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Dear friends,

I wrote in my first letter about the carnival of thrills that was getting all my stuff across the ocean. What I haven’t described is dealing with it now that it’s here.

Let me tell you about the apartment.

I am, by great good fortune, in central Paris. I can easily stroll to places I used to think I might never see–the Louvre, for one. Even so, my immediate neighborhood remains resolutely unfashionable and well off the tourist trail. Rick Steves has nothing to say about it. It is noisy, crowded, and labyrinthine. We are hemmed in by boulevards; but our crazy-quilt network of narrow streets, alleys, courts, and passages would still be familiar to the ghost of anyone who lived here before the Revolution.

I didn’t know when I signed the lease that the whole quarter has been associated with textiles and needlework for more than two hundred years. There are sample-making shops and a garment photography studio on the ground floor of my building, with more sample makers just across the courtyard. What’s now my workroom is still marked on the apartment’s official floor plan as a “buanderie,” the word for a space in which clothing was laundered and refurbished, and before the floors were refinished you could still see the scuff marks left by a gang of sewing machines.

The interior is by no means a pristine survival from the late eighteenth century; but when my landlady removed a nasty drop ceiling and several layers of linoleum, she uncovered plaster moldings and herringbone parquet from a renovation that took place in the mid-nineteenth century. She also found the oldest door in the apartment: a low, narrow thing, still hanging on its original bulky hinges, sealed up inside the wall that separates the library from the workroom. 

With that door restored, the apartment once again became what is called enfilade or sans couloir, meaning the rooms lead into one another without a corridor (couloir) or hallway. We have the same sort of arrangement in America, of course–our old “railroad” or “shotgun” houses. But my apartment doesn’t go in a straight line, it goes round and round …

… which means that when I misplace my phone or glasses or scissors, which happens six or seven times daily, I can literally walk in circles looking for them.

The windows are enormous, the light is abundant. I’ve never in my life had a  space this beautiful to play with. Maybe that’s why I’ve become such a pain in my own ass about furnishing it properly.

A corner of the buanderie, my workroom

William Morris famously said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” That’s a sentiment I’ve always admired, but it’s a short trip from there to becoming a person who asks himself questions like, “Are these drawer pulls Sincere?” and  “Does this butter dish express the Real Me?”

Mercerie drawers filled with my collection of antique needlework tools.

Perhaps it’s fortunate that I can’t go terribly far in that direction because, bluntly, I lack the funds. Being a person of modest income means that sometimes you have to buy the table from Ikea whether it speaks to your secret heart or not.

However, when it comes to soft furnishings–linens, cushions, curtains, rugs, and so forth–there arises the possibility of making them myself. Because I can. Because I want to. Because I feel that I must.

It’s madness, but given all the stuffing and plush fabrics and soft yarn lying around, it’s a cuddly sort of madness.

Right now curtains for the workroom are my obsession. I am expressing it through the medium of crochet.* They will be sewn from natural white cotton or linen inset with pieces of filet crochet.

I know some folks have strong negative reactions to filet crochet, much as I do to ripple stitch crochet. I love it, though. It’s something plain, square, and lowbrow that longs to be taken for something elegant, sophisticated, and expensive. Just like me.

For months I was agonizing over which motifs to pick from my embarrassingly deep collection of antique patterns. There are, after all, only two windows to cover.

I stopped agonizing when I realized I didn’t have to choose. The curtains don’t need to be a perfect pair. I’m going to sew and hang the fabric panels, then add filet insertions as I finish them. That means florals and putti and Roman gods and French shepherdesses and art nouveau swags and bunny rabbits and urns and Aesop and whatever the heck else I want are all fair game.

However, this is all I’ve got so far. Gonna take a while.

That’s okay. It took me fifty years to find a place that feels like home. No reason to rush the window treatments.

I’ll write again soon.



*The French word for crochet is “crochet.”

