Q for You: Do you keep a knitting journal?

Q for You: Do you keep a knitting journal? (how to)

I am a notebook addict, as I might have mentioned. A pencil and paper kind of girl. Diaries, planners, sketchbooks, logbooks of all sorts (books, wines …) were always an integral part of my life. I love a written record, and how visceral it is to flip back through one. Of course, in the digital age, my habits have shifted. I’ve used a web-based to-do system instead of a paper planner since around 2009; converted my editorial calendar into a spreadsheet in 2014; and have a solid 11 years of ephemera of every kind clipped into Evernote. PDFs, images, order confirmations, screengrabs, flight itineraries, random notes to self, you name it — if I need to search for it someday, or access it anywhere from any device, into Evernote it goes. I’m extremely organized and systematized. Yet somehow, where knitting is concerned — from when I learned in 2011 until the start of this year — my record-keeping has been a giant mess.

As I’m knitting anything, I always have notes on paper. I highlight, annotate and scribble in the margins of printed-out pattern PDFs. I have two Knitters Graph Paper Journals full of charts and shaping diagrams and top-down formulas, which I cherish. Plus a small memo book or notepad in the pocket of whatever project bag I’m currently using. When I finish a thing, I try to be thorough abou translating my chicken scratch from wherever it is into a blog post, and strive to record yarn and needle sizes and sometimes yardage in a corresponding Ravelry project page. But I’m surprisingly non-thorough. Inevitably, I or one of you will have a question that neither the blog post nor the Rav page can answer, and I can’t always find which notebook or pad or printout I was scribbling in at the time. Plus I’ve been around the internet long enough that I could make a very long list of former blogs, forums and databases I’ve poured myself into that no longer exist. Poof. Only paper endures. So I’m doing what I really can’t believe I’ve never done until now: I’ve started a proper knitting journal. Which will also be able to incorporate sewing, once I get back to it!

Q for You: Do you keep a knitting journal?

What pushed me over the edge was finally having the beautiful Fringe Supply Co. notebooks I’ve always wanted. I’m using the larger one for my main journal and still keeping a spare for random chicken scratch and the smaller notepad in my project bag. All of the pages are perforated, so it’s nice and tidy to tear them out of elsewhere when I’m done and paste them into the journal. There are some Bullet Journal elements to how I’ve organized it: I’ve included an index in the front and a “future log” listing things that need to be made in specific months (some of which is secret, so I can’t show you that part). Entering things this way allows me to not be too control freaky about what order they get documented in the journal, since they simply get listed in the index as they’re added. And I’m striving to include everything relevant to each project: my original sketches (on Fashionary panels); the yarn label; any notes extracted from the smaller notepad; the pattern photo and chart or annotated pattern pages; needles used; and of course FO photos, just printed out and glued in. Things are variously taped, stapled or glued, or stuck in pockets I make either by taping three sides of a half-page, or gluing in an envelope. I’ve toyed with including a piece of yarn — taped in with washi tape so I can change my mind — but I think that gets to be a bit much for me personally. Haven’t decided.

Q for You: Do you keep a knitting journal?

It’s already getting thick since I’ve finished more things in the past three months than I normally knit in a whole year. (I loved making the gatefold for my Log Cabin Mitts log!) But as it gets fatter, I just tear out pages to make room. Again, since they’re perforated, I can remove those edges and that just becomes useful notepaper, some of which finds its way back in.

I love sitting and looking at this notebook. Love the tangibility of it, especially since four of the FOs in there have already been given away. Obviously I won’t stop blogging and Rav’ing the details like always, but I like knowing this notebook will outlast the ever-shifting tides of technology.

So that’s my Q for You today: Do you keep a knitting/sewing notebook or scrapbook of any kind? How else do you record what you make?

Q for You: Do you keep a knitting journal?

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64 thoughts on “Q for You: Do you keep a knitting journal?

  1. I do, but not as pretty as yours! I have a notebook which I keep all my fabric/fiber projects in and another one where I jot down design ideas, etc. I put in (or try to) samples of the fiber, pattern info, when started/finished, who it was for, anything I can think of that seems important at the time.

