Review: Handle Note 01 Grey & Brass

Handle is a new notebook company, and I had been waiting in anticipation for these to be released. The price point is somewhat steep (€25.00 + €7.50 for shipping). Currently they have a 20% off coupon (NOTE01LAUNCH), so my total was about $30.95. While on the higher end for notebook costs, I think it’s worth it. This notebook is my favorite, my new #1, and the next I’ll be using.

The notebook comes in a sweet box, much like Baron Fig products. It served its purpose, and protected my notebook in the post.

Handle Note01

The cover is advertised as gray leather. I’m unsure if that means genuine leather, bonded leather, etc. Nonetheless, It’s beautiful.

Handle Note01

The back cover has “Handle” embossed on the bottom.

Handle Note01

The notebook has gray leather cover, with brass gilt-edging. I find the color combination very pleasing. I have a thing for gilt-edge notebooks. You can see the Handle Note 01 above a Moleskine notebook (for reference)

Handle Note01

The promo pictures on the Handleware website include no pictures of inside the notebook and the paper. So I was in for a surprise. And it was a pleasant one! The paper feels a lot like Moleskine paper, but slightly thicker. They don’t specify anything about the paper, so I can’t say what the weight is. The line spacings are 6mm, and bronze.

Handle Note01

The biggest pleasant surprise was the amount of stitchings per signature: 20 stitchings! Basically, the more stitchings the sturdier the notebook. To see how many stitchings a (smyth-sewn) notebook has, open to the middle of any signature, and count the number of holes, which is where the thread goes through. Most notebooks have about 4-10 stitchings. (a Moleskine has 10 stitchings). My current Nanami Seven Seas Writer has 8.

In the below picture you can see the plentiful stitchings, the bronze lines. You can also see that when the notebook lays open in the middle, the leather bunches together and creates a little divot. That is my only complaint, and very minor.

Handle Note01

Specifications

  • 200 pages
  • lined
  • 6mm lines
  • gilt edge

Where to buy:

Review: Whitelines

Whitelines is a Swedish notebook manufacturer that takes a unique approach to their paper. All of their paper is grey with white markings (lined, grid, dot grid, isometric etc). Their approach is “Dark lines distract, Whitelines don’t.” I love the concept. They also advertise that the lines will disappear when you copy/scan the paper. Whitelines offers a wide array of bindings, cover fabrics, paper formatting.

Whitelines

This notebook is gorgeous.  The cover has this great buckram linen, with the Whitelines logo embossed on the cover. Their color palette includes this vibrant signature orange. The construction of the notebook is well-designed. Personally, I favor a notebook with a joint, the small groove that runs along the spine. It feels sturdier to me.

Whitelines

The paper is 80gsm, but it feels similar to Moleskine weight (~71gsm). In my ink test, there was some show through of my pen-of-choice, pigment ink pens, but not much.

Some of their notebooks have built in digitization formatting to be used with their smart phone app. However, this notebook does not have that feature, which is ideal for me. Some of their notebooks have alternating page layouts, for example one page has dot grid, and the other ruled. There is a lot of variety in their notebook offerings!

Whitelines

In the above photo, you can easily see the unique coloring of the gray paper/white lines, contrasted against Moleskine paper.
Whitelines

Whitelines notebook on top of an A5 Moleskine for reference.

Specifications:

  • 160 pages
  • 80gsm paper
  • 6mm line spacing

Where to Buy

Review: Miro Notebooks

The Miro Notebooks, made by Franklin Mill, are a nice contribution to the black cover notebook market, with a great price point ($13.99).

Miro
The cover is vinyl and feels very similar to moleskine, with more grip. Mine already has a few gouges and a small tear, but I don’t mind.

Miro

The paper is advertised as Mohawk Paper. It feels and writes very well. The paper is the best part of the notebook, which is ideal. If you look closely at the above picture, the line layout is unique: the line has a slight break about an inch into the paper, along the spine (so it alternates). This would be useful for checklists, and is not intrusive and easy to ignore.

Miro

There is a small pocket in the back, but it is not gusseted like a Moleskine notebook. It is large enough to fit a few small pieces of paper.

Miro

Moleskine A5 notebook on top for reference, Miro notebook on bottom. I really love gilt-edged notebooks, which started with the Nuuna notebook, and I’m out to collect them all. The Miro Notebooks are a nice offering in this niche-aesthetic. There are 6 colors available, in both a black and white cover. The one I’m reviewing is A5 (6 x 8), but they also have pocket and large sizes available.

Miro

One complaint is that the text block is not set evenly in the cover. In the above picture, you’ll notice the overhang is noticeable on the side, and flush on the top. Even more of a concern is that on the top it’s slightly more flush by the side than by the spine. I don’t mind an overhang, but being variation from side to side, and unevenness on the top makes the notebook look sloppy.

Specifications:

  • A5 (6″ x 8″)
  • $13.99
  • 160 pages
  • lined, 6mm line spacing
  • gilt-edged

Where to buy:

 

Review: Cottonwood Arts Dotmatrix

Cottonwood Arts is an art sketchbook company, with a notebook offering that is equally note friendly as it is sketch, with its “dot matrix” (dot grid). Design wise, this one is heavily inspired by Moleskine, and could be an alternative, if it suits you. The main difference in the design is the binding: It has an exposed canvas spine (picture below) with two boards glued on as the cover. This binding allows for the notebook to lay completely flat. The cover has a pleasing matte feel.

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The 100gsm paper is cream colored, smooth to the touch, and takes ink very well. The packaging advertises it as being suitable for mixed-media. It’s a nice weighted paper, without any teeth or grain that can be typical of art sketchbooks being used as notebooks.

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The page layout is the highly coveted dot grid, or dot matrix as Cottonwood Arts calls it.

I love the dots, but once I wrote on the page and panned out, I found the dots to be noisy with the ink. Visually, my writing doesn’t stand out against the dot grid as much as I’d like. It’s slightly difficult to ignore the dot grid and focus my eyes on the writing. I’ve used dot grids before, and that hasn’t been my experience. I’d much prefer it if the dots were smaller/fainter. But I’m still going to fill it on up! Maybe I find them to be overbearing because I’m not the intended audience — the image on the cover slip is of typography sketches.

The notebook comes with a pen loop (only large enough to fit a basic bic pen) and a gusseted folder in the back, very similar to a Moleskine.

Specifications

  • $12.95
  • 160 pages
  • Dot grid
  • Dot grid spacing: 6mm
  • 100gsm
  • A5 (8″ x 5.25″)

Where to buy:

  • Local art supply store (that’s where I found mine)
  • Cottonwood Arts (do note that under product specifications, in error it says 30 pages)
  • Amazon