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Dear friends,

We’re now on the cusp of the time of year the French call la rentrée: literally, the re-entry. The term has undertones that associate it with coming home, with going back to school, with the autumn itself.

August is the great month for vacations in France, and in France vacations are sacred. They are also, by American standards, long. A month, at least.

My Parisian friends are openly horrified at the idea of a week’s “vacation”–particularly when it involves traveling long distances. You cannot even begin to relax, they say, smacking the table. They’re right, of course.

I explain to them that the American tourist in Paris is often impatient, angry, and loud because she may only have five days at leisure here. It makes the smallest inconvenience–a museum closure, a train delay, slow service in a café–a severe disappointment, because there is no margin for error. Miss it now, and you may never have the opportunity to see it again.

They shake their heads sadly. A comforting hand is put on my shoulder. Someone refills my glass and tells me it’s okay, you’re here now, you’ll be okay.

My neighborhood, which doesn’t attract many tourists, turned into a ghost town during the first week of the month. The butcher closed, then the cheese shop, then the florist, then the meh baker I go to when the better baker is out of baguettes. Then—horrors—my barber abandoned me to go see his grandmother in Turkey, as though my whiskers and I mean nothing to him.

By the second week, you could have had a nap in the middle of our main street with nobody to disturb you but an occasional wayward influencer trying to Instagram live while piloting a rented scooter laden with shopping bags. 

I’m trying to fit in around here, so I allowed myself to be persuaded to have des vacances, too. It’s essential training for citizenship. I went to Edinburgh, which I had never visited before. Not for a month, for twelve days. I don’t have the stamina for four weeks of rest.

I won’t bore you with vacation snapshots in this letter, I promise. Okay, one. I will show you one. But it has sheep in it. I don’t know what kind of sheep they are. Scottish-type sheep. They were grazing next to a parking lot, because that’s Scotland for you.

Coming back, experiencing my first rentrée, has been eye-opening. The neighborhood is still partly shuttered, but there are more people on the sidewalks; and the little children, especially, have the end-of-summer air of dread and anticipation I remember when the new school year was looming. Bookshops are touting their choices for the rentrée littéraire—things to read now that you’re home from the beach. Some re-opened businesses have put up signs that say “welcome back” or “we are happy to see you again” and for reasons I can’t quite explain, this makes my heart dance. The summer heat isn’t gone, but things look refreshed, probably because I feel refreshed.

Even my own workroom looks different. And not only because the person who promised to water my plants didn’t. 

Time and distance have given me new ideas and the energy to act on them. Some of the frustrating knitting and crochet that I was doing—projects that simply would not move forward and were making my head ache—seem less hopeless now, and can be picked up and sorted out. Others … well, I am going to be able to unravel them and move on without feeling like a bad parent. Absence has made the heart grow less fond.

I’m also going to begin something I have needed to do for a long, long time—a triage of finished objects. I couldn’t bring myself to do it before the big move, aside from passing along a few bits to friends and neighbors as parting gifts.

I have a wardrobe full of handknits, and not all of them will stay. Some of them were created during very dark hours; and while I am glad they were there for consolation, they are stunted and twisted by the ugly thoughts that passed through my head while I knit them.

So many pairs of socks, for example, that are too short in the legs because I was desperate to finish something and prove to myself that I had control over my life. And sweaters knit to fit me–except they didn’t, because I was too afraid to look at myself as I actually was.

It’s high time to let go and move forward.

I don’t know if you’ve been able to rest this summer. I hope so. If not, I hope your chance will come, and soon, and that you will be able to make the most of it.

I also hope my barber will come, and soon. Because I am beginning to look like the Evil Duke in a justifiably forgotten nineteenth-century melodrama. Les vacances are wonderful and necessary, but it’s enough already, Monsieur Akköz.



About The Author

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


  • On vacation as I write, knitting dishcloth after dishcloth. I agree that a week is too short, especially if you have no familiarity with the destination. I’m glad you had a good time, and good for you for tackling your knitwear! That takes a special kind of courage – I’m glad you found it. ❤️

  • Just yesterday I was going through the knitted things (in my mind) that need to not be waiting for me to finish as I am clearly never going to finish, and the finished ones that I will never wear that need to be given away or unraveled. Thank you for offering more motivation for me to begin. I will think of you in France being bold and weeding out, and I will try to do the same. Thank you. Oh, and sorry about your plants.

    • Fermeture Annuelle…

      • I love your writings. They lift and excite me as great writing should. Thank you so very much.

    • Good God Franklin! You are a treasure and I so wish I could come to Paris have a lovely chat with you, the better baguettes, wine and some knitting

      • My thoughts exactly!

