2017 flew by, and I'm glad, because it was kind of a sucky year for nearly everyone involved. But, ultimately, it was a good year for Lead Fast. The site grew faster and bigger than I expected. I launched a shop with some stickers to help fund it, and the response was beyond what I expected...thanks to you! I couldn't have built the site without the help of some cool people in this community. Andy, Johnny, and Tim from the Erasable Podcast had me on as a guest. Less, Dee, and Lenore mention Lead Fast on RSVP with regularity. I've wound up in the Ink Links section of Brad Dowdy's Refill, the Pen Addict member newsletter, and Ana from Well-Appointed Desk has driven more traffic my way than any other site out there. In addition to that, the countless retweets and liking of my posts on Twitter and Instagram have turned Lead Fast into a thing. I'm grateful for every mention, like, and share that comes from the lovely people who visit the site. Thanks from the bottom of my graphite-smudged heart!
This site mainly focuses on pencils and notebooks, because that's what I love and use, but I did spread out a bit in 2017. I expect to spread out a bit more in 2018. No one person could have possibly gotten to everything released in the stationery scene this year, but here are a few of my favorite things from 2017.
My favorite release of the year was the winter release from Write Notepads, the Goldfield. Soooo good. The presentation and the theme were masterfully executed, and the paper quality, of course, was right on par with every Write pocket notebook release.
Honorable mention: Field Notes Campfire
Moo's Hardcover Notebook was one of the better hardcover notebook releases this year. The binding was really neat and it has some quality paper. And it comes with a great slipcase!
Honorable mention: Studio Neat Panobook
Moon x CW Pencils Futura. What a great, fun throwback pencil. While it's not "new" it was brought back by the Pencil Ladies and I'm glad Moon was receptive to doing it. The Editor is nice too, but hard for my tastes and I don't really like the red bit, because I have another marking pencil that I like better.
Honorable mention: Baron Fig Archer #2 School Pencil
I didn't really play with anything new, but I discovered a few fun things along the way as I delved more into the pen world. The Baron Fig Squire is the pen I probably used the most, but on the cheaper side, I really found a love for the Uni-Ball Vision Needle and the Paper Mate Ink Joy Gel. On the fountain pen side, I managed to snag a Lamy 2000 from a friend and I love how smooth it is. Combined with a somehow really great Kaweco Sport for my pocket carry, I feel like I've found a winning combo.
Field Notes 10 Year Anniversary pack. This became available for purchase to non-subscribers eventually, but subscribers got them for free. It's a neat look back into what has become a pretty sizable stationery company, at least in terms of mindshare. The best bit? Seeing 3 different styles and how they evolved into what they eventually became.
Honorable mention: Palomino Blackwing Cal Cedar 100 Year Anniversary Pencil
I discovered the dark green Faber Castell dust free art eraser and fell in love. It erases just as well as last year's favorite, the Seed Radar, but its DARK GREEN. So it's my favorite color and stays a bit cleaner looking when tumbling around my pencil pouch.
Speaking of pencil pushes, the Write Notepads Pencil Pouch was a favorite this year. A giant pouch that holds even an unsharpened Blackwing with a point protector on it. Made by A. Rifkin, who makes bank bags here in the USA. I use this everyday.
I fell a bit out of love with long points this year. I still like a good long point, but I'm coming around on short points, and I've made my daily carry sharpener the KUM Automatic. It's not super short, but definitely not long and needle-y like the Masterpiece or Pollux. Since I prefer softer pencils, the needlepoint thing doesn't always work for me, especially with the pressure I put on when I write. I still use the CP-80 as my desk sharpener, but have moved away from using the Pollux as much as I used to when I'm out & about. Plus, the Automatic has the added benefit of holding onto your shavings on the go.
As I mentioned in my Baron Fig recap, I've been using the Mastermind desk pad quite a bit. They maybe didn't need to release SO many products this year, but I'm glad they did put this one out.
A couple more notebook things that I totally dug this year:
Word. Notebooks Beach Vibes series - beautiful covers...it's a shame their paper isn't great.
No Brand Notebooks - full disclosure, I consider Less a friend. That doesn't mean I can't say her notebooks are AWESOME. Great paper and CHEAP.
Scout Notebooks - the company known for custom notebooks finally expanded their consumer lineup.
Exceed Series from Walmart - I didn't know what to make of these Moleskine knockoffs at first, but guess what? Better paper than Moleskine. Pocket and A5-ish size in hardcover, A4-ish size in softcover. Dot-grid or lined, which surprised me.
Back Pocket's SpaceX series - My inner sci-fi nerd would love these for the covers. My inner stationery nerd loves these for the paper.
I couldn't recap 2017 favorites without mentioning The Pencil Perfect by Caroline Weaver of CW Pencils. A really informative book that is perfect for the person just getting into pencils and the enthusiast alike. I read a few different stationery books this year, but this one ruled them all.
I'm really looking forward to 2018. I've got one big announcement that I think will be fun and I'll have more details about it very soon. Stay tuned! Also, look for my 2018 Wish List coming tomorrow. Thanks again to everyone that helped Lead Fast become what it has become in 2017.