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» Listings for April 2016

  1. Today I’m handing the blog over to Louise of Knit British. It feels like I’ve known Louise forever as I’m used to listening to her while I’m busy in the workshop or on my way to college. 

    Here’s Louise.

    The very lovely Joy asked me if I would like to write a few words for National Stationery Week on the topic of my favourite notebook and why I love it.
    This is very difficult because, you see, I love ALL my notebooks…and I have quite a lot!…this is just some of them.

    louisepile of books

    For different tasks I use different notebooks…does that make me a stationery geek? If so, I don’t give a damn!

    Show Notes

    I like to sit down with a notebook to make podcast notes and I tend to keep it near me between podcasts. I have a series of notebooks I write my podcast notes in, some are chunky spiral bound notepads, which I remind me of my uni days, others are Moleskine-esque notebooks. All have a really lovely quality of paper – the kind that is slightly silky and shiny (am not such a geek I know the paper gsms_, but not so shiny that you can’t use a nice felty-tip pen; my usual weapon of choice is a Stabilo Sensor or Stabilo point 88 – I love the flow of the tip and the smoothness of writing with it.

    louiseweapons of choice
    I never use the same notebook for every podcast. I just pick whichever is handiest from the podcast notebook pile (yes, there is a podcast notebook pile!) this willy nilly manner means the books are never chronological and why one volume contains notes for episode 4 and 5, 21, 26, 28, 32. 38 and 41!

    louisepodcast pile
    I like to write out my notes for the podcast; not the entire thing, but I like to write out the links I need to remember, the things I need to put in the show notes, I like to plan out the segments and content and I also like to also scribble things out and doodle. It’s part of the process isn’t it – scoring things out, re-writing, feeling creative with the pen whilst you procrastinate! I like to see those changes and I think that I write out my notes because it is one part of the process of doing the podcast: I write the notes, I record the show, I edit, I type the notes, I publish…and so on. I enjoy each aspect hugely and it all starts with a pen and paper.
    I love looking back at past episode notes, flicking through these books and seeing all of these scribblings in pen and ink. I also feel very lucky to have kept these books. Last week my computer died, thankfully we could get the data recovered, but it made me think of how reliable stationery is!
    My other notebooks include…
    Research and work notes
    Recently I have been working on some research and when I visit libraries or archives I tend to favour any old A4 notebooks, either spiral bound or books with perforated pages. I also prefer for this a trusty pencil, rather than a pen. My favourite pencil is a Rexel Office HB and we have boxes of them in this house – I love how they write, whether newly sharpened or blunted after furious note-taking. I really like how each stage makes my writing have a different weight…spidery or thick and heavy.

    I usually type up my notes after writing and I like seeing graphitey smudges on the paper where the side of my hand has pressed into the writing and has transferred the grey over the paper (like my own personal stamp). I also really like, usually on the pretty cheap, supermarket pads, that the pencilled writing can make a light carbon copy on the other side of the page.
    For work I write myself a lot of to-do lists – I like squared paper jotters for this, particularly large ones like Moleskine XL squared paper cahier books (also very good for colour-work pattern creation!), I am also a big fan of a project book – either with dividers or different coloured sections. I use one for Podcast Lounge planning – Paperchase do a lovely big chunky subject book, which gets adorned with KnitBritish stitckers on the front – another personal stamp!

    Conference notes
    I have cahier type books that I use whenever I am going to a conference or a talk. I seem to favour a nice cover for taking to these events, perhaps because they are on show? I’ve never really thought about that before, but I am now wondering if it is on a par with using the nicest wrapping paper when you had to cover your school books!

