Habit Forming



Driving 300 miles last Saturday wasn’t something my achy joints really needed to do.  I’d spent the previous four days painting two rooms in my house, quitting just shy of finishing the entire job, as I was exhausted and frustrated with washing paint out of my hair as well as with picking black dog hairs off the wet baseboards.  But when I’d seen that Friends and Fiberworks in Candler, NC was hosting a Summer Retreat where Franklin Habit would be teaching, I couldn't resist.  Although we have no personal relationship, Habit and I are “friends” on Facebook.  His posts are a treat to read, as his commentary about his experiences is saucy and witty and his photography is engaging and creative.   I also enjoy living vicariously through his tales of his knitting design and teaching career.  So I fought back any reservations I had about signing up for his course, “The Knitted Plaid:  A Color and Pattern Workshop,” and woke up early Saturday and got online to register.  
     Despite any lingering home improvement fatigue, the drive through the lush countryside to the North Carolina Mountains was energizing.  The workshop was held at a middle school in Candler—a typical industrial-looking  institution replete with cinder-block walls (black ones in the cave-like bathroom that must do wonders to the moods of already angst-ridden adolescents) and an air conditioning system that had been shut down for summer break.  As I'd sorted my yarn stash earlier that morning and had been seized with guilt at my sorry excesses and as the temperatures were in the high nineties on Saturday (making me think of bathing suits and cool cotton garments), it was difficult to contemplate purchasing the beautiful hand-dyed wool yarns and fiber that were for sale by Friends and Fiberworks and the other vendors who’d set up in the school’s gymnasium.  I did, however, enjoy chatting with the women manning the booths and found time to sit down for a while before my class to work on a lacy scarf.

The yarn I brought to the class was awfully similar in color.  

      During class, Habit talked over fans whirring in the background, and I had to give this man credit for his flexibility and cheerfulness.  Despite the fact that he’d recently taught lessons on charming Block Island with its nineteenth century seaside ambiance, he seemed unfazed by the heat and factory-like surroundings of his classroom.  He seemed to heartily enjoy sharing information and witty anecdotes with his pupils. 
     Habit began the class with a discussion of his initial forays into knitting plaid, explaining how a vintage knitting pattern was the impetus for his research and experimentation.  The result was his “Princess Franklin Collar,” a free pattern available on Knitty.  He then discussed color harmonies, what he called “the most basic part of the color selection process,” explaining color terminology such as tint, tone shade, temperature, color value.  Shifting gears, Habit then shared information about the sometimes confusing and interchangeable definitions of tartan and plaid and a bit of the history of clan-specific tartans.  My instructor made me smile when he cautioned the class that he hoped that the class's discussion of this subject (a topic about which fiery Scottish folks must be passionate) would not be “equivalent to a copyright or breastfeeding thread on Ravelry.” 
     After the history lesson, students used their new knowledge of color harmonies to select several yarns to use in an experimental swatch and learned a technique to create knitted work that mimics plaid or tartan (depending on one’s definition) cloth.  I won’t give away Habit’s specific method here.  You’ll have to take his class.  You won’t be disappointed, as you’ll emerge with a new technique, a greater understanding of color relationships, and a mood leavened by this personable instructor.    

In the vendor's area, Friends and Fiberworks displayed a scarf inspired by
 the neighboring town of Asheville.  

Knitting Notions had a beautiful array of hand-dyed yarn for sale with samples
displaying how it looks worked up into garments.

Dusty's Vintage had a display of buttons that boggled the mind.

Dusty's Vintage also sold crocheted items.  

Bad Faerie Designs displayed some beautiful hand-painted spinning wheels and
drop spindles.  

These felted scarves were on display at Wild Hare Fiber Studio's booth.  

On the way home from Candler, I stopped at the Black Mountain
Yarn Shop.  I was too utterly exhausted to actually search for yarn but
 must return to this site, as this store is one of the most well-stocked and
aesthetically pleasing yarn shops I have  visited.  The charming town of
Black Mountain beckons me back as well.   

This is a doorway I saw in Black Mountain.  I love the seemingly unintentional shabby chic.  

I found a little time at the Summer Retreat to work on Louisa Harding's Rosette Scarf using the designer's Amitola yarn.  

On a final note,  I also found time to finish my DVD Socks last weekend.  Love the fact that they are custom made to my feet.  


  1. Oh my. What a great review, you gave me a solid feeling of what it was like to be there. What a fabulous day ! :)

  2. Socks turned out great! The class sounded awesome, I would love to take one of his classes. :)


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