Category Archives: blog


Slowing down meant that today I stayed home with Lucy while Violet ventured out to Day Camp all on her own. We had a wonderful day being silly and getting things done a little gardening, a nice run, a bunch of computer work, and it culminated with her making tortillas from scratch for dinner – great to get a little hiatus before the whirlwind of the coming rest of the week.

Some of you might know that my son lives with a pretty severe heart condition, a Restrictive Myopathy. On Thursday he will undergo a risky procedure to restore a normal heart rhythm. My connection to our higher power is heightened and I feel positive and confident that Ben will weather this well and feel a sense of relief shortly afterward. Getting myself into this frame of mind requires an enormous level of energy.

On Friday I have a ticket to Ireland with two dear friends where we will spend an abbreviated stay exploring and preparing for our next family adventure. More on that another time.

Before any of this happens I need to get a few things done in the studio to be sure the momentum keeps flowing in my 10-day absence. the things will happen shortly after my return home. First I will be teaching my last Potholder Rug Workshop of the year on July 12 and 13. It is a Sunday/Monday and there are spots open for both days. You can register here –

Second, Shire City Sessions will be turning this parking lot into a Live Music, Craft Beer, Food Truck EXTRAVAGANZA for the first time on July 20. There are posters to hang, t-shirts to print, reuseable cups to order and YIKES so little time!2015-06-26 19.06.51

Send a prayer to Ben. Let him and his issues be a reminder to love the ones you hold dear to your heart. Everyday you have to share with those special people is a blessing. Life is beautiful and precious.

My hubby and I own a former Catholic Church and rectory next door in Pittsfield MA. You might know about it – called Shire City Sanctuary – a Makerspace in the former church AND we have turned the adjacent rectory into 4 apartments right in the heart of our healing city. (Pittsfield has a long history of toxicity left in the wake of General Electric’s production – PCBs in the river, tainted soil given to land owners as ‘clean fill’ and even used in public school playgrounds.) For 30 years the EPA and GE have been arguing, talking about, and promising to cleaning it up and they never will. It has been such a long time that most people don’t remember the atrocities.

We remember – and know that waiting around for other people or government agencies to do the right thing is most often wasted time. We are taking the healing into our own hands.

Jay and Matt Lamb of Berkshire Earth Brigade working on a shade structure for vertical beds and a sitting area.
Jay Allard and Matt Lamb working on a shade structure for vertical beds and a sitting area.

Here is how: with Permaculture.

We are healing our ground with plants and mushrooms, creating productive, low maintenance, nurturing gardens for our tenants and neighbors to use and enjoy. We have hired Matt Lamb and a couple collaborators to turn our grounds into a magical healing wonderland of food and beauty. Stay tuned here for updates and pictures throughout the seasons. It all just started and is off to an amazing start.


We have ants in our house. We are chemical phobic too so controlling pests is always alternative and sometimes not so effective. After dealing with little tiny ants for most of our super freezing cold winter and then an entourage of big fat black ants that moved in with the change of season we found a great solution and are currently living ant free!

Eyeball equal amounts of maple syrup and Borax. Stir them together in a shallow plate, saucer or jar top. We put a jar top full of this mix under our stove where the little tiny ants found and indulged in it. They soon dissipated. This last week I made a bigger batch and left it on the kitchen counter while we were gone for the day. After finding ants upstairs crawling across my pillow, traversing the top of our window molding and tickling my toes under my desk I sit here making this entry with nary an ant in sight. According to my hubby, the ants eat up the mix, carry it to their nests and it kills them. Sorry guys.

You can find Borax in the laundry aisle of most conventional grocery stores.

Do you have a highly effective non-toxic remedy to share?


used clothing alchemy picnic blanket by crispina ffrench made from recycled corduroys

This weekend I will be selling all manner of Used Clothing Alchemy at the Hudson River Exchange Summer Market ~ From what I hear this is one not to be missed! I am really excited to have the opportunity to share my picnic blankets, summer clothing collection and all natural yoga mats in this beautiful outdoor setting right along the majestic Hudson River! For directions and hours you can check out their website at With all these picnic blankets coming together in the studio, I am planning a few picnics sprinkled throughout the summer. A hot sunny beach on Cape Cod, Inside Out stage at Jacob’s Pillow and The Lawn at Tanglewood are definite. Where is your favorite picnic destination?

Oh, I can just imagine the warm sun on my face now!

Add Joy, reduce disappointmentIt is summer vacation and my younger two kids have just finished second and third grade. (Our oldest is 22 and living the good life in Boston as he works for the summer before returning to Berklee this fall.) My husband and I are both self employed so we are going to work alternative schedules for the summer to save money and spend more time with our kids. My challenge will be to be present to The Littles when spending time together rather than finding ways to entertain them while I work.

This first week we are sharing a sitter/entertainer with our good friends who also have two little girls similarly aged. We plan to fill days with summer fun, from wading in the brook catching critters to a day at the town beach and maybe a couple of kid-oriented local museum trips. Here’s to a summer full of fun and adventure with time to get things done and add joy!

What are you planning for the summer to add joy on your path?




06.20.15I am not the only one to feel overwhelmed with the number of things on my daily list to accomplish. The inability to keep-up results in constantly feeling  disappointed. There are just too many very interesting, enchanting, mind-widening, entreprenuerial things to do in my everyday.

It has recently occurred to me that what is most important, is to live a beautiful life. It is my mission.  With this in mind, my blog is back in action – a soft reappearance.  Join me on my path of reducing expectation, with it’s resulting disappointment and increasing presence and  joy. There are bound to be significant changes along the way.

My first hurdle is realizing my inability to successfully run three businesses, stay healthy, and have a beautiful life –

Got some thinking to do, come along and lets see where we find ourselves.

What can you change in your life to add joy and diminish disappointment?

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 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.

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?

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

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.