Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Monday, February 23, 2009

Workshop Schedule Change

Greetings from EXTRA snowy Shire City (also known as Pittsfield, MA).
After a bunch of requests came in for more weekend time offered for workshops I have decided to try it out for my March plan. I am teaching Button Vests and Jackets - now offered on Saturday the 14 through Monday the 16. Come for all three days or just one. The cost is $150 per day. You will have a finished piece and a head full of knowledge and inspiration to continue when the day is done. If you plan to stay for more than one day the learning never ends!

I took a bunch of pictures today in the snow storm that continues to dump quiet softness all around. In front is a Button Vest. Restyled overcoat with recycled sweater trim - the style is from the vault but continues to be super popular! You can make a longer one or even a jacket like the one pictured behind the vest!

Pre-Registration is a must. Please call or email for more information. Crispinaffrench@gmail.com or 413-236-9600

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Alchemy Initiative

So my husband and I bought the buildings shown in the top two pictures here in 2006. Shown first is the rectory to the church shown second. The rectory is 7000 sq ft, built 1905, it has a huge yard and is morphing into 6 separate living spaces.
We live on the top floor in the biggest unit, about 1400 sq ft with three bedrooms. On April 1 a third unit will be occupied so we are nearly half way there!

The church is truly exquisite. a nearly 6000 sq ft footprint. Full of amazing stained glass and details of 1895 craftsmanship not normally seen in today's construction. There are two floors now. The lower level where 400 patrons were seated at the weekly Bingo events for the church. We have been using this space since we made the purchase, most recently for workshops.

The upper level is still full of pews and the remnants of an altar etc. We envision a third level dividing the upper level space to make it possible to heat and accommodate our plan.

The third, photo is of the convent, built in the early 1900s for the Notre Dame property. It is unoccupied, has fallen into disrepair and is on the market for CHEAP. Chris put an extra low bid in for it yesterday. If we get it, it will not be torn down to give us a clear shot view of our 24 hr Stop and Rob across the way. It will become an integral part of the plan we are conjuring.

Alchemy Initiative is the name we are using and for our intention, there is a multi faceted business plan is coming together now. It includes, an urban farm garden, workshop space, a public reading room, commercial kitchen, music venue, coffee/tea house, and hotel/hostel all done with green renovations and systems. Rainwater catchment, alternative energy, native species plants, filter plants, organic food plants, and a seed bank are in the plans. My dream is to power the whole thing with a wind turbine on the steeple!

An intensive internship program is in development stages.

There is a blog devoted to the process depicting the journey of the project's development. There is not a lot to see right now but you can get more information about our plans at www.alchemyinitiative.blogspot.com. Check back in a week or two when there will be more to it. Events are coming together for April and June already!

Friday, February 20, 2009


We took a ride to North Adams, the home of Mass MoCA yesterday. I think it is the biggest Museum of Contemporary Art in the country?? Huge galleries filled with interesting spectacles are around every corner. Funny, my friend Daniel, of Dream Away Lodge ilk, and I decided on the way up that we were good for about an hour in a museum of any kind, and that was all it took. The show we were chasing was the Sol LeWitt wall drawings exhibition. It will be there for 25 years so don’t rush but do see. I recommend the audio tour (you can download it free from here). The science behind the artist’s intention adds immeasurably to the experience. The lovely Jody Joseph, Mass MoCA Retail Manager was an eloquent and thoroughly entertaining guide.

Afterward we enjoyed the best cuppa Joe North County has to offer at the new and truly enchanting Elf Parlor on Ashland Street. Just open for a few weeks, this place wreaks eye sweets from entry til exit. The staff is cute and friendly and man can they make a great hot drink. Affordable and yummy, they even offer Hot Vanilla Creams for the wee ones – ingredients: warm milk, honey, vanilla, fluffed up just enough to feel fancy, served in a kid sized to go cup for a buck! How nice is that! An affordable kids drink without sugar, relatively healthy too! They have tasty baked goods. We shared a handful of yummy homemade cookies including molasses, the traditional chocolate chip and something called Butternut which was a buttery, chewy cookie laces with nuts and praline to beat the band! All in all a great way to spend a day and be inspired. There might just be some new blankets coming out of this!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Learn All About It

Rough of latest cover idea for my first book due out in August from Storey Publishing.