About The Author

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


  • Thanks so much for sharing, Franklin!! I really look forward to your posts about life in Paris. I’m sure your apartment will truly be beautiful when you are finished decorating it, no matter how long it takes!!

  • The more you share about your apartment the more I love it. Can’t wait to see the first stage of hung curtains.

    • I love living in Paris through you. Please keep the letters coming, it will be a nice break from the crochet hook. Your apartment looks beautiful. Keep living life your way.

  • Oh, how I love these letters from Paris!

    And Franklin, if you have an in with the powers that be, perhaps you can use your influence to have MDK ship to Europe (nudge, nudge)? Asking for a friend.

  • I love your articles, i lived in Paris for a long time and am reliving vicariously through your articles and instagram! I also lived in an area, quite by chance, where there were so many wholesalers and small factories. The Marais is now an area which has completely changed and has become very much a tourist attraction.

  • So much fun! Thanks for sharing your adventures!

  • “Just like me.” I cracked up!! Not a crocheter, I love this first panel.

  • I love your apartment. A library, a workroom and a bedroom, toilet, bathroom and kitchen – what else does a person need. And decorating with filet crochet. I’ve made a few things of filet crochet and enjoyed doing so. Please keep the letters coming.

  • This was an absolute delight to read this midwest U.S.A. morning, Franklin! Thank you for sharing your unfolding Paris discovery with us.

  • I love filet crochet. I have a small tablecloth my grandmother made that I now feel the need to pull out and display, perhaps with some lovely flowers. Your articles are inspiring to read, thank you!

  • Dare I say this could be a next book? I believe you have enough material (pun intended). I would read it!!!

    • But please – only after the book on the move from 39 Eglantine Court!!

    • Motion seconded!

  • Enjoy your coming to life apartment. Can’t wait to see more. Have spent 3 separate weeks in Paris with my daughter over the years. Wish we had spent more! Enjoy every moment.

  • Franklin, I love your missives as well. Your apartment sounds FABULOUS, and I enjoy the descriptions of everyday French life and your couture experiences. I also love that crochet work — combining them with French linens sounds like a lovely idea. I look forward to seeing the final product and next post.

  • I love your letters from Paris. You do sound as if you’ve found the right place for you.

  • Hi Franklin, I’m going to be pedantic in the hope that it is helpful. In the William Morris quote, replace the first “beautiful” with “useful”, et voilà, he didn’t say everything in your home has to be beautiful, as long as it’s useful.

    • Thank you, Linda! Indeed, I mis-transcribed a line I have had hanging over my worktable for years. It takes skill to be this dim…I’ve alerted the MDK authorities to correct it asap.

      • I figured it was something like that. I knew you’d know that quote.

        I hope to end up in France when I retire. Currently an Evanstonian.

      • I figured it was something like that

      • Love your letters but I too was about to correct your quote not only for accuracy but because it acknowledges that usefulness has a place and kind of beauty of it’s own.

  • I love crochet, having been taught by my great-grandmother when I was 6. First, a chained string, next a pot holder, then on to a lifetime of many wonderful items
    (I think this is why I knit Continental style). She made each of her granddaughters a bedspread of cream thread when they married. I have my mother’s spread. Beautiful. And I don’t recall my Granny ever following a pattern. I will be in Paris in a week or so. Maybe I will walk past your atelier!

  • Franklin- Those floors!!! Gorgeous! I am soooo jealous! I too have filet crocht around, made by my German grandmother. As I recall, our curtains in Germany were also filet crochet.

  • Everything that you have written about your Paris adventure hums with joy. Just reading this makes me happy too!

  • Thanks you for this lovely escape.

  • Thanks, Franklin! Already looking forward to la prochaine!

  • Thank you for sharing your big move & new home. I hope to live in Barcelona some day. Sharing your journey gives me hope

  • Yes. To all of the above. 🙂

  • Love the journey this took me on this morning!