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  2. I don’t keep a knitting journal. I consider my Ravelry projects pages to be my knitting journal. I try to be pretty thorough there, but sometimes I go back to a project to look for certain info and discover I forgot to include it. I wonder if I would do better with a paper journal? Yours looks wonderful.

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    • It’s funny — they ask all the right questions, and yet I somehow sometimes fail to fill in all the answers. I do love having my Ravelry projects archive and will definitely keep it up. (I’ve been better lately than in the past, although I see it’s not currently complete.) And I hope Ravelry lasts forever. But my experience of Internet things is eventually they go away, and all of my stuff along with them. So I decided it was time to also start keeping it all where I can actually keep it.

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      • I have a lot of faith that if Ravelry ever went away, Jess and Casey would find a way to make sure everyone could download their project database to have that record.

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        • Oh, for sure! But I’ve also dowloaded past forums … onto CDs or Zip Disks or whatever other defunct media I no longer have a way of accessing. It’s so sad how much I’ve lost over the last two decades!

          But yes, A) I have absolutely no reason to think that Ravelry is going anywhere anytime soon! and B) they would absolutely handle it beautifully if it ever came to that.

          I’m by no means suggesting anyone should be alarmed about anything!

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  3. I keep an idea and record book in my project bag. Just started this year. Before that I relied on delusional memories.

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  4. Oh My. Whatever spectrum this is, I am on the opposite end. I often knit without a pattern, and to the degree there are notes, they consist of a couple of post it notes. At my best, I will have a scribbled on pattern which i put in a notebook, or which I intend to put in a notebook but in reality stick in a basket on the bookshelf, waiting to be put away. At my worst, there are no notes at all, and i am literally counting off the stitches on one sleeve in order to make the other. After 60 years of this, there is little liklihood I will change.

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    • You sound just like me! The most “organized” bit has been the magazine holder on my bookshelf in which I shove all the marginalia’d patterns when I’m done. But now that I’m sticking/stapling the post-its and doodles and patterns and whatnot onto the pages of a notebook it all feels super organized. It’s like when you take a bunch of stray junk and put it on a tray, suddenly it looks tidy, lol. Such a funny phenomenon.

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  5. My journals are three ring notebooks with page protectors. When I complete the project yarn, pattern, notes, and whatever goes into the sheet protector. That way I can pull it right out to look at if I want to make it again.
    This does not cover the up and coming so I may want to address that aspect with one of your notebooks! I love notebooks too.

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  6. I’ve been wanting to keep a more comprehensive knitting and sewing journal, so I guess it’s never too late to start (even if I wish I had it going from the start).
    For now, I’ve just been keeping a two-column running list in my bullet journals; one side for knits and one for sewing. I try to include the pattern name, the yarn and colors used (or fabric and designer for sewing) and where I bought the materials.
    I’d like to include more things like time and money spent, illustrations, and pattern notes.

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  7. What a beautiful journal! I love keeping mine, I love flipping through it and seeing what I was working on last summer, a year ago… seeing what I was into at the time, and how my knitting keeps developing as my appetites change and my skillset expands. The funny thing is, for me including little pieces of yarn is sort of the whole point of the journal! How different we all are as knitters. Love it.

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  8. Your journal looks so inspiring. I always have good intentions but end up with notes on the pattern that really aren’t much help.

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    • That’s the other thing I’m trying to be better at. I always make notes that make sense to me at the time and useless later. Or I’m guilty of changing my mind about stuff along the way and not writing that down, just keeping it in my head while I need to know it. So then later I’m like “did you actually do that, or did you wind up doing something else?”

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  9. My knitting notes are disorganized and spread across various books and a binder. I am usually thorough in what I include on ravelry, and I enjoy its automatic calculations, but I’m well aware that while the Internet never forgets, ones useful info and bookmarks do become irretrievable. So I do keep trying to improve my hard copy system.

    I’m always torn between having a small portable notebook as a log, and something bigger that can actually hold more info. I like your idea of pasting from one to the other (but do you only write on one side of the page in your small notebook?).

    Your notebook is inspiring. I love a good browse through someone else’s organizing system and as I read this post, I kept trying to zoom in to absorb more. How heavy is the paper in your notebooks? I love perforated pages but I find that if I overload them, they sometimes separate away on their own.

