Take-away from a stationery week

07-05-19 planners
The planner lineup, 7th May 2019 (it’s a dull and chilly day in Norfolk and this selection reflects that)

I promised a wrap-up at the end of stationery week. I have been pondering for a couple of days now what I am taking away from it and I think I have it straight in my head.

An excuse to shop

I think this type of week/day is most successful as a marketing drive and if I wasn’t on a strictly limited budget I would have used the opportunity to buy something special. On the other hand, there is a lot of fun to be had from looking at what is available even if you know you can’t buy it and I enjoyed my virtual window-shopping a lot. I limited it to just two purchases for Stationery Week – the set of colour co-ordinated fineliners because I thought I might like to colour-code, and a roll of washi tape which was just a general re-stock because I’ve almost run out. Use of the fineliners after my initial testing was minimal (although it outstripped use of the washi tape) but I can report that they are very nice pens and if you like colour-coding I would recommend trying to track some down. I won’t be using them myself, but I have plans for them.

Other people’s posts

Perhaps the best thing about National Stationery Week was seeing other people’s blogs and Instagram posts on the theme. I saw some things that were new to me through photos posted on social media and that’s exciting. There is a surprising amount going on in the stationery world nowadays and most of it is pretty, not to mention relatively affordable. I must admit if I look back ten or twenty years, I wouldn’t have foreseen that.

Setting up the Kikki K ring-planner

This was a very enjoyable exercise and it got my creative muscles moving a bit, but ultimately it frustrated me more than it inspired me. I found I was even less productive last week than I usually am, and that is saying a lot. However, it was beneficial because shining a light on the details of a planner set-up has given me the opportunity to think about what I feel comfortable with and where I might go from here.

Likes and dislikes in a planner system

  • The paper needs to play nicely with my fountain pen inks
  • I greatly prefer the week-to-view column layout of my Mark + Fold diaries
  • I love having a marker for the current week which the Mark + Fold diaries don’t have
  • I like to have both my tasks and my appointments for the day in the same place
  • I like to track my goals (like creative writing word count and step count) on my main diary page rather than a separate tracker
  • I don’t necessarily need a whole year of dated pages available all the time
  • I like underlining things and drawing in separators with red ink
  • I don’t colour-code
  • The Personal/Medium size ring-planner is both too small and too bulky for my taste
  • I like having a pen loop
  • I adore having notepaper in the binder and being able to flip to it from the diary section without having to worry about a separate notebook
  • I really like the touch of prettiness in the dividers I made

Alternative formats

As I have said previously,  I will continue to plan 2019 in my Mark + Fold diary because it works very well. The thing that hasn’t gelled for me this year is setting up a notebook to accompany it and I intend to pay some attention to that over the next few days.

Heading towards 2020* I want to combine planning and notes in one book. That means looking at some options that are outside my usual sphere – the bullet journals, notebooks with removable pages, or custom-build spiral-bound planners. Plenty there to keep me interested for the rest of this year, then.

Pens

Yep, it is still fountain pens for me, every day, all the way. Fountain pens and inks. Nothing beats the feeling of writing with a fountain pen on decent paper.


*2020 – When I left school, this was always in my mind as the year I would retire. How times change! Then again, I would not have foreseen the lovely family that came my way, and all the things I would do and I would certainly not have thought of myself being still so young at heart this far down the line. Giving up on the retirement idea is a small price to pay.


 

Ring planner experiment – filled pages

National Stationery Week Day 6

04-05-19 filled

Coming to the end of National Stationery Week and I’ve filled in this week in the Kikki K planner. This is generally how weekly horizontal pages have worked for me in the past. It’s a mix of forward planning of day-specific appointments/tasks together with reminders of things that happened on a particular day like letters received. I’ve popped the writing and fitness trackers up so you can see how I will be using them.

I still lean very strongly towards the use of a minimum number of colours and very little decoration. I may look out a celebratory sticker to pop in by the “Gaudi finished” note. The coloured gel pens are very pretty, but probably a step too far for my taste.

