a great big hypocrite I am.

There have been questions, you see, about how to choose colors for a crazy block.

“Don’t overthink it,” I’ve said. “The point is to embrace chaos. Let yourself go! Toss it all into a sack, reach in, and knit with whatever you pull out next.”

Meanwhile I, who promised myself I would not spend hours pushing balls around on the floor making and unmaking little color groups, am spending hours pushing balls around on the floor making and unmaking little color groups.

It’s not that I don’t believe what I’m teaching. It’s that I hesitate to allow myself the same creative freedom I urge on my students. It feels dangerous.

You think I’m exaggerating? Hah.

I’ve been in this position before. Years ago, I found myself in a yarn shop in Los Angeles staring at a skein of lime green sock yarn. I’d never knit anything with a color that bright, let alone a pair of socks.

Bright colors, I had been taught, had no place on the male body. Men wore dull colors. Dark. Muddy.

Yet I really wanted to buy the yarn and make myself a pair of screaming green socks. 

I did buy the yarn. I did make the socks. And I did, after several months of hiding them in a drawer, wear them. They were loud and beautiful, and they made me feel good even though just between us they itched like hell.

That simple change of socks started a chain reaction in the way I dressed. I went through my closet and weeded out a lot of clothes I’d worn for years even though they made me sad. I started flirting with the idea of dressing like I wanted to, instead of the way I was supposed to.

The lime green socks suggested a pair of English brogues, which begged for checked trousers, which begat a waistcoat, which sprouted a pocket watch, which attracted a bow tie.

I began to look very, very different. People treated me differently, therefore I began to see the world differently. So I made different choices. And then–

Listen, I’m not saying that committing to yarn colors that excite you, but also frighten you a bit, will surely change the course of your life.

But thinking deeply about what you really want, then taking steps to make for yourself what you really want … it can start with a pair of socks, and end with you writing letters from the other side of the ocean.



About The Author

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


  • I would like to try this intarsia garter stitch. Is there a pattern please?

    • Stephanie Lotven’s Around Every Corner shawl uses garter stitch intarsia, and she includes excellent instructions on how to do it. I am not affiliated with her; I just love her patterns.

    • So enjoyed this letter, Franklin — so insightful! I love the comparison between the lime green socks and eventual move to France, a reminder to consider what is truly important in one’s life, and working toward that. Looking forward to hearing more about your life in France, and hoping 2023 brings you many wonderful memories. Merci for sharing your experiences and insights.

      • Such a beautiful and thoughtful column, and also gives me #floorenvy.

    • Heather, he’s doing this for his Patrons, so the best way to get access to it is to join Franklin’s Patreon. There you’ll find a series of videos to help you along, suggested patterns for squares and ideas about how to make your own patterns for squares, and information that will help you deal with other issues along the way. There’s a vibrant, active, discussion board where you can see what others are doing with the information and share your joys and trials with your own project.

      Franklin provides a lot of support for his Patrons, and I heartily recommend joining.

      • How do you go about joining Franklin’s Patreon??

        • I think you can download the Patreon app, search for Franklin Habit, and choose the amount of funds or a level to fund per month.

      • After I survived cancer, I ditched my standard black clothes and burst out in orange, magenta, aqua, and lime green. My granddaughter, an awkward pre-teen, was horrified but the colors make me happy and redefine what the “elderly” can wear!

        • You go girl!! Enjoy Life because it is to short to not wear something fun and loud!!!

        • It gave me a special thrill last week to wear bright floral leggings and a sunny yellow shirt to yoga class. I was surrounded by people stretching and bending, all in various shades of gray and black. Why? Fitness is about health and feeling good, why the dreary clothing? I only recently started allowing myself to branch out into wearing the colors that thrill me and I can’t imagine going back to a life without color!

        • I’m going through chemo now, breast and pancreatic cancer. The days are hard but I agree with your thoughts on color. I’m grabbing so much more fun with life through color. Bless you and I hope you stay healthy for many years to come.

      • I recently became a Patreon of Franklin’s and its delightful. I highly recommend it.

  • One of the most powerful and compelling articles about personal change I have ever read.

