Not a whimsy

14-06-19 Darrow Wimsey

This week, I’ve been paying my respects to the late Paul Darrow by re-watching the 1973 BBC production of Murder Must Advertise in which he plays an advertising copywriter. It’s a role which grows in complexity as the four-part story unfolds and Darrow is excellent in it, capably portraying the character as ingratiating, bullying, enmeshed in a derailed lover affair, and, through it all, managing to be utterly charming. He wears the sharp 1930s suit and tie very well, and ultimately, he gets a chance at heroism of a sort. It’s a very good performance as part of a very good ensemble cast.

Five years later, Paul Darrow would don the iconic leathers to portray Avon in Blake’s 7 with pretty much the same set of characteristics! Indeed, Vila (Michael Keating) was often to be seen in a similar pose to the above when Avon spoke to him. I see many parallels between the two performances and I salute Mr Darrow for being able to play characters who might, on the surface, not seem worthy of our admiration, and show that they, too, have their good sides as well as their bad.

I do enjoy this particular set of Lord Peter Wimsey adaptations, the ones starring Ian Carmichael. If you can track down Murder Must Advertise it’s well worth a watch, as are all the other stories in the series. (Blake’s 7 is also represented via an appearance in Wimsey’s The Nine Tailors by David Jackson who played Gan in the sci-fi series. That story also provided a part for a young John Duttine who went on to star in the BBC production The Devil’s Crown in 1978, then To Serve Them All My Days and The Day of the Triffids in 1981.)

Actually, mentioning To Serve Them All My Days leads me nicely into the tin shown in this photo:

14-06-19 Tin

I use it to store ink cartridges, but I am unsure of its original use. It belonged to my maternal grandparents and had been used for many, many years to store a lock of hair, although I have no idea whose hair it was.  For some reason, I always think this tin dates to the First World War, thus the connection with To Serve Them All My Days which begins in that era. This is one of those little items that provides a tangible link with people I loved, and it is my joy to be able to put it to a useful purpose and cradle it through another generation. It also reminds me I am going to have to use up those ink cartridges and to do that I am going to have to use up the red ink in my Cross pen. Perhaps when I finish the green ink I’m currently using to write my daily journal I will have a couple of weeks of writing that in red. Sounds like a plan.

Finally, I wanted to just refer back to last Friday’s post where I wrote about trying to use my memory more. Starting with small steps, this week I’ve been doing a memory exercise which I think some people would think is ridiculously simple and others ridiculously hard. Each morning, immediately upon waking up, I tell myself what day of the week it is and what one thing I really need to get done. It’s easy to wake up befuddled and with a firm belief that it is totally the wrong day of the week, and so this is an interesting challenge.

I hope you have had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend. At the moment it looks like we can look forward to rather less rain next week which will be a pleasure.

Call the sock police

24-05-19 socks

This week I made my second attempt at sock resurrection and I came to the same conclusion as I did on my first attempt, namely, when socks get to the pont where one bit needs mending they are probably telling you that they have come to the end of their life.

I would quite like to be the type of person who mends clothes or re-fashions them so they can go on being useful, but in my heart I feel that life is just too short for such endeavours. I will return to this point later, but first, let’s examine what I learned from my attempt to mend these socks.

I finished this particular pair of socks in September 2015, so I got a good four winters out of them. To provide some context, I have worn my hand-knit socks exclusively – by which I mean no shop-bought socks and no tights or stockings – for at least the past five years. It’s either been hand-knit socks or bare feet, and in England bare feet only happen in a minority of months. There are two reasons for using my hand-knit socks so consistently: firstly, although my feet are unexceptional, I have never found a pair of shop-bought socks that fitted me and, secondly, until this past winter I’ve been dressing in a strict uniform of leggings or trousers paired with tunic tops/short dresses so socks have been my default foot covering. This has changed somewhat over the past nine months as my weight has reduced and I’ve become more confident about wearing skirts or dresses with tights some of the time. Even so, I still wear trousers and socks a lot.

