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Dear friends,

My situation as I write this is extremely agreeable. We are enjoying, for the first time since last summer, a second consecutive day of sunshine and mild temperatures. The windows of the workroom are wide open, and the breeze from the east is doing me the double favor of drying the laundry and carrying in the scent of the first jasmine blooms to open.

To my right and left are piles of yarn and papers, respectively. The yarn was bought last weekend at an event I want to tell you about, and the papers are cards and brochures for my file of French Fiber People Whose Yarns I Need to Remember.

Once a year, there is a community-run wool festival on the edge of Paris in the neighboring town of Malakoff. Malakoff is proud of its independence from the city, while at the same time enjoying certain Parisian conveniences like a stop on Métro line 13.

The wool festival is called La Fête de la Laine, which means The Wool Festival. Every once in a great while, the French may be trusted to give something a sensible name with fewer than forty syllables.

This was my second Fête. I was too ill to attend last year. In my absence, the event burst its boundaries in the assembly hall of the local school and spilled out into several other nearby venues. An encouraging evolution in troubled times.

The assembly hall was still the hub of activity. As we entered, a fashion show was in progress on the stage at one end; the rest was filled, tantalizingly, with vendors.

According to a friend on the event committee, last year the Fête made the decision to live more fully up to its name. Vendors are now expected to focus on wool—and if possible wool that is French, or at the very least European.

Other natural fibers, like mohair and linen, are also warmly welcomed; and insofar as possible these also should come from French or European sources.

The result is a marketplace of small producers with a true passion for their products, every one of them eager to discuss the entire chain of production from farm to booth.

To an American, it might seem at first glance to be disappointingly small, possibly not worth a thirty-minute ride on the Métro. Then, however, you look more closely—and are astonished.

Just inside the front door, like a kiss on the eyes, was spinning fiber (not easy to come by around here) from Les Fibres de la Renarde, of Creuse—part of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, in central France, where the spinning industry has a long history. (A renarde, by the way, is a lady fox.)

Nearby, not one but two vendors side-by-side were stocked with superb naturally-dyed threads for embroidery. 

La Nollin (a cute pun on lanolin) had a six-foot case of superb embroidery wools–with plenty more besides, including knitting yarns.

Adjacent Maison Septembre (whose yarns I had previously coveted at other French events) had brought along embroidery silks.

That’s the handful I brought home, and which likely will end up not in embroidery but in miniature knitting for the Foxe and Boxe project. (Silk is wonderful for knitting miniatures because of its inherent drape—even tiny cloaks and sweaters hang as they ought.)

Natural dyes were, in fact, very much in evidence throughout the marketplace, as seen here at La Ferme du Beau. (Note the wool felt soles at the bottom left—an extremely popular item.)

On the other hand, some of the most enticing yarns weren’t dyed at all, like these Normandy wool beauties from Laines sous les Pommiers (Wool Under the Apple Trees), who are also to be commended for their adorable logo.

And then there was Terroir* Laine, who have had a place in my heart and on my wish list since I met them at my first-ever French knitting festival, in Lyon. They were wonderfully patient with my ghastly pronunciation and spotty comprehension.

The wool in yarns from Terroir Laine is gathered entirely from local, native-breed flocks (France does have more to offer than just the aristocratic Rambouillet).  The fiber is then milled and spun locally, with an eye to keeping the process as simple as possible.

And fiber is never dyed—colors derive from what’s found in the fleece. The result is some of the most wonderfully natural, sheepy yarn you’ll ever meet.

 To give the goats their due, there was also gorgeous, soft mohair to be had from two French farms, La Ferme d’Amalthée in Vernay …

…and La Ferme de la Maugerie in Thoury.

I’ll just mention in passing that both of these farms offer holiday accommodations right there amongst the flocks.

I have to emphasize that all these producers, even the largest, are small businesses. That is one of my favorite things about the Fête. It really is a community concern, big enough to draw an appreciative crowd, but small enough that even those whose products are necessarily limited in quantity can afford to set up shop for the weekend.

People like my friend Marie, who sells her handspun yarns (yes, they’re all handspun, and many are also hand-dyed) as Rue de la Laine (Wool Street).

These days my French, though still faulty, is certainly far better than it was two years ago when I first visited La Fête de la Laine. But I think the festival would feel comfortable and familiar to anyone who loves yarn—whether or not they spoke a word of French. 

Because what will you find? People who, just like you, appreciate the people who provide us with the beautiful, useful materials that allow us to make beautiful, useful things.

It doesn’t matter much whether you say “wool” or “laine.”

Whenever and wherever in the world these two groups come together …

… it can only make the world a better place.


*Terroir means soil, but it also means the land in or upon which a product is grown. It conveys the idea of a product being inherently local, unique to a given territory.

About The Author

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


  • A delightful article, thank you.

