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Dear friends,

Last month, my Letter from Paris wasn’t from Paris. This month, my Letter from Paris isn’t even from France. Will you forgive me when I tell you it’s absolutely crammed full of yarn?

I took the high-speed choochoo to Germany for a quick visit to Cologne, to see the international trade fair for “creative handicrafts” known as h+h. That’s how the organizers insist upon writing it, in lowercase with a plus sign.

The first h stands for handicrafts (handarbeit, in German), the second for hobby (hobby, in German). What that really means, for the most part, is yarn + fabric + all the stuff you need to play with them.

As a trade fair, h+h is meant to bring together manufacturers and retailers. It’s where a yarn shop owner can go in order to get both a broad view of industry trends, and a close-up look at new products they might wish to offer their customers.

In theory, anyone can buy a ticket. In reality, if you’re a hobbyist hoping for a shopping spree, you’ll come away disappointed. There are no retail sales, only wholesale orders. And if you’re not in a position to buy wholesale, the hard-working salespeople are unlikely to give you much of their time–nor, of course, should you expect them to.

Me, I occupy a weird space in between the amateurs and the retailers. I’m part of the industry, but I don’t own a shop. And while I do occasionally turn out patterns, mostly for my Patreon patrons, I’m not the sort of designer who will make the rounds with a portfolio hoping to snag a contract with a yarn company.

I probably wouldn’t have gone unless the owner of my neighborhood’s yarn shop, Les Tricoteurs Volants, hadn’t mentioned that he had an invitation available and was looking to split a hotel room. Cologne is an easy three-hour ride from Paris, and I was curious to finally see the famous show for myself. Plus, I was promised currywurst. So why not?

Yarn Sprawl

In a word, h+h was enormous–dwarfing even the most elaborate fiber shows I’ve ever attended. It took up three entire floors of the Cologne Exhibition Center. 

The pipe-and-drape booths we’re  accustomed to seeing in spaces like this are actually forbidden at h+h. This is the Big Time. Exhibitors are required to furnish their spaces with solid walls, and indeed they do. The largest companies splash out on full-on temporary showrooms, complete with stylish lounges and private offices for client meetings.

You could easily think you’ve wandered into an upscale megamall catering exclusively to yarn and fabric nuts.

Lounging at Filati

Describing even half of what I saw would take a whole series of letters. Better I should confine myself to highlighting a few major trends I noticed, trends that may well be coming to a yarn shop or show near you. Please note: I’ve given as much information as I could gather (and that am allowed to share) about the things I photographed. 

Crochet Has Arrived

No, crochet itself is not a mere “trend.” But the amount of crochet was encouraging for those of us (including me) who love it. If it wasn’t (yet) quite on a fifty-fifty footing with knitting, it was awfully close.

from Sirdar (left) and Langyarn (right)

Mainstream fashion’s embrace of the granny square has certainly helped, but the diversity of crochet techniques on display went far beyond the basics. You’ll see more in the photos that follow.

Big Yarn

Clearly, the guiding principle of the moment is large, beginning with the yarns themselves. Bulky and chunky weights were featured everywhere …

… along with quite a few yarns that can only be described as gigantic.

Alize’s “Puffy More”(clue in the name) was notable among the superhuge novelties for being engineered to create double-knit fabrics using only the fingers–no needles!

This will not be everybody’s cup of tea, and I can’t imagine how on earth you fit balls of yarn two feet wide on a yarn shop shelf, but I noticed that there was always a queue of retailers waiting to try it for themselves.

Big Textures and Patterns

Textures from Lana Grossa, Lana Gatto, Mirasol, Tropical Lane

Quite a few of the bulky weights were designed to produce striking textures even when knit into simple fabrics. 

Jackets in Acrowools “Ganga” (left) and La Mia “Big Bang” (right)

And regardless of yarn weight, both color and texture motifs were unashamedly oversized.