I think in all the time I’ve been wearing hand-knit socks, I have had one pair which sprang a hole in the heel and one pair that wore through on the ball of the foot; apart from that the point where all my socks wear out is at the toe. This year, with make do and mend becoming ever more popular, I started to think that I could just re-knit the toe of socks when it starts to wear and I made an attempt at repairing one pair, only to find the wool was so felted together that it was impossible to unpick the original toe and knit a new one. “Life is too short,” I thought.

Yesterday I was packing away some of my socks until the autumn, and I put several pairs to one side which are getting perilously worn on the toe. I picked the pair shown above and cut off the toes then proceeded to pick back to a suitable point to knit a new toe. Once again, the wool was felted, but I managed to get the first one done with a new grey toe and it went quite well. However, when I turned to the second sock, I realised that I would have to get rid of almost all of the foot area and re-knit it because there were several patches where the fabric was wearing thin. And so it struck me all over again that these socks probably aren’t worth the trouble of repairing – they have served me well and now they are ready to retire. “Nothing,” my mum would say, “lasts for ever.”

In a situation where we have no alternative but to eke out our clothing for as long as we possibly can, such endeavours are well worth doing. Ecologically, wearing old is many times better than producing new. Yet we have to balance this out with how we can best use all of our resources and that includes our time. I do not feel my time is well-used repairing socks, or re-fashioning clothes that are too large for me so that they fit again. I would rather knit a new pair of socks from scratch, which keeps manufacturers in business and employing people who need jobs. I’d rather donate the over-sized clothes to charity and replace them with more appropriately sized clothes that someone else didn’t want. I am not championing profligate shopping, and I have never been one to wear clothes once, or even for one season – the clothing industry has never got rich from my shopping tendencies. However, I think I will continue with my long-held system of wearing it until it threatens to fall apart then accepting the inevitable. To salve my conscience, I am going to investigate the textile banks which take items too worn to donate so they can be recycled into something else of use.

I’ll just finish up with a quick photo of the pens I am currently using. One YouTube channel I enjoy is Waski the Squirrel who does a weekly video series called “Pens In Use”. My own pen habit is much less extreme, but every so often things have moved on sufficiently to make an update worthwhile. So here is my current set:

24-05-19 this week's pens

I’ve got one more cartridge of the Graf von Faber-Castell Midnight Blue ink, then I will be using my bottle of their Cobalt Blue as my main blue ink. The rather old bottle of MontBlanc blue/black or Midnight Blue (I can’t recall which they called it) still has plenty of fills in it. I’m not sure about this ink in the gushy Parker 51, but basically I am going to try this pen with all the inks I can lay my hands on until I find a combination that I think works really well. My second Waterman Hemisphere is uninked at the moment, as are my Lamy Safari and Lamy LX. The Safari may sit on the bench for some time, but I think the other two will be back in action fairly soon.

I will finish up by wishing you all a lovely weekend, and sending commiserations if you have to work. See you again on Monday.


 

I’m doing this…

17-05-19 I'm doing this

Here’s a snapshot of what is going on around here these days. This is what was piled on my settee when I started to tidy up last night prior to heading off to bed (before I took the photo I did move them into a more pleasing arrangement than the ‘old heap of stuff’ that they had naturally formed!).

The new Avon brochure commences today, so I had been busy setting them up and getting a .pdf version of the brochure up on my beauty blog  – feel free to head over there, or visit my webshop where you can browse through the products and, so long as you are in the United Kingdom, order online for delivery direct to you from Avon’s warehouse. I’m trying out the Vitamin C Serum that’s launching this month. I like a nice serum and, truth be told, I’d rather use one cream day and night but add in a serum in the evening than have separate day and night moisturisers.

