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Dear friends,

Back in January, I wrote about beginning a knitted crazy quilt. It’s one project with two goals. First, to help lead my Patreon patrons through a battery of useful techniques from garter stitch intarsia to sewing on a lining. Second, to use up a mountain of partial balls that were languishing in my stash.

I am pleased to say that there has been considerable forward motion on both fronts. The Patreon series is drawing to a successful close, and the mountain is closer to a molehill. A hill for a quite large mole, or perhaps two to three moles of average size.

The stack of finished blocks (there are twenty four, out of the required thirty) is so gratifying to look at that I keep it on the worktable where I can see it all the time. 

Occasionally, I give it a loving pat. Or I take the blocks and scatter them across the floor, then shuffle them around into different arrangements. I think about the color combinations and patch shapes for the next blocks. I consider how I’ll embroider them, what mementoes and secret messages I’ll work into them. 

It’s difficult to express how soothing it is at the moment to have tangible evidence of progress. This project isn’t complete. It won’t be for quite some time. Still, I can see and feel the difference between Then and Now.

My progress in other areas has been less concrete, less obvious.

By “other areas,” I mean French. 

In February, I committed myself to an intensive grammar class for immigrants, one of the many “French for foreigners” classes sponsored by the city government. These classes are famously well-taught and also famously reasonably-priced. I paid 300 euros (about 375 dollars) for six months of classes, four nights per week, two hours per night. A comparable course through one of the language schools in Paris would have a price tag in the thousands.

If all goes to plan, and I pass two days of written and oral examinations at the end, I’ll have a certificate of competency that won’t expire–something that would save a heap of trouble in a few years when it’s time to apply for citizenship.

I’m doing well. I’ve completed all the written assignments (three film critiques and two argumentative essays) with high marks. Last week, I successfully delivered an oral presentation in which I argued that satirical comic strips like Astérix can have an impact on social progress equal to that of “serious” polemic art.

Note the use of the words “argumentative” and “argue.” That’s the chief goal of the curriculum: to teach us to argue in French. Considering it’s the national pastime, that makes sense.

This should mean I’m feeling absolutely great about my ability to get along in the language, right?

It depends on the day. Heck, it depends on the hour in the day.

A friend came to visit, armed with what remained of the French he learned in college two decades ago. He admitted to “speaking the language pretty well,” but in truth he spoke–as the saying goes–comme une vache espagnole. Like a Spanish cow.* Not well.

It didn’t bother him a bit. We’d go to a restaurant or a shop and he’d plow right ahead, rolling over tenses and genders like a Sherman tank, smiling the whole time. 

I felt like that once. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. Now I do, so I find myself oscillating wildly between the high of realizing I can read Colette almost as easily as I read Dickens, and the low of finding I still panic every time the telephone rings because conversational French on the telephone is a peak I have yet to scale.

Have I made progress in French? Oui? Non? Peut-être? Pas du tout?

More than once, a failure to communicate has made me dive straight into the bag of odd balls and cast on another block. In a world where I struggle daily to remember whether my umbrella is a girl or a boy, at least I know absolutely the difference between a knit and a purl. 

Does your knitting bring you similar comfort? A sense of control when otherwise you might feel that you have none? A sense of progress when otherwise you feel that you’re running as fast as you can, and getting nowhere?

Now, don’t worry. I’ll be absolutely fine, it’s just that the plumber will be here in an hour to give the water heater its annual tune-up and he doesn’t speak English and he likes to chat with me while he works and he has a Marseillaise accent and you know what I think I feel a new block coming on.



*I don’t know why Spanish cows, in particular, come in for criticism. I have yet to meet any foreign cow whose French would be good enough to get a waiter at the Deux Magots to bring over the bill in under an hour. And are French cows supposed to be good at speaking Spanish? The laughing one on the cheese wrapper looks like she could barely string a sentence together in any language. Let’s hear your English, laughing cow, if you’re so smart. I’d like to see her ask for directions on the street in Manhattan. That’s what I’d like to see. Stupid cow. Stop laughing at me. Stop it!

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About The Author

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


  • Those squares are looking GORGEOUS.

    • Quiet engaging. Wish I could say something clever in French.

