nora’s tool box: notebooks

I have a friend whom I observed some years ago pulling an old receipt out of his pocket to jot down some thought he had that he wanted to be recorded. When asked what he was doing, he shared that he often wrote down reflections or insights he had on whatever was available: napkins, gum wrappers, old birthday cards, etc. He had a pile of these notes, a chaos of scribbles on salvaged stationary. He joked (I think) that he wanted to one day hire someone to write down words he wanted to be saved as he said them, kind of a personal stenographer to follow him around. This guy needed a notebook. Badly.

I actually went to a real bookstore, the kind with a parking lot and a door instead of a virtual cart and a secure server, and picked up a pack of these notebooks for him. I opened up the first page of the first book and wrote him a brief note:

your thoughts are worth a dedicated space-I’ll be buying your book one day, I’m sure

and I left the notebooks on the hood of his car.

I felt compelled to gift this because I had once been given a similar gift. On our graduation day one of my oldest friends, whom I had known since second grade, gave me a notebook, the first page of which was covered in a long letter, a plea to keep writing, an attempt to encourage what she considered a special passion of mine. It has taken me many years to see in myself what she saw as an eighteen-year-old girl, but I still have the notebook, now full of diary entries, failed attempts at poetry, grocery lists, and seeds of insight that have sprouted over years of life experience.

I have become somewhat of a notebook hoarder since then, and I do not generally hoard at all. Not even yarn hooks me the way a good notebook can. I have three pairs of shorts, one tablecloth and one set of crochet hooks, but I have probably fifteen notebooks to my name. Their contents are completely disorganized, a compilation of pattern notes, design sketches, editorial schedules, prayers, blog post ideas, scriptural reflections, and to-do lists.

There is something honoring and life giving about writing it all down. I can always get back to that moment, when the idea was so important I stopped my day to give it a permanent presence.

Among the leather monogrammed journals, Rifle Paper Company florals, and kraft paper covers, my favorite notebook is by far my Fashionary sketchbook. I only purchased my Fashionary notebook a few months ago, and it is already almost full of sketches, pattern notes, and ideas for future designs.

What puts the Fashionary sketchbook on the top of my pile and in my field bag all the time:

  • The mini size and durable cover: After a lot of research, I purchased the mini size sketchbook so I could toss it in my field bag. I was pleasantly surprised by the sturdy paper cover. Even after months of lots of use and being toted around, the cover is in perfect shape, without even a scuff.
  • The easy-as-pie sketch template: Each page of the notebook has a subtle, dotted outline figure around which to build a design. I didn’t go to design school and I am not an incredibly talented sketch artist, but just having this little skeleton to build around breathes life and artistry to my design ideas. Plus, its really fun!
  • The information pages!: This one gets an exclamation point. The first two pages of the notebook. are filled to the edges with measurement and sizing data and norms. Goodness gracious, do you know how valuable this information is?! Worth its weight in gold. Probably more.
  • I purchased my Fashionary Sketchbook directly from the Fashionary site. You can also purchase the slightly larger version from one of my favorite fiber arts suppliers, Fringe Supply Co.

Some of my other favorite suppliers for notebooks:

  • Moleskine: Classic and functional and pretty.
  • Rifle Paper Co.: One of my favorites for all sorts of products, their notebooks and journals are gorgeous and high quality.
  • Paper Source: Right around the corner and full of inspiration.
  • Anthropologie: Pretty, quirky, classic, and special.

I want to pass on the encouragement to you-honor your ideas, your thoughts, your reflections by giving them a life in writing. Even if no one else ever experiences what you’ve recorded, you give who you are today respect and dignity when you write that person down!