Color work and lace from Marianne Isager

Big Blocks

Given this growing demand for bold effects, it was no surprise to see color blocking absolutely everywhere—spotted above from Lotus Yarns, Rowan, and Kamgarn.

Bright blocks from Schachenmayr.

And at La Mia, a texture and color smash-up.

Kidwear! Brights from Sirdar and kitties from Himalaya bode well for intarsia, which has been in a fitful eclipse since the early 1990s, to make a comeback.

Big Brights

And finally, the color palette of the moment is also swinging to the vivid end of the scale. If you’re of an age to have dressed yourself in the heyday of Flashdance and MTV, a few of the pieces above may have stirred memories (for good or ill) in the deep recesses of your brain. 

Because the colors of the 1980s are back  from Filati Moda, Katia, Kamgarn, and Lang.

From Mondial

You may well have noticed by now the oversized fit, complete with drop shoulders.

Loose at Lotus Yarns

So What Does This Mean?

Now, listen. Maybe this has you all excited and you don’t know how you’re going to wait the three to six months it will take for these things to reach shop shelves.

On the other hand, maybe you spent the 1980s looking like a candy-colored oven mitt,* and you will eat your own knitting bag before you will ever wear drop shoulders again.

Keep in mind that trends are only trends, not rules. You take from them what you like, you leave the rest. For example, my days of wearing neon are over, but I’m not averse to stitching a bit of fresh intarsia into my wardrobe.

As always, the person who decides what you’ll knit and how you knit it is you. Your thoughts? 



*For reference, see any portrait of me from middle school. Except you can’t, because I have burned them all.

Encore du Franklin

Letter from Paris: La Fête de la Tonte

Letter from Paris: Que veux-tu vraiment?

Letter from Paris: Ribbed Mitts

About The Author

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


  • A letter from Franklin always brightens my day:)

  • Love reading your letters. And the Ganga looks intriguing. Being older than you, when the 70s trends came back, (my youth) i asked my mom, “Were they really that ugly.” Her reply, “Yup”

    • A mad cap way to begin the day – always a delight… thank you Franklin!!

    • My first thought: Huh, it’s weird for them to insist on lower case when nouns are always capitalized in German. Almost subversive.

      My second thought: Solid walls?! Holy sheep! I can’t even begin to fathom the cost of that (and if that had been a requirement here back when I was doing shows, that would have been the end of me doing shows. Which might have been just as well…)

      My third thought: Ok, some of those sweaters are cute. Some of the clothes from the 80’s were hideous, some were absolutely awesome (hey, I’m still a punk at heart), and there was a lot of in between. I like the Langyarn cardigan – the colors, how it mixes crochet and knitting, the overall look. If I didn’t have my next 5 (10?) years of knitting queued up, I might add it to the list.

  • The intarsia kitties! Love ‘em!
    What’s great view of the near future in knitting, thanks!

  • Letters from Franklin are always a delight! Thank you for beautiful photos of what’s to come…I love all the texture!

  • I still have my Christian del Farbe pattern book…. flecks of neon in electric blue aran used to knit a double breasted cardi with the most enormous leg-of-mutton sleeves- & the typical 80’s drop shoulder silhouette but knitted in bright bright textured entrelac – I loved it as a teenager, not so sure it’s look so great on me now….

    • Big stitches are always easier on the older eyeballs and we’ll see about the neon colors!

  • Ooh la la!! What a collection! 60’s pop colors with 80’s structure…I can’t wait to see some new patterns emerge in the US. Thank you, Franklin, for the inspiration.

  • Thanks for the update. Always fun to sneak a peek at what’s coming up. Lovely photos as always.

    • I never stopped knitting intarsia, so I’m looking forward to being on trend for a while!

  • Thank you so much for this letter!! I was in the fashion business for many years (before fast fashion) and reading this was a delight. I am looking forward to my fall knitting.

