Camel HB pencil review

It has been a while since I have done an actual review here on the blog and to kick off the new year I thought I would start with a pencil review.

The Camel HB pencil is one I have been pining for. It’s a beautiful looking pencil and the more I saw and heard, the more I wanted it. But there is one small issue, in the UK it is impossible to come by. The only place I have seen this online is from CW Pencils and the international shipping rates for the few pencils I would want to buy was something I couldn’t justify. Then a few months later, as if by magic, in stepped Priya from The London Parchment. A colleague of hers would be visiting the US and she was going to place a CW Pencils order and she wondered if I would like to add anything. Obviously I jumped at the chance!

After pining for quite some time, waiting for this pencil to arrive, actually holding it in my hand and using it, it doesn’t disappoint. I was expecting to find faults with it because I had built it up so much, but it turns out this pencil is wonderful.

The design is classic. It has a natural finish barrel with a clear lacquer on the barrel giving it a protective sheen. The branding is minimal and embossed in white which makes the pencil look clean.

Beautiful colours and very simple branding - classic Japanese style

Beautiful colours and very simple branding - classic Japanese style

The distinctive feature with the Camel HB is the eraser that sits flush to the pencil barrel. There is no ferrule. I haven’t seen any other pencil like it. Because there is no ferrule this pencil is really, really lightweight making it a pleasure to write with. Personally I prefer a pencil without an eraser due to the weight, so this fits perfectly.

When it comes to actually using the pencil you’re not disappointed. Point retention is great, it sharpens beautifully giving a nice clean finish on the wood. The graphite writes really smoothly on a wide variety of different paper types.

In terms of how the graphite prints on the page, its colour is nice. Its a dark enough grey, but not too dark and it doesn’t smudge or print on other pages.

I am sure you have guessed, but I like this pencil, a lot. It’s a beauty. I am so pleased I managed to get my hands on a few of them. It’s just such a shame that these pencils are so hard to come by. I’d love to see European distribution of the Camel pencils.

The camel against the Blackwing 211, both very similar in barrel finish

The camel against the Blackwing 211, both very similar in barrel finish

Alongside the natural finish I also took the chance to grab some of the pastel finish pencils. I have not used these much at all but I would presume they perform in the same way. The pastel colours are so pretty and come in some gorgeous colours. I picked up the mint, purple and pink giving myself a nice stock for my pencil usage.

My pastel Camel pencils. Beautiful colours.

My pastel Camel pencils. Beautiful colours.

2017 Stationery Resolutions

A selection of some of the stationery items on my desk

A selection of some of the stationery items on my desk

I have come across a few blog posts over the past few weeks looking at 2017 stationery related resolutions. The Pen Addict covered this in their most recent episode, Priya from The London Parchment shared her resolutions for 2017 so I thought it would be fun to make my own list. I have shared here my planner plans for 2017, but stationery resolutions are something quite different.

My 2017 Stationery Resolutions

  1. Learn brush lettering - I have a few brush pens which I have been playing around with for a little while but this year I want to really hone in on this and practice my lettering. I am always in awe of well lettered envelopes and cards therefore 2017 will be the year I implement this myself.
  2. Sketch - this is something I had started in 2016 and I have enjoyed it. I have taken a sketch book with my on a few short trips away and on the odd occasion drawn something memorable from the trip. Copying Liz Steele I would then date the sketch and add a small bit of information about it. This year I really want to make this a real practice. Looking back on the simple sketches I have done I really like the way the sketch book tells a story. The sketches within them are really not great, the scales are all off, my watercolour skills are dire but despite this I like looking back through the sketches I have done.
  3. Consume more - I have a lot of stationery, so with this in mind this year I want to actually use what I own, rather than just buy more.
  4. Use a bottle of fountain pen ink - I liked this idea from Brad on the most recent Pen Addict episode therefore I thought I would take this one on myself. I don’t have a specific bottle of ink in mind any bottle will do.
Waddesdon Manor sketch  

Waddesdon Manor sketch  

These resolutions are purely made for fun, but I will review them at the end of the year and see if I achieved any of them. I’d love to hear any stationery resolutions you may have made this year, please share them in the comments below.

