Link Love: Getting the Gist



Notebooks & Paper:

Art Supplies:

Other Interesting Things:

Kickstarter: Write Your Own Adventure – 2017 Planner

Just yesterday, Ask The Desk was filled with questions about planners for 2017 and this morning I discovered the Write Your Own Adventure planner from Emma Kate Co. in Australia. This looks like such a good option for 2017 that I backed the project and bought two. When they arrive, I plan to give one away because I think it will make a good blog holiday gift. Let’s hope they ship in time.


The planner is hardcover with die cut tabs at the bottom of the pages and the weekends are given more space than the weekdays. I don’t know about you but that just about aligns with my life. I do way more on the weekends than I do on the weekdays. Or I try to cram more in, anyway.

There is dot grid and simple details with minimal design elements and just a few little quotes throughout. Just enough to feel nice but not so much as to feel cluttered.

The book is available with a grey or blush pink cover, I ordered one of each.

I’m looking forward to a year where I can write my own adventure. How about you?

Ask The Desk: 2017 is Coming! Planning Emergencies!


Heather is looking for a very specific planner replacement:

I’m looking for a new academic planner 16/17 (or second best choice would be kraft paper notebooks with lines and grids / dots) for the one I’ve just finished using from Paperchase. I’ve been looking and looking and not having much luck. I bought a really lovely, inexpensive monthly planner – it has a month on two pages (grid layout), followed by approx 40 lined pages and 40 grid pages, all kraft paper with black and white ink so lovely on the eyes. Its great to write on (gel pens, biros, not fountain pens) and is perfect for my needs as a TA. Paperchase have released one like this for this coming year and I can’t find another supplier that does them in the same size. The notebook is 190mm wide and 245mm high, and has a sewn edge binding. Short of making one myself (wouldn’t even know where to start on that route!), can you advise where I might find something of comparable size and paper? I’m ok with setting it all out by hand, but I’d prefer to buy one ready made. Maybe a blank date one? Its the size that I need most, followed by the kraft paper element.

Heather, I have to admit you’ve left me a bit stumped. I can’t say that I’ve seen a kraft colored planner before your letter. On my search, the only options I found for kraft paper planners was a vendor on Etsy called Letter C Design who makes small planner booklets in kraft paper. I don’t think that’s at all what you were looking for. If anyone else has seen anything in the wild, please leave information in the comments.

Cole asks:

I’m wondering if you can help me find a thin gridded (dot or cube) notebook that could fit inside the pocket of my Leuchtturm 1917 medium? Something similar to the address book that comes with the planner? I LOVE my “official” Bullet Journal, but I’ve noticed there are a few things that I will want to migrate from Journal to Journal, WITHOUT having to recopy it into a new journal. My best example would be my room x room floor plans with paint/color samples. I like to have my floor layouts and color samples with me so if I’m antiquing, garage sale-ing, etc I can quickly reference them to see if I’m buying something that won’t go in my house. I’m now carrying my Bullet Journal everywhere, so I’d love to have it in there, but I don’t want to have to recopy the floor plans every few months. Is there a small “travelers” type notebook that would nicely fit in the pocket that could be transferred from journal to journal?

An A6 (approx. 4×6″), B6 (approx. 5×7″), Field Notes or Passport sized book would fit easily into the back pocket of the Leuchtturm1917 A5. In A5 or B6 sized, I recommend the Life Pistachio or Vermillion notebooks. They have good quality paper, available in grid and are about $4 each. The Pistachio have green lines and the Vermillion have, you guessed it, red lines. Of course, Field Notes are readily available from many shops and the Pitch Black edition is dot grid. Passport sized Traveler’s Notebooks would also work but are quite petite.

Chris needs helps:

I’m eagerly awaiting an A5 Roterfaden, and need a week on two pages insert for the remainder of 2016. Yes, I could just use my existing Midori TN calendar, but I’d like to find something A5 that is already bound and printed. No luck searching Etsy and the Midori version is sold out on Baum Kuchen. Ideas?

I spent weeks looking for a solution for Chris and came up empty handed. Traveler’s Notebook calendars in the classic TN size are in abundance as are the Field Notes/Passport sizes but A5 versions are as rare as Snorlax these days. Unless you are willing to go the print-your-own route, there just aren’t options for A5 calendar booklets to fit custom covers like the Roterfaden or leather Traveler’s Notebooks.

My best suggestion at this point is to finish the year with the standard Traveler’s Notebook calendar and then move to a 2017 A5 planner calendar. The other option is to embrace the DIY option and print out the large cahier format from Ray Blake’s My Life All in One Place printables page.

