Here in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts is it simply beautiful, our new leaves are turning from that sweet baby leaf green to a hardy summer hue. We have been busting out AWESOME denim and corduroy picnic blankets in the studio and developing a full line of clothing from 100% cotton recycled t-shirts. While my attention has been focused on production, there has been a little unexpected hiatus here at www.crispina.com. A few things have been going on that are wreaking havoc on our usual sequence. Becca, our trusty weekly treasury builder who normally posts on Mondays has run into a glitch with the software she has been using to create her posts. Jay, our creative genius webmaster is working on figuring out what that is all about – even while traveling in Iceland with his brand new baby boy, Atticus and his lovely lady Huck who is participating in an arts conference there. Laurie, who writes ReconsumerEyes that normally posts on Tuesdays is out of commission due to threatening emails, phone calls and written correspondence over the use of images found on the internet with no indication of copyright. Apparently the images in question were produced by Getty Images and have copyright protection. YIKES!

While Jay is working out the software glitch, I am committed to getting things back on track using only original images. Thanks for staying tuned. I’ll keep you posted on how things unfold.

The good news is that it is finally raining in our Beautiful Berkshires. The fruit trees my hubby and I are planting will be very happy about this.

Isn’t it great to get outdoors? Isn’t it also great to enjoy a delicious meal? So, how much more exponentially great is it to enjoy a fine dining experience outside? Let this treasury inspire you to create the perfect picnic with your loved ones.

Vintage Picnic Basket, Farmh…

Upcycled Vintage Folding Cam…

Handmade Maple Serving Board…

Set of 9 wicker picnic plate…

Red Ticking 100% Cotton Picn…

Juniper wooden spoons

Blue Enamel Bowl – Soviet vi…

Wine carrier handmade out of…

Garden Tic Tac Toe

Di: In Golden Wheat Panama S…

XL French Vintage wire baske…

SPECIAL- 6+1 Bonus Hand Prin…

2 Ceramic lidded jars spice …

SANDWICH Wrap- beeswax & clo…

Handmade leather water bottl…

Croquet Set with Stand and B…

Powered By Handmadeology

It’s Screen Free Week and I’ve made it my mission to convince you that the joys of going screen free are so immediate and immense, so real and reliable, that you’ll turn off your device once you’ve read this post and not log back on until next week!

Screen Free Week is a global celebration that invites everyone, young and old, to rediscover the joys of life beyond the screen. Begun in the 1990’s as “Turn the TV Off” week, it has now grown into a broader invitation to shuck all the online time and rediscover reading, playing, thinking, creating and connecting. It is an opportunity for all of us to go back to the experiences we used to have before technology played such a dominant role in our lives.


Nowadays, between smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions, the sheer number of screens in a home can seem overwhelming. But it wasn’t that long ago that we were without these devices. It wasn’t that long ago that our time was more our own and our connections were more real.


If your family is drenched in technology and it feels challenging to know how to approach the idea of Screen Free Week with your children, here are some simple ideas:

Play outside with your children in the fresh spring air.

Move your furniture around into a fresh, new arrangement.

Call someone you love and have a long evening chat.

Cook something new.

Listen to music. Or better yet, play live music.


Play word games, board games, card games or a jigsaw puzzle.

Read aloud after dinner.


Give your time to someone who needs you.

Take a long walk and really let yourself meander.

Sew. Tinker. Paint. Fix.

These are just a few of the many ways you can rediscover the essential joys that have gone by the wayside in recent years. Once you dive into any one of these pleasures, you are certain to springboard into more and end up with a great new list of your own.

One thing is certain. When you turn off your screens you will be amazed at how much more time you have. You’ll realize that you pour a lot of your time away, getting caught up in unnecessary wanderings online. You’ll reconnect with aspects of yourself and your life that you don’t even know you’ve been missing. You’ll have a lot more fun. Fresh, real life fun.

So go on. It’s time.

Turn this screen off.

One of the great things about being a consumer in the world today is that we have choices like never before. Buying recycled clothing is an obvious choice for people who wish to steward the earth forward in the healthiest way possible.

Recycled clothing takes many forms. There are fine items like the ones created by Crispina – colorful, one of a kind beauties that are both comfortable and immaculately tailored. You can find some great splashes of spring color from Cripina’s latest collection, available at her Etsy store.