Then, of course, there has been knitting. The photo shows how far I have got with the first sleeve of my cardigan. I have been resting my hand but still doing a few rows each day just to make sure the cardigan continues to grow. I am enjoying working with this yarn and the pattern is really simple but effective.

The book, The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll, was an impulse purchase this week. I have been following the buzz about this method of planning/tracking over the past few years, but ultimately have always felt that a lot of it is not for me. Then again, the basic concept of keeping all your incoming information in one distinct place is very much to my taste. I find having things scattered all over the place makes them easier to ignore. In one of the best jobs I have had, it was common practice to keep a hardback notebook in which you noted whatever needed to be done – in my secretarial role this meant I had lots of notes every day on responses I needed to send to e-mails on behalf of my manager. I found it a very workable system and the Bullet Journal is not dissimilar to that. I am enjoying reading it so far, although I may not adopt the method in its entirety. I decided to buy it after watching a video online that was originally shown at the European Planner Conference; this runs to just over 30 minutes, but I think it’s well worth watching because Mr Carroll comes across as such a genuinely lovely chap. Earlier in the year I read about nine-tenths of Getting Things Done by David Allen, but it didn’t entirely gel with me. It felt to me like it was devised by, and addressing the needs of, business owners and top-level managers, whereas Ryder Carroll seems to be coming from, and addressing, a much broader base of both workers and creative professionals. Have to see if I make it to the end of this one!

I am consistently referring to the diary pages in my Filofax notebook, and also using it for broader list-making and note-taking. I am still very pleased with this set-up and I can foresee it serving me for some time to come. I chose a verse by Dorothy Parker for the creative area this week and I used my fine-nibbed Parker 51 filled with the Lamy Peridot ink. When I am writing in the diary I mainly use the Waterman Hemisphere in the blue finish which you can see in the photo, and that is filled at the moment with Graf von Faber-Castell ink in Midnight Blue. Underlining is done using my Cross Century II filled with the Lamy Ruby ink (speaking of which, I am in love with all the red inks Michael Jecks has been testing recently on his Writerly Witterings YouTube channel – you can check out Ink Comparison: Red and/or Ink Comparison: Red Second stage if you’re interested). I use my other Waterman Hemisphere – the Rose Cuivre finish – to write in my journal every morning. That one is currently filled with J Herbin Poussiere de Lune which is a purple-to-brown ink. In this way I am getting to play with a lot of the pens and the inks in my small collection. I feel a return to a brighter purple ink is imminent when one of the pens runs dry.

The final item I had to clear away was a tube of hand cream because my hands have been very dry recently. This particular hand cream is from one of Avon’s fragranced bath ranges and it is a lovely consistency, but there are more subtle fragrances around. I happen to like this one, but I don’t imagine it would be for everybody – but then, what is?

After a few nice sunny days, we’ve got a fine drizzle this afternoon although it held off until I was back from my regular Friday-morning swim so that was good. Our electricity went off for a few minutes at lunch-time, and all the alarms in the neighbourhood started ringing so it was an exciting few minutes.

Now we are heading towards another weekend which I hope will provide plenty of opportunities to knit, read, and ponder the meaning of life.


 

Planning – a new experiment

*For a better view, click on any photo to see the full-size image.

As I mentioned in my wrap-up post from National Stationery Week, I was unlikely to continue using the ring-planner I had set up due to size issues and personal preferences. The more I think about it, the more useful I find that experiment was – it forced me to consider what does and doesn’t work with the planning set-up I have been using this past couple of years.

My very strong preference has always been to use an A5-ish size page which hits the sweet spot of portability and ease of use. For a while now, I have been eyeing the Filofax A5 Notebook which offers minimal ring intrusion coupled with the ability to move pages at will and, with the correct punching, to add your own items. I was loath to try one, though, because of my experience with the paper quality in Filofax’s other notebook system – the Clipbook – which I tried a few years ago. I had a couple of big problems with that design:

  • The cover felt unpleasant, particularly where it bulged around the 6-ring mechanism and I found it awkward in use.
  • The paper was thicker than the standard Filofax used for their traditional ring-planner inserts, but the quality wasn’t up to using fountain pens and inks. There was feathering and bleed-through a-plenty.