There are a couple of extra things in my set-up:

04-05-19 ruler

First there is a plastic Kikki K ruler/page marker so I can flip easily to the current week. This is just wrapped with co-ordinating washi tape which is a brilliant way to change up the look without having to invest in brand new page markers when you crave something different. Re-using our plastic is so grown-up isn’t it?

Behind this the cut-down To Do list has some tasks that I wanted to do during the week but that aren’t day-specific. In future weeks I will try to remember to put the things I want to focus on at the top of that list instead of halfway down as I did today!

Finally, you may see in the first photo some page flags peeping out from the card slots in the front cover. I’m not sure how much I would use them, but they are useful for appointments that are waiting to be confirmed and might change. Whether or not they stay in the planner will depend on whether or not they stick long-term to the backing card. If they turn out to be fussy, they will go back in a drawer and just be used when I am at my desk.

Tomorrow I will do a brief ‘How I feel’ now the planner is set up, and also a round-up of other stuff that has caught my eye this National Stationery Week.


 

 

Ring-planner experiment – the set-up

NATIONAL STATIONERY WEEK DAY 5

03-05-19 Top

Oooh, look, there’s some stuff in my Kikki K ring-planner!

This is mainly going to be a pictures post, but I will say that I ended up designing my own inserts because it turned out to be easier than trying to print the ones I found online. I have printed what I need for my initial experiment, then padded the sections out with blank notepaper to give me an idea of how much I am likely to have in them.

First up is the Notes section with existing notes at the front and spare notepaper behind. This is the only section that has anything written in yet. I have had this list of the planets for several years because I’m useless at remembering what order they come in.

03-05-19 notes

Goals – in here I have put a monthly tracker for my writing and another one for my fitness. I will just be writing numbers on these (words written and steps for each day probably).

03-05-19 writing03-05-19 fitness

Diary – I have gone for a week on 2 pages and each week will have a To Do sheet (cut down from the Kikki K Medium size) for tasks I particularly want or need to complete that week. If I feel like it, I can rotate border colours each month or each quarter.

03-05-19 diary

Tasks – This will hold my master tasks list or someday/maybe tasks. Unfortunately once these pretties are gone I will be moving on to the plain Kikki K stock.

03-05-19 Tasks

Inspiration – this section is empty at the moment which doesn’t mean I am uninspired. Or does it?

I’ll be back tomorrow to show you some of the diary pages filled in for the past week and planning for next week.


 

Ring planner experiments – the inserts

National Stationery Week Day 4

02-05-19 Dividers

Welcome to National Stationery Week Day 4 and my second post showing an experimental set-up of a Personal size ring-planner (previous post here). I have been concentrating on the nerdy part – testing various pens and papers to see what might or might not work and some of the results have surprised me.

First, though, I have made some dividers from heavy-weight scrap-booking paper with typed labels. I haven’t laminated the dividers and there are two reasons for that. Whilst I accept that lamination increases durability, it also adds bulk and it covers paper (a material that can be recycled) with plastic (a material that cannot). Previously when I’ve used Filofax and Kikki K systems I have not had any problem with paper dividers. Protection comes in the form of the clear plastic flyleaf from my Filofax Original which sits in front of the first divider and a decorated flyleaf from a Kikki K planner add-on set which lives at the back. I also use a bit of clear sticky tape to cover the label area, but that’s as far as I go.

(Photos of the ink tests are at the foot of this post; click on photos to go to full-size.)

In choosing which paper to print my experimental inserts onto, I have used the paper from Mark and Fold (120gsm, made in Aberdeenshire) as my benchmark. It’s what I have in my current diary and it’s a very hard act to follow with no bleedthrough from any of the pens tested and less showthrough visible to the naked eye than caught on camera.