There are also many brands and items of clothing created from recycling products that are a daily part of our lives. For example, did you know that some polar fleece is made from recycled plastic bottles? It’s true and it should make you feel even better about your own recycling efforts. It’s possible you are wearing a fleece sweatshirt made out of a water bottle you discarded a few years ago!


Plastic bottles become clothing in a fairly simple process. It begins when bottles are picked up from recycling centers, processed and sorted into colors. The bottles are then crushed into fine flakes after which they are melted, stirred and made into polyester strands that can be used in clothing. Companies as well known as Patagonia, Polartec and North Face use recycled products in their clothing lines and there is a wonderful site called Repreve which can tell you more about it.

Re-using plastic bottles this way has the power to keep billions of the bottles out of landfills and oceans each year. Consider factoring this into your thinking next time you are shopping for something new to wear. You really can do well by doing good.

There are also a variety of brave, committed companies who make clothing out of reclaimed cotton. Two are Clothes Made from Scrap and the wonderfully named menswear company, Dirtball Fashion. These are companies that walk their talk, creating every item they sell from recycled products. The fierce eco consumer below is wearing a Dirtball shirt.


If purchasing clothing made from reclaimed items is a stretch for your wallet, there is always the ever wonderful Thrift Shopping. The Salvation Army and the Goodwill are two of the biggest and best known Thrift Shops across the US and if you have a bit of patience, there are treasures galore to be found in both places. The Salvation Army tends to be a bit less expensive and usually has a designated “Family Day” where nearly the entire store is 50% off.

An easy way to slice through the overwhelming amount of clothes in a big thrift shop is to simply move your hands through the racks and look for fabric  that feels good to you. If you like cotton or linen or wool, you can start your shopping by simply reaching for items made from those materials. Most large thrift shops also organize their racks by color, so you can go right to a section that suits your eye. If you’ve never shopped in Thrift Shops before, now is a great time to start.


Take the time, make the time to recycle and look for clothes made from recycled items. The whole planet will be grateful.

As the weather warms up there are more opportunities to go outside. With biking you can turn the most mundane errand into a breath of fresh air. Enjoy the buds on the trees as you coast to the market.

Click here to view on etsy.

BikesTail.com Portable electric engine for bike - E-bike Conversion Kit for all bicycles. Assistant for bicycle. Italian Design.. Bicycle Basket / Bike Basket / Handwoven Basket Temple Cycles Premium Leather bike carry handle OYB Vintage Swiss "Upcycled" Bike Pannier
Woody's Chop Chort rear Wood bike fender Unique handmade wooden bicycle Bike U Lock Holster Wicker Bike Pannier. Bike Saddle Bag. Bike double basket. Totally handmade.
bubinga and maple wood straight bicycle handlebar Bicycle leather bag/ Leather Bike Bag/ Triangle Bag/ Tools box bag/ Bike/ bike accessory/ bike/ brick red/ black Dog bike handwarmers for adults and teens, birthday gift, crochet bicycle gloves, cycling, gift for bike riders, christmas gift 8-Speed Daisy - Mixtie Handcrafted Bicycle Locally Fabricated in Chicago
Wall Mounted Bike Rack Personalized Bicycle Cup Holder, Bike Cup Holder, Handlebar Cup Holder, beach cruiser cup holder accessory Hanging Clips (set of 2) bicycle saddle case bike map sweet white blue

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

Farmers' Market Dresses made 100% recycled cotton t-shirts
Farmers’ Market Dresses made 100% recycled cotton t-shirts

I started my business in 1987 with confidence that I could change the way the world saw discarded material – introducing fresh ways to conjure use where none had been seen prior.
Earthday 2015 was just a few days ago (April 22nd) and every year I feel like the world is more full of environmental atrocities that seem insurmountable. It gets me down.

This year I viewed a screening of a film called Inhabit, The Permaculture Prospective on Earthday. I am so happy to say that I am full of hope and a newly imparted drive to spread the word that we can make a giant U turn for our environment. Rather than working toward sustainability – I’m marching toward reparation.

In my shop you will find my latest contributions to my march toward being part of the solution.

You in?

“Where’d ya get that?” my car mechanic asked me.”From the Wicked Witch of the West?”

