2018: My Favourite Tools.

I’ve reviewed my 2018 planners and explained what I have lined up for 2019 in my recent posts and this got me thinking about all the tools I have used this year. 2018 feels like a year of consolidation. I’ve acquired less stationery and tried to focus on using what I have stored in my drawers and cupboards. Today’s post is reflective and about sharing my year in stationery.

My paper use.

I use a lot of paper and I always feel like I have too much paper on the go. I enjoy trying out new notebooks and paper stock but I also like what I like.


Baron Fig notebooks have become a staple in 2018. I use one Baron Fig Confidant as a journal, at the moment this happens to be the big Fig, or the Baron Fig Plus (small side note, I really wish Baron Fig had called this the big Fig). I also use one of the Confidants or the Vanguards for work because the paper works so well with pencils, ballpoint or rollerballs as well as fountain pens. I like that I don't have to consider my writing tools at work.


I thoroughly enjoy using the Travelers Company notebooks. Their paper is high quality and is perfect for pairing with fountain pens. I enjoy the cream paper, which is not to everyone's taste.

That is supposed to look like an ‘18’.

That is supposed to look like an ‘18’.

I have used a lot of Field Notes notebooks this year but this is because I have a lot to get through and not because I am a super fan. My love of Field Notes has waned over recent years. I buy what I like, the Coastal edition was a favourite of mine this year, but I am no longer concerned with acquiring any notebook that they release.

Finally my exploration into sketchbooks has expanded my experience with paper. Finding what I like to sketch on, what paper works best with watercolour and coloured pencils has all been part of the journey. Currently I am using a pocket Baron Fig Confidant as I am mainly sketching with pencil and black pen and I was interested to see how I fared with a small sketchbook. I think as I go into 2019 I will only increase my knowledge in my sketching materials and really find what works well for me.


2018, the year of pencils?


My pencil use has increased a lot in recent months. I use these mostly with my pocket notebooks for daily note taking but there is also sketching use in there too. I tend to use one pencil for a while and then rotate when I fancy a change. Lately I have been really enjoying the Tombow Mono 100 2B. The softer graphite is not usually a pencil I am drawn to but this pencil is so smooth to write with.


I have loved using the Blackwing 54 in part because of the colour choices with this pencil and the hard graphite that makes it a great note taking pencil.


The Craft Design Technology pencil has been another favourite. The mint coloured barrel is just beautiful. And finally the Staedtler Mars Lumograph in H, I love this pencil for its simplicity and its ability to hold a point. It’s an old reliable.


Fountain Pens and Ink.

This is one category where I’m happy with what I’m using. Unusually, I don't feel a pull to acquire more pens or inks and find joy in using the pens I have.


The Lamy LX with Sailor Blue Black is my go to fountain pen. I have been using this combination for most of the year, it just works.

The Pelikan M400 and Sailor Wagu-Uguisu is a great match. The gold nib, and the softness when writing means I get a good view of the green Sailor ink and can appreciate the shading. It’s so much fun writing with this pen and I usually admire my scrawl once complete.

Finally the Kaweco ART Sport inked with Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. I love this combination as the colours work so well together.

Drawing Pens.

The final category that I felt was worth a mention was drawing pens. In my effort to learn how to draw, drawing pens have been vital tool that I now use more than I ever have. They are so versatile and useful to have as part of any stationery nerds toolkit, but for drawing they are a dream. I have used fine tip drawing pens and brush pens to experiment. The Tombow brush pen has been a personal favourite and the Faber-Castell PITT Artist pen continues to be my preferred sketching pen. Recently I have tried a Pentel marker and the Pilot Finerliner to experiment with line width.


Overall thoughts.

My tools of choice have changed a bit this year which is down to a shift in the way I use my analogue tools. I used to be fully immersed in fountain pens and ink and couldn't get enough, but now I happily use other tools alongside my fountain pens. They all have a certain purpose. I’ve been most surprised by how much I have used pencils and that’s in part as I am sketching more now, but also because they’re so easy to use with a pocket notebook. It makes my daily carry easy.

2018 has been less about acquiring new things, although I have done a bit of that, but more about finding what I like and using it more and more. In 2019 I want to continue this and really hone down the tools I enjoy using.

Finally I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who reads, shares, likes and comments on my posts. I really enjoy sharing my thoughts on stationery and hope you enjoy the content. I'm looking forward to sharing even more in 2019!

Mid-Week Mini: My First Inktober Completed.

Today is the last day of Inktober and I have drawn everyday this month. I am really pleased with what I have produced, that I was able to stay focused and to complete a drawing each day.

In this post I have included each drawing I completed, the good, the bad and the ugly.

My Inktober drawings.

Things I have learnt from Inktober.

I have enjoyed drawing with a Tombow brush pen. I like the line width variation from using one pen. It’s handy to just have one pen to use, rather than several drawing pens with different nib sizes. I had never considered using a brush pen to draw with but it works really well.

I restricted myself to using pen and pencil only. I didn’t want to distract myself with anything else. This has made me start venturing into line work but I really have no idea what I am doing. I have looked at a lot of other sketchers trying to see where and how they use their line work to guide my own drawings.

During this challenge I have found that I have no imagination and need to copy or follow something. Finding the time to sketch is tricky and means I am mostly drawing in the evenings. I have found Instagram and Pinterest the best tools and I have been drawing things that I find interesting. I make a note of where the drawing has come from and found this really helpful in developing my skills. Getting my perspectives right is still a major challenge and I just can't seem to wrap my head around this.


