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Dear friends,

February has flown, and so have I. Back and forth across the Atlantic.

I spent a week in New York City, teaching at one of the largest and best-known knitting shows on the North American circuit–Vogue Knitting Live.

That show and I have a history. I taught at the very first one. In fact, it was my first engagement at a large event, joining a faculty that included at least a dozen of my personal idols. I sat quiet and saucer-eyed in a corner until one of them noticed me and came over to introduce herself, whereupon I jumped up and spilled my orange juice down the front of her gorgeously cabled cardigan.

What better way to announce one’s arrival on the scene?

Since then, my sample case and I have traveled thousands of miles. I, the Spiller of Orange Juice, have on many occasions become the Spilled Upon.

But teaching in person, which used to be all in a day’s work, is now a novelty. I had dreadful jitters at the prospect of going back into a classroom. Nightmares, panic attacks, even hives.

At the event, the students could not have been kinder. If anyone noticed my shaking hands, nobody said anything. We got to work. We knit to fit, we played with color, we boldly cut up our knitting in various ways. I was delighted, and honestly surprised, to find myself having fun.

Sparkle, Franklin, sparkle!

All those hives for nothing.

Meanwhile, New York was right outside. It’s a city that overwhelms a lot of people, I know. Me, I find it energizing. Floating down any given street or avenue on a wave of light, sound, and motion gives me the thrill that some folks say they get from whitewater rafting or playing yarn chicken. It electrifies every part of my brain at once. Bracing. Invigorating.

The Empire State Building plays peekaboo.

Wandering around, I inevitably began to compare New York and Paris. I wondered how I would explain New York to my French friends who’d never been there.

Both cities are crowded. Both cities are noisy. Both are constantly battling grime, crime, and pigeons. Both have populations unfairly maligned for being unfriendly.

New York is taller. Paris is deeper. New York glitters. Paris glows.

Both, above all, are cities that can drive you to the brink two or three times a week. You’re just trying to get through your day, what should be a normal day, and the city decides to play a nasty trick. A simple task ties itself into a Gordian knot. You rage, you bite your knuckles, you curse the ground and wonder why the heck you ever wanted to live here.

You think about all the nice, easy places you could be living.

And you realize that no, actually, there is no other place. This is home, and that’s that.

Traveling Stitches

Meanwhile, I was knitting when and what I could. 

Last month, I wrote about a personal breakthrough long ago that involved a pair of lime green socks. These days, lime green is my navy blue. I turned the heel on the second of these on the way to New York, and grafted the toe as I landed at Charles de Gaulle on the way home.

The stripey parts are Canon Hand Dyes in a colorway called “Trick or Treat,” with heels and toes made with what’s left of the blue yarn I used in my Jane Gaugain mitts

Understated hosiery for the discreet gentleman.

I feel so thrifty, using up my odd balls. The sack of them continues to shrink rapidly as I work on my knitted crazy quilt…

If it sits still, I’m knitting it into this quilt.

And since I can’t bear to be without a sock on the needles these days, I went ahead and started another pair. Given the choice of three different skeins to vote for, my Patreon patrons decided that I should use this vibrant yellow.

Oink Pigments Oink Sock  in “Sunny with a Chance of Peaches”

I’m pairing it with this mystery candied violet out of stash.

Easter Bunny Vibes, Yo.

I know, I know. But listen, darling–compared to what you see walking around in my neighborhood, this is practically camouflage.

More soon.



About The Author

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


  • Thank you, always, for sharing your adventures and colors with us! That yellow is going to be FAB!

  • I LOVE the colours of your socks. Lime green has my heart though. It’s the colour of my childhood idol, Kermit the frog. The colour of kindness and acceptance and love. Lime green has your back, even when you didn’t know you needed it to.

  • You make me want to ride a unicycle and eat croissants! Thank you!

  • Your posts are always such fun! Wasn’t VKL fun?! Thank you so much for this Franklin!!!

  • Love the yellow and purple…but then again, my beloved New Orleans and I just survived another Mardi Gras. Throw ina bit of your green, and you’ll have my wardrobe for the past month.