  • Wonderful post!! Head spinning. I know a “simple” review like this takes a LOT of thought and work. Thank you. PS: if you wanted to do a few more with some of the photos you didn’t use, that would be great. Merci

  • Currywurst? Good lord.

    • Never had it in Germany, but tried at the Chicago Chriskindlmarkt. It was good! Basically sliced bratwurst in a spiced tomato sauce/ketchup. We make it at home every once in a while. The bratwurst is the white precooked kind.

      • Currywurst is the poorest of all Wurst! The really good ones are to be eaten in Bavaria. Especially those from Nürnberg!

  • COLOUR AND CROCHET ? Yes please!

    • The Lotus yarns sweaters look amazingly cozy – that fuzzy halo! Looks like super brights are coming our way. I can’t complain!

      (And Franklin, really no neons? Not even on socks?)

  • Yes, more photos if you can. How exciting to see all the photos and the bulky yarns. I do love your newsy letters

  • Thank you for this. It kind of, sort of, makes me wish I had saved a few of my hand knits from days long ago, but not really. (I did own more than one sweater made up of granny squares). Very fun to see this.

  • So excited. I can revive the mid-80’s Alexander Julian oversize color block sweater. And the shaggy black mohair with metallic yarns that my husband (not so affectionately) refers to as my New York sweater.

    Thank you for sharing this event. I love some of the interpretations. Rowan always comes through for me and Loose at Lotus Yarns might have some potential. Which designer did the first, colorful bulky yarn sweater (to the left of the gray one, under the crochet)?

  • Oh golly, I thought the purpose of fashion was to flatter you, but apparently it is mostly to shake up your world in order for you to BUY new stuff. Those granny squares look exactly like those from the ‘70’s. Why-y??? Although there was a beautiful – subtle – granny square pattern in Interweave Crochet about 10 years ago that almost made me want to learn crochet. If I can unearth it I will get back to you, in case anyone wants to “echo” current fashion without being chained to it. Alas, I have to keep reminding myself that my age-group is at the narrow tip of the triangle and there are a whole bunch of folks at the broad bottom for whom all this seems “fresh”. THANK YOU, Franklin, for this peek into this famous Cologne trade show. It almost feels as if I were there. Chloe

    • Loved this post. Thank you Franklin. Loved the 2 sweaters by mondial towards the end of the article. I guess I can pull out my 90s pattern books.

  • Glad I kept my early Kaffe Fassett kit sweaters ! More subtle colorings – but big shapes and patterns are back – love it!

  • Thank you for this behind-the-scenes peek!! Love it!!!

  • Thanks Franklin! I loved your live presentation as a Patreon subscriber also. But this trend is definitely not for me, in fact I could hear myself thinking, this must be in Europe, can’t possibly be trending across the pond soon?? Or could it. I’ll stick with the styles along the lines that MDK posts.

    • Usually It’s just the opposit way!

  • What a wonderful “trip” for me this morning! How I love that lime-colored pullover. Any idea as to pattern and yarn? And as for the kids’ sweaters, it’s just a shame that that kitty sweater is sized only for … kids. Best always, your huge fan in Virginia, Susan

    • I hope that a pattern for the lime green pullover is released soon. It’s fabulous!

      Great post, Franklin!

    • I loved that lime green one as well! What a great pattern.

  • That lime green turtleneck is fabulous!

  • No human was seen in these looks? I’m not surprised! No one wants to look like A sofa from the 80’s either! Love your stories!❤️

  • thank you for sharing, as always. 🙂

  • I was just thinking the other day that I have to dig out my 1986 Vogue Knitting magazines. I’m keen!

    • Yes!

  • Great pics! So fun to see all these bold ideas.

  • Thanks, Franklin, the colors are great, but I’m one of those people who spent the 80s in unflattering oversized pullovers (on a small person, 5’1″ in my socks), and I’m not going back to that shape! Still, I could see incorporating some of the color and pattern play into a vest or short cardigan.