  • So the pictures we really want to see are the absent barber before and after.

    • I agree … 😀

    • Like others, I look forward to your articles. Once again you have given me a new perspective. Thank you

  • I love the sense of quiet and renewal in your post. The finishing up, reconciling and starting anew. I head back to teaching this week after the paltry American two week vacation of peace and quiet and knitting, culling the old stuff and looking forward. Your post made me feel very refreshed thanks!

  • I love all of this for you ❤❤❤

  • I always enjoy Franklin’s posts! Your perspective is a wonderful contribution to MDK! Merci!

    • Yes, me too! Thank you, Franklin and MDK.

    • So happy to begin my week with a letter from Franklin. I look forward to them!

  • Oh, Franklin, I love you. If I can’t live your Parisian life, at least I can enjoy your humor and wisdom, your meh bakery, your Turkish barber. I’m sure he’s back by now.

  • Well done, Franklin!! I could never have imagined having a month off in my youth. Mind you that psychiatrists historically have taken off the month of August as well. That is no surprise as the specialty was born in Europe. It surprises me that the US doesn’t implode the end of every summer ha ha. But as I move through my 60s and approach my own full retirement age, I am most definitely looking forward to those long periods of time where I could just sit and it all day. And that is productive enough for me.

  • Of course there is a word for it in French! While we just say ‘back to school’ and wonder how August slithered by so fast. Thank you for your post, they are always the highlight of my inbox.

  • Ah, those FOs that don’t really fit. Thank you for airing that linen publicly. More wisdom please about the letting go?

  • Oh, Franklin, each of your posts is indeed a mini-vacation for me.

    My August this year will be in November, but it is 2 weeks of glorious Canadian train travel and time in Vancouver. All the knitting while aboard the train, and all the ‘touristing’ while in Vancouver, this is indeed a vacation!

  • Loved your comment about the stressed American tourist. If I could tell my fellow Americans anything about being in Paris for a limited time (as I have been) it would be,”Just enjoy being there. Avoid the big ticket things. Go offline. Take long walks. You’re sure to find something worthwhile.”

    • You said it, Catherine. Just walk out the door and let your feet and eyes carry you through the magic of Paris.

      • Hear, hear!

        • So agree, our best visits were the trips after we knocked ourselves out on the first go around. Leisurely walks in different areas, cafes to sit and enjoy, gentle time! Magic❤

  • I adore your missives. Thank you. Best wishes.

    • “Some of them were created during very dark hours; and while I am glad they were there for consolation, they are stunted and twisted by the ugly thoughts that passed through my head while I knit them.”
      As I read this, I felt a shock of recognition…several UFOs leapt to mind. They are toast!
      Thank you again, Franklin. Glad Mimmi is okay.

  • Ah, August. And the memories put into stitches and rows.
    After your haircut, have a fresh baguette w French Nutella for me.

  • Christmas is right around the corner. Hope and despair knits can be transformed into warmth and affection knits with just a bit of bright paper and a bow. Add a sachet of salt and lavender to banish the evil spirits, and send that knitting off to a new home.

    • salt and lavender will banish evil spirits?? good to know…we’ve had a boat load of em lately. thanks

  • I love your letters! I am so glad to hear I am not the only one that has projects that have dark moments woven into them, and yes their time has passed and they too, need to pass on! So glad you put into words my feelings exactly. That takes courage! Thank you for your letter!

  • Franklin. You’re such a welcome friend. I love to hear from you! Stay well.

  • This year has been galloping by. Thanks for the inspiration to stop, take stock, clear out things that weigh us down, and relax!

  • I sighed with recognition at the knitting “Stunted and twisted by the ugly thoughts.” This summer, my husband and I took a cruise to Norway and I took a lovely Norwegian sweater to finish. When I tested positive with Covid and isolated for 10 full days and couldn’t actually visit Norway, I thought I could at least finish this complicated knit as there would be no interruptions or distractions. WRONG! By the second day, I had put it away, as I did not want it to be contaminated by my frustration and angry thoughts.

    Fortunately, I had packed sock knitting too. For me, socks are just useful and have no emotional content. So I came out of isolation with new socks and brought home the sweater to complete when life cheered up.

    I had no symptoms and never felt sick, which was good but also annoying. And my husband, who I love dearly, is not to be trusted with yarn shopping but did find a mug with a knitting motif for me on one of his shore excursions. (He tested negative for 5 consecutive days and did not require isolation so he got to see Norway, while I could only look at it through the window of my prison.)