Whilst many users had said the paper in the Notebook products was fountain-pen friendly, I wasn’t sure if I should trust that. However, this design did seem to offer the potential to incorporate my diary and notebook in one very portable cover, so yesterday I trotted off to my local department store’s stationery shop* and purchased the Vista Blue notebook. I must say, so far I am very impressed with it and it scores highly on the following points:

  • The paper is really good as the above pen test photos illustrate. The only pen to bleed through was the Pilot CD marker which is not a pen I would ever use on paper anyway. The wet-writing Parker 51 with a medium (?) nib produced the most show-through, but my regular pen and ink combinations were perfect, I certainly wouldn’t have any trouble using both sides of the paper.
  • I like the cover which is a stiffened plastic with a very pleasant feel and lays completely flat when open. When required, the cover folds back on itself allowing you to write easily with it held in one hand. There is an elastic band attached to the back cover to hold the notebook securely closed when you have it in your bag.
  • Because the wire binding is almost completely covered, it is a lot less likely to squash than a standard wire-bound notebook; I think it also gives a very neat look to the book.
  • You get 56 sheets of 6mm ruled paper – I’d prefer it a bit wider ruling, but it’s still practical, plus an additional few sheets of plain and 5mm grid paper to try out. You can buy replacement paper pre-punched from Filofax in various designs.
  • The notebook includes four dividers which seem to be made of a slightly plastic-feeling card – one of these is designed to form a pocket which is useful.
  • The size is just perfect, giving plenty of space to write easily on either side of the paper but in a format that slips easily into a handbag to carry out with me. It’s nice and lightweight, too, which increases the portability.
  • There is a good choice of covers online, but availability locally will be dependent upon the retailer.

I have just a couple of very minor negative points:

  • The plastic ruler/page marker included with the notebook is very flimsy and doesn’t stay securely attached to the rings. I have now covered mine completely with washi tape on both sides and re-cut the holes which seems to make it a bit more secure. I can see good reasons to keep the marker as thin as possible, but having it detaching from some of the rings as I’m turning it is a slight irritation.
  • From watching a few review videos on YouTube (I can recommend the bullet journal one from Goldspot Pens), I could see that it can be difficult to turn the pages if you have the notebook stuffed. I’ve gone for a minimal layout, incorporating three months of week on two pages diary and 25 sheets of lined paper, with three of the dividers.
  • The replacement paper packs are not badly-priced, but they only appear to have 32 sheets of paper which is rather meagre and I envisage I’d be buying more than one pack at a time – a lot of plastic wrap could be saved if there were 50 or more sheets to a pack. The pastel and marble papers Filofax offer appear to have 60 sheets per pack which is better.

Filofax sell a punch to cut holes of the required size and shape to suit the notebooks and I think that would be a useful tool to buy in the fullness of time. The ability to punch different papers and other items to slot into the notebook is one of the primary selling points of these notebooks. Whilst I have the A5 size, they also do this design in a pocket size and an A4 – the hole spacing is uniform across the different sizes and the hole punch will work for any of them. However, you don’t have to have the special punch – it is possible to use a standard hole punch and cut slots into each hole, which is how I have incorporated the pages from my A5 Mark + Fold diary into this cover:

10-05-19 Diary FoFN

I shall be very interested to see how this notebook holds up over time, but my first impressions are positive and I am more likely to use this long-term than the ring-planners I have used before, or than a bound bullet journal style of book.

Hope this has been of a little interest to you. I feel next week it would be nice to get away from the stationery theme and share something different – we shall see. Until then, I hope you all have a good weekend and find some time to enjoy yourselves.