    • Good luck on your upcoming exams! And…communicating via telephone is a BIG hurdle! Even in one’s native tongue, sometimes. I have a pretty good ear perhaps a step or two above une vache espagnole) but when I briefly moved from Oregon to Texas years ago, understanding the regional accent on the telephone was my biggest challenge!

      • Bon succès M. Franklin! ❤️

    • Merci!!

  • Lovely view of living the new life- and your squares’ reasons for being. Thank you!

    • Thanks for checking in! Keep those letters coming!

      • Oh my, Franklin….you bring cheer to my day! Your knitted squares are beautiful and I think it’s great to leave them out for a pat as you pass by or on the floor to arrange. I think if we surround ourselves with things we love and make us smile our “beings” feels a bit more happy and together! Kudos to you for your French classes, the longer you are there the easier it will become. I took Latin for 2 years in high school ( old nurse here ) and it was soooo boring but let me tell you I scored big on my vocabulary tests! So wish I knew a bit of French as your fun friend knew….he, happy as a clam flipping those French words out and loving the moment he’s in, feeling oh so French. On my visits to Paris I try to refresh my brain with some simple words and am so proud of myself when I wind up where I am supposed to be! Being out of our comfort level is probably a good thing, for when it’s all over we can look back and say, “hey I did sorta ok….” Happy “next knit square” with the maintence guy!
        Ellen Riordan

      • I always enjoy your frank commentary on how things are going for you in France, and I love your clever approach to keeping a tangible marker of your progress to remind you that you’re doing well. The squares are definitely symbolic of your growing mastery of French!

  • Are Spanish cows as cute as the ones in Brittany? They are spotted like pups!

    • “Sanity Squares” are a very real thing.

  • Franklin, it is 5:30 in the morning and you have started my day with a smile. The articles are what I look forward to and when done cannot wait for the next Parisian knitting adventure.
    I am knitting the Kaav cardigan. It is filled with new techniques for me to learn – steeking for one. And you are right it brings order to life and happiness.

  • My father, brilliant in many other ways, could not get past the Spanish Cow stage in French. Even after tutors were hired for him. He was so chagrined, even decades later, to admit this to me when I struggled in French class. Thanks for the memories. Your squares are beautiful.

  • Dear Franklin, it is 6:04 am here in Michigan and I began my day with your most recent and “udderly” delightful letter. Oh yes, and my first cup of coffee.

    • Knitting is wonderful. It is the reason I have two functional hands

      • I am new to MDK I absolutely adore it. Knit on!!

  • Franklin, you are the ray of sunshine that I needed to get me going on this dreary, rainy Monday! Always look forward to your letters.

  • Thank you for this wonderful share, Franklin!!!!

  • French was my minor in college. I studied from 7th grade, so I completed 10 school years of French. When I had the opportunity to finally visit France, my speech was abysmal. I actually had dreams in French, which is supposed to be a sign of fluency, but never mastered it awake. Bonne chance!

  • My world is feeling a bit out of control over here in Perth, Western Australia at the moment, but thank you for the reminder of the satisfaction we get with our simple joys, Franklin. Tangible progress- you’re so right.
    Bon chance with your exams from this Australian-American Spanish Cow

  • I think you are at the stage in French where total immersion is the best way to go. Maybe an obscure little village for a month where no one speaks English (if there even is such a place) or an actual immersion course (again, if there is such a thing these days). It also helps to build your confidence by speaking with children. They understand everything, no matter how fractured, that comes out of your mouth. So you keep on talking, which is the point. Can’t wait to see your finished quilt. I love the colors. Chloe

    • When I was learning Spanish in a small village, my landlord’s three year old daughter came to my door together with her two year old cousin. They started talking, and I replied. The three year old paused, looked at the two year old and said, “she doesn’t understand very much.”

    • Franklin,
      Your reminders hit on the right day to pull me over the edge of another ahem day…..looking forward to progress notes on that blanket, intrigued~

      Thank you for a day brightener!

  • Lovel your missals, I often go to my knitting when stressed, good calmer downer if they are words in English or any other language for that matter xx.