    • I can almost smell the yarn! Thanks so much Franklin for your detailed tour description of a true fiber lovers playground. You sound upbeat and excited to get your knitting mojo back.

  • You make me wish I could be there with you. Oh, to get my hands on those wonderful yarns. Thank you for taking us on this fabulous tour.

  • love your posts and plan to follow some of your footsteps next time in Paris. My daughter lives in London and we often run to Paris for a few days when I am there.

    Hope that you are feeling better. What a horrible journey you have taken. Thinking must be improved as you are posting and out an about again.


  • All I can say is . . . wow!

  • I’m always so happy to see Letter from Paris in my inbox. What a wonderful tour – and fabulous photographs – of gorgeous fibers that I most likely (given my, ahem, advanced age!) will never see in person. Thank you so much for this, Franklin, you are such a gift to us all.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this experience! It was filled with positive vibes and beauty and, of course wool and other fibers!

  • Great sharing! Good to know. Thank you.

  • Thank you, Franklin! I feel as though I too have gone to the Fete!
    Bueno Sera,
    Cheryl, who is traveling to Italy in 3 weeks.

  • The vendors are wearing such great sweaters!
    The natural sheepy colors work together so well.
    Thank you for the visit.

  • Your introduction is poetic!
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful community event.

  • Oh my goodness, Franklin, what a fête for the eyes. All those beautiful yarns and the Sweaters! I love every single one pictured and would even learn to cable (not my thing AT ALL to achieve Marie’s v-neck number. (Do you know the pattern???) I miss France So Much!! All this and Olympic fever. Annoying crowds and traffic, yes, but also the excitement. So Glad you are feeling better!!

    • Hi Chloe- I think Marie’s sweater might be the Sous Sous by Norah Gaughan 🙂

      • Went looking for it and it MUST be Sous Sous! Wonder if I have enough in my stash for it?

  • Keep reaching to touch the wool and opps! Fabulous pictures and fabulous writing

  • How lovely! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • I was doing ok in not coveting the yarn too badly, until I came to the mohair and that dark green scarf and hat (I think that’s what it is, maybe a cowl?) from La Ferme de la Maugerie. I once bought yarn for a sweater in a tiny shop in Italy from a non-English speaker. I speak no Italian but I had a pocket translator (before cell phones) and we did fine. So, I can head for Paris? Now? Thank you for sending us on a trip to this great Fete.

  • Always a joy to read your letters. Thank you!

    • It is such a delight to see and hear you speak of embroidery threads and crocheting with thread.
      I have been lovingly given antique tablecloths that were made in such a way.
      I treasure them.
      It seems embroidery work is something of a lost art or at least in upstate New York.
      It’s sad to think the birthplace of beloved Grandma Moses art ,with humble country life depictions in embroidery threads, is now another lost art.
      It’s lovely to know you have a soft heart and creative eyes and hands to create such beautiful things.

  • Fantastique!
    So glad you could visit this event again.

  • Thank you for taking us on your adventure

  • Thank you so much for sharing. Take care and stay well.

  • Thank you, yet again, for your wonderful glimpse into your life in France! I so look forward to reading your work.

  • Ooolala! Thank you, Franklin, for transporting me to France this morning.

  • The wool is lovely but 2 of my greatest loves in life are cast metal animals and miniatures. Cannot tell you how hard I am swooning over your Foxe and Boxe project.

  • As always, wonderful. Merci.

  • Thank you for this bit of peaceful joy with my coffee this morning! I could put myself there, peacefully admiring all the beauty – in yarn and soul. It buoyed me up to face the day, and open my eyes to the beauty I can find.

  • Merci beaucoup, Franklin,
    Your posts are wonderful, and I really enjoyed “touring” “La Fete de La Laine” with you. Such scrumptious textures and colours! Very glad to know you are feeling better and are out and about. Enjoy!
    Ruth Ellen Greenwood

  • I love Marie’s v-neck, 3/4 length sleeve sweater.

  • What a wonderful photo for Terroir Laine. Your art has no bounds.

    • If only the world could find the joy of “joining together”…

  • Wow ! First time hearing about this marvelous event! Is it every year? Loved your descriptions ..
    Looked wonderful !
    Thank you

    • Yes, it is. Each year

  • This was a gift in my inbox this morning! Thank you for the tour!

  • Ah, the earthy, deep-toned colors! I would blow my yarn budget for the next ten years if you let me near this festival. Thanks for sharing.

  • Thank you, Franklin, for this delightful tour of La Fête de la Laine. I’m so happy to know that you;re feeling well enough to be enjoying this again.

  • However did you get out of that Fête with only as much yarn (fiber, thread, etc.) as you could carry home on the Métro??? I would have needed a U-Haul!

  • Oh, what a lovely tour of the festival! I love the last picture with a spinner, some felted items and someone looking them over, taking notes. Pure joy, and indeed, a better world.

