Listing… vertically

I’ve used my A6 Traveler’s Notebook exclusively for about a month and during that time imposed a no-download-no-buy and a 10 minute daily limit for planner pondering.

It was time for me to review my planning set-up because of a major life change and because every September finds me leafing back through my writings anyway, to see if there are any goals I can still accomplish and to plot perfect holidays. I’ve yet to have a perfect holiday but I have accomplished the goals I’ve recorded, broken down and kept track of.

So the month is up and I thought I’d compare what I came up with to other systems I’ve used and loved (and may revisit) throughout 2014:

10_13_14_Planner carry

Day-Timer’s Reference Set (top) and DIYFish LMIV02.1:

LMIV021 vs DT REF 2014

DIYFish LMIV03  (top) and Quo-Vadis University 2014/2015:

LMIV03 vs Quo Vadis

All along I was hoping I could eliminate the potential for overwhelm by simplifying. The Quo Vadis refill fits perfectly in my A6, can withstand my favorite fountain and gel pens and, because it of its vertical layout, can even graphically display time spent:

vertical calendar

This little gem, combined with a blank notebook – for list systems like Autofocus, GSD or the Bullet Journal – handles current and future planning, notes, projects, etc.

Granted, I can print DIYFish’s vertically laid out LMIV03 on the paper weight and color of my choice, it has my favorite grid rule and I can size it up on down depending on how I’m going to use it.   However, after a (happy) year of paper shopping, printing, cutting and punching, simply buying and sliding notebooks into my Traveler’s Notebook felt like cheating.  If something’s missing (more about this later) I tape it in.  I’m spending more time recording and doing than I am on planning to plan.

Speaking of ready-made, Fish did say in an interview with Ray Blake  that she will eventually sell ready printed planner systems and I’ll be first in line for them!

Paper Planner Index Hack

Index hack header

I take notes like a fiend because writing helps me remember. And, when I scribble information I’ll need to access again I use the Evernote Page Camera to upload that written page with tags so I can actually find it again and no matter where I am.

Best of both worlds, to be sure, but handling the original document enhances the experience for me. The context is clearer, I love the feeling of the planner in my hand and all that good stuff. Besides, I hang onto an analog system in a digital world because I like (love, obsess over, really dig) paper. I’m pretty sure paper love is just a logical extension – or a type – of fiber love.

The Kokyuo Buncobon Dot Cover Notebooks improve on the index (or table of contents) method of retrieval by providing a way to color code pages.

JetPens Kokyuo Buncobon Dot Cover NotebookNeed to find the notes on a particular project? If you’ve included that project on your index key and assigned it a color, you simply fill in the appropriate square on the page, making it easy to flip to it in the future. Brilliant system and I for one appreciate the excuse to add color to my notes and a legitimate reason to buy colored pencils and multi-pens!


I’m not always at my desk surrounded by pens or using a stable surface. If I have to pause to dig out the correct pen, line up the square to the key and color it in while grocery shopping, conferring with a doctor, taking notes at the speed of sound, etc…it’s just not going to happen consistently and, that lack of consistency spells disaster in the form of a broken and untrustworthy system.

So…I created a hack which works so well I dusted off this neglected blog to share it.

My actual A6 Traveler’s Notebook heads this entry. Below is a view of the insert with the labels (the ‘key’) I’ve applied directly to the cover, where they’re easy to see, find, use. As I note something worth finding again I pull out the appropriate Avery Color Coding Label, PostIt flag or piece of washi  and fold it over the edge of the page.


To quickly find a topic I have only to flip to the appropriate color. And, this works whether the label  is flush with the page or a flag tail is left to wave in the breeze. This indexing system can be used in ring bound planners , bound books like the Hobonichi or Bullet Journal and Traveler’s Notebook inserts. No special paper, additional pages or sections are required. I’ve mocked up a blank notebook to illustrate.

Flag assortment


Hope this helps someone. It’s incredibly simple (and obvious once I figured it out!) and it works.

Puzzling values

It’s been awhile so one could assume I’d pick up where I last left off and one would be oh so wrong.

Instead of pattern drafting, which requires larger blocks of time than I currently have,  I’ve been exploring my sewing machines’ features and  English Paper Piecing (EPP).Sooo, I finally unwrapped the hoop for my Elna CE20 and tried out the embroidery card  that’s been in its original shrink wrap all these many years.    I get it now – machine embroidery  is a creative pursuit because of the many variables – fabric, threads, design manipulation possibilities, etc.

You can see my very first attempt at EPP in bad photos on Flickr. The nosegay block, an online BOM, was made by copying a foundation pattern to vellum, cutting out the invidual elements, basting fabric to them and  reassembling.

When working hexagon flowers I thought more about color themes than I did about how they’d play together.  As I moved the flowers closer to each other on the design wall they didn’t ‘t sing in the planned harmony.

The colors don’t clash but  when I viewed them in black and white they did clang just a little, which was initially puzzling.  Choosing a color as a uniter (as opposed to a divider)  is obviously  for those who  don’t give a hoot about values (like me).

These flowers were made with 1/2″ Hexagon paper pieces from  Paper Pieces . This wonderful site generously offers  free templates of each shape for download and so you can enjoy cutting, say, 1200 teeny tiny pieces of lightweight card stock with your paper shears.  I’m just not that fun loving a person, I guess, because I plan on being a regular customer so they can do it for me. I chose 1/2″ but there are larger sizes available, of course, as well as notions, books, and thread.  Check it out.  (no affiliation)

Speaking of puzzles, the whole process of basting the individual pieces and sewing them together is exactly like working one with  needle and thread.  And, EPP is portable, which is something you can only say about hand work.

