Used clothing alchemist since 1987

Hey, Welcome!


WELCOME!  I’m Crispina ffrench. Recycled textile artist, author, teacher – creator of many things. My sister and I run The Dolphin Studio, a second generation, family owned screen-printing business. My hubby and I own Shire City Sanctuary, a Makerspace in an urban Cathedral in the heart of The Berkshires where my studio is housed. It’s a pleasure to share here creative high-jinx, as we work toward environmental consideration of all aspects of living.

ReConsumerEYES: Handmade Sweaters


by Lorne Holden

When I was a teenager, my parents took an extended trip abroad. They left us kids in the care of two young Swedish women who were smart, hilarious and very kind. These gals were whizzes at both cooking and knitting, and from them, I learned how to make Swedish delicacies that ranged from meatballs to flaky desserts. I also learned to knit with one needle tucked into my armpit. Are you laughing? People always laugh when they see me knit this way. Yet, it is a clean and speedy method as the one needle tucked in your pit stays completely still and the second needle simply works off it. You can really fire off those rows!

Under the guidance of the sweet Swedes, I knitted a mohair sweater vest that was pretty fancy – it had cables, pockets and button holes. Next, I knitted a ski sweater that I’ve saved for posterity – behold below! It still looks great after decades in the closet.Hige School Sweater

Handknits sweaters are true acts of love. There is nothing like receiving a hand made sweater, hat or blanket when you have a baby or young child. These items are one of a kind and become instant heirlooms. Here is my son years ago, wearing one of the special sweaters knitted for him by a friend.Baby Javi Sweater

It is wonderful to experience the way certain cultures display their own individuality through the beauty of hand knit sweaters. Ireland’s Aran fisherman’s sweaters are not only iconic but unmistakable. In the past, the various knitted patterns of these sweaters acted as markers of family and culture and could be used to identify a fisherman who washed up on shore. The cables on the design signified fishing ropes and the squared patterns pertained to pastures and land forms.images

We all know Fair Isle sweaters which display wonderful multicolored knit patterns, but did you know that this kind of sweater actually originated in a place with the same name? Fair Isle is an island in Northern Scotland, halfway between the Orkney and Shetland islands. This blue sweater below, currently available on Etsy. is a gorgeous example of Fair Isle knitting. il_570xN.700076736_806e

If you’ve never knit a hand knit sweater before, perhaps this starkly long, cold winter could be a great time to try your hand at it. It is an ultimate labor of love and your creation could last a lifetime. For inspiration and support, check out this wonderful blog “Knitting to Stay Sane” which speaks to all the various joys and challenges of knitting hand knit sweaters. Then, pick up those needles and get your fingers flying. I won’t laugh if you tuck one into your armpit.


Lorne Holden is an artist and author of the Bestseller “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done.” Think you don’t have time to knit a hand knit sweater? Think again, pick up a copy of MAKE IT HAPPEN and see what you can done in just a handful of minutes a day.

 

Weekly Treasury List – Sweater Weather


Sweater Weather‘ by Becca Strout for Crispina ffrench

A store bought sweater is nothing compared to a handmade sweater. All the different shapes and thicknesses make each sweater a one of a kind. Whether if it’s cold or warm this time of the year is sweater weather.

AERO  02 sweater (UNISEX) - SALE cashmere Recycled sweater coat-- patchwork hoodie- upcycled sweater- earth tones- pixie coat- woodland -Medium/ Large earth tones- woodland Black/multicolor Wool Turtleneck Ski Sweater Nautical Linen Sweater
Knitted top. knitted vest. hand knit. designer knit tank - grape Hand Knit Boyfriend Sweater Hand Knit Sweater Chunky Knit Oversized Sweater Camel Warm Beige Sweater KNITTING PATTERN // Grace cardigan // top-down sock yarn lace mesh sweater -- PDF Blue Cowl Neck Sweater, Doily Clothing, Upcycled Sweater, Blue Cowl Neck Jumper, Cowlneck Sweater, Monochromatic, Sustainable Clothing
Women's Fashion - Elegant Cotton and Silk Knit Capelet - Ivory White - Lovely for Brides Weddings Hand Knit Mohair Sweater Cable Dull BLUE Fuzzy Turtleneck Jumper Pullover Jersey MADE to ORDER - by Extravagantza knitted raglan sweater pink bleu color block colour merino theknitkid THE KNIT KID womens vest - bohemian clothing - green blue vest - teal green - knitted vest - hand knit vest - avant garde clothing - unique clothing
cardigan 1940s style copper brown White knit wool Sleeveless Sweater vest Winter Wool knitting vest Knitted white waistcoat sweater Christmas winter gift ideas for her Hand knit sweater Oversize Chunky knit sweater.Slouchy/Bulky/ Loose sweater. Marble gray. Winter 2014.