I also used the following pens:

  • Parker 51 medium nib filled with Lamy Peridot ink – this pen writes much wetter than many of my fountain pens and there was bleedthrough on the majority of papers.
  • Waterman Hemisphere filled with Graf von Faber-Castell Midnight Blue ink – this is the combination I’ve been using extensively in my current diary.
  • Waterman Hemisphere filled with Herbin Poussiere de Lune ink – I find Herbin inks often bleed through paper.
  • Cross Century II  filled with Lamy Ruby ink.
  • Parker 51 fine nib filled with Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue ink.
  • Uni Emott pens in pale pink (colour 68), deep pink (colour 67), plum (colour 80), lilac (colour 34) and pale blue-grey (colour 81).

 

I tried these out on a selection of papers with my fountain pens and had the following results:-

  • Some random notepaper from The Works, gsm unknown – no bleedthrough, and less showthrough than many of the others I tested; stood up surprisingly well to the pen test. I just have a few sheets of this paper which I will use in the Notes section
  • Kikki K standard inserts which came with the ring-planner, gsm unknown – bleedthrough with Lamy Peridot ink in the medium-nib Parker 51 which is a gusher, showthrough with all the inks. I have a lot of To Do sheets and note sheets to use up (anyone who has bought a Kikki K planner knows they come with a lot of note sheets)
  • Filofax floral decorated inserts (the 2016 iteration) – some bleedthrough from the Parker/Lamy combination, showthrough minimal as it is disguised by the pattern. I just have a couple of To Do lists to use up
  • Basildon Bond Personal Writing Paper, possibly 90gsm, but not confirmed – no bleedthrough from any of the inks, showthrough was pretty much in line with Kikki K paper
  • Copier paper, 120gsm – just to prove the weight isn’t the only deciding factor, this has significant bleedthrough from the Parker/Lamy combination and a tiny amount from the Herbin Poussiere de Lune in the Waterman Hemisphere and from the Lamy Ruby in the Cross Century II, however there was almost no showthrough.
  • Copier paper, 90gsm – I would say worst performance overall with bleedthrough on Parker/Lamy, Waterman/Herbin and Waterman/Graf von Faber-Castell combinations, showthrough about on a par with the Kikki K inserts.
  • Coloured copier paper, 80gsm – I tried two colours with no bleedthrough on the blue paper and bleedthrough on the cream paper only using the Parker/Lamy combination, showthrough was negligible on the blue, more pronounced on the cream but still at an acceptable level.

 

Initially, I intend to print my diary inserts (week on two pages horizontal format from Philofaxy free printable) onto the cream 80gsm paper simply because I don’t intend to use the sheets long-term. When it comes to preparing for next year I would be tempted to buy an A4 pad of Rhodia paper which is well-behaved with fountain pen inks. I would also probably choose a paid-for printable from one of the many on Etsy over the free printable, just based on the fact that it really irritates me that the format I prefer doesn’t use capital letters for the names of the days and months.

This is a mega-post, but I want to mention one thing before I go – how much easier it is to print out your own inserts if your printer does duplex printing. My new-ish HP Envy printer is a big improvement in this regard.

Thank you if you have stuck with this through to the bitter end. Here is your reward – the dividers in the planner!

02-05-19 KK + Dividers

See you tomorrow when I should have photos of the filled planner.


Ring planner experiments – the basics

National Stationery Week Day 2

Welcome to National Stationery Week Day 2 and the first of four posts in which I will be detailing an experimental set-up of a Personal size ring-planner. Today I have chosen the planner I will use for the experiment – I thought I would use my Filofax Original Fuchsia Patent, but instead I have chosen my Kikki K medium size in the blue colourway from their We Are All Creative range released in 2017. Got to go with what calls to you on the day, right? This is a leather planner with a fabric lining and their standard pocket layout inside. It is a structured binder (as opposed to floppy ones like the Filofax Malden and the offerings from Gillio and Van der Spek), this is just my preference. It is quite lightweight without any inserts, but if you choose you can fit plenty in it on its 30mm rings. The hardware is silver-coloured although it looks rather gold in this photo.

30-04-19 Creative

As to inserts, it is my intention to print these using papers I already have to hand using free printables from Philofaxy or to my own designs. Keep an eye out for more on this subject in my next National Stationery Week post where I will be experimenting with combinations of pens and paper to come up with the best pairing for the experiment.