2017 Planner Plans

If you haven’t read my 2016 planner review post, you may like to spend some time looking at what I have been using for the past year with my planning. Here is a helpful link to make it easy to find.

Now on with 2017.

2017 needs to be a year of refinement. I had too many paper planners tracking lots of different things and it was becoming too much. I was using far too many planners, repeating myself in numerous places and it all became overwhelming to keep up. So for 2017 I have spent some time really thinking about what I should and shouldn’t continue to use and what needed to change. I finally think I have a winning set up.

The Hobonichi Techo A6 Avec

The Hobonichi Techo A6 Avec

Hobonichi Techo Avec

First up is the Hobonichi Techo in the A6 size but this time round I have opted for the Avec books. This splits the year into two half year books making them a lot slimmer. I will be using this as a sort of Bullet Journal therefore portability was really important. I really liked how I have ended 2016 with the Techo and felt really comfortable about continuing to use this notebook as my Bullet Journal alternative.

Size comparison: 2016 English Techo against 2017 Avec books 

Size comparison: 2016 English Techo against 2017 Avec books 

One feature of the Avec that you don’t get on the English version of the Techo is that each month has its own colour scheme. The English A6 Techo is just a plain black and grey grid, but the Japanese Avec gives you numerous different colours throughout the year. It’s simple but I totally love it.

At the start of the planner is a two month per page view normally used to add in appointments, birthdays and anniversaries for the full year. I will be using this as a habit tracker which over time should really make this page look rather pretty.

My habit tracker pages

My habit tracker pages

My Avec has the pineapple cover and the cover on cover. The cover on cover is designed to protect the cover from wear but at the moment it feels slightly unnecessary. I’ll stick with it for a while but I have a feeling I may end up removing this.

Techo Pineapple cover - soo pretty

Techo Pineapple cover - soo pretty

The inside cover has a number of pockets for things such as business cards, notes and pieces of paper. My cover will remain pretty empty. At the moment I have a small photo, some stamps and a couple of note cards.

Hobonichi Techo Cousin Avec

The second part of the consolidation features another Techo. This time the cousin, or A5 size book, again in the Avec format. I will use the Cousin to record the days events. I will note what has taken place that day but also try and incorporate drawings, watercolours and almost try out art journaling. That is a big statement at this stage as I am not as artist at all but I really love seeing how other people do this on YouTube and wanted to try it out for myself.

Different coloured grid pages by month

Different coloured grid pages by month

The one element I like with the cousin Avec is the weekly view on two pages. It’s a really nice overview. At the moment I plan to use this to add in what I have been doing that day and include some doodles and any pieces of ephemera I pick up. I see this section of the Cousin replacing my Midori 019 free weekly refill.

Weekly vertical pages 

Weekly vertical pages 

I have the Cousin in a Midori MD notebook cover which works perfectly. I don’t need one of the official Hobonichi covers for this notebook as it’s just going to sit on my desk. A nice simple, slim set-up.

I have really been inspired by a number of different YouTubers to take the Techo into 2017. I didn’t really think they could work for me and thought that the Travelers Notebook would be the best choice. But the Techo seems to consolidate a lot of the features that I need and the paper in these notebooks is superb.

2017 Word Standard Memorandum - Beautiful cover design

2017 Word Standard Memorandum - Beautiful cover design

Word Standard Memorandum Notebook

Honestly at the moment I am not sure what I am going to use this for. It could be a small personal record book about how I am feeling, it could record things for my son that day. I have always been intrigued by these little books and I decided I needed to give this a go. For a tenner if it gets discarded I am not going to lose any sleep.

Video run through

I have a short video below which shows you the notebooks and set-ups in some more detail. Be sure to take a look.

