Tag Archives: graph

Nomad Notebooks: Kickstarter Ending Soon!

Here’s a cool Kickstarter project that is ending on October 13, 2017: Nomad Notebooks. They still need about $9k to make their goal (as of this writing) and I hope they make it! The project involves the tried and true formula of 3-packs of pocket notebooks, but with a couple of twists: the notebooks are made of a mixture of papers, with different themes for each pack. They started out using repurposed papers, and will be launching 3-packs with a Sea/Air/Space theme, Graph paper theme, and Planner theme.


nomad repurposed

nomad sea


nomad air


nomad space


nomad graph


nomad planner

The other twist is that they have angled corners– that part isn’t really a positive for me, but it does mean they’ll be easier to slide into leather covers, which are also part of the Kickstarter.

nomad 3 setnomad leather cover




Notebooks With Embroidered Science Illustrations

These notebooks have an unusual design combo: vintage science, math and medical illustrations embellished with embroidery:

“Since we last checked out Athens-based Fabulous Cat Papers (previously) they’ve released a whole new series of notebooks that incorporate vintage science/medical illustrations printed on Japanese paper with hand-stitched embroidery. The notebooks come in a variety of sizes and options for blank, ruled, and graph papers.”

Source: New Japanese Paper Notebooks Featuring Vintage Science Illustrations Merged with Hand-embroidery | Colossal

3 New Notebooks

They may not quite make you want to “toss your Moleskine,” as the author of the original post says, but they will certainly make nice additions to your collection!

These 3 Beautiful Notebooks Will Make You Want To Toss Your Moleskine | Co.Design | business + design

These 3 Beautiful Notebooks Will Make You Want To Toss Your Moleskine | Co.Design | business + design

These 3 Beautiful Notebooks Will Make You Want To Toss Your Moleskine | Co.Design | business + design

Read more at These 3 Beautiful Notebooks Will Make You Want To Toss Your Moleskine | Co.Design | business + design.

Review: Pen & Ink Squared Notebook

I’ve reviewed and mentioned the Pen & Ink brand sketchbooks several times on this site (see here, here, here, and here.) They are the closest substitute for a Moleskine sketchbook with the heavy-weight card stock paper, and they’re affordable and well-made. But I’ve never reviewed their other notebooks with standard weight paper. Squared notebooks are my other favorite go-to for everyday use, so how does the Pen & Ink squared version hold up? Let’s take a look.


The exterior is what you’d expect– same cover that feels slightly thicker and almost padded. Not too much cover overhang. You get the standard back pocket and a ribbon marker. Pretty much the same size as a pocket Moleskine, but a little chunkier, and as with the sketchbook, it feels well-made and solid and just nice.


But when I opened the notebook for the first time and saw the pages, I was very disappointed. I think I physically recoiled at those glaringly dark lines! The paper itself is a bit brighter white than the creamy Moleskine paper, and the graph lines are very thick, so it is a really distracting combination. I like to use fine point pens and I’m not sure I could get used to the lines on the paper competing so much with my small handwriting in thin ink lines. Other than that, show-through and bleed-through are about average, and fountain pens work pretty well. I bought a second notebook like this some months later in hopes that I might have gotten one from a bad batch, but the dark lines were the same, so I guess it is deliberate and unlikely to change unless someone at Art Alternatives gets enough complaints! Rather than use this as an everyday notebook for lists and things, I may end up using it for collages or drawing and painting with bolder, opaque colors that can stand up to the dark lines.


Pen & Ink notebooks are available on Amazon, Blick, or at JetPens.

Review & Giveaway: Field Notes Limited Editions

I’ve mentioned and reviewed Field Notes a few times on this site, but I’ve never been a big fan of their notebooks and all the hype around them. It was great to be able to try their notebooks thanks to readers who sent me some samples, but I’d never felt compelled to buy them… until about a year ago, when I suddenly dove into the deep end of the pool by buying a $97 Colors subscription! What changed? This came along:

They had me at “ledger.” I just happen to love the look of old-fashioned ledgers, with their easy-on-the-eye green paper and precise lines. But I also thought this was a brilliant extension of Field Notes’ retro-Americana inspired notebook series. From agricultural promotional notebooks, to a traveling salesman’s expense ledger– makes total sense.  A lot of other people must have felt the same way, as the individual notebook packs sold out pretty quickly. Buying a full year subscription was the only purchase option they had left, and I was excited enough to go for it, despite some reluctance about spending that much money on a notebook brand I don’t particularly love. But in the end, I’m glad I did. The Traveling Salesman ledger is a great notebook, and it was followed up by some other very cool Field Notes limited editions. I think I subscribed at the perfect time.