  • Thank you for this bit love toward filet crochet. I so agree with your point of view!

  • I love Franklin’s posts from Paris almost as much as I love Paris. Your apartment sounds like a dream come true—quirky and full of light. Keep on writing!

  • I have never expressed the sentiments that you just have, though I have certainly felt them for the last 40 years. In that I have crocheted rag rugs, I am on the second panel of my filet curtains for my bathroom. I have crocheted front door panels for my sisters’ front door and the panel on my back door. Yes I’ve been at my bathroom curtains for 3 years but what else do I have to do? I make wash rags for my family for each Christmas to which my cousin has started making soap that I add for a special present for family and friends. Your swatch is small but not insignificant! Keep up the great work.

  • You do realize we are living vicariously through your photos, trips, etc. Merci beaucoup.

  • your notes are a treat to read, I feel that you might be someone I know well from your details. And curtains that take forever sound like a great idea.

  • “Just like me” lol! Coffee spurts from lips!

  • I did not want to wake up this second Monday morning of Daylight Savings Time…but then I saw that the MDK post was from Paris.

    You seem right at home in a neighborhood near Vermeer’s [The] Lacemaker.

  • A pleasure to read along with your adventure

  • I am always so happy to see a new letter from Franklin. Please know we’re always ready for a new post and new pictures. This is the loveliest of bits for a broken time. Thank you from the depths of my heart.

    • “This is the loveliest of bits for a broken time”
      Completely agree.

      • Allison: Your comment, on this most-welcome letter from Franklin, is perfect. His joy is a pleasure in this “broken time.”

  • This is my favorite post so far (but it is hard to pick if I think too much about it). Please, please continue.

  • Dear Franklin,
    I think you may have been my brother in some other lifetime. I live in an old house that goes round in a circle, too, and I love it. There are 20 doors! I have had an old piece of filet crochet tacked up on a wall for years, all my earrings hooked into the holes. Its central image is a running horse. Your Paris life makes my heart long for a new beginning in a place that better feeds my spirit. Thank you so very much for the beautiful glimpses.

  • Please write more often!

  • In addition to knitting, thread crochet has also been a passionate love of mine for 30+ years. So glad to see it mentioned here. I’m so jealous of you and your new/old Paris home!

  • “Are these drawer pulls sincere?” I’m still laughing…I thoroughly enjoy all of your posts! Thank you for sharing life in Paris with us.

  • As always, I find your writing an insightful delight.

    Quite a few years ago I crocheted a lace curtain for a rather large window in the study. It was threaded onto a simple rod and hung, to be pushed or looped aside when more light was wanted. It’s been at least 45 years and I still miss it. I have never had a window so well suited to such a curtain since then.

  • Dearest Franklin, to put a spin on Mr Rogers, could I please be your neighbor? My dull start of a Monday morning has turned completely around after reading your lovely post. Paris is one of my favorite cities, and it’s been way too long since I last visited. Thank you!!

  • Swoon! Oh, I swoon in admiration. What a magnificent place to land. Long may you revel in your Paris apartment!

  • Now that is a floor plan!!!! What else do you need? Are your looms set up in the workroom?

  • Thank you so much for these post!! I’m loving hearing of all your adventures. I feel like I’m there with you. I look forward to the next adventure.

  • I adore reading your updates from Paris, one of my favorite cities. They also remind me of my time living in Milan about 20 years ago. One of my favorite fiber-related Paris memories is touring the Gobelin factory where they made and still make incredible tapestries. The tour was in French and while it turned out my 4 years of high school French hadn’t included words such as woof and warp, I was delighted to see the looms and the beautiful works.

  • I LOVE PARIS! Thank you for sharing your Parisian experiences with us!

  • Love your letters from Paris. Your draperies will be beautiful. Have you ever heard of FabScrap? It’s an organization dedicated to keeping fabrics, yarn, and notions out of our landfills — all sourced from high end designers. All reasonably, even cheaply priced, with a zero cost section to “pay what you wish”. I recently ordered some linen and organza fabric from them for a song. Two shops: Brooklyn and Philly, or, online.