  • Yes, indeed, one of the joys of knitting is visible progress, and transformation.
    How lovely to see the stash pile turn into a blanket.

  • I moved to Japan after four years of studying the language in college, and stayed for six years. It was wonderful, but I never managed the level of fluency I wanted. (Especially not reading and writing!) People were often hesitant to engage with the foreigner – the only empty seat on the train would be next to me, because people were afraid I’d speak English at them if they approached. But knitting in public seemed to disarm people and they would sometimes ask if I was making a sweater for my boyfriend. (Always the opening query, no matter what I was actually knitting, whether it be a rainbow scarf or pink baby sock.)

    Now I fund my yarn and fiber stash by working as an immigration paralegal (helping people apply for green cards or U.S. citizenship, petition for their foreign fiancé/e or family member, etc.) and pride myself on my ability to tailor my speech to suit the language ability of my clients. (I’m also super interested in other people’s immigration journeys, but too polite to ask. I enjoy the nuggets that come my way, like hearing about how the certificate of competency will help you attain French citizenship.)

  • I’m feeling the challenge of a log cabin stash busting blanket that is going on and on and on. So, inspired by you, I’ve decided to fold it up to look like a stack rather than shove it into a project bag like pouring a suckling pig into spanks. It’s quite consoling. Thank you!

    • *spanx

  • Phones and numbers! Trying to listen to people say numbers and catching them! Thank you for the smiles.

  • Beautiful squares and great information regarding French lessons!

  • Yes progress in knitting or any craft helps me to not only feel accomplished but that I am getting somewhere . Blocks look gorgeous all together

  • I wish I was your Patreon! I, too, have a mole mountain I wish to conquer.

    • Is it too late to sign up and get the back episodes?

      • No! I signed up and I love it!

  • Superbl communication. And yes, my beginning knitting gives much and mostly pleasure. I learned a new thing yesterday from my MDK skills. Joyce

  • Ooh, Ooh! Shiny squirrel thing! My mountain of leftover ends may just need a crazy approach.

  • I just love reading Franklin Habit’s letters from Paris. And I love his knitting adventures. They make me want a trip to Paris, to learn to speak French and to pick up my knitting needles again.

  • As always, I laughed right out loud. In my “sampler” language class in the 4th grade, the teacher taught us the cow phrase in French. I loved French, took it in high school, where my first year teacher had a formal, Parisian accent. Year 2, my teacher was a Georgia peach. And you could not help but imitate her. (Yikes). First year in college my teacher was from Morocco. All of which resulted in a… shall we say “eclectic” accent? My final teacher forbade me from speaking out loud in class, and gave me countless extra hours in the language lab listening to recordings of people who sounded less like deckhands on a 18th century merchant ship than I apparently do. I still love French, but wow I am shy about speaking it! I’m so proud of you, and excited for you. And those squares are swoon-worthy, too!

  • Oh yes! The struggles of mastering a new languages when you are living outside your “native” country. When I first had to do speak Spanish all day my face hurt. I imagine it happens to people learning English because one uses different muscles for a whole host of different sounds. It doesn’t help when I use my Caribbean Spanish – a mixture of Dominican, Puerto Rican and Cuban Spanish- in Spain. Or Mexico. Although once after a lecture I did in Barcelona, a Cuban in the audience said- I knew You were speaking my Spanish when you dropped the “s” in escuela . And when I spent 6 months in Brazil as a Fulbright scholar,, I had studied Brazilian Portuguese for 2 years. But for the first month, there was a time lag so by time I understood what was being said, it was too late. Then one day in the neighborhood bakery the owner noted that I was finally understanding and speaking Portuguese. He was so pleased. As for understanding on the telephone, the reason that is the most difficult is not your lack of fluency. The telephone transmission cannot convey the full range of sounds. Native speakers’ brains fill in the missing sounds. But for those of us still figuring out a language it can be so difficult.