  • Oh my! I am definitely on the side of never wearing neon or drop shoulders ever again, but I was taken by several of the large-texture items you pictured. I am hoping to see some of those patterns emerge eventually into the wider world! Thanks as always for a fun and educational letter.

  • Yes!!!! More color! The world needs more color right now! I love your articles

  • I just finished a sweater in bigger (thought not this big – but big for me) and a touch of (what I grew up calling) hot pink. I find it so interesting when my own cravings and fashion shifts coincide. Have I just been primed for this, or do designers et al tap into something in the zeitgeist?

    • My latest sweater is hot pink, and I have a fresh small stash of lime green, neon lime green! Zeitgeist indeed!

  • At least they aren’t trying to bring back the two colors that ruled the late 1980’s: Wedgewood blue and mauve. You couldn’t escape them. They were on frying pans, dog leashes, underwear, office supplies, and more. They were enough to make you nostalgic for the neon colors!

    • Oh, yes, I was deep into the “Country Blue” and “Dusty Rose” in my teen years. My mom had all the blue kitchen appliances with geese on them. Went off to college, and entered my “sophisticated” Mary Emmerling phase with tartan plaid, chambray, and lots of white linen with eyelet. Ooof.

    • There are several car companies now with a paint color that is a close approximation of that chalky Wedgewood blue.

    • Ha! I so agree!

  • I feel as if I was there! Your ability to express a big experience succinctly but vividly is just lovely.

  • Pretty much just ‘Wow’! Except…..have never been a fan of granny squares, not even in the 60’s, 70’s or now. But drop shoulder, yes!

  • That cable-y lime green is my favorite. Otherwise, you’ve reminded me I can get currywurst at the Omaha German American Society Maifest.

  • Thank you for the amazingly colourful tour!

  • I felt like I was right there with you! Thank you, this was so fun to see.

  • No no to those evil shoulders. Yes to the crochet. No to clashing neon that you spot reflecting off the nearest gas station window. Yes to the flow of colors or a limited amount. But as I read somewhere – if you remember the craze the FIRST time be careful putting it on YOUR body the next time.

  • Thanks for the walk through h+h. The Rowan striped cardigan and color-block scarf look nice(I’m guessing the designer is Georgia Farrell)but most of the other designs and colors are causing me rather frightening flashbacks to the 70’s and 80’s. Living through that once was enough.

  • Thank you, this was a fabulous treat! I’m not much of a bulky yarn knitter but great to know what my stylish young adult children will be requesting for next winter. Your columns are always my favorites!

  • Inspired by all of it. Even the stuff I would never wear. Thank you.

  • Love the update – and glad to know the bulky bright blue sweater I’m making for my son will be very on-trend when he starts college in NYC this fall. Especially among the artistic crowd he’ll be running with. Thanks for letting us live vicariously through you, Franklin. It’s a treat every time!

  • Always a delightful read.

  • I knew there was a reason I kept my stash of super bulky Colinette yarn in bright colors! At last my time has come!

  • ahh currywurst…good memories. Hope you enjoyed the wurst as you clearly enjoyed h&h and communicated that enjoyment of the show. Thanks.

  • Are there patterns available or did I miss them?

  • That was great!! Loved seeing all the styles. Everything old is new again, as evidenced by the brief resurgence of bell bottoms and tie dye. However, there is usually something for everyone and luckily we all have different tastes so there’s plenty to go around.
    thanks for your great take on life.

  • All my thanks – someday I will attend h+h, but until then I have you, Franklin, as my eyes and ears on the scene. Meanwhile, I still have ALL my ’80s knitting mags and books (VK, Rowan, Anny Blatt, Christian de Falbe . . ), several of my own ’80s handknits in good shape, and still love neon, so I’m ready to roll for Fall/Winter 23-24.

    • Oh, how could I forget? I also have all my ’80s books from Patricia Roberts and Alice Starmore. SO ready to roll.