First, though, I want to quickly address why I am calling this is an experimental set-up. I am pretty sure that I will be happy to keep using my Mark and Fold Diary for the rest of this year, but National Stationery Week seems like an opportunity to play about with a Filofax-style planning set-up and it may give you some ideas, or helpful information. I have to stress that this won’t be a tried-and-trusted planning system, although it will be one I intend to work with for a while, with an eye on next year’s requirements. There is a lot to like about my current diary: the paper quality, plenty of room to write in a quote each week which I do like in my diary, clear minimalist aesthetic. On the downside, some days I don’t have quite enough room, I generally prefer something other than the vertical column design, it’s an A5 bound book and I don’t tend to take it out of the house because I also have to carry a separate notebook. Taking everything into account, the paper quality really is good enough to balance any number of other design elements.

As to the pens I will be using, the set-up needs to accommodate my fountain pens shown below (left to right these are the recently acquired Parker 51 which is a bit of a gusher compared to my other pens; the blue Waterman Hemisphere; the Rose Cuivre Waterman Hemisphere; the blue Cross Century II looking just gorgeous in this photo; and my original Parker 51). Also in the photograph is a set of Uni Emott coloured pens bought specially for Stationery Week so I can show you some colour-coding. These write very well, although the pale pink and pale blue-grey are very pale indeed.

30-04-19 Pens

I hope this has piqued your interest and you will join me later in the week as the set-up progresses.

Tomorrow, though, for my knitting fans, I’ve got a finished object and I am over the moon!


 

InCoWriMo 2019

Today is the sixth day of the International Correspondence Writing Month 2019 and I am pleased with my progress to date.

Whilst the aim is to write a letter – or, indeed, any hand-written missive which can be a note, postcard, post-it, so long as it’s written by hand – every day through February, many people taking part will inevitably be fans of pens and papers and so the letters can be quite decorative, or include little gifts. I like to write in my letters about which pen and ink I am using because I love to read this information in the letters I receive. I have some decorative notepaper, quite a bit of it from Kikki K, so I don’t decorate the letters themselves, but I do like to add some fripperies on the envelopes.

Speaking of envelopes, I am addressing the letters this year with my lovely little typewriter. One year I hand-wrote the addresses with fountain pen and ink and then overlaid them with sellotape to provide a waterproof layer; the other year I hand-wrote the envelopes with ballpoint pen. Of the three, the typewriter is the nicest – it still seems like a hand-crafted solution, whilst being neat, legible, and waterproof.

For letters that I am sending abroad, I have a pack of postcards from Norwich Castle Museum. These feature images from the Norwich School of painters, mostly local scenes or still-lives. Many of these hang in the Castle Museum itself as it houses a good art gallery as well as the historical and natural displays.

The little bone-handle pen-knife in my picture above is an item I use for opening letters. To the best of my knowledge, it belonged to my grandparents when they lived in their lovely house in York, and passed along via my mum to me. It is a delicate item, very much for the genteel lady. My dad always carried a pen-knife which my sister now owns. It was mainly used for peeling apples, sharpening pencils, and for tamping down the tobacco in his pipe. I find it sad that the pen-knife is now seen as a weapon rather than a utility item, and is therefore (understandably) frowned-upon.

In other news, yesterday was my birthday and it was very book-orientated. 2019 is definitely going to be a year where I read a lot. I have already determined that I am going to get back into the habit of just browsing in bookshops. It seems to me that I stopped reading a lot at around the time when I stopped browsing in bookshops a lot; I am not sure which one led to the other. However, it does seem to me that when I take the time to simply wander around and look at books, I see all manner of items which catch my eye and I am certain that this can only be of help to me in my desire to read more. My favourite bookshop to browse in was a small independent book store in Norwich called Gliddons which was around until the 1980s. I remember buying my first copies of books by John Fowles, Elizabeth Jane Howard, and F Scott Fitzgerald there, as well as many a sci-fi book from the bookshelves in the basement. Second to that, the big Borders store which opened in Chapelfield in 2005 and sadly departed in 2009, was a favourite. This was a huge book shop for Norwich and I can remember buying many a ‘business’ book there, as well as the first paperbacks I owned of Haruki Murakami novels. The best shops for browsing the books in Norwich now are The Book Hut (independent), Jarrolds (independent, part of local department store) and Waterstones (chain).