    Life notes
    I used to keep a diary faithfully and did so for many years. I keep these, but I rarely look over them. I am a big advocate of writing when you *need* to write. I do think that the process of writing can help you see your situation in a new light and if you are writing through problems or tricky situations writing can help immensely. I wonder if that is why I tend not to drop in between the pages of these covered notebooks now that the time has passed?
    I like a covered notebook for writing life’s notes. I like the feeling of texture on the outside of the book as I hold it and writing on the silky pages inside. These books are special and I am not going to show you them!
    Earlier this week I posted on Instagram a picture of a notebook that I just cannot write in. I was given it ten years ago and it is a lovely silk covered, embroidered book with lots of blank pages inside. I was given it by a former friend and I wonder if the fact she is no longer a friend is one of the reasons why I don’t feel compelled to write in it. However, like my life notebooks, stationery can be very personal indeed.

    louisepens and pads
    I guess, my notebooks, paper, pens and pencils are my needles and notions of another craft. It is important to find the materials that you feel you have a good working relationship with and it is little wonder I have a book for different subjects and purposes – there truly are books for every occasion – just like there are knitting projects.
    I will continue to hoard notebooks, just as I do British wool!
    Thank you so much Joy, for making me think about my stationery uses and reminding me how important a blank page and a nice pen or pencil are.

    All images and content copyright Louise Scollay

  2. Today I’m delighted to be handing the blog over to Rachel Atkinson. Rachel’s love of stationery is well known, and I hold her fully responsible for my addiction to Blackwing pencils.
    Here’s Rachel.
    Defining characteristics of my Grandad are his days as a pipe smoker, checking the pools coupon on a Saturday evening, tending his allotment and veg patch (see also, over-pruning trees), being a proud ex-fireman and indeed a proud Yorkshireman, and then his handwriting.



    RA red tin (2)


    Grandad dabbled in drawing, painting and watercolours, but his true love has always been calligraphy. Having trained and worked briefly as a sign-writer, he is always careful how he writes everything; Shopping lists are printed in a clear capital letter type, Grandma would write me a letter and hand the envelope to Grandad for him to address with his immediately identifiable script, and birthday cards bear his signature ‘everyday’ handwriting—occasionally Grandma would add her own name at the bottom if he remembered to leave room for her!


    RA pens (2)


    Always one for picking up interesting bits and pieces of ephemera, Grandad is a stationery magpie and I suspect partly to blame for my ‘habit’. He and Grandma were always very careful with money and wouldn’t spend willy-nilly on unnecessary fripperies, so everything he bought will have been for a specific purpose but that doesn’t mean he only had one of everything.


    RA ruler (2)


    Realistically, you only need half a dozen pieces of equipment for calligraphy; A pen, nibs, ink, paper, pencil and a ruler, but looking through the box of stationery it became obvious that within each of these categories Grandad saw a multitude of options…


    If you buy a pen what type of barrel should it have and do you need different ones for different purpose?

    Will the length of the barrel affect your writing?

    Will that be a positive or negative outcome?

    Better get both and see.


    Nibs. Where to start?

    What type of type do you want to produce?

    Surely you need different nibs for different moods?

    Serif or sans-serif, that is the question.


    You are going to need ink in every colour and at least one pot of each and half a dozen in black.


    Paper is expensive. Instead of buying paper pick it up wherever you go and ask friends and relatives for offcuts and leftovers. Before you know it you will have enough to build something as tall as Nelson’s Column.

    However, picking up an artists pad at the discount bookshop every once in a blue moon won’t hurt. File it with the others you have only used the first four pages of and whilst you’re there, better take another notebook just in case.


    Pencils. Just buy all the pencils.


    Wooden or plastic ruler?

    Plastic or wooden?

    Technical or the bog-standard everyday variety?

    Better throw in a few setsquares for good measure and some of the other random mathematical instruments you get in those back to school packs.


    RA nibs (2)


    Late last year when Joy invited me to write a guest post for Stationery Week, we had just finished moving Grandad out of his bungalow into a home as his dementia meant he needed 24-hour specialist care. Mum gave me a box filled with all his stationery and said she thought I might like to have it.


    Sadly, as Stationery Week approached, Grandad took a turn for the worse and we are in the process of saying our goodbyes to him.


    I don’t want this to be a sad post. I want it to be about the individual characteristics that define those who pass through our lives, and how everyday objects can say so much about someone. Maybe it seems a little strange to some that a pen-nib or bottle of Quink can immediately make you think of a loved one, but that is because to me at least, it represents an intrinsic part of Grandad’s character and the small things that connect us—simple reminders of those we love.


    RA quink (2)

    All images and text © Rachel Atkinson and used here with permission.