10 things about me…

I share lots of images of my work and things that inspire me out and about, but here are a few things you may, or may not, know about little old me…

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1, When I was small I wanted to be a primary school teacher or a fashion designer. I did study fashion at college but actually ended up doing neither! My final collection from 1996 above.

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2, I hated swimming when I was younger and was scared to put my face in the water. I had 1-2-1 lessons when I was in my late 20’s and now I absolutely love it (and swimming underwater is the best bit!). Highly recommended if you’re in a similar position.

3, I can drive but I hate driving.

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4, I still love the tube despite commuting on the Northern Line for the best part of 15 years. I even attended a textile design workshop at the London Transport Museum.

5, I’ve lived in Sussex and Lincolnshire but only really consider London to be home. Home sweet home below!!

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6, I love Woody Allen and my favourite film is Manhattan. I haven’t seen it for ages though as nobody else in the house is as keen.

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7, I used to be a runner (read jogger!) and took part in lots of races, culminating in a 1/2 marathon. I’d love to get back into running again if only my injuries/willpower would allow.

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8, My favourite place is Sydney. Closely followed by everywhere we visited in Japan – where they have THE BEST stationery shops.

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9, I’ve been fascinated by the 1950’s for as long as I can remember and I listened to lots of rock and roll alongside indie music when I was a teenager.

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10, And I’ve always been massively into music (see one of my playlists here) – when I was younger I played the violin, piano and sang but nowadays I just listen (and maybe sing along, just a little….)!

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Day in the Life – Debbie Carne – Alijoe Deigns

Yes, it’s the return of Day in the Life! We’re kicking off the 2016 series with Debbie Carne, who I’ve met at a number of events where she’s been selling her fantastic upcycled vintage plates. You can see more of them here. Now over to Debbie for a day in her life…

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Waking up is never hard to do these days – the alarm is set for 7 but I’m invariably awake at 6.30 and raring to go.

I still have to pinch myself that THIS is my day job now – having quit the big career a year ago, I’m truly loving every minute of my second working life.

First things first – to make sense of the scribbles in the pad next to my bed where I have jotted down ideas that hit me in the middle of the night. This morning was a Fornasetti style plate pair with a knitting theme going on…

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Shower, breakfast, newspaper, washing machine on and I am invariably in my ‘space’ by 8 – with a little ‘welcome’ from Ai WeiWei!

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I have so many ideas flying around and different things on the go at any one time that I tend to flit between activities during the course of the day. I probably ‘should’ be more focussed and have a plan for each day but I rather like the spontaneity of it all, even if it means that the ‘boring’/admin tasks tend to pile up.

Thank goodness for post it notes to register those random thoughts and ‘must do’s’.

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Typically, I will start with emails and Social Media – with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on the go and being horribly addictive, I have to be disciplined about time spent on all that.

If I have had an overnight order (the wonders of International reach with Etsy!), I will process that ready to post on my daily walk.

But if I have a new idea for plates (like this morning) I will want to start on it straight away – choosing the plates from my collection, sourcing the images, manipulating or combining with Photoshop, creating a Powerpoint slide and printing off a paper version to play around with. I have shelves of plates in my room that are roughly organised into colours, size and/or shape.

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The paper layout is an important part of the process and enables me to play around with different sizes and combinations of imagery on the plates.

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Once I am happy with the layout, I will print off an image sheet onto special transfer paper.

The actual process of applying the transfer is wonderfully therapeutic – I have the radio on (BBC Radio 4 or London), clear and clean the surface, cut the images and prepare the tools for application (water, cloth and knife).

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My magnifying light then comes into its own to ensure there are no air bubbles in the transfer and that the application is as smooth as can be.

The plates are then left in a rack to ‘dry’ prior to heat sealing in the oven the next day.

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Part of the fun of my work is sourcing the plates from charity and/or bric a brac shops from all around the country – once every couple of months, I will go off for a day or two on a recce, invariably with my husband, Steven, who loves the plate sourcing too.
We will go somewhere that I’ve researched ahead for its volume of potential shop sources – most recently, to North Norfolk and Cheshire, with a trip to the North East planned soon.

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But I will always check out our local charity shops for any hidden plate wonders – combining this with a walk, post office if I have plates to ship and perhaps meeting a friend for coffee.

Most days I will be home/locally bound but some days I will head off into town to just wander around a different area and/or to visit a gallery. Always open to inspiration, I will capture images of anything that is out of the ordinary or jot down thoughts as they come to me. This week I went to the Tate Modern for the PopArt exhibition, combining it with a wander on the Southbank and back streets of Southwark.

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When it is a ‘home day’, I will spend an hour or so catching up on webinars that I subscribe to and may have missed. A key goal this year is to have my own website (not just Etsy) and to start blogging – one of the big catch ups at the moment are the sessions from the wonderful ‘No Bull Blog School’ that I am subscribed to. (It is run by a lovely lady called Sarah Awkiscombe – highly recommend it!)

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Most days, I will also have finished plates to photograph and listings to write for Etsy – but at the moment, whilst I run my January sale, I am building a new collection ready to launch in February.