Right, I am heading off to clean out a fountain pen then tomorrow I can refill it with a new colour ink, ready for some more letters.


Are you taking part in InCoWriMo this year? Have you done it in previous years? Would you do it in future years? What do you think?


 

You know it’s coming

Kikki K & Filofax binders
Personal size planner/organiser binders: Kikki K – Filofax – Kikki K

Oh, so it’s that time of year, is it? The time when even monogamous me gets the pretty, flitty thoughts and starts digging about in her planner patch. In keeping with the general story of my life, I am in limbo at the moment and I need something to happen before I can make a decision about exactly how I will be planning/organising/keeping a diary for 2019. It seems that everyone has a different word for pretty much the same concept so I’ve offered a few options there.

I haven’t used a ring-bound planner this year, and I might not next year. Then again, I might, and if I do, it is likely to be in one of the above three binders, which are all the ‘personal’ size. For a couple of months now I have been thinking that I would really like a navy blue A5 Filofax Original, but Filofax don’t sell such a thing in Great Britain and I’m not going to break my habit and order one from abroad. The ‘why no navy blue?’ is a lament I have been singing for a few years (I would settle for cobalt blue if navy were too much of a stretch) and Filofax have indeed added navy blue options in a few of their styles, but not in the Original which is, as you will guess, the style I really like above all others – it is so sleek and minimal. I love my fuchsia patent Personal size shown.

A couple of years ago, I finally took the opportunity to visit a Kikki K stationery shop in London and I bought the mint-green binder with silver speckles which I used a fair amount. However, not so long after my visit they came out with their ‘Creative’ theme which is all navy blue and red and I was finally able to buy a navy blue leather binder, albeit not quite as sleek as the one I had in my imagination. I didn’t use this very much at all, mainly because carrying anything not absolutely essential to my continued existence on an everyday basis became impossible from July 2017 to July 2018 due to the location of my workplace and the rigmarole of getting there and home again. Plus, of course, this year I have been so happy using my bound diary from Mark + Fold that I haven’t really been tempted by my ring-binders.

So, there I was yesterday, unearthing my binders and first off I took the mint green one out of its box and, oh, it brought joy to my heart – you know, that joy that Marie Kondo bangs on about? Then, when I got the navy one out, I felt a bit ho-hum, so clearly most of the time I have no real grasp of what I want at all. This is helpful, though, as it means I can stop obsessing about navy blue Filofaxes – well, for a few days at least.

After I looked at each binder, I worked on the more serious part of the process – removing all the inserts, separating them into used and unused, weeding out ones to be kept from ones to be disposed of, putting like with like. As a result of this, I know I can easily set up a binder for next year without needing to buy anything new – just need to print dated inserts – and that the binder would definitely be the mint green Kikki K, at least for part of the year. Finally, I got the completed years in order and stored in an accessible way in with my journals which is a big improvement. Although I regularly go back and forth between digital and paper for my planning/organising/diary, I have pretty comprehensive Filofax-style pages for 2014-2017 inclusive and that rather surprised me. I think I may be more on the paper side of things than I thought.

Once I have made my firm decision on how the planning/organising/diary will go next year, I will let you know.

I would also like to note just how much I am enjoying my Advent Calendar this year – the Milkybar one has proven to be a great choice. Here is a gratuitous desk shot of my coffee/Advent Calendar break yesterday (the calendar doesn’t live here – I brought it over to open it).

Coffee break 04-12-18
4th December 2018 – Coffee break with Advent Calendar

Do you plan/organise/keep a diary? Is it paper or electronic?