  • Ah, ya… brings back memories of 2 years in Germany. No German at the beginning. Okay, I could count up to 10 and ask where the bathroom was (but couldn’t understand the directions that followed the question). As I acquired more vocabulary it became harder and harder to attempt putting a sentence together because I just KNEW I was going to make a mistake! And … oh, the phone … it was the ban of my existence. It was the ungodly terror that lived in the hall and clicked out the Deutschmarks being charged to my account every 5 seconds, while I tried to figure out what to say. This was before the Internet. Before cellphones. Before being able to text my husband to come bail me out of a language nightmare. The first things I bought were a crochet hook and a skein of yarn, and I crocheted EVERYTHING: doilies for the table, dishcloths, lacy covers for the lampshades. It was my salvation … until I discovered that German crochet patterns are written using UK terminology, but that’s another story.

  • I lived in a small town in Quebec for 11 years and made a valiant effort to learn to speak French “comme une Québécoise”. If I ever got excited or angry, my French just disappeared! And the jokes, oh the jokes. I never did get to an understanding of those. And then, of course the telephone. I always wonder about people who speak many languages. Is it really possible to become comfortable in so many different tongues?

  • I understand your friend. I was dropped into teaching a programming class in French to supposedly bilingual students. The only language we had in common was a version of BASIC. After the first morning I stopped thinking about gender and tense. But years later I had to work with translators and froze up totally.
    Knitting has been my sanity and sanctuary for decades.

  • Franklin, once AGAIN I am sitting here with a cup of morning coffee thoroughly enjoying your latest letter. Thank you for highlighting previous letters as I tripped down your memory lane and read each of those again, smiling and enjoying them anew. I like how you meander through a project without the pressure of a finish date:) Your writing, in ENGLISH, is superb, highly entertaining and, I might add, motivating. I have a new basket of (all-the-colors!) yarn that is itching to become granny squares for a knitting bag. I am going to start those today after reading this. I would like to think that I will blindly select the next color as I go along, but it will be a mental battle to spontaneously pick one rather than planning and matching

    • A prompted memory- my dad on an overseas flight home sitting next to a unilingual Francophone. Dad spoke English Italian and and an odd French word. The two spent the entire flight talking politics and for the life of me I have no idea how they understood each other but they did. What’s more they parted friends. Dad never shied away regardless of his competency. He did however speak 5 other languages perfectly.

  • Thank you for this Franklin. Brings back so many memories of my language challenges and anxieties and also the bold over confidence. Thank you

  • When I took intensive Spanish (after many years of classroom French and Latin) one of the best “tricks” II found to challenge myself was listening to Spanish language talk radio. Do you have a French version? I’m going to check out your Patreon site now. Bonne chance avec tout le monde,

  • As always, I adore your letters from Paris.

  • Two things: check out Jean Christophe Defline, I think you’ll enjoy his Tintin-esque art and humor. Second, in 1979 after college graduation a friend got a one-way ticket to Paris and lived there about a month. A born linguist, he went from excellent in French to virtually bilingual (envy!). My favorite expression was the one he used to describe the dotty old lady whom he cared for (off the books job and place to live): Elle patine dans le choucroute. For the rest of us… she ice skates in the sauerkraut. The expression still makes me smile! And yes, I was in the Foreign Service. I could write a demarche (diplomatic note to the Foreign Ministry) in Spanish, but heaven help me if I went to the street market or needed to talk to our house-cleaner about something!

    • Hi ! I would say “patine” here means more “trying to walk but getting stuck in mud” than ice skating. Patiner is when you want to move forward but you can’t because the ground is too slippery (mud, sand, snow, ice). on top of that, choucroute is not very smooth and flat, so it is not very easy to get stuck in the situation

  • “Quelle courage!” To admit such a vulnerabilty. (I am sure I should have said “quel” but whatever.) It is good for the soul to be stripped raw after 40. Nice work! And lovely knitting blocks. My knitting serves the same soothing, structuring function. On to the conjugation and “explication!”

  • Dear Franklin,
    Your letters bring joy to my life!

  • Your squares are such inspiration! And, I too discovered that my 4 years of high school French were just enough to give me the proficiency of a not-too-bright three year old. Not to mention the father of the family I was staying with–his first language was Chilean Spanish and we would gape at each other with mutual incomprehension.