Here’s what I got throughout my subscription (not including a couple of added items like the pencils, pens and rubber bands they throw in, and the extra packs of each kind. The $97 buys you a total of 10 3-packs.):

First, the Traveling Salesman. It’s much thicker and sturdier than a standard Field Notes, due to the heavier paper. The ledger grid may not be ideal for all uses, but they are very cool looking with the green on green and that double red line at the top. The paper is not especially smooth, but it feels good with all pens, and is one of the best I’ve tried when it comes to show-through and bleed-through, standing up pretty well to even the Super Sharpie. (My Lamy Safari fountain pen seemed to be having some trouble on this paper, but I think it was because it had gone a little dry and wasn’t quite flowing yet.) If this notebook had existed 20 years ago, I would have bought tons of them, as I’ve always liked to jot down my expenses and this format would have been perfect. It would also make a good checkbook register, but unfortunately I’ve gone all-electronic with my finances. I’ll find something to use this for, though, just because I like it so much.



The next edition is also a fantastic departure from the usual Field Notes specs. The Expedition Edition has a bright orange cover, with a barely noticeable spot-laminated map of Antarctica. The dot-gridded paper inside is said to be waterproof and tear-proof. I didn’t actually test the water resistance (Field Notes did, on video), but I did try to tear a page– it wasn’t easy, though I did eventually manage it. The cover seemed pretty indestructible, though. I was worried about what the paper would be like to write on– the only other waterproof notebook I’ve tried is a Rite in the Rain and I found that paper horrible, especially for my favorite gel ink rollerball pens, which skidded around, beaded up and smeared everywhere. On the Field Notes paper, drying times are very long, so you do have to be careful about smearing things, but it’s a pleasure to write on with every pen– the surface has a nice smooth feel, but it’s not too slippery. All my usual pens gave only the slightest shadow of show-through, and nothing bled. Not a drop, even the Super Sharpie. And pencils deserve a special mention, as they feel great on this paper, and don’t share the drying time issue. Field Notes also recommends regular ballpoints or a Fisher Space Pen. I would love to see more notebooks with this paper!




The 3rd installment was my only disappointment. The America the Beautiful series has full-color printed covers in a deliberately grainy old-fashioned look, which I might have liked better if they didn’t have the white bar at the bottom. A bonus sticker is included in each pack. The paper is again a bit more substantial than usual for Field Notes and performed pretty well on the pen tests. It’s a cool white, with blue lines, and a nice double line at the top. I would have preferred graph or dot grid pages, though– I think this is actually the first of their limited editions ever to have lined paper, in fact. There just wasn’t anything to excite me about this one.



Finally, the Night Sky edition. A black cover, printed in grey, with constellations on the back, the stars highlighted in shiny holographic foil. The paper inside is closer to the normal Field Notes weight, but offers a unique pattern of little grey crosses, sort of a hybrid of graph and dot-grid. Show-through and bleed-through aren’t great, pretty similar to what you get on a regular Field Notes, maybe even a little worse. I love the cover concept and the pattern on the paper, but wish it was a bit more substantial.


And just for reference, below is the regular Field Notes with graph paper:


So that was my year of Field Notes. It was fun, but I have not renewed my subscription. I do think the current Drink Local edition offers some very attractive colors but I’m not sure it’s special enough for me to go for it. My favorite thing about Field Notes is their experimentation with interesting papers and retro styles, so I hope they’ll continue to branch out. I think a Field Notes take on an engineer’s or surveyor’s field book would be pretty cool. Perhaps an Artist’s Edition with heavy paper for sketching and watercolors. I’d also be interested to see what they’d do with a hardcover notebook. So many possibilities! But they have to keep it interesting to keep all these Field Notes collectors coming back for their subscriptions…

Now, how about that giveaway! I can’t bring myself to part with full 3-packs of Expedition and Traveling Salesman notebooks, but I will select 3 lucky winners. One will receive an America the Beautiful 3-pack, still shrinkwrapped. One will receive a Night Sky 3-pack, shrinkwrapped. And one will receive a special prize pack of one mixed 3-pack of regular Field Notes, plus a loose single Expedition notebook and a loose single Traveling Salesman.

Winners will be randomly selected from entries received in the following ways:
On Twitter, tweet something containing  “Field Notes” and “@NotebookStories”, and follow  “@NotebookStories.

On Facebook, “like” the  Notebook Stories page , and post something containing the words “Field Notes” on the Notebook Stories wall.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Field Notes” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday October 11 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.

Review and Giveaway: Miro Journals

The kind folks at Miro sent me a jumbo pile of journals to review, a selection of which appear below. They have some interesting points of difference with other products out there on the market, so let’s take a look.


Miro has 4 product lines– two are wire-o bound with different types of cover materials– “canvas” and “soft touch.” Then they have stitch-bound utility books, and softcover journals.

First, the utility book. They come in 3 sizes, in black and white, and in lined, squared, and blank pages. They are very similar to Moleskine Cahiers, Field Notes, or Doane Paper Utility Books, but instead of the standard 3.5 x 5.5″ size most people use, these are 3.25 x 5.5″, which might be a nice alternative if you’ve got narrow pockets you slip your notebooks into. The small book has 68 pages, which is more than Field Notes and Doane’s 48, but the same as a Moleskine Cahier. Miro utility notebooks are sold in 2-packs, for $4.99 for the small size, which is a good value vs. the competition.