  • Thank for this essay and your honesty and vulnerability. I’m in a pivotal moment myself and fall is my season. I’m off to Berlin and Vienna for a couple of weeks and hope to renew my creativity through rest, variety and time spent with family. And to come home with some souvenir yarn!

  • Ahh, I always enjoy your letters, Franklin. Europe has it so right with the month long vacations. My husband hasn’t been able to take more than a day off in almost twenty years. I see what this does to him. We moved cross country last year, and he took one day off. His employer said, “You’re taking a “vacation “ during busy season?!”

  • Dear Franklin,
    Like the others, I look forward to your letters from Paris. This one especially touched me. I know about dark days, too. So glad these are behind you and glad you are ready to pass the beautiful knits on to others who will be unencumbered with the thoughts. You are so special to me. Thanks for writing.

  • Love your musings and sharing so very much .

  • Thank you, Franklin. I am breakfasting on my front porch in OH as the first of the leaves begin a slow drift down. We Americans ram through life, do we not? I dived into your missive before hopping on the lawn tractor. Thank you for helping me sit, look, and listen a bit longer.

  • I am currently on a mini-vacation with my son…visiting another of my sons. It’s one of the few times we haven’t packed our schedule and have been exploring the area at our leisure. It’s been nice.

  • I am so glad you made new friends on your trip to Scotland, even if they were grazing in a field next to a car park.

    Now, it is time for your rentrée: You could frog the stunted socks and warped sweaters to use the yarn for something else. You could use the unwatered herbs for cooking and the unwatered lavender to freshen your wardrobe. You could even thumb your nose at Monsieur Akköz — think dreadlocks…

  • My vacation seems to be reading your “letters”! Such A wonderful time!

  • I saw sheep happily keeping the grass short in the heart of Paris!
    This summer I took a long delayed knitting trip to Scotland with an emphasis on Shetland. Much too short but it has encouraged me to learn fair isle and knit all the things.

  • First I may have to move just so that I can get a vacation I feel exactly like they said. Also I left the good advice about projects that may be attached to the wrong sentiment.

  • We really have a sickness here in the US – no appreciation for a time for everyone to rest. Our entire identities get wrapped up in our work. I feel fortunate, in that I could take 2 full weeks off this summer, as well as a long weekend here and there. I realize that is a pittance in Europe, yet so fortunate by US standards. (I have 6 weeks of vacation time a year, but this came with working in the same organization for now 18 years.)

  • Edinburgh? August? Hopefully you did Fringe??!!

  • I love Franklin’s writing!

  • Your letters are absolutely the best part of my day. I drop everything, sorry kitty , to read them as soon as they appear. I am going on vacation in a few weeks but I’m participating in an art show which is hardly a vacation at all. I will squeak out a glass of wine with you in mind. Salut!

  • Such a shame about your plants (they really were lovely), but live and learn; at least you hadn’t trusted Mimmi’s care to the same person. I feel like everything you write is a personal gift. Thanks for being you.

  • Ha! I don’t have the stamina for four weeks of rest! Oh my gosh… so sadly relatable. Glad you did get 12 days away.

  • ❤️ Thank you.

  • Franklin, your letters alway “make my day”! I share them with whoever is near me when I’m reading them. I just want to thank you for the enjoyment they bring to my day.

    • I couldn’t say this better! Thank you!!

  • I read your wonderful letters aloud to my non-knitting husband… and we think about how much we loved Paris… which we have only visited in August! A magical place, a place with so much to see, admire, be moved by. I remember just wandering round the streets the afternoon we landed in a happy sunlit daze. Such a great city. Good luck with your barber!

  • The French have the right idea about vacation duration-so sad that Americans don’t get it. Thank you for the sheep shot where the grass is green, unlike here in nys where we are parched w/o rain. Mostly, thank you for your wit and excellent writing. A yarn purge is a good thing.

  • Evil Duke shall be your new name henceforth. I just got back from a 2-day (!!) vacation in Wyoming, but at least I got to hit my two favorite mountain hiking trails and buy a not-to-be-mentioned amount of yarn at the fabulous Cowgirl Yarns in Laramie. Cheers!

  • I am very much enjoying your Paris letters, like I have enjoyed everything else you have written. You are more than an engaging writer, not to mention your humor and the fact that knitting is at the core! Thank you! Oh, more lovely photos of sheep in Scotland would be great!

  • When I read your post on instagram a minute ago, I couldn’t breathe until I went to MDK and read your letter. Those words, “the time is right for letting go”. I thought you were leaving us, no more letters, no more posts. Don’t ever scare me like that again!

  • This was splendid to read. My favorite season is in the air, and this was lovely.

  • If those gorgeous items in the top photo are part of your throwaway pile, allow me to send you my address.