  • Such a fun letter, thank you Franklin! I’m a Patreon subscriber and a new-ish fan, its a delight to listen to your regular “Live From the Workroom” posts. Sounds like you’re doing great with your French language study. My partner who is Dutch and is fluent in French (and multiple other languages like many Europeans, grr!) has a tip for you to remember if the umbrella is a girl or a boy: (I hope this isn’t too racy for the comments) He says that the general rule is if its “big and long” its male and otherwise its female, lol.

  • Such an evocative piece, thank you! Summer internship / stage in college just outside of Paris, they put me at the reception every day at lunch, to answer the phone while the regular receptionist got a lunch break. Clients calling on the phone, numbers, names, and a switchboard. Hell on wheels.

  • Thanks for sharing. I love your thoughts about learning a language. I’m a American studying Mandarin for about 7 years. I can read, write and speak in class, but totally freeze in public. The general population never seem to be using the vocabulary and sentence structure I’m working on at the moment. I think this process must be good for our brains though.

  • A few works in process, but missing the “tangible evidence “ of progress. Love that phrase; thank you Franklin for putting into words the emotion I’ve been struggling to explain. Best wishes in your certification exam!

  • I love these letters from Franklin!

  • Gorgeous sqares. It’s a brave person who will try their French in Paris.

  • Just finished an 18 day holiday in France – I feel your pain -nothing so humiliating as that complete brain freeze when they come back at you at speed. And my holiday sock knitting in my camper has been a huge comfort xxx Love your tales from wonderful Paris Franklin xx

  • Oh my goodness, you nailed it again! YES, knitting grounds me when my days go off the rails! And the phone conversation travail is REAL! I am now speaking a lot of very bad Spanish as I support groups if Venezuelan asylees. I give them my phone number and tell them “solo mensajes de texto” because I Can read their texts but, even though I can mostly understand them IRL, phone conversations are impossible! In better news…since I bring my knitting along when I hang out with them (realizing now thanks to you that it is all about calming and centering myself), I now know Spanish knitting terms.

  • I suppose that your “Spanish cow” insult is similar to making fun/insulting those from KY when I lived in the state of Indiana (USA).

  • THANK YOU… for making me laugh at your language struggles. I tried for YEARS to learn greek … studied and even took classes at the modern school of greek language… only to fail… I can read a little and write a little but when the phone rings, someone asks me a question… I freeze.. like a spanish cow??? or a greek cow???

    I love your squares…a wonderful idea for scaps/left overs…. I am stealing it… shamelessly

  • I am glad to see that someone’s making progress! I’m trying a new-to-me technique and I’m still at the stage of knitting two rows and tinking three! (Yes, the stage at which you learn to curse fluently in several languages.) Hang in there, Franklin. You’ll be able to argue with the plumber by this time next year.

  • Two amazing accomplishments— the beautiful quilt and gaining fluency in French (it may not feel so always, but from afar it’s clearly happening)—so quickly! What a marvelous inspiration you are to us, Franklin.

  • Your blocks are beautiful! If I join your patreon now, will I have access to past installments so I can listen to all of them about how to make the crazy blanket? Thanks.

    • What is Patreon?

  • Bonne chance with your exams, Franklin! Your French has come a long way; happy arguing!

    Knitting makes me feel like I’m in control…sometimes. Sometimes I have to frog it in order to feel really in control!

  • ❤️❤️❤️ Thank you, Franklin, for the rant on cows! I shall smile all day and wonder at the language skills of the cows I meet.

  • Two things, Franklin:

    1) “Ich schpreken keine Deutsche.” I can’t write it (obviously), but I say I can’t speak German so well, in German, that Germans think I DO speak German. Led to some interesting times Teaberry in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

    2) Я очень карандаш сводная. I was a Russian linguist in the US Navy. When we began Russian language school, the fact that I was “very pencil today” did not amuse my instructors.

    Everyone has to begin somewhere in a new language, always at the bottom. Keep on trying, Franklin. It Only takes a lifetime to master. I’m going on my sixth language, ARAMAIC, after Spanish, Polish, Russian, Arabic, and Haitian Creole. (Don’t ask.) Cheers.

  • Thank you, Franklin! You are, as always, a joy and an inspiration.

  • Makes one wonder why Spanish is singled out. In German one would say, “Das kommt mir Spanisch vor.“ instead of “That’s Greek to me.”