Jarrolds is a department store based in Norwich with a long history of stationery and art products, not to mention a decent book department. They have gone rather up-market over recent years and have recently moved their stationery from the ground floor up to the third floor, but I am trying not to hold that against them.


 

Ring planner experiments – the inserts

National Stationery Week Day 4

02-05-19 Dividers

Welcome to National Stationery Week Day 4 and my second post showing an experimental set-up of a Personal size ring-planner (previous post here). I have been concentrating on the nerdy part – testing various pens and papers to see what might or might not work and some of the results have surprised me.

First, though, I have made some dividers from heavy-weight scrap-booking paper with typed labels. I haven’t laminated the dividers and there are two reasons for that. Whilst I accept that lamination increases durability, it also adds bulk and it covers paper (a material that can be recycled) with plastic (a material that cannot). Previously when I’ve used Filofax and Kikki K systems I have not had any problem with paper dividers. Protection comes in the form of the clear plastic flyleaf from my Filofax Original which sits in front of the first divider and a decorated flyleaf from a Kikki K planner add-on set which lives at the back. I also use a bit of clear sticky tape to cover the label area, but that’s as far as I go.

(Photos of the ink tests are at the foot of this post; click on photos to go to full-size.)

In choosing which paper to print my experimental inserts onto, I have used the paper from Mark and Fold (120gsm, made in Aberdeenshire) as my benchmark. It’s what I have in my current diary and it’s a very hard act to follow with no bleedthrough from any of the pens tested and less showthrough visible to the naked eye than caught on camera.

I also used the following pens:

  • Parker 51 medium nib filled with Lamy Peridot ink – this pen writes much wetter than many of my fountain pens and there was bleedthrough on the majority of papers.
  • Waterman Hemisphere filled with Graf von Faber-Castell Midnight Blue ink – this is the combination I’ve been using extensively in my current diary.
  • Waterman Hemisphere filled with Herbin Poussiere de Lune ink – I find Herbin inks often bleed through paper.
  • Cross Century II  filled with Lamy Ruby ink.
  • Parker 51 fine nib filled with Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue ink.
  • Uni Emott pens in pale pink (colour 68), deep pink (colour 67), plum (colour 80), lilac (colour 34) and pale blue-grey (colour 81).

 

I tried these out on a selection of papers with my fountain pens and had the following results:-

  • Some random notepaper from The Works, gsm unknown – no bleedthrough, and less showthrough than many of the others I tested; stood up surprisingly well to the pen test. I just have a few sheets of this paper which I will use in the Notes section
  • Kikki K standard inserts which came with the ring-planner, gsm unknown – bleedthrough with Lamy Peridot ink in the medium-nib Parker 51 which is a gusher, showthrough with all the inks. I have a lot of To Do sheets and note sheets to use up (anyone who has bought a Kikki K planner knows they come with a lot of note sheets)
  • Filofax floral decorated inserts (the 2016 iteration) – some bleedthrough from the Parker/Lamy combination, showthrough minimal as it is disguised by the pattern. I just have a couple of To Do lists to use up
  • Basildon Bond Personal Writing Paper, possibly 90gsm, but not confirmed – no bleedthrough from any of the inks, showthrough was pretty much in line with Kikki K paper
  • Copier paper, 120gsm – just to prove the weight isn’t the only deciding factor, this has significant bleedthrough from the Parker/Lamy combination and a tiny amount from the Herbin Poussiere de Lune in the Waterman Hemisphere and from the Lamy Ruby in the Cross Century II, however there was almost no showthrough.
  • Copier paper, 90gsm – I would say worst performance overall with bleedthrough on Parker/Lamy, Waterman/Herbin and Waterman/Graf von Faber-Castell combinations, showthrough about on a par with the Kikki K inserts.
  • Coloured copier paper, 80gsm – I tried two colours with no bleedthrough on the blue paper and bleedthrough on the cream paper only using the Parker/Lamy combination, showthrough was negligible on the blue, more pronounced on the cream but still at an acceptable level.