    • Franklin, coming to this a bit late as I have been traveling. Thank you for ANOTHER great letter of humor, wisdom and a lesson in “you do YOU”, my new favorite phrase. I love bright happy colors and usually stick in that lane for my knitting. I am learning to knit what makes me happy rather than for what I think others would like, currently a striped bright blue, white and yellow stripe wrap. Each row is just fun.

    • Change is amazing and empowering and the only thing you can count on to happen. The trick to a happy life is learning to embrace it. Thank you Franklin for always starting my day with a smile. Signed by a 70 year old, wife of 50 years, great grandmother of 2, knitter, crocheter, tatter, weaver, spinner, quilter, painter, musician. And still working on my 5 year plan for learning and change..

    • Well said. He is remarkable.

    • I love this story ❤️❤️❤️

    • Came here to say the same.

      • Me too! I needed this right now…thank you!

    • Yes, it is. And it is beautifully written.

      • I totally agree, sharing this with my kids

  • As always, your post has me laughing and pondering at the same time. Thank you Franklin!

  • Oh my, how I do love Franklin’s letters, I look forward to each and every one of them. I’ve never been a Patreon for anyone but, in Franklin’s case, I may just have to become one. Happy knitting to all.

    • I joined Franklin’s Patreon group several months ago. It is so well done and well thought out, you will not be sorry, and you can get even more of a Franklin Fix. He has an excellent series on Color Theory that really helped me.

  • Oh Franklin. This hit my heart yoday in so many ways.

  • Is this the knitter’s version of the butterfly effect? You never know what a simple pair of socks can do.

  • Completely off topic – but Oh! Those knife edges on your knitting! How do you manage that??

  • Thank you so much for sharing your struggles with this! I’m one of those people who has trouble breaking free of the rules, and this is a great reminder that it doesn’t always come naturally to those people who’ve managed to create their own sense of style.

  • ❤️❤️❤️

  • I always appreciate the strength and humor in your voice.

  • This came at the perfect time. I was dreading a job interview tomorrow because it’s such a change from the job I’ve been doing for the last 10 years but now I’m kind of excited to see where it leads. No guarantee I get the job but I think I’ll have a better shot going in more excited and less scared. Fingers crossed.

    • Good luck!

    • Bonne chance

  • Simply beautiful. And inspiring. As always.

  • I loved this! I wear bright socks, but maybe it’s time to drag a new sweater and pants (and maybe a skirt) into the mix.). Thanks so much. Inspired! Sue Carney

  • What a lovely letter. I am so happy to hear that you are assimilating so well in your new city! (Bonne Année!)

  • Oh, Franklin, this letter had me weeping by its close. I am taking a “leap of faith” and moving to a rural area at the age of 62. It just seems time to shake things up a bit after a lifetime of living within a two-mile radius. (Also, it is kind of now-or-never at my age.) There is an active knitting and sewing guild in the new community along with a winery, yoga at a farm, and a great library. Really, what more does one need? Your words on being one’s authentic self are an inspiration. Thank you.

    • That’s what I am looking for, where is it?

    • Sharon, that’s so exciting. Go for it!

  • One of your best letters and that says a lot! Thank you!

  • Thanks, Franklin. A good reminder to be true to yourself.

  • I always read your letters with a French accent in my head. A la Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther. Silly? Yes. Makes me feel joyful.

  • True to life. Love it.

  • So good. As always. Thank you, Franklin and MDK.

  • Love, love, love you so much, Franklin.

  • I love this! Especially the last few lines! Perfect.

  • Oh, Franklin…but you are NOT “not saying that committing to yarn colors that excite you, but also frighten you a bit, will surely change the course of your life.” What a lovely daydream for this grey January day. Thank you!

  • My mother always taught us…” how you are seen is how you are treated.”

    • More plainly, my dad used to tell us “dress like a bum and people will treat you like a bum”. Opposite also true, and Franklin is a king in those green socks.

  • Like I wanted to, instead of the way I was supposed to.
    Let freedom ring! Thank you Franklin for another amazingly honest letter.

  • But all those ENDS. Perhaps I would transform into a person who enjoys sewing them in?