Every week we gather a handful of treasures around a theme, from Etsy - an online marketplace featuring handmade wares, vintage items, and supplies for making. Weekly treasuries are normally featured here on Mondays.  You can click on the images above and be taken to a place on Etsy where there is more information about and pictures of that item. Crispina’s online shop is located on Etsy along with a whole ton (like over 800,000) of other handmakers, vintage resellers and material retailers. If you have a minute, leave a comment – it is always so nice to hear from you and build community right here in cyberspace!  Join us in supporting Handmade, Recycled, Organic, and Locally Produced wares for living. Enjoy!
Powered By Toastie Studio – Etsy Tools

ReConsumerEYES: Slipper Love


by Lorne Holden

I am a slipper slut. I admit it. I love slippers the way many women love shoes which is to say….a lot. If I had my way I would have a walk-in closet with two huge racks holding a complete wardrobe of slippers. This wardrobe would hold an explosion of colors and comforting styles. I would have a pair for whatever mood my feet were in.

Well, a girl can dream.

For now, I have two pairs of slippers. I wear one pair without socks and the other with socks. It’s not that I am finicky – it all boils down to comfort. The barefoot pair are divine right up next to my skin. The socky pair are a bit big and thus feel best when the socks take up some of the extra space.

My love of slippers began with a simple pair of Chinese slippers that I bought for $6 at Pearl River in New York City. They were mules that had Chinese embroidered fabric on the tops and simple cotton soles. I loved them because after awhile the footbed would form to your foot and they felt like gloves on your feet. I wore my first pair so long that they ended up falling apart and it was then that I discovered that the inside of the footbed was made of a thin pile of newspapers. Who needs memory foam? The Chinese has figured out how to make slippers truly comfortable while also recycling! China Sprout SlippersLong ago, slippers in China were called “Jixie.” It is believed that they originated in the Han Dynasty (206BC-23AD) and were often embroidered with auspicious patterns, such as images of dragons and phoenix. My Pearl River cheapies weren’t nearly as fancy as that, but they pulled me into a love of slippers that will last a lifetime, I am sure.

Many people love moccasin slippers, which have a wonderful history. The Native Americans first created moccasins with the stiff skin of the animals they killed for food. The softer leather was used for clothing but the stiff skin was great for footwear as it was both durable and lasting. Moccasins were often decorated in accordance with tribal colors and customs, using bead work and fringing to make each pair unique. They were also often hand painted, depicting scenes from nature and Native American life. Here is a gorgeous, historic pair that can be seen at the Brooklyn Museum.moccasinsRecently, there’s been an fantastic explosion of handmade slippers coming out of Latvia and Lithuania and available on Etsy. When my sister had an important birthday recently, I bought her the pair pictured below and they are incredible. My sister reports that they are supremely comfortable and her only problem with them is that sometimes, they are actually too warm. (Didn’t know that could even be a problem!)Kooks Slippers

When talking to people about falling into Slipper Love, I always say this: know yourself, both your lifestyle and your feet and then don’t stop until you’ve found the perfect slippers. They’re out there, those slippers. Go forth and search! Your feet will thank you for it.


Lorne Holden is an artist and author of the Bestseller “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/ The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done.” She is currently at work on her next book “MAKE IT HEALTHY” which will be out later this year. And yes, she writes in her slippers.