 

Initially, I intend to print my diary inserts (week on two pages horizontal format from Philofaxy free printable) onto the cream 80gsm paper simply because I don’t intend to use the sheets long-term. When it comes to preparing for next year I would be tempted to buy an A4 pad of Rhodia paper which is well-behaved with fountain pen inks. I would also probably choose a paid-for printable from one of the many on Etsy over the free printable, just based on the fact that it really irritates me that the format I prefer doesn’t use capital letters for the names of the days and months.

This is a mega-post, but I want to mention one thing before I go – how much easier it is to print out your own inserts if your printer does duplex printing. My new-ish HP Envy printer is a big improvement in this regard.

Thank you if you have stuck with this through to the bitter end. Here is your reward – the dividers in the planner!

02-05-19 KK + Dividers

See you tomorrow when I should have photos of the filled planner.


Ring planner experiments – the basics

National Stationery Week Day 2

Welcome to National Stationery Week Day 2 and the first of four posts in which I will be detailing an experimental set-up of a Personal size ring-planner. Today I have chosen the planner I will use for the experiment – I thought I would use my Filofax Original Fuchsia Patent, but instead I have chosen my Kikki K medium size in the blue colourway from their We Are All Creative range released in 2017. Got to go with what calls to you on the day, right? This is a leather planner with a fabric lining and their standard pocket layout inside. It is a structured binder (as opposed to floppy ones like the Filofax Malden and the offerings from Gillio and Van der Spek), this is just my preference. It is quite lightweight without any inserts, but if you choose you can fit plenty in it on its 30mm rings. The hardware is silver-coloured although it looks rather gold in this photo.

30-04-19 Creative

As to inserts, it is my intention to print these using papers I already have to hand using free printables from Philofaxy or to my own designs. Keep an eye out for more on this subject in my next National Stationery Week post where I will be experimenting with combinations of pens and paper to come up with the best pairing for the experiment.

First, though, I want to quickly address why I am calling this is an experimental set-up. I am pretty sure that I will be happy to keep using my Mark and Fold Diary for the rest of this year, but National Stationery Week seems like an opportunity to play about with a Filofax-style planning set-up and it may give you some ideas, or helpful information. I have to stress that this won’t be a tried-and-trusted planning system, although it will be one I intend to work with for a while, with an eye on next year’s requirements. There is a lot to like about my current diary: the paper quality, plenty of room to write in a quote each week which I do like in my diary, clear minimalist aesthetic. On the downside, some days I don’t have quite enough room, I generally prefer something other than the vertical column design, it’s an A5 bound book and I don’t tend to take it out of the house because I also have to carry a separate notebook. Taking everything into account, the paper quality really is good enough to balance any number of other design elements.

As to the pens I will be using, the set-up needs to accommodate my fountain pens shown below (left to right these are the recently acquired Parker 51 which is a bit of a gusher compared to my other pens; the blue Waterman Hemisphere; the Rose Cuivre Waterman Hemisphere; the blue Cross Century II looking just gorgeous in this photo; and my original Parker 51). Also in the photograph is a set of Uni Emott coloured pens bought specially for Stationery Week so I can show you some colour-coding. These write very well, although the pale pink and pale blue-grey are very pale indeed.

30-04-19 Pens

I hope this has piqued your interest and you will join me later in the week as the set-up progresses.

Tomorrow, though, for my knitting fans, I’ve got a finished object and I am over the moon!


 

“The Way We Were”

Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line?

19-04-19 Black 51

Ah, the good old days, the good old days. You will remember them – back at the end of March when I was writing about the black Parker 51 fountain pen pictured above. But time moves inexorably on and now…

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There’s a new kid on the block!