Happy stitching!

Keeping the (Quilting) Dream Alive

I’ve been listening to and thoroughly enjoying Circle of Quilters: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel.  If you’re a quilter or just a person with a pulse you’re going to find yourself identifying with the author’s finely drawn characters.

This series has been around awhile but I just found them.  I put a couple in my Audible Library last month but wasn’t motivated to choose one over my usual mystery novel until two days ago, when the urge to sew was strong and my load at work huge.  Enter Jennifer Chiaverini to keep me company as I toiled away in land of Excel and Outlook.  I’m not an adequate enough writer to describe her work except to say: she’s brilliant and you have to read or listen to her books.

I reinstalled the Audible Blackberry application so I wouldn’t have to snatch back my iPod from the son and so I could continue listening without having to juggle one more gadget.  Even better, Chiaverini’s books are available for download to your Kindle or to the Kindle for Blackberry application for enjoyment sans head phones.  Life is good!

Chiaverini inspired me.  Instead of giving up on finding time to be creative, I discovered a whole new source for it.  The next day found me buddying up with a LQS by signing up for classes.  I’ve always pursued my interests alone because of a stubborn inability to think or work in a straight line and complete lack of patience.   I imagine the rest of the class diligently following along with the instructor long after I’ve lost interest or begun a side journey on my own path.  Besides, I’m a process person, content to learn new things with nothing to show for it.  UFOs don’t bother me and I’m pretty sure the whole point of a class is to have a FO.  But, I signed up anyway.  If the Elm Creekers are any indication, individuality is not unusual among quilters.  I’m going to trust it to be the non-fiction part of the book series.    If this works out a guild membership could be in my future.

Sometimes creativity requires we take full responsibility for providing the impetus.  Rather than wait for a grand inspiration to fall on us, we have to move toward something concrete to get at the ethereal thing that will move us.  With a full week to wait for the class to begin I picked up two quilting magazines, which is unusual since I roll like I’m allergic to traditional methods.  Know what? A small quilt pattern caught my eye.  I’m pretty sure the carefully laid out process will soon bear no resemblence to the author’s and I’m also sure I’ll have a blast.

Double fun for drafting – Part I

Some of us who never intend to draft anything more complicated than a skirt or t-shirt for ourselves and there are a few designers who recognize our needs and write great, helpful books.    I’ll be reviewing three such books  as a series to begin…when I post it.

In the meantime, let’s talk about our dummies.  I have a Fabulous Fit (FF)  that I’ve padded and re-padded happily for years.  The FF consists of a solid form on which you place foam pieces that approximate body parts like breasts, hip, etc, until its measurements match your own in all the same places.  Nice system, not too complicated and quite easy to use for multiple people.  Unfortunately, my FF’s bust size is two inches larger than my own (story of my life).

What good is drafting if you don’t have perfect measurements?  The easiest way to achieve perfection, in my dopey opinion, is to make a body double and that’s exactly what the daughter and I tried to do, using paper tape.  We had the directions on the work table table the entire time but didn’t feel the need to look at them once.  Let’s just say “Lucy” doesn’t look as neat as the Threads image.

Anyway, our idea was to get exact (EXACT) measurements through a tape form we’d put on Tilly, my FF.  Well, you’re probably ahead of me here.  Lucy  fit at the hips and waist but , duh, not at the bust.  So, that’s where I am.  I’d show you but then I’d have to change my name.

The Draft

Oh, I’ve been a drafting fool! Some attempts have worked better than others, especially those that borrow the clearest instructions from more than one source. Just yesterday I received my copy of Building Patterns and quicky glance through it shows this might be a go-to reference.

I still can’t take worthy pictures but have included one anyway. Specifics to follow (eventually).

I quit

Well, not yet, my quit date is August 1, 2010.

A work peer died on Sunday and it was so soon after she mentioned taking a day off to get a lung biopsy that it scared the shit out of me. No, my first reaction wasn’t a selfish, “Uh oh, what about ME??” The selfish self interest part was the immediate second thought that followed the pain of permanent loss.

I’ve never used this blog for much but this certainly seems like the very best time to start broadcasting. Anyway, on the recommendation of another work peer who is also scared, I ordered an electronic cigarette. On my own I figured I’d need to go sign up on the site because he’s puffing away on his atomizer thingy but still is craving the real fire and smoke of a cigarette. I guess vapor doesn’t cure everything. You should check out the site even if the Terms and Conditions says it’s keeping your info and passing it on to third parties. Opting out is as easy using the Contact Us link (or so they promise). I buy my cigarettes with my debit card so some big brother somewhere has already calculated how much I smoke anyway. My mantra since June (fuck it) has been working well for me so i went for it with no trepidation.

In between typing this into the wilderness I’m searching for an online countdown widget. The date was chosen because it’s also my quit companion’s and because my mom is coming to visit on 8/4. I’d love not having her quietly pull me aside to ask me to quit (for the 1000th time). I can see me impressing her with the style of the ecig and my proficiency with lozenges instead. It just occurs to the mom in me how much my puffery must bother her.  I’d be pissed if my kids had such a foul habit.