Summary

The only things from 2016 that will remain is my personal journal in my Travelers Notebook. All of my other planning notebooks will be replaced and consolidated into one of my Techs. I am confident that I will be able to stick with this, but time will tell. Over the course of the year I will provide some short post updates and maybe the odd video or two. I think people like to see how others use their planners and notebooks - I know I do - so I will do my best to share what I can.

2016 Planner Review

My 2016 collection of in use notebooks

My 2016 collection of in use notebooks

After a busy 2016 I felt it was only right that I spend some time looking at the notebooks and planners that I have used over the past year. The idea was to figure out what has worked and what changes I need to make for the coming year.

2016 - What I used.

I used a lot, too much in fact. I was tracking lots of different things but I ended up doing it in too many places as I cobbled together different notebooks and planners. Below is a run down of the systems and notebooks I have used over the course of 2016 and how I have used them.

Hobonichi Techo 2016 - English version

I started the year with the Hobonichi Techo after a successful experience with my first one in 2015. I had been using my Techo to record the days events and enjoying the gorgeous tomoe river paper paired with my fountain pens. This had worked really well and the plan was to continue this into 2016 with a very minor tweak. I would take a photo a day and add this into the Techo, but I soon stopped once I realised how much it bulked out the planner.

After this bad idea I reverted back to what I had been doing in 2015 but as I reached May I was really bored with my Techo. I wasn’t enjoying the Techo and it felt like a chore to complete the days entry. Once I felt like that I cast it aside.

However after a quite successful foray into Bullet Journaling I decided in October to start using the Techo but this time as a planner. Shocking I know. For the past three months I have basically been planning my months and days in the Techo and it works really well. It’s a really simple set up, there is nothing that fancy here. On some days I may add a doodle to decorate the page but mostly it is a simple way to capture tasks and to dos.

Midori 019 free weekly refill

In 2016 I completed two of these notebooks. I have stuck to the same format throughout adding a snippet of my day on the left page.

On the grid page I capture anything interesting that has happened during that week. These could be letters, doodles, attempts at lettering or books I have been reading. When I have flicked back through these refills it has been really nice to see what happened week by week. It’s can be a very visual and simple reflective tool.

Travelers Notebook plus 1 refill

During my pregnancy and after my son was born I have been using a Travelers Notebook insert to journal. I keep this journal specific to documenting only personal memories. I am so pleased that I started this before my son was born and think that over the years I will enjoy looking back in these notebooks. I include photographs, ephemera from places we have visited and decorate them to make them a little bit more exciting. Lately I have started playing around with lettering in my most recent notebook using a number of different brush pens. These journals have become a place for me to experiment and to include lots of different journaling techniques.

Midori free monthly refill

Midori free monthly refill

Midori free monthly refill

The monthly refill has been used to track any of my blog or studying related tasks. In this refill I add in when posts are published, when assignments are due and when I have dedicated time to one of these activities. I have found this a useful way to keep track of time spent on my extra curricular activities.

Midori passport monthly calendar 2016

As I had been enjoying the monthly calendar for tracking my extra curricular activities I decided to reintroduce a paper calendar for my personal planning. I opted for the passport size as portability was key and have been using this in a passport Travelers Notebook throughout the year.

Bullet Journal

I used a Bullet Journal for about two months this year and actually really enjoyed it. I liked setting out my months and weeks experimenting with different layouts and adding in decoration. Including different ‘selections’ such as books read was a bit of a novelty as I had never tracked anything in this way before. But with a small person to look after it became impossible to maintain and I very quickly ditched this planning method. I think at some point in the future I may revisit this.

2016 Notebook and Planning summary

As you can see my 2016 planning and paper world was a bit hectic. It was too much and too busy, no question about that. I was trying to manage and track lots of different things but struggled to find one way to do this and as a result ended the year with several different notebooks. 2016 has undoubtedly been a year when I have really developed my planning processes but there is refinement needed in 2017.

I have made a short video running through my 2016 notebooks and planners which can be found below.

Next week I will be sharing a post outlining my 2017 planner and notebook set-up.