Tonight I made 5 different items of each metal (including moonmetals): needle, eyelet, hunting and war arrow head, fishing hook. I used zinc, tin, copper, silver, iron, lead, gold, seryll, adamantine and glimmersteel. No change in the journal. Not even a percentage showing up next to the task while I was smithing.
I thought, maybe I need to make 5 identical items, so I made more needles. In the end I had 5 needles of every metal. Still no change in the journal. Closed journal window, opened journal window. No change.
I then started to make needles from alloys, starting with electrum. And lo and behold: When the first electrum needle was created, the journal displayed 20% next to the task. The second electrum needle raised that to 40% and so on. When 5 electrum needles were completed the journal task turned green.
I did not try to fix this by relogging, and there was no unusual lag during the smithing session. Most of the items that I created were very low quality.
It worked out for me in the end, so I'm not complaining. But it might be good to keep an eye on it, see if it happens again and under which conditions.