Whilst every plate I make is unique, insofar as the combination of the image and plate is a one off, there are clearly some designs that fly off the shelves – my new collection will comprise some old favourites (all be they in new plate contexts) with some completely new concepts. The Fornasetti inspired plates have proved my most popular and I have people waiting to see new listings around this theme. The Fornasetti knitting plate set is just one of them – now affectionately known as ‘Time to Unwind’. You saw it here first…

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Weekday evenings may involve meeting up with a mate but mostly it will be dinner at home with Steven – and sometimes our elder son, Alex, who is living at home at the moment.

The day typically ends with some ironing and TV prior to going to bed – but a restless night often ensues as I wait for the next morning so that I can get on with new ideas…

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You can find Alijoe Designs on Etsy – also follow Debbie on Twitter and Instagram.

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New Spring 2016 Collection

I’m really excited to finally be able to share my new collection for Spring, and here it is!

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New colour ways for Barbican (now available in yellow as well as blue) and Windows (in mint green – the existing yellow matches in with the new yellow designs), alongside a brand new design, London Town, which comes in pink and yellow.

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All 4 designs are available now by the metre, fat quarter or on travel card wallets and notebooks

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Do pop over to my Etsy shop and Not on the High Street and take a look! Thank you for all the lovely comments and feedback I’ve received on the new collection so far.

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Shop on Etsy

Shop at Not on the High Street

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The Barbican: Architecture and Light

Yep, more Brutalism today, and I can’t stop going on about the Barbican! Another Christmas present too…

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Now I went on my own little photo walk around the Barbican (nearly a year ago now, blimey) which you can see some of here, but no images I can take come close to the beautiful photographs taken by Alan Ainsworth for his book The Barbican: Architecture and Light. The book contains page after page of stunning black and white photographs of the Barbican with a focus on the play of light and shadow.

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As well as the photographs the book contains discussions of the architects’ vision for the centre alongside an essay on it’s planning and more. I’m inspired to head back with the 35mm camera to take some more shots looking at it from a different perspective.

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The Barbican: Architecture and Light by Alan Ainsworth is published by Oblique Publishing and is available here.

Procraftination*

So, what is procraftination? Yep, the crafting you do when you’re putting off doing the real work. This one all started last week when I spent a rainy (surprise surprise) afternoon at the kitchen table with the little man and made these fab paper gems from the free kit with this months’ Mollie Makes magazine…

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Not content with that, rather than working on my shiny new website (which I’m desperate to get up and running and for which I have a deadline, but hey) I decided to style the paper gems all over the house and make little arrangements from them…

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Yes – that is with washi tape AND buttons. I had copy to write you see, and lots of items to list on my new shop (yes, the new website has a shop – hooray!!!).

What I have discovered is that I like making pretty things and then taking (masses) of photos of them when I’m bored, avoiding something, or stressed. Fine when bored or stressed but that website just won’t make itself, will it?

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Anyway, I’m nearly there with the website (as I’m scheduling this in advance, you never know, you might be looking at it now – hope you like it!) and I am genuinely excited about it. That whole thing where my old one looked fine, but all of a sudden it looks rubbish, has happened again and I think that’s always a good sign!!

*new term coined by Helen Hogdson – thanks Helen!**

** Although Helen now tells me that she didn’t come up with this name – but she’s not sure who did. Very apt for the circumstances though, I’m sure you’ll agree!

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Brutalist London

Now I did receive some pretty good Christmas presents, I have to say. The present I’m sharing here today will undoubtedly keep me going for months!

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Mr M bought me the Brutalist London Map. The map contains more than 50 brutalist gems across London and I’m now planning to visit them all…

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Plenty of old favourites we know about already – The Barbican, National Theatre etc etc but lots I haven’t been to and, in many cases, must’ve just walked straight past over the years. I love a good walk and now I have lots of excuses!

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As well as the map itself the reverse contains information about the buildings and some great photographs to help you spot them…

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I’m actually itching to go and get the train into town as I type! Look out for lots of posts about these buildings throughout the year.

The Brutalist London Map is published by Blue Cow Media with an introduction by Henrietta Billings and photography by Simon Phipps. You can get a copy here.

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More Needlepoint!

You may recall that I first had a go at needlepoint after I bought a kit at the Knitting & Stitching Show last autumn. Well I rather enjoyed it and I’ve now started work on one of these babies…

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This is a Futura Green cushion kit from Pompom Design and I’ve just got started.

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I managed to make a little mistake straight away (which is so obvious now I look at this photo but I didn’t notice it at the time!) and encroached into the red area a little too much with the green. I’ve tried to salvage it though as I’m pretty sure that unpicking a whole heap of these stitches will be a rather unpleasant job!

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I’m really enjoying it again though and it’s quite nice to have a larger project to work on. I’m planning to put this full sized cushion on my sofa to replace one of the tired old ones once it’s finished. Here’s a work in progress shot from the first one I made – a mini cushion (you can read my post here).

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It was suggested that I might want to stitch the larger one on a frame (such as this one) but I thought I’d try without and see how I go. After a couple of hours of stitching I’m thinking I might need to get one as it made my hands a little sore – I suspect this will worsen as I approach the middle. Helena at Pompom Design tells me the finish will be better too.

Watch this space and Instagram to see my work in progress. It is surprisingly speedy once you get going (the mini kit didn’t take me very long to do at all) but I do like to take a chance to sit and work on it for an hour or so at a time so it may take a while!

This is a sponsored post – I did pay for my kit but received a discount.

Take a look at Pompom Designs’ other needlepoint kits here.

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