  • Thank you Franklin. I’m heading to Scotland soon.

  • Franklin, I’ve been practicing French on Duolingo and always think of your early posts from Paris where you weren’t sure about the language and had such a hard time at (I think) the pharmacy. I always look forward to these stories about your life in France!

  • Franklin welcome home on your re-entry! This time has always felt as if it’s the beginning of a new year, and full of possibilities. I was so sorry, though, to hear that your plants were not watered. Maybe some were at least salvageable; you had such a nice window garden. When your barber returns from his long visit with his mother I hope he brings you some baklava to make up for his absence!

  • Reading Franklin is an absolute delight.

  • Thank you for sharing your adventures. You make me smile in dark times

  • This gives me a brilliant idea for visiting Europe in the summer which is generally a nightmare of crowds at the attractions, what with all of Europe on vacation visiting the place where they don’t live. Rent an Airbnb in an off the beaten path area of a major city, go to 1 attraction every day, getting there when they open, then, as the crowds arrive, retreat to the quiet neighborhood and just walk around finding the 4 people who are not on vacation. Thanks for the hot tip!

  • Well this is serendipitous. Do you happen to know the name of the first sweater that’s folded on top in the header photo? A friend just showed a photo of what I believe is that vest in our group chat asking if anyone knew the pattern!

  • Your knit triage reminds me of finding pennies. When we found one heads up, we kept it for good luck. Tails up, we gave it a flip and let it lie. If it came heads up, the bad luck had gone out of it, and it was ready to bring luck to the next to find it. Tails up, it needed more time and marinating and the next person would have to try to give it a flip to see if it was ready for the world again.

    I think there are a lot of pennies in my house and my life that it’s also time to flip back onto the sidewalk. So to speak. Since I moved out of the city to the godforsaken countryside where there are no sidewalks.

  • I really enjoy all the posts–humorous, serious, poignant. All are beautifully written!

  • I’m going to Edinburgh next month a couple of days before a knit tour to Shetland….where should I eat wonderful food? So many yummy places to chose from. Thx.

  • Ah, Paris! Thank you for sharing your wonderful posts in the City of Light. My husband and I often dream about visiting Paris. sigh. We’re in beautiful BC Canada where it’s been much too hot!

    You describe Paris so beautifully, it’s almost like I’m there walking with you through your quiet neighbourhood. Merci ❤️ All the best going through your FO’s <3. You’re going to make someone very very happy.

  • Franklin, I love your letters from anywhere! But I truly feel Paris through your descriptions. You’ve grabbed life and knitting and adventured in a foreign land. To paraphrase Thoreau, it’s fleeting time we should be worrying about, not money. Europe has the right idea.
    Thank you for my armchair vacation. Keep your letters coming.

  • Thank you. Letting go … it’s time.
    Thank you for the glimpses of your life and the Parisians.

  • Ahh… life in a civilized country!

  • Dear Mr. Habit,

    Things have been rough for awhile now, and just recently got even rougher. Through it, though, your letters from Paris have been a source of hope and consolation. I hope, I trust, that the people for whom I knit during this time will see only joy in every stitch. But I’ll always know it was fear, loss, bitterness and anger.

    Thank you for writing so beautifully, and for sharing it with us.

    Heather Immoor

  • Highly recommend using Plant Nanny’s with plastic or wine bottles!

  • I’m sitting at Charles DeGaulle waiting for my flight home to Michigan as I read your wonderful blog. Sharing many of your thoughts (and laughter) with my fellow travelers as we all are not ready for nos vacances to end. Thanks for the words that encourage me to believe I’ll be refreshed and ready to pick up normal life again when I wake up in my own bed tomorrow morning!

  • Sheepies of Scotland! Even from the car they look like a different breed of sheep – my spouse and I think it’s all that green grass they get to graze on. Which is also why the milk and cheese is so much better over there than here in America. I’d have loved more than one photo of your trip to Edinburgh, but the Scottish sheep were a lovely choice!

  • I can hear the relaxing and unraveling in your tone. So beautiful. I hope your rentreé goes smoothly. We Americans still hold this Puritanical work ethic that’s killing us. I am learning from my European colleagues. They take three full, unapologetic weeks off, without checking email. They phrase their out-of-office messages that upon their return, they will need at least 48 hours to work through all their emails. I’m not there yet, but I’ve at least stopping working while on vacation (I do still occasionally peek at the emails.)

  • I so look forward to reading your letters!

  • I always look forward to your letters and your take on life as it is. Anything knitting that is thrown in, is a bonus. Thanks for being you.,

  • Now that’s why I subscribe to MDK! Thank-you…that helps.

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