  • Friends of ours had a military posting in Rome. I asked C., the husband, how they came to be assigned to such a desirable location. He attributed it to his wife’s immediate fluency in Italian. As he put it, “We started out in the same class. After six months, I could ask for a glass of water and directions to the bathroom. My wife could discuss philosophy.” She has a perfect accent too. The Italians could not believe that someone who looked so American sounded so Italian.

    I one had a plane-trip discussion with a language professor. He said there are two main camps of students. There are some students who are eager to communicate by talking. They don’t mind if the words come out wrong or if the grammar is not perfect. They just want to talk to people. Then there are those who read and write extremely well but are more reluctant when it comes to verbal skills. They want to wait until they can speak perfectly,

  • Thank you Franklin. Your letters are always relatable, yet slightly out of reach, in a very inspiring kind of way. I have a love affair for both knitting and all things French. It currently feels that only the knitting loves me back. To be fair, I spend less frequent bursts of interest on my study of the French language, while daily my passion pours forth into my knitting (and it shows.) I suppose that’s fair. SO very fun to live vicariously through your Letters from Paris. Congratulations on your studies, that is a very rigorous schedule! I am sure you do much better than you realize in conversation. I think personality shines through brighter than any grammatical errors, at least that is always what leaves and impression on me from others. Good luck with your exams!

  • Oh, Franklin, you are such a delight! Total lack of ego, willing to wallow right down here with the rest of us dummies just trying to keep our heads above water. (If I knew how to say “Right on!” in French I would say it right here. But I don’t so I won’t.)

  • I love this. I took 6 months of French in High School. I was terrible and I did not retain any of it. Very impressed by your progress. Thank you for sharing. I do live the guilt. I am working on one of blocks of different stitches. Fun. Wish I could say goodby in French but as I said nothing there lol. Linda Sharp in Idaho

    • Ok so I do love the quilt. Holy Mother of Pearl I make mustakes. Sorry

  • Re the curious case of the Spanish cow: I’ve read that the original phrase was “parler français comme un Basque espagnol”, “to speak French like a Spanish Basque”. Then the Spanish word for Basque – “Vasco” – reminded the French of their own word for cow, and, well, “Spanish cow” was even funnier.

  • Franklin, I’m prepping my Spanish cow skills for a visit to Paris in mid June. I will be watching for for you in the cafes and yarn shops! Your letters increase my anticipation for this wonderful trip! Thank you!

  • As always, your photos are gorgeous and provide a soothing backdrop to your tangy words. Just what IS the deal with that laughing cow?

  • I always feel better about myself and the world after a letter from Franklin. I’ve been knitting for 2 years and learning Spanish for 6. I’m willing to knit in public, but Spanish I do in the privacy of watching YouTube videos and reading graded readers. Those nasty verb tenses shut me up. May I add that I also love reading the commenters from Franklin’s letters. It’s a group hug.

  • Thanks Franklin! I love your letters from Paris! This has started my day on the right track. Um, I think I speak English like a cow. How funny as I taught English as a Second Language (ESL) in my other life. 🙂

  • I may still have how much does this cost and where is the bathroom. You’re light years ahead of me. In spite of the Marseillaise plumber.

  • I can’t wait to see all your blocks together, I’m sure it’d be stunning. I enjoy reading your French péripéties, they’re delightful. And “accent” is a boy, so it’d be marseillais 😉

  • Love it all, writing, humor, squares and of course, yarn!!

  • I’m pretty sure I was the vache espagnole the two times I visited Paris, having had around 2 1/2 years of college French and many, many years of self-practiced French plus podcasts of French lessons, but you know what? Not a single Parisian was rude to me about it, and all were kind and helpful. Take that, stinking stereotypes about Parisians!

  • Another great letter!

  • Merci beaucoup, Franklin. Avec toutes les idiomes et l’argot qu’il y’a dans la langue française, je vous souhaite à vos accomplissements.

  • Laughing cows used to ask me for directions on the street in Manhattan. Now they look at a map on their smartphone.