  • Love your comparison of NYC to Paris! Great article overall.

  • As always. SO. MUCH. FUN! Merci!!!

  • As a New Yorker, I very much want to go to Paris now and make that comparison 🙂

    Is there an RSS feed for Letters from Paris, so I can read new posts without relying on Twitter for notifications? I’m spending less and less time on Twitter, for Reasons™… but I don’t want to miss out on your Letters!

    • Ahoy Knitting Pirate! There is no RSS feed for Letters from Paris, but if you sign up for Snippets we send you a Saturday morning email digest that has links to all of our posts for the previous week, so you don’t miss a thing. There is also an option for daily new post emails. Here’s the signup:

      • Sweet, thank you! 🙂

    • Feedly!

      • Another vote for Feedly. You can subscribe to MDK’s RSS feed and see ALL their interesting posts. And you can use the search button at the top right to search for “Franklin Habit” and see his previous posts. No need at all for Twitter.

        • I’ve used Inoreader since Google Reader was killed 🙂

  • Love your comparison of NY and Paris. Both cities I also love.

  • I love that you paired that yellow with the purple. Great combination!

  • Love both NYC and Paris. But NYC is where I go for my “Big. City. Fix.”

  • Hi! Could you advise me on the name of sock pattern used in your trick or treat socks. The simplicity of the pattern is beautiful. Thank you!

    • Jacqueline,
      I usually use “Sock Recipe: A Good, Plain Sock” by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee which looks the same as Franklin’s. It’s in her book Knitting Rules! and not a free pattern. I learned to knit socks from that book, and it was easy for me to understand. I found this free pattern on ravelry that looks similar: R0333 REGIA Sock Guide Sockenlehrgang – but maybe harder to understand.
      Franklin, Enjoyed the article – and love the bright socks and the using-up-scraps inspiration.

    • Hey, thanks for asking! I knit my socks using an old formula-based method – so there’s no really pattern. It’s just plain stockinette with a “common” or “Dutch” heel – the square flap followed by a heel turn. I would point you to somewhere specific, for the formula, but at this point I just knit socks out of my head and my version is a mash-up of different suggestions I’ve encountered over the years. In this case, all the heavy lifting is done by the yarn.

  • Merci beaucoup, Franklin! Reading an epistle from you is always such a wonderful way to start the day!

  • Thank you Franklin! I love reading your posts, NY did overwhelm me a bit, yet it was so energizing. It took me a week to recover once I got home.
    You may have spilled OJ on someone…I happened to be the one who scared the bajeezes out of you as the elevator door opened and you were standing there–I screamed “FRANKLIN!!!” Sorry, if I nearly gave you a heart attack.

    • Ha ha! No cardiac crisis. It was actually really funny and sweet. I’m so happy you enjoyed NYC, too 🙂

  • I love your NY observations. ❤️

  • always a better day when we receive one of your posts! Love the socks & socks to be…now feeling inspired to gather my bits & pieces of yarns and create colorful magic!

  • Hooray! It’s raining and Monday but I get to start my day with you Franklin!!!!! Knitting those beautiful yellow and Peeps,
    I mean purple socks! Gorgeous! Thank you for your words that always makes my day better!

  • Great way to start the day!
    Thank you!!
    Fabulous socks!

  • Thanks for your somewhat twisted humour – exactly what I like: a bit tongue in cheek, a bit sarcasm and above all “unassuming” language… love this low key: “understated socks for the discreet gentleman” = you in a nutshell :-)). Perfect!

    • Perfect!

  • That doily!!!!!
    Thanks for the rubbing it in that I’m currently neither residing in NYC nor visiting Paris.
    I did however, once spill a bottle of nail polish remover on someone’s freshly refinished family heirloom table. I bet the orange juice washed out. So I’m taking that as a point on you.

  • Interesting. I live in St Paul MN which, with neighboring Minneapolis are referred to as the Twin Cities. Everyone is forever explaining, however, why the two are nothing alike. The local football team’s colors are purple and gold. So your new socks are very Twin Cities as well.