He was referring to the bike pictured below, which I bought last year at a yard sale for five bucks. I enjoyed his teasing, partly because I was proud that I was biking home after dropping off my car to be fixed and partly because I know that this bike, in all it’s rust-lovely glory, is a two wheeled sweetheart. It takes me many places I want to go with grace, strength and speed. Okay, maybe not speed but certainly the two other things.DSC_0022

Bikes are everywhere these days and all it takes is a fine spring day to bring out bikers all over cities and towns. Now is the time of year when kids learn to ride their first two wheelers, experiencing the sudden whoosh of freedom and balance that comes with giving up training wheels. It’s a historic moment in any child’s life and most of us can remember that happy moment in our pasts.community_bike_ride_jy_002_t725x500

Bicycles have been with us since the 1400’s when drawings supposedly appeared in the folio of Leonardo Da Vinci. The illustration below done by Da Vinci, or a student of his or even an impostor (no one is sure) is an early representation of the bicycle that we have come to know and love today.Leonardo_Folio_133v_Bicycle

China has the most bicycles in numbers, but the Netherlands has the most bikes per capita probably because the country is wonderfully flat, making it great for riding. The two most bike friendly cities in the world are thought to be Amsterdam and Den Haag, both in Holland. In the states, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and Portland, OR, all vie for the title of “Most Bike Friendly City” in America.

Even though 100 million bikes are sold worldwide each year, there are those who don’t want to own a bike but still want to use one. Luckily for these types a wonderful new bike sharing program has sprung up in variety of cities in North America. In New York, there is CitiBikes which allows anyone to purchase an access pass or annual membership and then to pick up a bike at a designated location, ride as much as desired and then drop the bike off at the original or other location. Toronto also boasts the fantastic the Bike Sharing Program which works in a similar way. People from all walks of life can take advantage of this wonderful, affordable way to get to work or just around town without the stress or cost of maintaining one’s own bike. Plus, it’s a simple way to get fit while in the fresh air at a very low cost.ride-share-toronto

Bikes offer up a simple miracle – the reminder that in our age of high technology where everything is being sent through the ether of the internet – there is still the need for a human being to carry an envelope or package through the city streets to an appointed destination. Bicycle messengers still work in a variety of American cities, where they can be seen bobbing and weaving through traffic. It’s can be dangerous and exhausting work but for the young and gutsy, it’s a way to make a living in the city.Bike-Messenger-Neil

Lorne Holden is an artist and author of “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/ The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done.” Grab a copy of her book and dive into something new for spring.

We at Crispina are inspired to do what’s best for the environment. By reusing discarded clothing, not only are we keeping them out of the landfill, we are conscious of reducing our consumption of raw materials. Here are some like minded artisans.

Click here to view on etsy.

Kids Long Sleeve Dress with Thumb holes Upcycled from Recycled Wool Sweaters and Jumpers 100% Wool longies with Peacock feather detail Eco friendly necktie bag, made from upcycled and recycled clothing in blue and red. hand embroidered suit fabric shoulder bag eco design Tunic with cap sleeves, square neck and large pockets, red and green gingham check. Upcycled recycled repurposed, one of a kind
Punk Top, Stripe, Floral, Recycled Clothing, Cotton Top, Rainbow, Strawberries, Rustic, Dance, Boho, Hip Hop Women Tshirt Dress Recycled Clothing Reconstructed Handmade Soft Knit Eco Stripes Grey Black Pink M Mystery Vintage Dress Outfit,Recyled dress,Repurposed Look,Vintage Womens Clothing,Recycled Upcycled Frocks,Boho Fashion,WEAR OLD JUNK Blue Dress Plaid Lavendar Rosettes Embroidered Upcycled Bohemian Peasant Recycled Clothing Size Medium
Teal Hoodie Upcycled clothing Eco friendly clothing Recycled Outerwear Upcycled jacket Altered couture Hippie Hooded jacket SaidoniaEco Womens Upcycled Striped Tunic Tank Top, Pinstripe Blouse, Boyfriend Shirt, Recycled Clothing, Ethical Fashion, Repurposed Neckties Cropped Jacket & Lace Shirt   | Repurposed Lace Top | Women's Upcycled Fashion Clothing | Junior Clothing Up-Cycled NECK TIE Skirt, Mini Skirt, tie skirt, silk neck tie, mens tie, chevron tie, golden tie, recycled tie skirt, repurposed ties
Bell Sleeve Patchwork Maroon Knit Upcycled Recycled Bohemian Kimono Cardigan Sweater Jacket Boho Festival Womens OOAK Size Medium/Large Handmade dress, recycled clothing, vintage,Size XS/S,Summer dress,Beach city,woman dress,Vestito mare,Vestito fatto a mano,vestito donna Upcycled Repurposed Altered Clothing Bodice Ivory Red Green Floral Poppy Print Burlesque Lace Strapless Black Dress ,upcycled recycled repurposed cotton summer dress,long skirt

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

Shire City Sanctuary is seeking a Super-Ninja to replace our current Super-Ninja, Cate, who is off to seek her fortune next month. The skillset/character traits required for this position are listed below. The position is full time, hours are 11-7 daily, closed Wednesdays and Sundays.

