The Pirate Journal Is In Use

Remember the Pirate Journal?


I have found a use for it.  It has become my surgery diary.

I will be having a major surgery soon, requiring an overnight stay at the hospital.


To say I am a little worried about this is a bit of an understatement.  I do have the utmost faith in my doctor.  But, surgery is surgery…and this is a major surgery.


I could have turned to my usual daily journal…but this situation felt…bigger.  It needed its own container.  I perused my selection of hand-made journals—and this is the one that wanted to be used.


It’s made of brown paper recycled from various packages that we received.  I learned…one fountain pen is ok with the paper.  One other fountain pen is not.  I tried writing in green ink, but couldn’t see it well enough since I was writing at night by lamplight.  An ultra-fine Sharpie works wonders, but tends to bleed through just a little bit to the other side of the paper.  This afternoon, I pulled out my favorite Bic cristal in black ink…and have had no problems whatsoever.  Which is why I always return to this pen.  It’s been a favorite of mine for years.


So, what’s going into this journal?  Hopes.  Fears.  Gratitude.  Blessings.  Lists.  Questions.  You name it, if it pertains to the surgery and the recovery period afterwards, it is going into this journal.


Will I be drawing and/or painting in it?  Probably at some point, because doing so makes me feel better.  I have also been pondering some collage as well.  I have a great picture of Rupaul that is calling to be used somewhere.  What better symbol or strength and fortitude for me right now?


If there is art made in this journal, I may show it.  However, given the dire personal nature of what is being written in this journal, don’t expect too much.


This post was more to say…here is what I ended up using this journal for and how I used it more than anything else.


Thanks for following along.


Until next time.


Process: Journal Cover

I am slowly sliding back into my old ways, a different version of my old self.  I am getting back up on that Poetry Pony.

I am actually taking an online poetry class.  One of the things suggested is getting yourself a notebook/journal that you love, that inspires you…as well as a pen that can become your magic wand as you write.

I have pens…fountain pens, magickal pens, Bic pens, disposable pens…tons of pens…all over the place…just don’t ask for one, because whenever anyone here needs a pen…it takes forever to find one…I still don’t understand that…no pen, no paper, only when needed…any other time…pens and paper all over the place…

So, my first thought was…I’ll buy a journal…no, I’ll make a journal…no, I’ll…drive myself crazy with the ideas of what I want to do and/or want to get and never really get around to doing the actual poetic writing work…hmm…

Luckily for me, it was errand day about that time anyway…so I was able to go to a variety of stores to look at journals, which gave me a clearer idea of what was calling to me for this particular journey.

I did, in the end, buy a journal—because it is bigger than the books I typically have…and it was faster/easier/cheaper to buy this journal from the store than it was to decide on paper and then order said paper, wait for it to come in and then make the book on my own.  I was attempting to avoid procrastination with this.

However, I had ideas for what I wanted to create before I saw this journal…and – as soon as I figure out where I hid the cords and pedal for my sewing machine (I’ve been cleaning—apparently I put them somewhere “safe”) –I will be making myself one – I have the fabric set out, already washed and pre-ironed, waiting to be cut.

So—here is my thought process with this.

I want to make a journal cover, much like a Midori traveler’s journal…but…bigger.  I typically write in decorated composition notebooks, the ones with graph paper in them.  I decorate them myself, yes.  I want to be able to have three different composition notebooks at a time in this journal.  One is my daily journal, where I write, take notes, do all sorts of stuff.  One would be for poetry.  One would be for drafts.  Or for whatever else came to mind.  Perhaps it would be my written journal, poetry journal, and fiction/writing journal all in one spot…which sounds nice to me.  All three of my typical working notebooks in one spot sounds good.  Better, it feels right.

First of all…I want the cover to be gorgeous.  A fabric cover, quilted, several different patterns that I have collected sewn together, perhaps in strips or squares, perhaps with circles of other fabrics added for fun and texture.

The cover must enclose all three journals, and have a fold-over flap with some sort of closure.  I am still pondering what sort of closure I would like with this.  I don’t want any bits of the comp notebooks sticking out. I think I would like a pocket on the inside front cover.  I know I need at least one pen loop, if not a couple more.  My fauxdori always has at least three pens tucked into it…and I only have one pen loop attached to it.

I had some ideas about hey, pockets, different kinds, front and back cover, why not?  Why not?  Because I don’t really use them.  And…I tend to get cranky about too many pockets cluttering things up.  It’s a weird juxtaposition with me; what can I say?