  • Sweet colors. And I’ve felt that way about teaching, all teaching, all my life. It’s a snap now. Mostly

  • I love when a Franklin Habit letter shows up!

  • I love when your letters show up!

  • Loved that first VKL too! Glad you had such a great time this year! New York glitters…Paris glows. What a perfect description.

  • Those striped socks are amazing! I absolutely love the colours. I’m glad that your returning to teach IRL was a good experience.

    We also found the people in NYC and in Paris mostly great (like everywhere else really). In fact, on one NYC street I saw a walking commuter go out of this way to help a blind pedestrian get to the right crossroads and, in another instance, a big man had to help pull me onto a crowded subway car, as I am intimidated by crowds and was loaded down with a big backpack – I probably had my deer in the headlights face on).

    Can’t wait to see your knitted crazy quilt.

  • Franklin, you are looking fabulous! Paris obviously agrees with you.

  • Franklin, we just moved into a new house in a new city on Saturday. You inspire me! If you can move to Paris, I can move to Pittsburgh. I’m about to head out the door to the local library to join their knitting group and meet some people. I’m taking a plain vanilla sock with an afterthought heel. Easy peasy stockinette because I’m a bit jittery.

    • Going to a knit group at the library is a great way to get to know a new city!

  • I look forward to your articles every month. Thank you! Your sense of color and adventurous knitting is second to none.

  • ❤️

  • The pineapple doily is the perfect backdrop!

    • Made by one of my great-grandmothers 🙂

  • Wow – your description of being in a city really captured something for me that I had never identified before. I love cities! Thanks for that insight.

    • First…lime green? Yes, please!! One of my very favorite colors!! Second…I’m loving the Easter bunny vibe. Beautiful combination. Kudos!! Third…I agree with your comment about New York’s reputation as an unfriendly city. I visited there more than fifty years ago when I was 24. I stayed with relatives in a picture postcard neighborhood in New Jersey and ventured into the city on my own. I did miles of walking through all sorts of neighborhoods and encountered only friendly, helpful people. I still remember one young woman in a shop who was almost star struck when she learned I was from California. And so many people helped me navigate the city. I chatted with folks sitting on their front steps and ran smack dab into a famous actor, literally. Almost knocked him down!
      Thanks, as always, for a wonderful letter. And for my memory lane trip to New York. Your missives always make my day. ❤️

  • Ahh, Paris and New York City. Indeed they are flip flopped cities. Most of Paris is New York City below 14th Street. Most of New York City is Le Defense. I love them both.

  • I don’t know why you got so jittery at the thought of returning to the classroom. There was no chance of a pop quiz on trigonometry. (Love the socks!)

  • Oh, my, Franklin….go for those yellow socks! Staring out at a frozen lake and now today, pouring rain….fun striped socks and bright yellow ones to be, are a perfect solution for this very bland view. Love your comparisons of NYC and Paris…both cities sooo good for the soul at times! Merci❤

  • I love those stripy socks. Totally hear you on the nerves about doing something you used to do but haven’t done for a while. It’s great to hear your descriptions of the two cities, I’ve been to Paris a few times, but never New York.

  • I love and share your exuberance for NYC and Paris. And your color choices always nudge me to push the envelope on my own.

  • Oh my yum, those colors! While we’ve been to Paris, we’ve (gulp, why?) never been to New York. We may have to pull up our socks and go, given the dearth of good honest pastrami here in the SF Bay area.

    • NY’s closer!

  • I needed this today. Thank you, cheri.

    And it was so good to see you! I loved all the classes I took; yours particularly.

    NB: I’m with you on New York. Being there was something like having a shot of adrenaline.

  • I did see you at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC but didn’t introduce myself. I may have spilled my newly purchased yarn all over you!

  • I’m still curious – WHY did you move to Paris?

  • LOL! Be careful what you’re doing when reading Franklin’s letters. I had just taken a sip of tea when I got to the orange juice episode and almost spit it out when I laughed before I could swallow. Love every word ❤️

  • Oh, you sneaky thing! You wouldn’t let US vote on a contrasting color!