If anyone knows a good alternative for Chris, please leave a note in the comments.

Ellie seeks:

I’m starting to look for my 2017 daily planner. I’ve used Moleskine at first, but the paper quality kept getting worse every year. I then switched to Paperblanks, their daily option was a bit small for me but their Fabriano paper was quite good. After they changed their paper supplier last year I’m once again in need of new options. I’m looking for an A4 or A5 daily diary with a minimalistic, Moleskine-like page layout. Hobonichi is too expensive and Leuchtturm is not an option, the paper is beautiful but the ghosting is so bad I only write on one side of my Leuchtturm journal. I need sturdy pages since I tend to ask a lot to my journals, draw, write with wet inks, glue scraps of paper on it etc. I’ve seen Fabriano Ecoqua makes beautiful planners, and they would be easy to purchase here in Europe, but I can’t find any feedback online and I don’t want to buy blind. is the paper the same quality as the Ecoqua pads? What about the binding? I’m hoping some of your readers have tried the Ecoqua planner or know of any other options. Thanks for reading!


fabriano 2016-2017 planner

Has anyone seen the Fabriano Ecoqua planners in person yet? I haven’t but I am just as curious about how they will stack up.  I found the Ecoqua 16-month ($22.50), the 2017 weekly planner ($12.50) and the 2017 Daily Diary ($12.75 and $17.75, depending on size). The paper on these books looks quite thin as you can see the numbers printed on the reverse in the photos so I suspect they went for thinner paper for portability over thicker paper for legibility. Sigh.

Amanda wants to know:

Who offers the thickest paper stock (hopefully smooth) for 2017 diary refills for Kikki.K and Filofax Personal, Pocket and A5 planners? Thank you!

So far, the best pre-printed planner pages are either Kikki-K or the new Filofax Illustrated refills are the thickest stock. I also had some personal sized refills purchased at Michael’s from their Recollections line that used some great paper. If you happen upon this collection and are using the personal-sized planners, I can definitely recommend grabbing a few packets if they are still stocked at your local store.

Fashionable Friday: Rhinebeck Wanderings


This week, I’m headed to my first-ever Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival. It’s a big knitting adventure with two of my local knitting pals. One is the vlogger known as The Corner of Knit and Tea so it seemed fitting that this week, I focus on fall colors, all things yarn-a-riffic and a dash of inkiness to keep us all on track for Inktober, myself included. Part of the joy of Rhinebeck is that many knitter’s have turned the event into a knitter’s runway of handknit, hand-dyed, handspun fabulousness including the advent of the The Rhinebeck Sweater. Both of my pals and I have been working on Rhinebeck sweaters. They have been way more successful than I have been. So, I may or may not be finished in time. Either way, I will be wearing handknit finery, whether its never-before-seen handknit finery remains in the hands of time and fate.

  • The Rhinebeck Sweater £24.00 GBP (via Ysolda)
  • Miraclekoo U-shaped Squirrel Neck Pillow Travel Pillow (yellow) $9.39 (via Amazon)
  • Adhesive Point Tabs $6.50 (via Ink and Volt)
  • Mark’s David David Pen Case in White $25.50 (via JetPens)
  • Lamy Lx AU fountain pen € 55,00 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Clairefontaine 1951 Collections Memo Book 5 3/4″ x 8 1/4″ $4.50 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Sktchy App
  • J. Herbin Bottled Ink Fountain Pen Ink (10ml mini bottle) in Poussiere de Lune $6 (via Pen Chalet)
  • Delta Journal Fountain Pen in Matte Olive $120 (via Anderson Pens)
  • Velos Push Pins in Wood $5.50 (via Fresh Stock Japan)
  • Waterman Hemisphere Privee in Rose Cuivre CT Rollerball Pen $99.95 (via Goldspot Pens)
  • DPNs Size US 1/2.25mm in 4″ Green Stiletto Blunt only, Set of 4 $47 (via Signature Needle Arts)
  • Barstock Fountain K with Phenolic body starting at $105 (via Karas Kustoms)

15 Things to Do with An Empty Sketchbook

I got to thinking, with Inktober here and a whole pile of empty sketchbooks staring at me, I thought I’d compile a list of ideas to help you fill up one or more of those many empty sketchbooks you might have as well.


I wrote about important people in my life and drew their shoes for Uppercase Magazine! So much fun.

