One of the benefits of having a blog about things that you love is that sometimes you find out about new products that you may have never heard of before. When Wilma contacted me and asked if I’d like to try out her new journals, I headed over to her site to take a look at them. What I saw impressed me, so I said I’d love to try them out! Once they safely arrived in Denver after a long journey from The Netherlands, I opened the package and had my first experience with Carmyne’s Journals.
The reproduction of this vintage cloth is fantastic. To be honest, I initially thought the cover was made of real cloth! They really do look amazing and make a great first impression. The notebooks feel sturdy and well made. The branding is clean and a little whimsical, making it look and feel very polished. The notebooks are filled with Tomoe River paper, so I already know that the writing experience is going to be fantastic. I hope the overall notebook lives up to my great first impression!
Here’s a quick look at some specs for Carmyne’s Journals:
- Pages: 288 (144 sheets) Tomoe River
- Paper Weight: 68gsm
- Binding: Stitch
- Page Style: Dot (5mm)
- Size: A5
- Elastic Closure
- Page Ribbon
- Rounded Corners
Carmyne’s Journals Review
One of the first things you’ll notice about these notebooks is the feel of the cover. It actually kind of feels like cloth! According to the site, the “soft touch” cover is achieved by not coating the cover material with plastic, which may lead to a bit more wear than you’re used to, but may also give your notebooks a worn and vintage look over time. There are currently two cover design options, but Wilma said that she may come out with other designs at some point in the future. All Carmyne’s Journals come in hardcover only.Moving inside the notebooks, you’ll find the front endpaper has a short quote and the company logo, then it’s straight to the journal. There is no table of contents and no page numbers, so this is much more of a writing journal than a bullet journal (although it could still easily be used to bullet journal if you’d like).
Thanks to the many signatures in this journal, it tends to open easily and lay flat without any effort. I always consider this to be a very important feature in a notebook that you will be spending a lot of time with. You don’t want to fight your notebook every time you open it. It also has a page ribbon so that you can easily mark your progress and an elastic band that will help keep your journal closed.
The 68gsm Tomoe River paper is printed with a 5mm dot grid. If you’ve never used Tomoe River before, it is basically the industry standard for fountain pen paper. It does a great job at showing off inks, tends to not feather or bleed, shows good shading and great sheen and is quite thin, which allows for lots of pages in smaller notebooks. It does have very long dry times for ink and significant ghosting, so if you like to write quickly and turn the page and write on both sides of a page, this may not be the best paper for you, but the majority of the fountain pen world has embraced this paper as the standard.
Each journal has a dark line down the spine. I assume that this was a way of blending the fabric pattern from the front to the back, as the red-pink is symmetrical on each side and the “leaves” continues across the spine. It doesn’t bother me, but I figured I should point it out in case it might be an issue for you. Update: Wilma emailed and let me know that the line is a design choice, “so that they will stick out on a bookshelf in a store, for example and you will immediately recognize them as ‘Carmyne’ in the future.”
The two cover design options have color-themed page ribbons and elastic bands. The red-pink option has a light pink ribbon and darker pink elastic band, while the blue and green “leaves” cover has a light blue ribbon and brown band. If I have one major issue with these notebooks, it’s that the ribbons remind me of baby shower colors. By no means are they a deal breaker, but I personally would have preferred more neutral or less pastel colors. In person, I think both covers look great. I think the red-pink cover is closer to red and, if not for the pink ribbon and elastic, could just be called red. I really like the subtle, non-repeating design on it. The blue and green “leaves” cover has a much lighter feel to it and is very pleasant. Overall, I think both cover options are very attractive.
These journals are a solid option for anyone looking for a notebook with many pages of good paper that will stand up over time. The hardcover adds some durability to these notebooks that is not found in many other softcover Tomoe River notebooks. While the page count is high enough to last for quite a while, it is not so high that you’ll get bored with the notebook before you’ve filled it up. I do like both cover options, but would love to see more of this vintage fabric (maybe a nice blue?) on these notebooks. While they may not be the easiest journals to purchase if you live in the United States, I believe they are worth the extra effort if you’re looking for a new journal or just want to treat yourself.
Regardless of where you live, these journals can be purchased directly from the Carmyne’s Journal site.
If you live in Europe, these are available on Amazon!
Disclaimer: This notebook was provided to me for free for the purposes of this review. All opinions in this review are my own and were not influenced by the generosity of Carmyne’s Journals.
Pros: Attractive, hardcover, Tomoe River paper
Cons: Slightly difficult to purchase outside of Europe
Value Rating: Stars, Cost per A5 sheet: $0.21
Who this notebook is for: Anyone who wants a high page count, hardcover Tomoe River notebook.
Upgrade to this notebook from: Pen Chalet Endless Recorder
Upgrade from this notebook to: A Musubi Diary
Another terrific review John. I do wish we had more vendors in Canada so I could check some of the products out in person. I guess I’ll have to wait until Covid is done (if ever) and head into the big cities.
Thank you, Geoffrey. I think most of us are wishing we could see more products in person these days. There’s nothing like actually handling something before buying it!
I have been journaling since I was 10 years old, and I have found some of those old journals. I would love to have this special Carmyne journal!!!
I bet those old journals are wonderful to read through! Good luck, Carol!
Hi, I just wanted to point out that these are currently on sale on Amazon for £12.31.
£12.31, next day delivery with prime, for a 288 page Tomoe River paper hardback a5 notebook with a pretty cover.
That’s a bargain that can’t be overlooked. Thank you for directing me towards this notebook, I’m going to take advantage and buy a few while they are this cheap!
That’s a fantastic deal, Ben. Hope you were able to pick up a few!