    • Weaving ends into garter stitch is fun (true!). I signed on to Franklin’s patreon and…sold on the knitted crazy quilt project 😀

  • One pair of socks!
    What a beautifully written memory.
    You always look great, stylish, excited about the day.
    Good for you.

  • This is the second post I’ve seen this morning about lasting change starting with small steps. Hmmmm . . . .

  • Love, love, love your missives. I am currently traveling in Morocco and embracing wild, wonderful colors. I grabbed big hanks of wool from the dyers in the old Medina even though, God knows, what I’ll do with it because it’s very scratchy. Maybe a rug. Live life out loud!

  • Thank you for another enchanting letter, Franklin. Yes, embrace all the colours! It’s so much fun 🙂

  • Fabulous as ever. My heart always quickens and my smile always widens when I find your post.

  • The cat is alarmed because all those balls of yarn seem to be…multiplying. Expanding. Moving.

  • Dear Franklin,
    Could you send along a photo of your cat in your next missive, s’il vous plait?

    • Just saying….Franklin posts photos of M. Mimmi on Patreon. His occasionally Serene Highness is an elderly gentleman, silky black with bits of frost here and there. Very distinguished (my cat has a crush on him).

      Franklin, as usual, you’ve done it again. Thank you. I get to read your witty, sensible, *useful* words, and they’re a tonic I desperately need. (Losing my home again, and really should find a better job, even if I like the one I have now. Steps matter. Colors matter. Socks matter!).

  • You are the best, Franklin.

  • Thank you for this. More than I can say. You made me think about the young woman I once was! Time to get back to her.

  • So beautifully written. I admire you and your journey, Franklin.

  • First time reading about Franklin. I’m in love with his writings. I definitely want to be a Patron and learn the intarsia garter stitch.

  • This may be your best post ever…and that’s something. I’ll think on it a bit. I may think of something it doesn’t beat. I doubt it. Hugs.

  • Life is about the journey and I’m glad you’re living it more colorfully and more happily. And more Frenchily if that makes you happy

  • I am so grateful for those lime green socks!

  • I have a lime green sock on my needles. Now I will call them my Franklin socks.

  • It’s funny. The “men wear muddy colours” thing has been a truism since about the Victorian era, yet one look at Hawaiian shirts, the popularity of sports jerseys as casual wear, not to mention t-shirts and tie patterns, proves it wrong. Time to let go of the myth, and let men embrace colour again without having to worry about being weird about it.

  • Oui!

  • Another very interesting and thought-provoking Letter. Thank you, Franklin.

  • Such beautiful colour choices, always look forward to your letters!

  • Thank you, Franklin.

    You always make me laugh: “The Christmas decorations are down and stuffed back into the cupboards, now in cardboard boxes marked NOËL because in case of a surprise home inspection by immigration officials I want them to see how well I’m assimilating.”

    And you always make me think: “Listen, I’m not saying that committing to yarn colors that excite you, but also frighten you a bit, will surely change the course of your life.”

  • This Indian girl says knit all the colors! Wear all the colors. YOLO. Be the butterfly you were meant to be and not a drab moth.

    And I totally intend to ask people to wear colorful clothes to my funeral.

    • One of my dearest friends wore brilliant, chaotically colored clothes to my mother’s funeral, which I knew she would have loved.

  • Thank you SO MUCH for this letter, Franklin. It’s a beautiful statement about becoming. Your posts are one of my very favorite parts of MDK.

  • Thank you for the inspiration!

  • God, you write good, deah…Can’t wait to see how this project emerges! Let go and let giggle! xoxo b

  • I love how you always weave your knitting life in with your real life. Keep knitting those green socks and keeping it real for us. Merci!

  • Grande merci for this post!

  • Love.

  • I love everything about this article! Thank you Monsieur Habit!

  • Merci, Franklin. Always enjoy your posts from Paris. Love the Seamstress/Accountant jottings 🙂

  • Thank you for this inspiring, and timely, post.

    The truest journey begins with a single footstep in a lime green sock…

    The second weekend of January was spent cleaning out my closet. I took some shoes that needed new heels to the shoe repair shop and discovered a fabulous new Indian restaurant right down the street. It was full of vibrant colors and flavorful foods. Not only have I reincorporated color into my wardrobe, I have added a new experience to my life.