Cate the Super NInja Screen Printing during 10x10 Festival at Shire City Sanctuary
Super-NInja, Cate, Screen Printing during 10×10 Festival at Shire City Sanctuary 2015



  • Eloquent Smart, Positive, Honest, Confident and Clear, Friendly, Sincere and Fun-Loving
  • Greeting/Meeting visitors, giving tours
  • Writes kick-ass Press Releases
  • Gives good phone
  • Represents Shire City Sanctuary in community



  • Keeper of open hours at Shire City Sanctuary
  • Keeper of Shire City Sanctuary Calendar including Promotional/Press
  • Schedules weekly/monthly workings of Shire City Sanctuary



  • Physically strong
  • Organizes space for events, ie, moves furniture
  • Weekly Trash, Recyclables, Cleaning inside and outside of building
  • Plant watering


Cyber Savvy –



  • Screen Printing Knowledge/Interest
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Graphic Design
  • Sewing Knowledge/Interest



  • Curates/Assists onsite gallery shows
  • Heads-up Event Production
  • Manages Makerspace and oversees Rectory (next door)
job Opportunity at Shire City Sanctuary
Super-Ninja, Cate working on grant applications and being silly – one of Shire City Sanctuary’s displays of balance.

Send letter of interest with resume or CV to ShireCitySanctuary@gmail.com

Shire City Sanctuary is The Berkshires first Makerspace housing a Screen Printing Shop, Sewing Lab, and Commercial Kitchen, with Meeting, Workshop, and Event Space. We are located in a former Roman Catholic church in the heart of Pittsfield, MA. Crispina ffrench and her husband Chris Swindlehurst own Shire City Sanctuary and rectory next door that has been converted into 6 apartments.

French EmbroideryIf the words “Hand Embroidery” make you think of a gift from Granny in days gone by, here’s some great and colorful news. Hand embroidery – the craft of decorating fabric using needles with thread or yarn – is a vibrant practice still being done by people of all ages all over the world including right here in the America. Cultures as diverse as Latvia, Mexico and Hungary are a few of the many places on earth where hand embroidery is still a thriving craft. Pictured above is an example of embroidery from France.

Historians have found embroidery that dates all the way back to the 5th Century BC in China. As far back as then, people had discovered that the hand stitches that were used to create, tailor and mend garments, could be used in a decorative fashion as well. Incredibly, the basic stitches of embroidery that are used today – chain stitch, blanket stitch, running stitch and cross stitch – can be seen on examples of the earliest embroidery. And those very stitches are still seen on modern garments like the colorful peasant blouse from Mexico seen below.Mexican EmbroideryEmbroidery is generally done using an embroidery hoop. This allows the fabric being used to remain flat and makes it easier for the person working to move their needle above and below. Hoops are generally circular but can sometimes be oval or square.891883-001One country where you will find embroidery as a central and thriving art is Guatemala. There, the distinctive coloring and embroidered designs are put on everything from clothing to purses to home linens. Mayan women in Guatemala create garments that are made from two kinds of handwork – weaving and embroidery. It is common in many Guatemalan cities to see women sitting in doorways selling their wares. They often have just a few pieces for sale and each work is unique and represents hours of work. Hand embroidery is a principal way that Mayan women adorn their clothing, confirm their heritage and make money for their families.ScanHand embroidery is an act of creative expression that can be done by people of all ages. In fact, some of the finest examples of hand embroidery are made by elderly women who have been practicing the craft all their lives.lens-11Hand embroidering is a wonderful way to create adornment for any kind of garment or household linen that is truly one of a kind. If you’re interested in giving it a try, there are affordable online classes at Craftsy.com. There you will find wonderful lessons on all the basic hand embroidery stitches as well as instructions in how to create your own patterns.


Lorne Holden is an artist, author and educator. Her book “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done” will inspire you to embroider or dive into doing anything that makes your heart beat fast. Check it out!