  • Absolutely love Franklin’s letters both in french and en anglais. The designs and colors, textures are beautiful. It even caught the eye of my 25 yr old daughter, who is hard to impress! Keep traveling Franklin!

  • So very glad we have you to hunt down these incredible finds and share them all.

  • Thank you, Franklin! Your post was a gift on a very dreary day here in Baltimore.

  • I so enjoy your letters, Franklin. Thank you. Even though I can’t imagine making most of the sweaters pictured, I loved your collection of photos. The colors and styles are throwbacks to an era I would not choose to repeat, but a delight to envision for a new generation of knitters and crocheters. Really just a fun look into fashion forward knitting. I will probably stick to my more muted woolly wools, but thanks again, as always.

  • I enjoy your Letters from Paris. I am wondering if there are any pattern names for the sweaters you photographed? The green one with the wavy diagonal lines is very interesting.

  • I would love to know pattern names!

  • Did Enrico share with you what he plans to add to his shop from these offerings? I can’t see him in any of those unstructured, oversized pieces, never mind those colors; but! I’m thinking you’d have to dress in those if you wanted to sell your new stock? Was the entire show dedicated to this “new” trend, or just most? Very, very interesting. Thanks so much for thinking of all knitters worldwide!

  • What a treat for the eyes! thank you!

  • I would love to see those granny squares you wrote about a year or more ago! They were so beautiful!

  • I LOVE FRANKLIN HABIT. His sense of humor and style are the best!!!

  • I love it all! I am a compact woman with an outsize personality and an undeniable love of color so I am here for ALL of this. Thanks for allowing us to live vicariously!

  • As usual Franklin your posts are hugely entertaining. This is wonderful and I’m so happy you got to share all this new stuff. But as you say, once you’ve done the big shoulders, oversized everything, I’ll just walk on by, thanks for sharing.

  • Thanks for sharing

  • Thanks for the tour, Franklin! I’m hopelessly un-trendy, but it’s fun to see what’s going on out there. Those retro colors are retro, but not exactly the same as the last time we saw them, so you can’t use your ancient stash. Of course not.

    I’m still wearing an ancient oversized sweater over leggings from the 1990 or so, but it’s in a classic Harrisville yarn.


  • OMG – I was SO PROUD of my Neon sweater in 1985. Neon pink that leaned toward orange. Boat neck (or maybe cowl?), crop length, 3/4 wide sleeves.

  • This is so fun! Thank you so much for putting all of this together. I loved all of the sweaters, etc. and as you said so eloquently, take what you like, leave the rest for others. I am curious if Enrico made any purchases. I’ll be waiting to see and stalking his online portion of his store.

  • Somewhere I still have my Calvin Klein/Rowan hand knit cotton(?)) Vogue Knitting sweater.
    Knit before I even knew of circular needles …
    Hope you got to visit the Dom in Koln!

  • I am so glad you went to this, wow, we are being exposed to so much with you, thank you very much. I am greedy for more more more

  • Totally agree! I too spent the 1980s looking like a candy-colored oven mitt, and will never wear drop shoulders again. It look like a German sausage casing and Almost as bad as sparkle rhinestones on butt pockets!

  • Thanks for sharing your adventure. Fun and colorful !

  • The best thing about all this is the inspiration. Once again, you’ve given us heaps of that!

  • I loved every one of these yarny delights. To walk through such a vast display of creativity boggles my mind. You must have been transported to fantasy land. The sheer effort, talent and MONEY it took to present and stage all of this is mind blowing. How I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall! I’m so glad you got to go and especially happy you shared it with us.

  • The colors are very fun but I imagine I will keep my head down and continue to go for elegance and simple shapes. Wow! Having been through the 70/80’s my next fear is that hair will expand to large and bulky too. Thanks for dipping into the trends and fun.