    This past weekend was spent restoring the living room. I was staring at the empty fireplace bookshelves and saw the perfect spot for a large art glass plate which had been “hiding” in the basement for way too long. I also made the commitment to hang one of my favorite paintings. I totally realize that I was putting off displaying these favorite pieces because they, especially the painting, are the most personal. I felt a certain boldness in thinking, I like these enough to not care what opinions others might have. Now when I walk into the room, I love that it is filled with color. (Just as men’s clothing is supposed to be muddy, living rooms in our neighborhood are supposed to be beige.)

    The library is next, who knows where that will lead…

  • I love it! Embrace your love of color and style and be the person you really are! How can people love who we are, if we never let the person we are out if the cookie cutter box?

  • Always enjoy Franklin’s letters.

  • Yes. The first step is to let yourself acknowledge what it is that you really want. And then, baby steps, follow where your desires lead you. It does take courage. And you have that!

    But I am also not surprised that you like/want/need the comfort/control of picking your crazy quilt colors, rather than letting Fate pick them. At least right now. It’s giving yourself what you need in this moment (which, I guess, is not more randomness).

    • Franklin, you are an inspiration! I so love your letters. I find as I’m aging I wear drab colors (except for socks!!) Tomorrow things will change! Love your quilting ideas. Your illustrations in Patty Lyon’s’ book are fabulous, Dahling! Merci.

  • Many of my biggest and best decisions I’ve made have begun with a whimsical or serendipitous thought, a seemingly inconsequential thing that has led to such impact.

  • Love you , Franklin Habit

  • Franklin’s best article yet.

  • What another wonderful article, I love Franklin’s perspective on knitting and life! Is there a link are something to find Franklin’s Patreon to join? I really could use some colorful inspiration!
    Again, thank you!!

  • I think maybe I need to pull out the orange stripped floppy beret I knitted with scratchy yarn and wear it – Good Bye Gray Day, Hello Sunshine! Thank you!

  • Oh yes. What do I really want? I love the mix of serendipity and intent. And as always, the way you tell a story. Love you!

  • Bravo.
    (Even if the word isn’t in French)

  • I always look forward to your amusing and thoughtful letters posted on MDK and I am so glad you bought that lime green yarn and knitted some beautiful, colorful socks. Sometimes it’s just one small thing that starts us on a change of plans and takes us to places and experiences we never thought we’d have! Merci❤

  • I find as folks age – they care more about how clothes and colors make THEM feel and care less about how others think they look. At least that has been true for me. ie YOU think with my coloring, I should wear blue – but I don’t like blue. If I wear blue I feel sad – thus out with the blue and in with what I like to see me in. Age and wisdom!!

  • Thank you for reminding us, Franklin, that one should always make room in one’s wardrobe for screaming lime socks (or hot pink tees or purple plaid undies or a bold polka dotted bow tie) and eliminate clothing that makes one sad. Even if the bold or unexpected wardrobe choice is the wearer’s secret, it can still bring joy to and instill confidence in the wearer.

  • All cats deplore our accents — and grammar — whether we are speaking our native language or another one. Such judgemental little snobs, they are.

  • You’re just the best, Franklin.

  • A timely reminder to knit what I love, not what others want me to love

  • I get so excited whenever there is a letter from Franklin included in Snippets!!! I love hearing whatever he has to say!

  • love this story.

  • Years ago, my beloved mother told me there would come a time when I would dress and act as I pleased—not to please others. That time has come and I embrace it! I’m glad to see that you have discovered it earlier than me.

  • That was a really beautiful post. Thank you.

  • I love Franklin.

  • What a great letter.

    Cats, like some people, are resistant to change. They really detest the time change. An extra hour of daylight makes no difference in their life.

    And I love the pushing the yarn balls around on the floor to make pleasing color arrangements. Been there, done that (fabric). The only thing that works is a deep craft bag and an iron will.

  • I love this. The blanket, the introspection, the wisdom. Thank you.

    • Ditto :⁠-⁠)

  • I love Franklin!!

  • C’est magnifique! A wonderful article.

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