  • Oh, my heart skipped a beat to follow you again at this wonderful laine festival of goodness! From the wilds of Montana where Spring only ‘seems’ to be happening, a glimpse of your ‘spring’ made my morning! Thanks!

  • Wow! I love naturally colored, undyed yarns. I have some lovely dark brown (ie, black) alpaca spun by one of the nuns at the motherhouse of the order my partner’s sister belongs to. It’s spun from the fleece from one of their small herd of alpacas. And those silk embroidery yarns are fantastic. I’d be tempted to just hang them somewhere I could admire them all the time.

  • Merci, Franklin! Such beautiful yarns, and always happy to read your posts from Paris. Following the links has me learning some new French vocabulary. Now I know the word for ‘hank.”
    Not doing any miniature knitting myself, but I do appreciate the tip about silk for that purpose.
    Happy Spring!

  • You have the ability to bring us right in there with you! And I lust for those silks. You could even separate the plys and use T-pins to knit tiny sweaters . . . Than you! You never cease to inspire!!

  • Happy to hear from you again and I am so envious of your trip to the wool fest. Marvelous! Thank you for sharing!

  • I love your letters from Paris!

    • So do I, Franklin! It’s such a treat to armchair travel with your perspective. All those luscious yarns (fab photos) seem even more so with French names. Keep up the good work…we all enjoy hearing from you.

  • Dear Franklin Habit,
    I hope your life is even 1/10th as wonderful as your articles, projects and photos are!

  • Oh what a dreamy tour! Your writing is awe inspiring! We leave next Wed, May 1 for a month in France and a month in Italy, with a brief visit to Spain. We’ll be in Paris for the first 8 days so will plan a jaunt to Malakoff and a ride on the Metro Line 13! I am so excited to visit yarn shops all along the way.

  • Lovely. Just lovely. Thank you for bringing me along to the la fête.

  • Heavenly, heavenly, heavenly – especially that rainbow of mohair in its beautiful wooden case.

  • My French, even tho it’s Canadian basedand very rusty, helped me to mostly understand the names or descriptions of the vendor and their products.
    Merci pour le article. C’est magnifique !

  • That looks like the most wonderful way to spend the day! Thank you for sharing!

  • Thnx for the tour! From colorful to natural, a visual feast for the eyes. Love your photo of Terroir Laine’s owners, I assume, in their fabulous sweaters surrounded by their beautiful yarn & cute hat. Even the man’s beard is spectacular!

  • Wonderful! Dreaming of a vacay where all I do is travel from yarn fest to yarn fest. Oh, Luscious!

  • Wonderful article, Franklin. I always enjoy reading your columns!

  • It’s wonderful that you were able to go this year. It must have been a fantastic experience. I love the pictures and the stories. And I wish I could get my hands on some of that yarn too. Thank you.

  • Every time I see “Paris,” I quickly open the MDK email. I do so look forward to reading about what you have been up to, your escapades and interactions with yarns and people while being assimilated into the Parisian culture. Thank goodness, yarn is a universal language.
    P.S. It is wonderful to meet the creator of Dolores.

  • You make me wish I was younger and rich so I could join you there. Thankyou for sharing.

  • Yes! A “kiss to the eyes!”

  • Thank you, thank you. So much beauty. Love it and look forward to your writing!

  • Franklin, thank you.

    It might be only armchair travel for me, but what a trip!

    I got chills reading about this.

    THIS kind of wool festival is my idea of the perfect wool festival. And wool is my favorite thing to work with, particularly rustic wool.

    Merci beaucoup!

  • Absolutely wonderful read this morning. So happy to hear you are excited about your knitting. Love to see all the various beautiful color of yarn. Thank you

  • Enjoying your travels vicariously!!

  • I wish I could attend next year!!! What beautiful people creating yarn. And to have accommodations very near the flock, that would be fantastic!

  • This is now on my bucket list.

  • A super read this Twist of Fête… hah! brilliant pun. oh-la-la-laine, I sigh.
    Thank you Franklin and MDK.

  • What a beautiful laine tour! I believe F&B will require double knit(reversible) silk thread capes…

  • Thank you for this letter. I felt like I was transported to the very spot, exploring all the sights and sounds. Amazing

  • So glad you are out and about this year. Wishing you nothing but good health!!

  • Forget not being worth a 30 minute train ride, that looks like it might be worth a 6 hour plane ride. What a delicious celebration.

  • I really enjoy these letters.

    I may never get to go, but I can enjoy from home.


  • Oh mine, the colors on that embroidery silk, to dye for. Can not wait to see what miniature knitting you do with them

  • I’m dazzled – I wish I’d been there!

  • I just did a deep dive at the Foxe and Boxe website, how absolutely fun! I look forward to seeing what treasures you create with that gorgeous silk thread.