    Thanks for the inspiration, I have much to consider!

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    • Yeah, the little steno-style notepad is good at keeping me to writing only on the one side of the page, which is good.

      And this is nice thick paper but I do wonder as if some of the pages that are more heavily loaded might strain the perf at some point. I figure I’ll just put a nice strip of washi tape over it in those cases, if so. It’s the pro/con of perforation, but overall I do prefer having it.

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  10. “Only paper endures.” It’s funny you say that, because I am always encouraging people to print their photos out and make Shutterfly photo books, particularly if they have children. Otherwise, photos go to die in the cloud, on phones, on computers, on Facebook. Who knows whether the jpg format will endure?

    And yet I have not applied this thinking to knitting. It is a sobering thought that Ravelry may not be around forever! I do a pretty good job of documenting my projects on Ravelry, and write lots of notes to help others. But your post has really made me stop and think about keeping a paper backup. I might have to get some of your notebooks!

    BTW it was fun to read your 2012 interview with Isabell Kramer, via MDK.

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  11. How beautiful and inspiring! I have tried over the years to keep even a basic record for sewing and knitting, and for some reason I just don’t. The rest of my life is pretty organized and well documented, so I don’t get why this is such a problem. And it is a problem. If I put my knitting down at all, I come back not knowing what size I’m knitting or if I subbed needle sizes to make gauge–very basic info! I do use a bullet journal, though, and have started making project pages for knitting when I cast on. Apparently the key for me is to just have one book for everything!

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    • I’ve been thinking about how to have this notebook and mini-bujo not be so mutually exclusive. I do want more of my making to show up in my regular journal somehow. Working on that.

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  12. I take really detailed notes in nice notebooks that I keep for further reference. I also reflect a lot of these details, in a neater fashion, in Ravelry project pages. I routinely make things more than once (if I like the project) so keeping track of grams used, ways of striping (to maximize avail yarn), changes to the dimensions/stitch counts/gauge (to suit my shape), info about ways in which the pattern could have been interpreted differently to yield a different result, info about fabric properties, swatching details etc. I also draw a lot of pictures because I don’t have awesome, natural spatial reasoning skills so I need to draw what I perceive I’m reading to see if it makes sense. My notes look like crazy scientist scratchings.

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  13. I do. I call it “wise notebook”, cause it includes some necessery information about needles and yarns in all of my projects. Sometimes I try write down instructions, but usually it ends in the middle of knitting. I can’t remember, I’ve finished it. I am lazy girl maybe… ;) I prefer to knit than write.

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  14. I do tend to print patterns to work from, and write on them, and I try to make notes of pattern changes on Ravelry – but that is the size of it. And Ravelry notes are often sketchy. But without Ravelry, I doubt anything would be understandable at all.

    I have the kntters graph book, and I have a few patterns written out there, but it is not my go to place for such things, just handy if I am working out a pattern to try to get it right on paper before I commit yarn and needles.

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  15. I keep a journal (of sorts) – but you have inspired me to flesh it out more fully. Like others, I find that when I go back to check something the actual information I need isn’t there or I have to refigure it out from the clues left behind. Thank you for the inspiring and motivating post!

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  16. I have kept three ring binders with descriptions of each quilt that I’ve made, complete with photos, a description of my inspiration, etc., since the 1990’s. It is a wonderful resource both of memories and for new ideas…what if I did this to that pattern? I haven’t done the same for knitting–figuring Ravelry was sufficient but your blog entry has inspired me. Thank you!

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  17. You make me want to start one. The trouble is, I change my mind so often, my journal would probably be a mess very quickly, what with the plans that were, that are, and that will be….

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  18. I always think I want to do this, because I’ve been obsessed with all things stationery since I was a child, but when it comes down to it, making the journaling a project unto itself just means I never actually do it. Because I want it to look pretty so I won’t actually just jot things down all casual-like, I’ll start art directing. And oh lord printing out photos — I can’t even keep up with photographing the projects in the first place because I want the photos to be pretty so everything turns into a 2 hour photo shoot and who has time for that (not me!)… so nothing gets photographed.