A photo posted by juliarothman (@juliarothman) on

  • Illustrate your favorite recipes (inspired by They Draw And Cook)
  • Draw your outfit, maybe what you’re wearing today, or your favorite outfit or what your kids are wearing. Document your shoe, bag or jewelry collection with notes about the who, whats and whys of the items. (Originally inspired by Julia Rothman’s Kind Soles piece that appeared in Uppercase Magazine #16)
  • Are you an avid reader or music collector? Draw the covers of your favorite books or albums or illustrate scenes based on the stories or lyrics. (inspired by the book, My Ideal Bookshelf)
  • Alphabet project: “A is for ….” This is another idea inspired by Uppercase Magazine. Each issue they do a themed alphabet around their issue theme and provide a word for each letter of the alphabet to that theme, like ceramics, stitchery, pattern & decoration and so forth. Then they provide a definition or visual representation of each term in the alphabet. For example in the Pattern & Decoration issue #21, “C is for Calico” and “W is for William Morris”. For whatever subject you have a particular interest in, you could do an alphabet project and try to think up terms, people or elements and illustrate each of them. In some cases you might have many to choose from and could do more than one.
  • Speaking of pattern: why not turn a sketchbook into a pattern book? Geometrics, repeating, linear, nonlinear, one-color, multi-color, representational, natural, textural… so many to choose from! Check out Uppercase Magazine Issue #21 (now sold out but the Surface Design Guide will be included in the upcoming issue #32), or artists like Lotta Jansdotter, Orla Kiely, Marimekko to get started with pattern design.
  • Attend figure drawing events, or other activities that allow you the opportunity to regularly draw from life be it your local coffee shop, your kids’ playground playdate or your long-suffering partner, pet or child enduring being the subject of yet another portrait drawing. Dedicate one sketchbook or notebook for this purpose. (Inspired by Ladies Drawing Night, Hallmark’s Noon Sketch Group and Roz Stendahl)
  • Collage. If the paper in a particular sketchbook or noteook is not sturdy enough for your favorite drawing or painting materials, use the book to collage in scraps of found materials like labels, stickers, menus, ticket stubs and other ephemera. Gesso the pages to add strength and let the book become a waffle-paged beast. Create an artist’s journal that documents your life events through drawings, photos and ephemera. (Inspired by Make Your Own Ideabook with Arne & Carlos: Create Handmade Art Journals and Bound Keepsakes to Store Inspiration and Memories)
  • Draw your breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or coffee. (inspired by Danny Gregory and Liz Steel)
  • Lettering practice. Sounds simple but using one book for a 15-minute-a-day practice doing lettering drills, writing a quote, the #rockyourhandwritingchallenge or some other specific task will help improve your lettering skills.
  • Dedicate one sketchbook to be your color key. Use this book to test, document and list all the pens, pencils, paints, inks and other art materials your own. Figure out which colors and brands you like, you think mix or blend well and keep them all in one book to use as your giant reference guide. Be sure this book is one with your favorite type of paper and has lots of pages as you will want to continue to update and reference it. A good rule of thumb is to use one side of the book to do swatch tests and then the other side to do a drawing with the materials to see how they perform in “real world” tests. (inspired by Jane Davenport)
  • Draw from old photographs. Go through your family photos or visit the local antique shops or thrift stores and use the old photos as points of reference for your drawings. (inspired by Maira Kalman’s book Girls Standing on Lawns)
  • Draw what you’re watching on television. Or YouTube. If you can’t get out to draw from life, draw the folks on TV. They can be just as interesting. And you can pause them mid-expression. Or rewind. Talking heads from newscast, vlogs or political debates are great for this.
  • While we are on the subject of television, why not draw some of your favorite characters from your favorite shows or movies? There have been lots of wonderful fan art circulating recently from Netflix’s Stranger Things and there’s always a plethora of Star Wars fan art. Embrace your inner geek and draw your favorite scenes from your favorite shows or movies, or create new scenarios. Didn’t like the ending of LOST, fix it. What’ really happened at the end of X-Files? You can draw it.
  • Document the news in illustrations. Be it good or bad, use your drawing skills to capture the moments in time.
  • Collaborative Sketchbook: You can create a shared sketchbook between a friend or loved one be it one other person or a group of people or a whole heap of strangers. (inspired by , Dana Barbieri and Anne Butera from Uppercase Magazine #29 and

But really though, what about Barb? . . . . . . #strangerthings #barb #illustration

A photo posted by Mariya Pilipenko (@mariya.pilipenko) on

Need more ideas? Check out the book Playing With Sketches: 50 Creative Exercises for Designers and Artists.

Do you have ideas for things to do with sketchbooks that are piling up? Please leave your ideas in the comments!