    And ooh la la that Wool Under Les Pommes!

  • Franklin, I feel like I was with you. Great tour!

  • Both the natural dyes and the natural colours are GORGEOUS!

  • Thank you once again Franklin. You always make me long to be in France. Think I may try to tempt my knitting girls over for this show. And very intrigued with the farms with accomodation. Great to see you out and about again xx

  • I enjoyed your letter. It makes me wish that I had attended the wool fest. Oh well, there is always next year’s Paris holiday.

  • I so enjoy your missives from Paris! Sounds like a perfect jewel box of a festival. Glad your energy level is improving and have a great time with Clara and Ducky!

  • Dear Francesca Brunner: Thank you for the Sous Sous tip! I can’t believe I missed your comment earlier. I remember that sweater! And loved it at the time, but was dissuaded by the cables. They are quite daunting for this perpetual advanced beginner/almost intermediate knitter but I might give it a try with some yarn I have on hand before springing for that pricey Madeline Tosh. Also, I have to say that Marie has given it that typical “je ne c’est quoi” French touch that makes you want to wear whatever they are wearing (even if it’s a paper bag). Hope you get to read this, Francesca!

  • Another wonderful letter. Your writing and photography really do make me feel as if I’m strolling through the festival market, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Beautiful. Thank you.

  • Glorious fête! And I adore the pullover that the Terroir Laine man is wearing! I want that pattern.

  • Fabulous! Thank you for sharing. ❤️

  • What a delightful feast for the eyes you’ve given us!

  • I adored this article and have added attendance to this fabulous event to my bucket list.

  • I look forward to reading these monthly reports from France. Thank you for taking the time and for your creative spin on knitting life from Paris!

  • Franklin I am overjoyed that you can return to this gorgeous event and share it with us! Thank you!

  • I like ve your posts!

  • I am delighted to read your post & that you are doing better.

  • Sigh . .. .
    Thank you, Franklin, for all the beautiful photos and the opportunity to slowly peruse the delightful Fete virtually. I loved your description “A kiss for the eyes” how romantic – and quite French, I think.
    Keep well,

  • Well, you’ve done it again. Started my day off with joy and yarny goodness. Thank you for taking us along with you to this marvelous gathering of likeminded folks. The undyed wools caught my attention. Oh my!! Such gorgeous colors! They reminded me to get into my stash and find some undyed wool I bought on a yarn crawl. Every skein from this particular farm has the name of the sheep on the label. I have some from a ram named Thor.
    I always enjoy taking these trips with you. Your photos and descriptions make me feel like I’m there. Thank you for sharing. Yes…sheep and wool and all things yarny DO make the world a better place. And so do you. ❤️

  • I love your observations and letters. So glad you are feeling well enough to keep us informed of your comings and goings.

  • In any language, it looks like heaven to me

  • What a great event to attend and I love how inclusive the Fete is to allow all the local folks, who produce these beautiful yarns, to be a part of this wonderful gathering! I continue to be amazed at the talented people, who have become friends, thru my knitting, needling community ❤️

  • Wonderful! I so appreciate your lovely articles. It’s a very hopeful and soothing way to start my day. Take care.

  • It always makes my Saturday when there is a letter from Franklin!
    Franklin, I hope this means are doing better everyday. It sounds like a wonderful festival and the yarns are gorgeous.
    Wish I had been there!
    Wishing you well, Franklin!!

  • What a treat! I’m so glad you had this opportunity to immerse yourself in such a wonderful community!

  • Thanks for taking us along, Franklin!

  • Oh how l wish I could have been there! ‘kid in a lolly shop’ would not have started to describe it!
    Love your description of the fete.

  • Glad you able to enjoy such a wonderful event
    Thanks for sharing

  • What eye candy, wow, thank you!

  • So inspiring! Merci for sharing and bringing us closer together as knitters!

  • Thank you Franklin and I am happy that your health allowed you go this year!
    I love new addresses in France . . . I am on my way and I can’t wait to buy more mohair when it’s 35°C!

  • And oh! the sweaters the vendors are wearing. So beautiful!
    Thank you, Franklin, for taking us with you to this intriguing event. I’m so glad for you that you were well enough to go this year.

  • Love this! What a wonderful festival. In Britain there is an increasing interest in natural dyes and natural wool colours too.

  • Someday I shall attend, bien sur!

  • Your letters are the very best!! Thank you, and I hope you stay firmly on the road to recovery.

  • The wool soles caught my eye, because here in northern Minnesota they are in every winter foot wear I have and in some summer for the comfort they provide. Thank you for the visual tour. As usual I look forward to every letter from Paris!

  • I love the Letters from Paris! Please keep them coming!

  • Franklin, This article gives a reader the best travel guide. I haven’t had time to read MDK in too long. Now to read again, and take notes.

  • Very much enjoyed your day at the wool market.

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