  • WOW

  • What is the name of the pattern for the first green pullover in Big Textures and Patterns?

  • What a wonderful tour! I have never crocheted anything but granny squares, but I’m about to start! I love the colors; the big yarn, not so much. For garments, they always make me feel like I’m a linebacker. But, I will keep an open mind.

  • What a lovely way to get our creative juices flowing! Thank you, as always, for your brilliant writing and insights. I will forever more consider a pattern and yarn choice by how willing I am to eat my knitting bag.

  • Bright, saturated colors after so many years of grays, tans, and dull-hued pastels leads me to think that a flicker of optimism is returning to our world.

  • Merci beaucoup for sharing. I was in Cologne last week looking for lys but our tour did not find any.

  • Purple, orange, and mustard.
    Be still, my heart..

  • Love your letters, even when you’re out of town

  • Lovely! It must have been quite a site. I could do without a re-visit of the 80s styles, but that orange, lime, navy sweater/scarf combo under Big Blocks is scrummy! Kit me up!

  • Ugh, drop shoulders… The widest part of my arm sporting a big and bulky horizontal seam. Uh, no. Plus the extra yarn to make it and its other shapeless companions is punishing. I welcome the swing back to more tailored garments.

  • And I have just unearthed my 1985 Pingouin pattern mag. Stash opened, needles ready.

  • Lovely to hear from you Franklin, but I must say my knitting bag is looking might tasty right now! I remember 80s fashion and I remember being grateful that I was in the Navy and could avoid most of it. Still trends come and go, so no worries. My days of people telling me what to wear are in the distant past. The big texture is interesting though, so maybe…

  • Ooh…something new to aspire to…a candy-colored oven mitt. That cracked me up. Thank you.

  • Woohooo! I’ve kept my favorite knits from eons ago long enough for them to have come back in style!! But this is the last time I’ll be wearing them. Promise!

  • Love your comment about the 80s – off to eat my knitting bag and burn the photo of me “modelling” an oversized pink mohair sweater for a knitting pattern c. 1985 complete with crazy permed hairstyle! Big jumpers and even bigger hair ….what were we thinking?

  • Love, love your letters and it does look like color is popping out all over! Love the short jackets ala Chanel and the yarns and colors are fabulous! Maybe just as well the yarns are wholesale…..

  • Thanks for sharing! I love all the large cables and texture!

  • I think color blocking was huge a few years pre-pandemic? I feel like I saw it in all the stores a few years back. Depending on how it’s done, I think it can look decent but it’s not really my cup of tea. Thank you for the tour though Franklin! I would have liked to hear about the curryworst though – that’s a new one to me!

  • Thanks for sharing your adventures Franklin! Fascinating to follow as always ❤️.

  • Love reading your letters…I’m so unfashionable and I’m just fie with that! LOL

  • I’ve always been curious about h+h – you gave a very good description. I do miss a good trade show.

  • Heh. Oh, you’re not likely to catch me in those colors ever again! (Or parachute pants…or all that lace, or pastel camp shirts, or……)

    But I like seeing what you bring to us with your eye and your camera and your writing. I bet it was a lot of fun, taking all that in.

    I did like the gigantic cardi with the thin multicolored stripes. Maybe I’ll make one, it’s been too long since I’ve made a sweater.

  • I like the texture of the very first sweater, but I’d use a solid color. No more big neon sweaters with polyester pants and big hair for me, lol. Funny thing though, I found a Kaffe Fasset pattern book recently and was thinking about using a single band of one pattern in a sweater… I never gave up on granny squares, but I mostly use them for blankets. I remember granny vests, were there any of those?

  • Absolutely with you on dropped shoulders…..

  • So Much oversized everything! And on a tiny frame…..daunting. But I becoming a fan of all of the textures! Love the photographs!

  • I agree. What I knit and how I knit is me. Wow. A big ball of this fat yarn will sell for much more than a regular size ball. Good for shops, I think.

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