30 November 2014

Reader Under The Spotlight - Alison

Today I would like to introduce you to Alison. 

Hi, I'm Ali, a.k.a. Crafty Ali (which is my business name) or just plain Alison Phillips.  I am a self-employed crafts person with a passion for papercrafts, although I sew a lot as well.  Most of my work involves making wedding and party stationery, planner accessories, decorations, and some calligraphic work. I'm 47, live with my two cats in Barnet, which is in a north London (UK) borough (but has a Hertfordshire address!).  My Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/CraftyAli.

1. When did you buy your first organiser and what was it?

1983.  Actually it was a gift.  It was a Filofax - burgundy pocket size, leather (I assume) spine and patterned fabric.  I used it, but I didn't love it.

2. What other brands have you used or considered using? 

I am rather drawn to the pretty patterned ones available in stores such as Paperchase

3. Out of the organisers you own which is your current favourite (Style and Size)? 

They all have a functional use, but my dad recently gave me a really old battered Canda File which he found in his loft.  I've searched and searched on the web for this make, but I assume it was swallowed up by another company as I can't find any reference.  It is black leather, compact size.  If you can imagine big giant cartoon love hearts pulsating out of my eyes, that is what I felt like when I saw it. I think I love it so much because it looks so pre-loved, it is so easy to write in as the rings don't get in the way, it's slim enough to easily carry and my vintage fountain pen looks great with it.

4. How many Filofax or other brands of organisers do you own?

Seven ring bound systems

1 A5 ring binder (hand decorated), 1 pocket (WH Smith I think), 1 black Filofax pocket Metropol, 1 Blossom Filofax personal, 1 A5 black Filofax Metropol, 1 A5 black Filofax Metropol zip around, 1 Canada File (compact)

and one Raydori.  Plus loads of notebooks as I write/take notes so much.

5. What is the oldest organiser in your collection?

I suspect it is the Canda File (compact) as it looks ancient.

6. What do you use your organisers for?

I don't use a paper diary.  Each organiser has a working function.

The A5 ring binder is for archiving stuff.  The pocket WH Smith one is my address book.  The personal Blossom I use for client order details and prioritising my workload (I made a mini T-card system for it).  All of these three stay at home.

The pocket Metropol I use for shopping and finances, which was its intended function when I bought it.  It carries information such as room and furniture dimensions (in case, say, I see a pair of curtains I like whilst out shopping and need my window measurements), the colour of my hair dye (yes, I dye my hair!), what I have in mind to buy my family for Christmas (and what I bought them last year), shopping lists (a different page per category, e.g. haberdashery, groceries, etc.), small fabric and thread swatches, and I have recently added loyalty cards to this.  I carry this everywhere.

The A5 Metropol zip around I am currently using as a size guide when making planner accessories.

The A5 Metropol (not zip) I have just received this (I swapped some craft materials in return for this) and I might try moving into this rather than carrying different notebooks.

The Canada File (compact) I use for brainstorming, ideas, etc., and more as a notebook (with sections). I carry this everywhere.

My Raydori is for personal use and I change the contents depending on where I will be using it.

7. What was the feature about Filofax you like most?

I like that it is a non-bound, interchangeable system, so I suppose the 'feature' I like most has to be the rings - I like to regularly change the running order of things, I like to remove pages that I no longer need, you can't really do that to bound books without destroying the structure.  Plus, as simple as this may seem, I like that the Filofaxes have a clasp to stop it opening and preventing the contents from falling out.

8. If you could design your own Filofax what would it feature?

I've had this conversation with Rita Sedani - we need a perfect way of keeping a 'to do' list constantly in view, as my worry is that as soon as you turn a page, your call to action is lost and easily forgotten.  A fold/flip out panel on which to attach a notebook so that action/to do notes can be written (and kept in view) next to the planner sections of the Filofax, rather than having to keep re-writing/carry forward action point lists and moving them about.  Basically, a three panel cover that lays flat.  I saw an old double ring system in an earlier post and thought this would still be good, but without the extra set of rings.  My ideal planner would weigh nothing and collapse to a hair's breadth as soon as it goes into a handbag. And it would have a chameleon type cover to co-ordinate with everything. And it would smell of freshly baked bread or Chanel No. 5. Please have a word with the designers, Steve! [On it right away!!]

9. How do you carry your Filofax?

I have a large multi-compartment handbag (an Ollie & Nic Libby bag) - all the compartments open easily so you don't have to dig around at the bottom and it doesn't have a black lining, so the bag contents are easy to spot.

10. Which Filofax in the current range do you like the most? Are you going to buy it?

I love the look of the Lockwoods, but I don't want a zipped Filofax that I'd use on a daily basis, as I'm sure I will overstuff it and I would be scared that the zip might break.  So, no, I doubt I will buy this.  I'm a very practical person, and so I'm not too bothered about the look or material of any particular Filofax, but I think I would be happy with a Holborn.

11. What is the most you have ever spent on a Filofax or other brand of organiser? Which model? 

It was a burgundy leather personal size Filofax (unsure of the model) which I no longer have.  So, whatever the price a standard leather personal size Filofax was in circa 1999-2000, it was that much.  I have £38 in my mind for some reason.

12. What's your favourite Filofax tip or hack?

Hmmm, well I can usually find a practical use for most things.  If the hole punching can be mastered, then people can easily transform something they might discard into an insert or accessory.  For example, sturdy envelopes make great receipt pockets; birthday cards can be turned into dashboards or dividers, and so on.

13. Turning to Philofaxy, what do you like the most?

The worldwide contributions - some are light-hearted, some serious, some nerdy, some innocent; the generous file sharing and that all of the contributions contain passion!

14. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

There's nothing I dislike, per se, but I would like the blog archive as a link next to the other headings at the top (below "For the Love of Filofax")

15. What was the last music track you downloaded or bought?

I recently downloaded "I think it's going to rain today" by UB40 (which seems to be constantly in my head).  I have this on vinyl, but haven't yet got round to setting up my vinyl record converter thingybob.

16. Have you ever attended a Philofaxy meet-up? if not do you intend to one day?

Kind of.  I recently met in St. Albans (UK) with Rita Sedani, Ray Blake, Eliane (on FB as Eliane Lavenderlifeuk) and Sheetal Agheda

17. What was the last movie you watched?

Up (for probably the fourth or fifth time).  I watch a film every day - it's the luxury of working at home and having satellite telly.  Today's film saved on my planner is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as I have [unbelievably] never seen it.

18. What was the last book you read?

I always have a few books on the go, but the last one that I actually finished and put back in the bookcase was The Dark Volume by G. W. Dahlquist, which is the second book of the Glass Books trilogy.  It took me over a year to read. Still reading 100 Years of Solitude and still working my way through a collection of haiku.

19. George Clooney or Brad Pitt?

George Clooney, although the framed photo I have of him in my kitchen has been turned to face the wall (in protest of his recent nuptials)

Thank you Alison. As you know we are always looking for new people to appear in our 'Reader Under Spotlight feature, please contact Steve philofaxy at gmail dot com


  1. I enjoyed reading this, Alison!

  2. It was so nice to "meet" you, Alison! I absolutely LOVE the 12 month dividers in pink that I bought your your Etsy shop a few weeks ago! They are fantastic! :)