  • Thank you! Here in PA the weather is gray with impending snow. The vivid stripes of your sock and the lovely yellow yarn sure brightened up my day. I enjoy them almost as much as I enjoy your exquisite prose!

  • Franklin, you’re such an inspiration! Loved your writing for years, and hope one day to tell you in person. I’ll be watching for you when I visit Paris in June! PS, love the yellow/violet combo!

  • Purple and yellow together are the bees’ knees!

  • There is an energy in the City … and when I went back in, for a first time solo after the plague, immediately got back in the grove of it. I love the energy and the amazing anonymity that walking (briskly) has. I had missed it so. I did enjoy the Holbein exhibit at the Morgan as well. And my Metrocard still functioned.
    Yes, NYC is ‘tall’ but Paris with her restricted height for buildings is beautiful.

    • Yes! Weren’t you amazed? I still had almost 3 fares on my Metrocard and it’s several years old. Was so excited.

  • Thanks for your letter! Do you have a pattern for your quilt? I am on a mission to use up some yarn. Thanks!

  • Another wildly entertaining and informative post…thank you for sharing your brilliance (figurative AND literal) with us!

  • Thank you for sharing your wonderful stories. I too, love the bright yellow and purple. Your socks are beautiful. Hope to read more of your adventures both traveling and knitting.

  • Franklin,
    You are magnificent! There’s nothing quite as exciting as doing something that absolutely scares you and then live to talk about it.

    Hand knit socks are extra special to me because my mother knit them for my father. Dad had part of one foot amputated after he was injured during WW2. That small sock for the small foot was absolutely fascinating.

  • Please add me to your list of People Who Love the Yellow and Purple Socks. Also, I have been to Paris twice and would move there in a heartbeat if I was really wealthy. New York I have almost no desire to visit except for a couple of cultural landmarks. I appreciate your description of the place and enjoy vicariously your love for the place.

  • Did I hear a knitted crazy quilt??? Sounds lovely! Is there a link to more info?

  • Lived an hour train ride outside NYC all my life till I moved to Virginia 2 years ago. Regrets, I have a few.

  • Loved your book of comics! Any chance for a second volume?

    • Thank you! I have sometimes thought of doing a second volume, but the current book project is focused on photographs and stories set in my dollshouse – you can check out if you are curious.

  • Ahh, all the bright colors- my favorite!

  • Your description of the energy of NYC captured perfectly how I take it in; mouth agape and constantly looking either up at the amazing architecture or down at the crumbling sidewalk. I suspect most people think I am homeless and wandering.

    I took your Proportions class at VKL (I shared the story about the lovely convo I had with my grandmother after a bit of cocaine) and now I’ve joined your Patreon (she said in what she hoped was not a ‘stalker-y’ way). Having had a taste I want more.

    That yellow….

    • Your story was a hoot. Welcome to the Patreon group, and thank you for signing on – today I’m working on the future calendar and very excited about what’s to come…

  • Can’t go wrong with yellow! And that doily it’s perched on is exquisite. Glad you enjoyed NYC. Happy knitting.

  • Loooove the socks, both pairs!

  • Any kind of stripe anytime. One more wonderful letter.

  • I love your writing. Hoping I’m lucky enough to take a class of yours.

  • Great Comparison of New York and Paris!!!

  • Enjoy reading about Mr. Habit’s travels and his knitting projects. He’s very light hearted and entertaining!

  • I would love, love to see and hear more about the crazy quilt lurking in the background. It should be right up front! Has there been a “pattern” or clues how to knit one ? Joining? etc? Would love to get info on that.

  • 100% agree re:NYC.
    I don’t know Paris.
    But NYC has Broadway.
    Sorry, Paris.

  • Your knitting – and colors – are inspiring!! As are your tales of adventures.❤️

  • I was so happy to take one of your classes at VKL this year. Lots of fun, no shaky hands in sight. I’m glad you enjoyed the trip as well.

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