  • I’m always curious as to the “why” people move where they do but they don’t explain. My daughter and husband and 17 month old daughter were in Paris 8 1/2 years ago, absolutely loved it and had a picnic under the Eiffel tower. I have done some filet crochet but stupid me gave it away. Love your letters.

  • I want to live there

  • Oh my goodness, Franklin. Finding out that your apartment was once a buanderie in the textiles district? I hate to use a cliché like “it was meant to be”, but . . . it was meant to be?

  • What fun! So jealous of your dilemma. Don’t forget to write.

  • Oh….please PLEASE write again soon!! LOVE this morning peak into Parisian life and hand-making.

  • The apartment is great, but what will you do when your stash outgrows it? Also, I’ll see your editor a “La Vie En Crochet” and raise with “Voulez-Vous Crochet Avec Moi Ce Soir?” (Apologies to Sarah, Nona, and Patti.)

  • Oooo! Thank you for the description and escape!!! More about the big windows, the light on the floors and your projects please!

  • I woke up this morning to the sounds of Santa Ana winds rustling through my Los Angeles garden of native Californian, Mediterranean, and succulent plants … and then there was a post from Franklin. I don’t live where I should be but the house is paid for, the schools were excellent and I have my own office. I work to create an esthetic and sense of craft, sometimes only in my mind and sometimes actually in front of me, that can be quite different from the culture I live in. Franklin’s sensibility and all the charming commenters help. Hugs and thanks to everyone from Another Fan of Franklin.

  • I love filet crochet. It’s soothing working through it’s patterns. And I’m sure those curtains will be beautiful as is all of your crafting. So glad you found a good place for yourself.

  • I have to say Franklin’s Letters from Paris are my favorite. I always look forward to them as I learn about the next living in Paris yarn adventure.

  • I am envious of, and thrilled for, you and your living in Paris. You filet crochet curtains sound amazing. Maybe I’ll borrow the idea for my kitchen window with some old doilies I inherited. Enjoy!!

  • Bravo Sir!!! The best kind of dilemma to have. Your new home sounds divine. Enjoy it to the max!!!

  • You are living some of our dreams!
    May each day bring joy!

  • Dear Franklin
    Your thoughts changed my plan for our sheer curtains I want to hang in our newly built cottage in a historical district. I inherited, or grabbed like a magpie, as many crocheted, tatted and embroidered pieces from my grandmother. The embroidered pillowcases are slowly wearing out, and I saved all of the embroidered borders thinking I would make a quilt of them. Now I have another approach. Thank you very much for your ideas. I am taking a new path thanks to you!!! Please post your first panel ASAP; even a WIP could provide me inspiration or courage to cut into some of the crochet pieces. I want to see your approach and perhaps enhance my approach with your tutoring.

  • I so look forward to hearing from you. I am envious of your adventures in decorating and crafting. I have always dreamed of restoring a craftsman bungalow for just my husband and myself. Kids and life got in the way…

  • Butter? One of my family members cooks with it so much that her son has declared butter to be a separate food group in their family. The choice of butter dish is, therefore, most critical. So Franklin, of course the butter dish should express the Real You! ❤

  • just love your writing and i’m a teensy bit jealous of your new life in Paris, you make it sound so perfect, i hope it is.

  • I think I wrote the same comment the last time Franklin posted a story – I Iove these peeks into life in Paris!

  • Franklin like your place and the ideas you have to furnishings. To remember history is important. Too bad in western part of the want to get RID of history. Tare down and rebuild. Looking forward to reading the update. Thank you for sharing.

  • I always love hearing from Franklin. The apartment sounds/looks FABULOUS!

  • Your flat/studio looks amazing. I also love your large windows, the plants, and the view—it must be so inspirational. Enjoy and write again soon.