  • Bonjour, You are an inspiration for me in so many ways Msr. Franklin. After spending 2-3 months annually in the Côte du Rhône valley for over a decade, and trying to learn French in a weekly class in the US, I admire your commitment and progress. I can usually get the groceries bought but still can’t understand a word the strawberry guy says back to me. Je parle comme une vache espagnole aussi… but people seem to appreciate the effort and yearly progress. You are my hero!

  • Grr, internet lost my first attempt at a comment. Basically it said that you’ve made me laugh out loud twice on an English train. I have a lot of empathy for your French speaking doubts because I speak enough to understand how critical the French are of poor French speaking. But I think that it’s likely that any mistakes you make these days would be viewed as quirky and cute by most francais. I love hearing about your adventures. Thank you for sharing <3

  • What a wonderful article. My brain missed out on the language part and can’t remember a word but somehow can remember words. It sometimes is the same when I haven’t knitted awhile, I have to look up a tutorial to remember how to do a certain stitch (thank you YouTube).
    I would love to continue reading about your life there.

  • ha ha ha! My father, an Anglo from Quebec city ( whose father was FrenchCanadian) had rooster as feminine- and he had years of practice! People loved him anyway and he never lacked for conversation partners. Besides, grammar is but a set of rules and rules are meant to be broken!

  • Control? I can control my knitting and my spreadsheets. Everything else, Friends, is herding cats.

  • Franklin, this Spanish cow could write books. In my youth, 50 years ago, I did the orals and all that in Paris. apparently, according to the State Department test, I was fluent. I revisit Paris every few years, always loving it and its fluid changes of neighborhoods. In 1968, the Marais was an interesting slum. Two weeks ago, I was amazed at the compliments on my French, but I am just a cow who brings up French debris, Good for you for making the move, I am there in spirit.

  • Thank you for lending your readers both joy and courage, reminding us that we can take on challenging projects (in knitting and the rest of our lives), and reminding us that although success doesn’t appear the way it does in movies, dedication does pay off.

  • omg you are the Bomb FH!! My sides ache from laughing.

  • As always, a joy to read!

  • I’m trying to remember when I first heard the expression “Parler français comme une vache espagnole” but I cannot recall. Burt it has been in my consciousness for decades! The last time I was in France, in a small town in Central France, I managed to purchase food and goods, apparently without upsetting anyone too badly with my French. Granted, most of the shopkeepers looked at me as though I was a gentle imbecile . . .

  • We all know (or should!) that knitting saves sanity in any language. Another square anyone?

  • Indeed the knitting does help in those moments when I find my self on the ledge! As do my random collection of button jars. We’ve got a big grant going in and I find myself dumping a button jar on the table and pulling out some pretty little buttons for stitch markers.

  • I am not at all surprised that you are getting high marks and I fully expect that you will pass your final exams with flying colors as bright and beautiful as your knit squares. At one point, I aspired to understand French, but never even managed to get my comprehension up to the Spanish cow stage. Nothing is so humbling as trying to learn a new language, so bravo to you for your success!

  • That quilt’s gonna be a STUNNER…

  • I didn’t know you could take “French for Foreigners” in Paris and now I have a new life goal.

  • Truly made me laugh out loud! As a person trying to learn Italian… I can so relate!

  • I love your letters! They make me smile at the beginning of a day. Thank you!

  • Oh Franklin, you make me laugh, & you make me think. For me, it doesn’t get any better than that. Gracias, Merci, thank you.

  • “Does your knitting bring you comfort?” – Emphatically, yes. Also, I’m waist deep in an effort to pack ALL of it into storage bins where it may be inaccessible for many, many months while we forge through a major home remodel. It’s exiciting (Yay! New floors! New cabinets!) and also terrifying (Sweet mercy, my poor husband will be subjected to Me, during a major home remodel, without any calming fiber, fabrics or threads). I have a few select projects set aside to get me through the worst of the demolition and reconstruction; I hope it’s enough to keep me sane!

  • I’ve been learning English since I was 10. I’ve completed a Master’s degree in the language, and now work use it in my work on a daily basis.
    And I still called a best man the “man of honor” tonight in a conversation.

    Hang out with the people who think your accent is charming, and your little mix-ups are quirky, and screw the rest, Franklin. They’re not worth knowing.