    So I keep lots of notes, but I have to do it in the lowest-friction, most minimalist format possible, so I can’t make the note-keeping itself into a project. For me, that’s plain text files. Bonus, they’re one of the formats most likely to be future-proof. When I get around to it, I also like to put things in my Ravelry, but the bottleneck there is pretty severe (I become convinced that I need pretty pictures! And a clever writeup! sheesh!).

    Personally, I feel burdened by having to keep precious physical objects around, so I don’t find paper to be a great long term storage format. It’s just one more thing to worry about losing, or making physical space for in my life. I guess when it comes to long term record keeping, I’ve kind of accepted that nothing is forever.

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    • I resonated with a lot of what you said–I’m very attracted to the beauty of paper journals like Karen’s, but my perfectionist’s streak turns me into a procrastinator. Always wanting it to be a work of art, award-winning, stupendous, blah, blah, blah. Good for you for recognizing your tendency and not letting it get in your way of creating. I have done a pretty good job of documenting my projects on Ravelry, and I keep a clear baggie of swatch, the scribbled on paper pattern, a little bit of leftover yarn for repairs, etc. as a physical record. I’ve started to take some pleasure in trying to take beautiful pictures of my FO’s to post on Ravelry, and so far that hasn’t risen to the level of perfectionism as an excuse for procrastination, but I’ve only done it a couple of times. I would love to have the beautiful journal to page through, though….

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  19. I do keep a stitching journal (embroidery, knitting, quilting, and sewing all in one). It’s actually similar to yours, although it’s never occurred to me to include actual photographs or copies of photos other than the finished object! I’ve got sketches, diagrams, thread/yarn/floss samples. Changes to patterns or anything I feel compelled to complain about are underlined in red ink, lol.

    While the journal is fun to look through, it’s actually one of the most useful tools I have because I can reference why I adjusted shaping here or chose this fabric there or did whatever I did to make whatever I made.

    Sadly, it’s a fairly new journal, because the two I’d kept over nearly 25 years of stitching were lost in our last move.

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  20. I keep some notes on printed patterns, but never anything very organized. Occcasionally I regret not having more details, and the times I’ve wanted to look back on something I rarely can find an actual useful note. However, I’m just learning to weave, and for that I find good notes essential. Because at the end of a project you can’t just look and see how you did the hemstitching, or what sort of border you did – it’s all wound onto the front beam out of sight. So that’s forcing me to be more organized, the question is whether it will rub off on my knitting projects….

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  21. Keep a sample of that yarn!!! It doesn’t add much bulk and it tells you a whole lot especially if you don’t want to go digging for the object you knitted with it. Showing it to someone, how it looks and feels, the weight unknitted, the color in the beginning. I know those things don’t sound like much, but you might be surprised. That said, I am not very good at keeping records and at 79 not likely to get any better!

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  22. wonderful ideas, can be translated to other craft projects…… records help make even greater success on t he next project.

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  23. When I start a knitting project, I enter it into Ravelry. Then, if I deviate from the pattern or am not using a pattern, I make notes in Ravelry as I go. Once the project is complete, I post it to my blog along with photos I have taken. I am trying to do the same with my weaving because those scraps of paper get lost or are undecipherable after a while, but so far have not been as disciplined about it.

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  24. I use a graph paper composition book and tape in inspiration pictures from magazine. I also staple in swatches with the appropriate info, yarn labels, and photo of finished project. I got away from it for a bit as I was using Ravelry but the swatches kept huge tying mislaid. I also find that i’m more likely to swatch if I put it in a book.

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  25. Remember when your children were young, you had so many responsibilities and there was always a mountain of laundry to do… back in the days when a 36-hour day still was insufficient? It did not take me long to realize I needed a better laundry system, because clean unfolded laundry on every chair, sofa and bed ended up tossed around by the children and then you had no idea of what was clean and what was not. Okay, that is more than a little out of perspective, but you get my idea. Something had to change! I “allowed” myself to begin a second load only if I forced myself to fold or hand the first load as the second was washing.