 

 

Weekly Treasury – Slip It On


Slip It On‘ by Becca Strout for Crispina ffrench

This past month has been the month of blizzards here in New England! And it doesn’t seem to want to let up! If you haven’t found the perfect pair of slippers to warm you during these snowy days, you’re in luck. Here are some excellent choices.

Green and Blue Jester Felt Animal Slippers for Children, soft booties made from wool Felted 3 layer slippers Thick Felted Wool Slipper Baby and Toddler Booties "Aspen" - Made to order 3 m - 3 yrs -Solid color - Upcycled Baby Girl Leather Slipper Shoes Soft-Sole rose Star Size 3 - 7
Knitting pattern slippers for home and office Upcycled Denim and Hemp PRESCHOOL sizes Soft Sole Shoes Made to Order Non Slip Slippers Toddler Girl Bunny Shoes, Kids Bunny Slippers, Easter Bunny Baby, Wool Bunny Shoes Women felted slippers -  handmade wool clogs - green and purple felt slipper - made to order - Weddings gift
Felted slippers - women - handmade -blue -  felted house shoes Sheepskin  Slippers Monster Slippers CROCHET PATTERN PDF, Kids Womens Mens Adult Crochet Slippers Pattern, Monsters Inc Costume Sulley Bigfoot Dragon Amigurumi Sheepskin slippers (baby sizes)
Ankle Boots slippers for Extra Warm. Women Handmade Shoe-Slippers made with smooth sheep skin suede leather and eco-friendly fur ADULT sizes felted grey cats slippers made to ORDER/  handmade house shoes /funny slippers wet felted cats slippers adult cat slippers adult slippers, womens slippers home shoes flats Turkish Socks Slippers, crochet slippers, white and blue house shoes, gifts for women Women's Crochet Dark Purple Slipper Boots, Crochet Slippers, Crochet Booties, Crochet House Shoes, Crochet Winter Boots, Slippers

Every week we gather a handful of treasures around a theme, from Etsy - an online marketplace featuring handmade wares, vintage items, and supplies for making. Weekly treasuries are normally featured here on Mondays.  You can click on the images above and be taken to a place on Etsy where there is more information about and pictures of that item. Crispina’s online shop is located on Etsy along with a whole ton (like over 800,000) of other handmakers, vintage resellers and material retailers. If you have a minute, leave a comment – it is always so nice to hear from you and build community right here in cyberspace!  Join us in supporting Handmade, Recycled, Organic, and Locally Produced wares for living. Enjoy!
Powered By Toastie Studio – Etsy Tools

ReConsumerEYES: Under Where/ Underwear


by Lorne Holden

Semper ubi sub ubi.

It is the only thing I remember from high school Latin. It means “always wear underwear,” and I must say the joy in that expression did a good job cracking open my interest in that very old language. What is it about underwear that makes me feel like smiling inside?Color Blocks Undie Pic

I didn’t always smile. In fact, I never paid much attention to underwear until I went to live and work in France for a year. Friends, it is not a cliché, the French really do take their lingerie seriously. Truly, they do. There, you would never wear a bra and panties that didn’t match. I found this fact a curiosity when I first arrived but I have to admit, by the time I left that country, my bra and panties matched every time.

My Dad calls underpants “skivvies” – a term that first appeared in 1932 as nautical slang for underwear. I love this expression because something about it always makes me think your underwear is about to fall off. Which makes me think of a friend of mine who wanted to invent self-dissolving underwear for those moments when you were in a heated romantic encounter and you just wanted your undies to disappear.Undie Pic 1I’ve only just learned that the expression ‘Going Commando” refers to when you are actually going without your underpants, which I guess is a way of making even the self-dissolving underwear unnecessary. Apparently, in the 19th century, women wore heavy petticoats to keep the cold breezes from blowing their skirts up, because they in fact, were going commando early on!  And until the mid 1800′s, it was considered improper for a woman to wear anything between her legs. This is why women rode sidesaddle and why pants were considered a male only garment. In the opposite end of the spectrum, there were the early American settlers who had themselves sewn into their underwear for the winter so they didn’t have to deal with buttons. No baths for them ’till Spring!Long Johns PicEver wondered where the expression “Long Johns” came from? Apparently, they were originally worn by a bare knuckled boxer named John L. Sullivan in the late 1800′s. He wore long woolen underwear while boxing in cold weather.