The design is simple and attractive– a paper band around the set, contrasting stitching on the spine, and a subtle stamped logo on the front cover. There is no inner back pocket on the small notebook, though the larger sizes do have one. The last two pages of the notebook are perforated– I was surprised they didn’t perforate a few more pages than that.

Inside, the paper has a smooth, slightly “soft” feel, with grid lines in a light grey dot matrix. They are a bit wider than the lines on some other notebooks. It felt good with all my pens, though the carbon ink fountain pen feathered a bit. There was a bit more show-through and bleed-through than average.


Let’s also take a look at the Journal. Every journal comes packaged with a bonus utility notebook, cleverly tucked into the paper wrapper.


They are referring to this as a softcover journal, but I first saw it as a hardcover– I guess it’s actually kind of a hybrid– rather than hard cover boards wrapped with the outer material, the cover seems to be a thick multi-layer material that is reinforced enough to be stiffer than most softcover notebooks, though it still has some flexibility to it and it opens flat. The outside has a smooth texture without any fake-leather grain. My favorite feature is the dyed edges, which match the elastic and ribbon marker. Pages stick together slightly at first, but come apart easily.


The ribbon marker itself is a bit chintzy– it was all crumpled on the example I received, and the only thing attaching it to the notebook is a small sticker on the inside back cover, which was easily loosened. This really is unacceptable in my opinion– one slight tug and that ribbon is gone. The pocket on the inside back cover is also a bit more basic than other brands offer– it’s just a paper slot without any gussets.


The Journal comes in black and white, with 5 different accent colors for the edge and elastic, and 3 different sizes. Unfortunately, only lined pages are available. The small size is 3.25 x 5.5″, 192 pages, for $9.99– again a very good value, especially when you factor in the included utility notebook.

Both the Utility notebook and Journal are made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper, and it’s acid-free.

The Miro notebooks are a nice addition to the variety of products out there. We need more colored edges! And hopefully they’ll update the way they’re attaching their ribbon markers. If you want to check out Miro in a store, you can consult their list of retailer locations. Otherwise, jump in and enter my giveaway! I got quite a few samples so I will select at least 3 lucky winners (as of writing this post, some of the samples are in my office, which I can’t get to because of the Hurricane Sandy power outage, so I forget how many samples I have!) You can enter in the following ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “@remembermiro” and “@NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @remembermiro.

On Facebook, “like” the  Notebook Stories page  and the Miro page, and post something containing the words “Miro notebooks” on the Notebook Stories page.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Miro notebooks” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday November 9 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.

Moleskine Monday: “Bleedthrumanade” at Life Imitates Doodles

Sandra has a great review of the Squared Moleskine notebook: Life Imitates Doodles: Bleedthrumanade in Moleskine & Review of the Moleskine Squared Notebook.

She shares my concerns about the darkness of the grid lines in recent print runs of these notebooks:

And as a bonus, we get to see some of her Zentangle-inspired art! Love the color and patterns:

She used the way the markers bled through the page to provide two ways to use the same color base:

“Got lemons, make lemonade. Got marker bleed-thru? Make bleedthrumanade.”

Moleskine Monday: Hello, Goodbye

Here’s a nice detailed look at one user’s switch from Moleskine to Leuchtturm: Hello Leuchtturm1917, goodbye Moleskine!.

The blogger at Recording Thoughts has been using squared Moleskines for a while but started to find the quality inconsistent:

Ever since Moleskine moved their production to China every book is a little different than the previous one. The cover feels different, or the binding is tight, or it smells funny, or something.

His main complaints were that the graph paper lines had become darker and thicker, and aren’t as precisely aligned as they used to be:

I have to agree with him on the darkness of the graph lines– Moleskine squared notebooks have always been one of my favorites and I’ve used many of them over the years without ever having such dark lines as in the one I just opened most recently. It really is distracting.

Of course, Moleskine’s production has always been in China… but they definitely seem to be having some trouble finding factories with the capacity to higher volumes of notebooks at the quality people have come to expect.

Notebook on a Book Cover

I just love the cover of this book: Lives Other Than My Own

I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve read some of the author’s other work and loved it.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Futurebird

This week’s addict got my attention through a post on the Notebook Stories Facebook page, where she linked to the first in a series of posts about her notebook collection:

The series continues in these other notebook posts: Notebook Collection Part Two, Notebook Collection Part Three, and  Phases in the Life of a Notebook. The “Phases” post is very insightful, and features this lovely image of some of the pages inside her notebooks:

There are lots more wonderful photos and commentary in her posts, including this amusing observation:

Ever since I started loving blank books and shopping for them I have starting HATING address books, planners and photo albums. Why? Often I’ll see a notebook on the shelf, the perfect size! The perfect color! I reach for it and…. it’s a PHOTO ALBUM! ugh. So annoying.

I feel your pain! And I love your notebook collection. Thanks for sharing!