I have used, abused and junked a forest's worth of notebooks in the last few years. It is so helpful to keep a record of doodles and scratchings and experiments - if only for the usefulness of having a record of what doesn't work. Then, too, for a mind as depressingly disorganized as mine, having one book that houses everything - pattern notes, swatches, long-division scratch paper, grocery lists, business cards, aborted queries and ones to follow up on, invitations, agendas, receipts for filing, pop-up reminders to shower and eat - is easier than anything that requires maintenance and attention beyond grabbing a paperclip for that Very Important Phone Number-scribbled deposit slip.
I've tried lots of different systems before - bound books, spirals, the beautiful (and pricey) Circa system - but none has worked so well for me as the book I use now: 8.5"x11" squared paper (I favor a grid with 10 squares to the inch) cut in half, three-hole punched and slapped between two sheets of cardboard, with everything held together by 1.5" book clips. It expands to hold all my swatches (held with pronged metal bar fasteners) and extra bits and bobbles, allows for easy removal and replacement of loose sheets, and cost about $2.50 to put together. Perfect.
I've been thinking a lot lately about clever knits, wittily constructed, elegant in the mathematical sense of the word. Knits where adornment and structure exist in spite of each other, or at least without much thought for each other - cables or color just slapped onto a sweater without rhyme or reason - don't feel particularly satisfying to me just now; while the color and texture alone in, say, a Schweitzer or a Starmore are beautiful enough by themselves, a different kind of knitting appeals to me right now. I'm a huge admirer of Annie Modesitt, Norah Gaughan, Teva Durham, Kate Gilbert - women who really explore the ways stitches behave, capitalize on the way they twist or gather or use yarn, think up clean ways to make a detail happen, let the construction be its own ornament. Cleverness for its own sake isn't very clever at all, of course - but when beautiful, functional stuff comes out of it, it feels deeply, viscerally satiating to me. Twisted stitches that shape the waist, lace sleeves that mimic Italian cutwork, a giant ribbed cable that creates a bust cup, seamstress details of hem and vent bred with knitterly saddle shoulders and raglan seams - these are the things bouncing around in my brain.