Whatever your opinion on underwear is, may you enjoy whatever you happen to be wearing or not wearing, matching or not matching on this upcoming Valentines Day. And if the cold weather has got you down, take heart. National Underwear Day is August 5th and it will be warm by then. You might be able to find an Undie Run in your neighborhood!Undie Run Pic


Lorne Holden is an Artist and author of the Bestseller “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done.” Get your copy here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Treasury – What Lies Beneath


What Lies Beneath‘ by Becca Strout for Crispina ffrench

Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to buy sexy underwear either for yourself or a special somebody. Here’s an inventory of gifts that keep on giving. Enjoy!

Kelly lingerie set. Criss cross bralette and high waist knickers. made to order Old Timey Organic Mini Bloomers (hemp and organic cotton) mesh stockings with garter belt and lace trim - SEA GLASS - ready to ship White Chiffon Sleep Boxer/style YURI (made to order)
fine wool Mens briefs CUSTOMIZE YOUR PAIR MELODY / Organic cotton bralette / Ready to ship Organic cotton Bralette and  shorty Bloomer set with lace up back- custom bra underwear to your size/ measurements Antique Lace trimmed silk negligee
Green Bamboo/Cotton and Lace Camisole - 'Amaryllis' Style Custom Fit Made To Order Womens Lingerie Sale 20% off Lingerie set- Boxer shorts / panties      Lingerie / Underwear Made to Order Comfortable lingerie set. Lilac / Plum sheer soft bra with panties. Cashmere playsuit - one piece lingerie
Stacy Eco friendly Lingerie slip - Bamboo viscose & Organic cotton jersey - Underlayer sleepwear / XS, S, M, L, XL, Custom sizing Pin Up Lingerie Garterbelt Sewing Pattern Ohhh Lulu 1314 Greta High Waist Garter Belt  PDF Instant Download Bralette - Organic Cotton Underwear - Soft Cup Bra - Lingerie - Yoga Bra - Gray Bralette Organic Cotton Boyshorts

Every week we gather a handful of treasures around a theme, from Etsy - an online marketplace featuring handmade wares, vintage items, and supplies for making. Weekly treasuries are normally featured here on Mondays.  You can click on the images above and be taken to a place on Etsy where there is more information about and pictures of that item. Crispina’s online shop is located on Etsy along with a whole ton (like over 800,000) of other handmakers, vintage resellers and material retailers. If you have a minute, leave a comment – it is always so nice to hear from you and build community right here in cyberspace!  Join us in supporting Handmade, Recycled, Organic, and Locally Produced wares for living. Enjoy!
Powered By Toastie Studio – Etsy Tools

ReConsumerEYES: African American History Week


by Lorne Holden

This week is African American History week and I am thrilled to share two stories of remarkable African Americans who lived their lives with courage and creativity.

Henry Box BrownHenry Box Better

Henry Box Brown was a Virginia slave in the 19th century. Having lost his wife and all of his children when they were sold to another owner, he hatched a wild and ingenious plan to mail himself to freedom in a large wooden crate. As arduous and dangerous as the journey was, he nonetheless succeeded and his inventive escape made him a symbol for the Underground Railway. There is a terrific children’s book about this story by Ellen Levine entitled “Henry’s Freedom Box”  and for grown ups, there’s a fascinating book available by historian Henry Louis Gates.  More about this amazing character can be seen on the plaque pictured below.

Henry Box SIgn

 

 Nora Zeale Hurston

“I love myself when I am laughing and then again when I am looking mean and impressive.” 

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) was a folklorist, anthropologist and author. Along with Langston Hughes and Wallace Thurman, she was a member the “Harlem Renaissance,” a group of writers and performers who migrated to New York in the early part of the 20th century. These artists sparked a time of great cultural renewal for African Americans in the city. Other well known Harlem Renaissance artists were the incredible Josephine Baker and tap dancer Bill “Bojanges” Robinson.Zora arms open

Hurston is best known for her novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” But it was her autobiography “Dust Tracks on a Road” that first captured my attention. A page turner, it chronicles her life in the town of Eatonville, Florida which was one of the first all black towns to be incorporated in America. It was a place where African Americans could live as they desired, independent of white society. She grew up to have an extraordinary sense of herself and pursued a higher education at Howard University and later at Barnard College.