The only other thing I really want is to be sure the inside of the cover and the outside of the cover are all pretty fabrics—but are not duplicates of one another.  I don’t want it reversible or anything…I just want it to be aesthetically pleasing.

I also plan to use one elastic cord per journal, so there will be three cords attached to the cover.

I have also had visions of grandeur, with bits of ricrac and lace and all sorts of additional frou-frou to the outer cover…but although I know I will enjoy sewing and creating such a thing, the idea of using it on a daily basis, taking it out to restaurants, bowling (where I actually do an amazing amount of brain-storming), library or wherever, I think the lacy bits and frou-frou will bother me and get in my way…and grrr unto me if I get any of that bit dirty or messy.  Although, yes, this is meant to be a washable thing, because hey, it’s going to get tossed in a bag, in my purse, on a table.  My kids will dump stuff on it.  The cats will sit on it.  The dogs will find a way to stomp on it…probably after a kid throws it or knocks it to the floor.  So it has to be strong enough to take a beating as well.

I actually have a vague pattern drawn up in my journal…with all my notes scribbled along the sides.  All I really need, other than to verify the measurements are accurate—are the … cords and pedal for my sewing machine, which is currently in whatever “safe” place I put them…bless me and my well-intentioned heart.

This is the plan.  It’s all ready and in place.

Thanks for coming along with me through this process.



The Pirate Journal

Please note, a video flip-through will be happening sooner rather than later with this journal…please stand by…

But for now…

Remember this picture?

Altered book in progress….

A post shared by Tabitha Low (@theknittingjourneyman) on


I had three pieces of brown packing paper that had come in some package that had arrived at the house.

I had saved them to create a little journal.

One night, I sat down, and using spit to wet the creases, I broke all three pieces of huge brown paper down into the proper size pages for a burgundy book cover I had found a week or two before at the thrift store.

Gulliver’s Travels…the book in question.

How and why this became the pirate book, I do not know.

I bound in three signatures of ten folios…and then thought there was plenty of room for two more signatures…and so I made it happen.

I glued the first page down to the inside front cover.

I glued the last page down to the inside cover.

I glued the last page of every signature to the first page of the signature behind it.

I added some black rose washi tape along the edges of the inside covers.  And down the centers of each signature.

I glued in some decorative burlap covered with lace on the first page of each signature, just to add interest.

I found this crocheted flower–it’s brown…and it had tie strings hanging off of it–I glued that to the spine of the book and that is the closure.

The pages are crinkly and rough…and I love it.

Even with all the girly touches, it is still a pirate journal.

A woman pirate, a woman pirate captain, it is her journal…and I love that.

I rubbed her inner spine and several of her pages down with a little eucalyptus essential oil, tossed her in a sealed plastic bag and am letting her sit before I use her.

Hopefully, she is ready by next week…because that is when I think I will need her/plan to use her.

We’ll see.




LifeBook 2018

If you are interested in joining LifeBook, hosting by Willowing/Tamara Laporte…check it out here.

I believe the last year I took LifeBook was 2015…that was the second year I had taken it.

I haven’t missed it.

In fact, the harder I try to take other art classes in this past year, the crankier I have gotten.  And I have tried to take several.

I tried a couple that I paid for…and then devolved into trying to work my way through free classes, and through challenges…

Nope.  I usually don’t even make it past the first day and the first assignment.  I get too ticky.

It’s not what I am looking for.  I am not seeking to learn to imitate anyone else’s style.  I am not seeking to learn new techniques.  I want to learn to deepen my own practice and to deepen my own connection to my art…but…that’s about it.

I know.  There are a ton of classes out there that claim to teach you the things I am saying I want…but it goes a lot deeper in me than the blurbs I have read for various classes.  Nothing has resonated with me.  Nothing has spoken to me.

Not to mention, I want to make sure I work through/into/with other art circles, other art groups…not the same people who seem to be a part of every single group that I have happened upon.  I want new voices, new visions, higher expectations…

I am not complaining–not about the teachers (for whom I am and always have been deeply grateful), not for their students, or their groups, or their followers or any of that.

What I am saying is–I have needed and I still need a different lens through which to view my own work and the way in which I work.

So, why, after I say all of this, after I am so unable to follow along with any class or challenge, why would I want to sign up for a year-long art course? With classes happening every week?

It actually has nothing to do with the art technique classes…and everything to do with the “…With a holistic approach to creativity, self-development and healing…” (taken directly from Tam’s website).

What really got me was reading through the class schedule…and seeing monthly Yoga sessions.

It may not sound like a lot to you…but for me, that means A LOT.