  • I really love those block of knitting can you do crochet like those they are pretty easy

  • I love your parallel perspective on learning a language and knitting the blanket. Patch by patch, word by word… What’s your favorite french word you discover so far, Franklin?

  • Quelle charmante lettre!
    I look forward to reading your correspondence, Mr. Habit. I can relate to your pile of knitted blocks right down to the patting as you pass them! So satisfying to see and touch!

  • Love this. Right now my knitting is making me feel like it’s a foreign language though

  • Made me smile. Thank you. Reminds me of when I lived in Denmark for 16 months. Someone told me my Danish sounded like Swedish, which I understood meant I spoke Danish very badly.

  • I loved reading your letter about knitting and learning French. I started tackling the French language several years ago and this year taking the leap to an immersive 4 week course 8-5 daily in France. I’m thinking a mood or progress blanket or such might help me daily. Any thoughts?

  • I would love the pattern for the crazy blanket – for a new knitter learning the new techniques would be great

  • You are so committed.
    And brave.

  • I applaud your courage to embrace the life changes you have made. You grow and prosper in your new life. Do you ever dream in French? I ask because when I began to dream occasionally in Spanish the language was integrating into my heart and mind. It is a shame your friend failed to observe feedback like expression or body language to gage his French. I learned to watch reactions to my Spanish … I observed the listener reactions was an excellent barometer of how well this introvert communicated. I was never shy about asking for a correction. The Spanish speakers in Colombia would do this… would the French? Keep the letters coming!

  • Love hearing from you and love your squares! Thanks for keeping us updated. Good luck on your tests!!!

  • Such fun. Always uplifting. I look forward to reading these letters very much. Thank you.

  • Very grand indeed.

  • Reminds me of my time in Germany when I had to fire the gardener ‘auf Deutsch’ even though in my mind the landlord should have been the one to do it! Wrong…renter owns that responsibility. I did it…it sucked

  • As I recall from many,years ago, French on the phone, especially if numbers are involved– c’est impossible! Courage!

  • Cher Franklin –
    Bravo! Argumenter ou débattre ? Il y a une grande différence, n’est pas ? What would Simone de Beauvoir say? Just a thought and I digress!
    Great topic for your oral presentation! I agree with you about Asterix in the context that cartoons/graphics have always been able to say/deliver truth in a manner that if spoken by a person would not be tolerated — easily.

    I look forward to hearing more about your journey into French culture, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

  • Love your letters, keep them coming!
    Did I see Franklin Habit pins somewhere on the internet???
    Love the squares. Good luck with your French!

  • Love Franklin’s letters from Paris!

  • In German all cows are considered stupid: Du blöde Kuh! At least in French there are only two genders! Make it easy on yourself and simply carry 2 umbrellas! Ha!

  • Vive le carré! And long live your wonderful pontifications!

  • I believe the “vache Espagnole” insult has drifted from the original one: “Comme une BASQUE Espagnole,” or at least that’s what a Parisian friend told me many years ago as she gave the stink eye to a Basque colleague….

  • I live in Montpellier and when I try to contact someone to get a devis or make an RDV I say I am hard of hearing and prefer to be contacted by text or email.

  • Bonjour Franklin, sounds as though you are progressing normally ( that is up and down) in french. I am supposedly a B2.2 and go back and forth between being fairly articulate and tongue tied. Bon courage!

  • Having just spent a month teaching in Ireland, I am about to head to Paris and Lyon with my son to experience blissful days wandering the those beautiful cities. I have a myriad of anxieties because our French is nonexistent. Although I know this is cause for disdain by some residents – my previous experience in France includes many, many acts of kindness from residents of both cities, willing to help me out. I applaud your taking on the challenges of the French language!

  • I always enjoy your “Letters from Paris”

  • You’re a terrific writer, Franklin. I always enjoy your letters.

  • Franklin, I commend you on sticking with your effort to speak French as do the natives. During the pandemic, I attempted virtual lessons with French “tutors” on a particular website. I studied French for 4 years in high school, and 4 in college, and yet felt completely overwhelmed by what I did not (and may never) understand about the French language.

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