She later went on to travel and write ethnographic research, particularly about life in the Caribbean. She was a bold, sassy character and her life was not without controversy. She was often chided for not writing enough about race, but she often said that what interested her was life itself. Her guts and beautiful sense of self led her to make comments such as:

“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It’s beyond me.”

Ultimately, she faded from the public eye and died in a welfare home in Florida. She was buried in an unmarked grave until 1973 when the author Alice Walker and scholar Charlotte Hunt found an area of a cemetary thought to have her remains and marked a grave with her name. A wonderful website celebrating her life and work is here. Take a moment to visit and learn about more about this remarkable voice in American literature.


Lorne Holden is an artist and author of the Bestseller “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done.” Click the link and learn more about her great book and then grab a copy!

Time Together


My husband is the world’s sweetest, most capable plumber. This past year he had the opportunity to switch from running his 30-person plumbing and heating company, logging at least 60hrs weekly in winter, to working on his own. While he is getting used to this change, the kids and I are crazy about having him around a whole lot more. We get to spend weekends together, there’s more time in my studio and the girls love having afternoons with their dad.

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Cold Saturday


This morning we awoke to -4F.   Saturday family breakfast, layered up and skied loop with dogs, fed and watered chickens, and cleaned kitchen, all before our friends came visiting. Four kids inside all afternoon was super fun and full of action. Moms chatted, talked about marketing and business, and wiped snotty noses. Working with friends brings balance to my shortage of hang time with girlfriends while accomplishing goals. Berkshire Livin’ is the finest.

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ReConsumerEYES: Screen Printing


by Lorne Holden

I f you are a fan of this site, you no doubt know about the blast of beauty that appears each December known as the The Dolphin Studio Calendar. Originally created by John ffrench and his wife Primm, the calendar is now created by daughters Crispina her sister Sophia and their families. The calendar is a unique work of art – each month offers up an image created by a family member. It’s also is a superb blend of creativity and information which makes looking for a day or date an adventure for the eye and mind! Feast your eyes on this below from a past Dolphin Studio Calendar.

January Dolphin
If you don’t know about this calendar, hop on over here and learn more about it. While you’re there, be sure to join the mailing list, so you’ll be the first to know when next years calendar goes on sale. There is only ever a limited supply – you won’t want to miss your chance to get one.

How is the calendar created?

It is silk screened. Silk screening or screen printing is a form of stenciling. A screen of mesh is stretched over a frame. A stencil is then formed when parts of the screen are blocked off in the negative image of the design that is to be created. The open spaces, the places where the screen is not blocked off, is what takes the ink or paint and thus creates the image. The process is simple and creates striking results.Slkscreening process pic

Silk screening originated in China during the Song Dynasty (960 -1279 AD). The process was further developed by the Japanese and then adapted by artists in other countries who created newer methods. The process grew in popularity in the North America when the artist named Guy Maccoy helped create a large poster project for New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia during the Great Depression. Silk screening then became a good option for artists to reproduce their work affordably and in turn, be able to sell pieces affordably at a time when money was tight for everyone.

WPA image

Andy Warhol is generally credited for popularizing silk screening as an art form.His screen posters of Marilyn Monroe, printed in garish colors, are iconic examples of Pop Art. Other well know 20th Century artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Helen Frankenthaler used the method, as did artists such as Lolita Lebron, who created posters in support of political ideals.Marylins
Silk screening is a process that anyone can enjoy, even kids of course! A great tutorial about how to do a homemade version of silk screening if you don’t have a studio or even a frame can be found here. It’s a great project for a family on a wintry day at home.

Pssst! A few copies of the 2015 Dolphin Studio calendar are still available – visit the shop on Etsy to grab yours.


Lorne Holden is an artist and author of the bestseller “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done.”