  • Thanks so much for sharing your digs with us. Your apartment sounds lovely.
    Take care,

  • Loved everything you wrote. Thank you for giving me a peak inside. So grateful you are willing to share your space and your experiences. You write really well.

  • What fun, what an adventure. You are quite brave to do it. A new language, and new culture…and all within Paris.

  • I love reading your letters!

  • It does sound like you’re home. And it feels like home reading your posts. Thank you.

  • I absolutely believe to have useful and beautiful (to me!) objects in my home that speak to me, it doesn’t have to be expensive , something that makes me smile.
    I love your stories Franklin!

  • Sigh. In these days when traveling is so precarious,you have given me
    an armchair trip to Paree! And in such style and elegance!
    And I’m inspired to get to doing more crochet which has become my new love. Merci mon ami

  • I love your curtain idea. My mother crocheted half-curtains for my parents’ retirement home. She grew up in the Netherlands, and always wanted that reminder of home. After my parents died, my sister took the curtains for her row house in DC.

  • “The French word for crochet is crochet” 🙂

  • I had just found and watched your video yesterday. You are inspirational, hopefully it will get me going. Love your apartment configuration.

  • Franklin, please keep your letters coming. I love your apartment. AND filet crochet is my jam (besides knitting of course) so I can’t wait to see the progress of the window treatment. oxo

  • I love your story. Waiting for more finds.

  • Touché

  • Pratiquez la Française :). Je suis Américain, c’est l’avis que je recommande…J’espère vôtre expérience à Paris est merveilleuse !!!! L’article est très intéressant, j’adore l’histoire des pièces ! Merci merci pour le déménagement et tous les « updates »

  • I love reading you!!

  • Love your cabinet. I collect them and they are so useful for storing needlework items. Such a useful and beautiful piece of ‘furniture’. Thank you for sharing.

  • Thank you for your witty and entertaining insights into your life in Paris. Having repatriated back to USA after life in Europe (and still plotting my return daily), I am living vicariously through you. Paris was a spot our family visited often and we still chuckle over our New Year’s stay there. I second (or third or fourth) that these letters must eventually become a book!! And BTW…I am an IKEA convert…don’t hate me!!

  • I love Franklin.

  • Your writing is so beautiful to read. I spent a lot of time in Paris in my early 20s. Forty years later you are taking me back there. I think you have a book in the making. Keep writing and beautifying our world with you art.

  • How yummy is your cosy apartment filled with all you love and no doubt, a few more “must haves” will find their way there! Love, love the floors and wonderful windows….do share the curtain adventure with us as it evolves! Our first B & B in Paris was in the Latin Quarter, lovely old apartment with those beautiful floors and windows and bookcases that rose to the ceiling. A great adventure was the winding maze of narrow streets to Mariage Freres, a tea shop right out of a Harry Potter movie! Heavenly! Enjoy every minute!❤

  • J’adore reading les essaies about votre vie nouveau! Et comment it is familiar yet different from what you built before. Mais je worry still about votre lit; did you end up getting a bed pour dormir??

  • Thank you for sharing your new life in Paris! I look forward to your writings! Enjoy every moment and keep doing your thing!!

  • This was truly an inspiring and motivating post to wake up to on a rainy Saturday morning. Thank you! I am intrigued with the idea of learning more about the crocheted textiles from a time long passed.

  • I’m loving your letters from Paris, Franklin! Looking forward to more of your adventures, both inside and outside your apartment walls.

  • Filet crochet is a wonderful thing. Hubbys great aunt made his parents names and last name in filet and we still have the last name. a lace piece almost 2 feet long (framed on velvet now) Make your own heirlooms!

  • Love reading your posts Franklin. Thank you for letting me live vicariously.

  • Your new home is beautiful. I will be in Paris in May. Is there a good neighborhood for fabric shops? I am probably sewing more than knitting.TIA

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