Overall thoughts.

I am really pleased to have taken part in Inktober. I have found drawing extremely calming and a good way to keep myself occupied especially at times where I normally waste time. In some instances my daily drawings have linked back to my day and my Inktober sketchbook has almost become a mini journal. I didn't plan that but I have drawn about things I have on my mind and things I have done. As always the test now is whether I can continue to draw regularly. Every day may be tricky, but finding a balance and routine is where I need to be.

Plus I already have my next sketchbook lined up, so I need to make sure I carry it with my and sketch whenever I can.

Tombow Mono 100 HB and 2B Review

The Tombow Mono 100 is a premium quality Japanese pencil. To reflect this quality the pencil design is really smart and slick. It has a deep black lacquer complimented by lovely gold embossing on the barrel. There are a lot of different font types on this one small pencil barrel and it comes with a lot of information. I do however love the small gold dragonfly that you see on the Tombow pencils, it's so pretty.  

As with most other pencils you do unfortunately get the ugly barcode on one side of the hex which is a bright white, contrasting dramatically with the black lacquer.



The cap on the Mono 100 is different to other pencils. Its rounded rather than following the hex of the pencil. It has a thick white line going across the middle of the cap which makes it very handy to spot in your pencil pot. 

As I mentioned I have had these pencils for some time, so I don't actually have a Mono 100 in my preferred graphite grade. Both the HB and 2B graphites are dark. The point holds fairly well but it does require sharpening regularly when you write with this pencil for longer periods of time. 

You do get some smudging with the HB and 2B pencils as well and some printing on the page but that is to be expected from any pencil with a dark graphite. Both pencils write really smoothly when paired with a nice quality paper stock, as you can see from my photo below. 

I think the Tombow Mono 100 pencils are really nice to use. They're not my favourite but I tend to gravitate to some of the more alternative pencil options on the market. As a higher quality pencil I think the Mono 100 is a solid option. I really would like to try one of these out in a H or F grade because these are my preferred grade options. I am sure after using one of these I would like it even more. 

October Loadout

After my recent trip to New York, Octobers loadout is pencil heavy. 

The Notebooks 

Regular Size Midori Travelers Notebook (MTN) - When I finished up with my September Loadout post I wasn't sure if I would be able to stick with the MTN setup, but coming into October it's still going strong. I am getting used to the customisation and enjoying it more and more. The paper is great and perfect for fountain pens. This month I even added the 016 medium pen loop and the 008 zipper plastic pocket which means I must be committed. 

The Pencils 

Palomino Blackwing Volume 725 - the lacquer on this pencil is stunning and combined with the super sharp point from the classroom friendly sharpener this is possibly one of my favourite pencils at the moment. 

Tombow 2558 H grade - I am keen to try out this pencil for journalling, particularly after the Pen Addicts recent review. I enjoy firmer grade pencils and I think this will really fit the bill.

Caran d'Ache edelweiss F grade - after my controversial Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood post I have wanted to find a different Caran d'Ache pencil that I could enjoy using. I really like the brand and have enjoyed using their mechanical pencil, so after my CW Pencils visit I will spend some time figuring out if this is the Caran d'Ache pencil for me. 

General Pencil Company Kimberly F grade - I am intrigued by this pencil ever since I heard Johnny Gamber talk about it on the Erasable podcast. It's not the 2B he discussed but it's a firm friend. I have no experience of General's pencils, plus the different graphite grades are hard to find here in the UK. I have high expectations of this pencil, so fingers crossed I won't be disappointed.  

Mitsu-bishi 9000 HB - I wanted to try this out and see how it compares to the Hi-Uni. The 9000 looked like a good option. I really like the green lacquer on this pencil and the special note on the barrel which states 'made by elaborate process'. 

Octobers preferred pencils 

Octobers preferred pencils 

The Pens

Pilot Kakuno M nib - I am planning on inking this up with an Iroshizuku ink I have on the way from Jetpens. I recently bought a few of the mini bottles as there were quite a few I wanted to try. Once they arrive I will decide on which colour to use, but my plan is to use this pen with my Hobonichi Techo as the Tomoe River paper demands the use of a fountain pen.  

Karas Kustoms Ink F nib - I still have this inked up with the Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki ink and I am still enjoying the partnership. This will carry over into October. 

Lamy AL Star F nib - I enjoy using this pen with my Hobonichi Techo. I have this inked up with the Lamy Black T-10 ink cartridges. 


The Classroom Friendly Sharpener - as far as I am concerned at the moment there is no other sharpener. With the pencil heavy loadout for this month, the classroom friendly sharpener will be my new best friend. 

Hobonichi Techo - I am as committed as ever to the Techo. I will be buying my 2016 book this month. I am working on another post summarising my thoughts on this planner, for me this is definitely here to stay. 

Midori MD A5 Notebook - this is my additional journal. Usually I use this with fountain pens, however this month I will use this with my newly acquired pencils. 

For October my main changes are less fountain pens and more pencils. This is a big change from my usual loadout but I am looking forward to this change up. I may miss using fountain pens, but I may also surprise myself and enjoy using pencils resulting them becoming more important in my everyday use. Who knows, only time will tell. The truth will be in Novembers Loadout.