Every once in a while I am blown away by something. Could be an artist, piece of artwork, or experience. That strong inspiration makes me happy or excited, builds desire in me to reach out and connect that feeling to others. Here, let me share with you the artwork of fellow vintage collager extraordinaire: Lisa Whatmough and her production company, Squint Limited based in London England.

What do you think a room filled with her furnishings and my soft goods would be like? Dreamy I say!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sweater Making

Today began my February Workshop. The focus this month is on sweater making. Here is my friend Diane wearing a truly amazing rendition of a workshop inspired cardigan. She made the buttons with Fimo. Diane was a workshop attendee at the first one I offered back in June 2008. She got hooked on the process and has made several LOVELY pieces.
Monday and Tuesday round out this month's workshop. The Third Sunday in March I start a new workshop on button vests, incoporating used wool overcoats that are woven and wool knits like sweaters. We will learn combination techniques and general structural know-how pointers will be discussed.

Friday, February 13, 2009


I recently made a batch of New Flag Blankets. You can see one if you scroll down a way. Designed in my company's prior incarnation and we sold a BUNCH of them wholesale. I loved the design, especially in light of the times. Now is the first time I can remember not being ashamed by our flag. Barack Obama's election has allowed me pride in our national emblem.
While cutting material for the blankets the correlation Barack made in his inaugural speech to the country being a patchworked quilt was right in my hands. In the material I use there are many handknit sweaters from all sorts of places. Traditions tell tales of place and people. Hesitation struck me as I came upon this sweater. Certianly handknit on fine needles of experience and skill probably in Irealand. The country of my birth and heritage. I wanted to save it to look at and honor - for a second - until I realized that incorporating it into the mix would allow many that honor.

I hope Barack and Michelle like the blanket they inspired. They have inspired global HOPE, so with great gratitude I send them a humble gift of one of the batch - with bits of the Irish heritage sewn in.

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Regime Flag Coming Soon!

There are a batch of 10 New Regime Flags coming together in the studio. One of them is on the way to 200 Pennsylvania Avenue, a bunch of the others are for orders and there will be a few posted in my shop. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pittsfield, West Stockbridge, Hudson NY

Today was spent traveling near and wide to collect things needed for finishing touches of our nearly complete second floor unit in the rectory. First stop was The Floor Store in West Stockbridge where we ordered Marmoleum for both bathroom floors, subway tile for the bath and amazing ceramic tile to be used for the kitchen counters.
Then on to Reggie's magical wonderland of all things funky old and totally useful right in the heart of Hudson NY. Now that little city sparkles with it's fairly tale architecture and diversity.
By the time we got there the rascals were having high jinx! We had a late lunch enroute of pretzels, orange juice, clementines and strawberry Brown Cow yogurt! Both girls were in a great mood all day and really dug Reggie and his place. It was fun to have the weather to be warm enough to do some harmless puddle splashing which is Lucy's first choice activity! Here they are in all their glory: Lucy on the left and Violet. Violet will be two on the 10th. We are having a hot chocolate sliding party tomorrow in her honor!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cyber Magic

I am learning so much every day about the internet and how to use it best as a tool for marketing and general communication.
The latest is a calendar I am working on developing in google that will be searchable for all the events and happenings around here (and there are sooo many exciting things it is hard to stay focused on anything else!). So the learning and the excitement are culminating! So cool.

In the future there will be some sort of cool looking link to the calendar page but for right now today you can just search my measly beginning of a calendar there by going to google calendar and looking for crispinaffrench.

It will be filled with lots more soon so check back whenever you can.

It has been a challenge to make myself take time for cardio vascular challenges. I love to be outdoors and not that enthusiastic about treadmills or gyms.
I did get a good three mile trail run in yesterday. This morning Okemo and I found ourselves at the dog park but it was really really cold!