    Yes, I keep a pretty organized record of my knitting, sewing, etc. on my computer now. I used to keep everything in 3 ring binders with sheet protectors and paper that had reinforced punch holes. However, the laundry nightmare turned into my knitting, sewing, etc. nightmare, too. The answer was very similar to the laundry dilemma. I forced myself to document my work BEFORE I could go onto another project. WORKS LIKE A CHARM!

    Karen, your knitting/sewing journal looks wonderful! Too bad I don’t have space for keeping anything but computer files now that I’m full-timing.

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    • I don’t allow myself to make a project as finished on ravelry until I’ve blocked it, sewn in the ends, and filled in the ravelry page.

      Now I need to adopt your laundry rule!! I am a first time parent to a seven month old and I’m drowning in laundry – dirty, clean unfolded, folded but not put away, etc.

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  26. I make a PDF file of each Ravelry project page when I complete the project, and I save them on my computer. Some day I’ll make a book of them. I used to have a book like yours (not as beautiful, though!), but then I had Kid #2 and just started keeping track on a note on my PalmPilot (remember those?). I found that with multiple kids (we have four), I have more time to catch up on my documentation during any down time (lunch break) at work, hence the PalmPilot entries. And then Ravelry came along. :)

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  27. I am in the same camp as Julia. I want my notebook to be pretty, and then that becomes a whole new project. I have random notebooks and need a better system because I don’t have good notes on all my modifications. I am thinking about buying a new book for each craft and labeling them as well as a notebook for every project. Then transferring info to a main notebook…see what I mean?

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  28. I don’t currently keep a paper knitting journal, but have wanted to for a long time. I agree with the transient nature of technologically kept notes. A little over a year ago my husband of 41 years found the little calendar notebook he kept from college days. Inside were his notes of the day we met, our first dates, engagement, etc. What a treasure! We were both inspired to keep paper journals from now on. Now I need to work on keeping my knitting logged better on paper. Thanks for the prompting.

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  29. I keep a small notebook in my project bags. I like using small (spiral bound) notebooks – the kind you can get from an office supply store – or marketing swag from friends and office vendors. Usually, I use one notebook, and just add one project after the other. Sometimes I’ll open up a new notebook if I’m working on a large project that will likely take while to finish. I have made my own Project Planner stickers (fits 2×4 mailing labels) – one for the basics about the project, and another Project Progress Note to stick on the pages as I move through the project. Any other scribbles just go on the page. My knitting class students are starting to pick-up the system themselves by osmosis.

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  30. I’d appreciate a face-to-face tutorial on bullet journals. There’s another organizational technique that is s-o-o-o attractive to me.

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  31. I so need to start a journal. My knitting notes get scrawled on paper patterns, slips of paper, notes on phone and often mean nothing when I come across them later. Travelling on a yacht or canal boat..soon to happen, I take yarn, patterns plus knitting clobber with me. An organised notebook would be a definite asset. Thanks
    Anne

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  32. I have been keeping a paper knitting log for the past several years and settled on a Circa format – one for every year. I bought a punch so I can use my own paper and I can put in as many pages as necessary. Every year I have fun making the covers with some kind of collage or whatever strikes my fancy at the time. It is similar to yours (not as neat) and I always glue in the label and a piece of the yarn with a dab of PVA or whatever is around. Some of the notes are hit and miss but I do make an effort to add every project. It has been invaluable when I want to remember what yarn or pattern was used for a project or what year was that when I knit 10 auction hats? My husband lost a mitten this year and it made it so much easier to recreate instead of starting from scratch. Ravelry is great and I have tried to be more consistent using it but for me paper will never go out of style. Now that I am getting back into sewing more, it makes sense to track that in some fashion as well.

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  33. I do keep a paper journal, even though I also document everything in Ravelry. I include the yarn label and a snippet of the project yarn(s) as well. I note down specific details in case I ever want to make that project again – yarn, needles, pattern and any changes I made. You know what happens – years later the gift recipient asks for another one “just like the first one” and you don’t even remember making it! LOL.

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  34. These are fabulous pages – I’m not that neat. I use Ravelry, or may jot notes in my planner. My journal pages are usually doodles, notes, inspirations — I never really thought about adding projects! Cool.

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