Plus, the whole year is not focused on drawing/painting this year–there are other crafts and art forms being offered…that too means a great deal to me.

And I told you all of this to show you …. these….

3 new altered journals waiting to be bound

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Three James Bond books…

None of them look like this any more.

I was actually excited to keep the spines intact and visible from the moment I found these babies at the thrift store…I wanted to do a visible binding…rather than an inside/invisible binding…and it turned out this might have been a good thing…or maybe not.  Maybe if I had done an invisible binding, I would have reinforced the spines more to begin with…too late now.

I was binding the first book, and I pulled my thread tightly, but not too tightly because I didn’t want to rip the paper in the signatures…and the spine just split nearly all the way down…it was just so dried out and brittle…

So I had to take and reinforce that spine…and luckily I have a tape that corresponds with all three colors.  These Bond books were book club editions from 1971 (if I remember correctly…not sure if they all were, but the one was…but they are all from that era.)   They are all black bodied, but the edges of each book is a different color–which I didn’t realize when I bought them because they came with actual dust covers.  One edge is red, the next blue and the last yellow.

Ee gads, did I learn way too much with binding these books.

I am doing larger signatures than I normally do.  I usually stick to three or four pages a signature, to cut back on the page creep (uneven long outside edge)…but I have been watching a lot of videos and tutorials of late…and my favorite ones include binding books with larger signatures…plus, I am making these as writing journals, not as art journals…which means I am far more comfortable putting in larger signatures, and more signatures than I normally would.

For example, the Bond books have about an inch wide spine.  Each of my signatures has twelve folios.  If I were making these journals specifically for art journalling, I would have been mostly comfortable putting in two of those signatures…but each of these has three signatures.  Ink may add some texture, but not as much as arting in them.

As if binding these three were not enough (with the red one’s spine splitting like that) … I had other issues.

So, if you have seen a few of the other book videos I have done lately, you know I have been using scrap booking paper and then just spraying burnt umber paint mixed with alcohol (long story short–the spray bottle of alcohol was sitting there and so I used it) to put something on the white sides of all the pages.

Well, this time, I oriented the pages differently in these books than in the previous books…which gave me more connected white pages, rather than every other page white…so I didn’t want to just randomly spray every white page–I thought they needed a little more.

I also wanted to keep a continuity within each book.

So I took the yellow-edged book…and for the white blank pages, using a baby wipe, that I continually sprayed with a bit of water to help smoosh the colors around (a light yellow, a medium-dark yellow and a pale orange were what I used), I wiped paint over each and every white page…and then after a short drying time, went back and sprayed with my umber alcohol mixture.  After that, I went back in with the hair dryer and blew every page dry.  No problems.  No sticking.  No hassles.  Perfect.

I should have known to stop then.  Leave the rest until the next day.  Something.

Then, it was time to do the blue journal.  I did the same thing, using three shades of blue…pages gummed together, and stuck, and tore when I worked to prise them apart.  Yes, I used paper towels and deli paper between pages for a bit to let them dry as I moved forward with the painting–as I had in the yellow journal–no, it didn’t work as well in the blue. I had to add extra embellishments and additions to different pages, lace, washi tape… tears and sweat and swearing…eventually she turned out all right…but errggg…

The red one…I worked more slowly in this one.  I still used paper towels between pages…but instead of letting the paint dry a little bit before spraying with the umber…and then waiting a bit before hitting the pages with the blow dryer–I painted a double page spread, sprayed the umber on it, hit it with the blow dryer–didn’t make sure it was 100% dry, just dry enough not to stick to the page across from it…after I did all three signatures this way, I went back and blew everything with the hair dryer again…

I am waiting to go through the red one and see what pages need washi down the center because wetting the baby wipe periodically apparently tore pages at the binding holes more than it did with the other two (and unlike the blue journal where the pages damped apart and ripped right down the middle between stitches)…

I will be doing some quick flip-through videos of these girls…right now they are holed up in each their own plastic baggy, allowing the eucalyptus essential oil I rubbed into their inner spines and between some of their pages to work its way through everything…and all three bags are stacked up and on top of these three journals is a very heavy dictionary weighing them down to help them be plain old writing journals and not super puffed up and out whatever else they could be journals.

Now, none of these books currently have closures…but I am seriously thinking about it…if I hadn’t worked so hard to reinforce those spines and everything, I might suggest sewing a button to the center of the spine to use as a closure.  I can’t do that with these…but I do have another, smaller journal that is sitting here waiting to be bound…that button would have to go on before anything else happened…so it is good I am thinking of it now.

Until next time…