My Love of Notebooks

A pile of unused Moleskine large cahiers

I love notebooks and journals. The pile of journals in that picture? My UNused large Moleskine cahiers.

The first time I really fell in love with a journal was when I was in Italy in high school. My parents took me, and my best friend M to Europe for three weeks. While we were in Italy we ended up in this little store that sold daily planners. They were simple school planners. Each day had a page, and they weren’t year specific. Anyway M and I each picked one out. They were about 5 inches across, and 7 inches tall. Mine had a pinkish floral design (which is funny because I’ve never been a pink kind of girl). I wrote in it every day for most of the year. The writer in me wishes I’d kept it, even with all its embarrassing confessions.

After that I started using whatever notebooks I could find. Coil bound 5 star notebooks in various sizes were a favourite. They were cheap and you could get them for multiple subjects. they laid flat when you were writing in them. The coils got in the way on the back of the page though, so I often only wrote on one one side.

When I started university I discovered those blue lab notebooks. I bought an extra a few times and they became my go to for writing fanfic. I liked the hard cover, they didn’t get messed up being tossed in my backpack, and they weren’t too expensive. The bright blue took some getting used to, but it wasn’t out of place on a university campus.

Then my husband, technically boyfriend as this was before we were married, discovered the ‘Everyman’s journal‘ from Lee Valley. I filled one with fanfic stories of my favourite show at the time. A second is still sitting in my study untouched. They are lovely journals, but big. Not something I want to drag around with me all the time. I certainly can’t throw one into my small L.L. Bean boat and tote.

Through university, and after, I would pick up notebooks when I found them on sale racks, or when I just needed something new to write in. My father was a Moleskine fan, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on my notebooks. Sometimes I bought coil bound, sometimes a regular book bound one. I ended up with countless half finished notebooks. When my father passed away one of the things I did was raid his notebook stash for the Moleskines. There is still one left, with a beautiful blue map cover, that I know I’ll grab someday, but so far I can’t bring myself to take the last of the ‘good’ ones from him.

Squared, unlined, and lined Moleskine cahiers.Over the years I’ve culled my notebook collection. Getting rid of things that were full of scrap notes, or old course notes. Keeping the filled ones that had value to me. These days I usually use Moleskine large cahiers. I sized my Fauxdori to fit them. They are small, but still last a few months when used as a Bullet Journal. The paper is decent and the notebooks are cheap, so I can use one per novel idea and not feel guilty about it. Plus they come in lined, unlined, and squared.

Do you love notebooks? How many notebooks do you have?

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My First Handbound Journal

Floral covered handbound journal.Last night I went to a program about bookbinding at my local library. The two hour session started with a brief introduction, and then we got to make our own journal/notebook. You can see mine on the left. I’m really happy with how well it turned out, especially for a first attempt!

First we had to select the pieces that would become our journals. We needed cardboard for the cover, 36 pages for the inside, thread for the binding, and decorative paper to wrap around the cover.

Next up were the supplies to put everything together. Scissors, glue, needle, pencil, a thimbles, and an awl. In the end I didn’t find the thimble overly useful, and while the awl was great for putting the holes in the cover, I preferred a large needle to make the holes in the paper. The needle I used for threading the binding was curved, and it made the whole process nice and quick.
bound edge of journal

I decided to use one coloured sheet for the outside of each section (in this case six sheets stacked and folded in half). This meant, as you can see on the right, each section of the binding was bright and colourful. In the green sections I used dotted paper, and in the rest plain paper. We assembled the journals using a kettle stitch. It was easy to learn, and once I got the hand motions down, surprisingly fast.

I really enjoyed making this journal, and can definitely see myself making more. I think I’m going to use the plain sheets in this one for some smaller writing projects that don’t need an entire notebook. The dotted pages are going to be used for quilting sketches.

Have you done any bookbinding? Do you know of any great online resources for learning more about book binding?