There’s a ‘new’ old Parker 51 fountain pen for me to play with (many thanks to my mate Glen). I am in the process of doing the soaking and flushing routine to get it completely clean then I will see if/how it writes.

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These two pens are remote siblings. The big differences are in age and location. The burgundy pen was made in the USA whereas my black version is marked Made in England. I am pretty sure the burgundy version is the older of the two, but dating is not the easiest thing (I have spent an hour this morning sitting in a dating rabbit-hole of my own making). However, at the end of the day dates are of minor interest only; the important thing is enjoyment and I am certainly enjoying the new addition to the pen family. It may be a temporary resident chez moi – if I get it working well then I will offer it back to its real owner. If it does end up with me long-term then I certainly won’t complain.

I hope your weekend brings some pleasurable finds with it.


 

From the bins of minimalists

Parker 51:b

Disclaimer: Somewhere, not a million miles from where I sit writing, there is a beautiful lady who now knows that her mother is not above delving into other people’s bins, and for that I am truly sorry.

This is a Parker 51 fountain pen. It is old; it has been on adventures; it has, frankly, seen better days, yet it is lovely.

Strictly speaking, it has never belonged to me although I have given it house room on and off over the years. When it has lodged with me it has always sat firmly in the “memorabilia” section of my life because I have never been bitten by the vintage bug in this area of my interests. That is unusual because many fountain pen users are very fond of vintage items, and also because I like vintage clothes and furniture a lot. Over the years I must have read hundreds of reviews of old pens yet remained firmly in the modern camp, and by ‘modern’ I mean pens that are current models when I buy them. Over the course of my life these might well turn into vintage items themselves, but they will always be modern to me.

Despite my lack of interest and my deeply held preferences, I find myself besotted with this Parker 51 and that is for one reason only – it writes like a dream.

Parker 51 Pen Test

The nib is incredibly smooth and it starts perfectly every time I pick it up, despite my worries that the cap may be rather loose and lead to the nib drying out. I did have to put in a fair bit of work to sort out the ink flow initially. I had dipped it in ink to check if the nib was damaged and it didn’t appear to be, but the first time I filled the pen it dried out after a few words. This led me to think the feed must be pretty clogged up and there ensued several bouts of rinsing through and soaking over the course of a couple of weeks, interspersed with filling and emptying of ink. Actually, after the final soak and rinse through, I just put it to one side without bothering to ink it up to test, because I had no intention of using it (on account of not being interested in vintage fountain pens!). Then at the end of last week I decided I would just pop in some ink and test it again which led to an interesting weekend during which I compulsively picked it up to write pages of nothing because it is so pleasant to hold and to write with. I want to fill it with an exciting coloured ink and…. do something.

Something. But what? I aready struggle to use all the fountain pens I have. I love each and every one, and I find it incredibly difficult to leave any of them resting ‘out of rotation’. I miss each one so much if it is not inked up and ready to use. I’m going to have to find a way to hand-write even more!

And yes, thank you, I know that one paragraph sums up why people become minimalists. It would be much simpler just to have one fountain pen. But who said life had to be simple?

One final thought occurred to me when I was playing with the Palm PDA earlier in the week and that is how much easier it is to dispose of pens and ink and paper.  When our electronic items get broken, stop working, or simply become obsolete, we must jump through hoops to dispose of them, taking them to special collection centres, or sending them away to be dismantled responsibly. Fountain pens have proven to be pretty durable, but if one breaks, you have no more than a slight pang about putting it in a bin. You can recycle your paper, and your ink bottles so long as they are glass. So, if having rather too many fountain pens is complicating my life, it is nothing compared to the complications my electronic devices bring.


 

InCoWriMo 2019

Today is the sixth day of the International Correspondence Writing Month 2019 and I am pleased with my progress to date.

Whilst the aim is to write a letter – or, indeed, any hand-written missive which can be a note, postcard, post-it, so long as it’s written by hand – every day through February, many people taking part will inevitably be fans of pens and papers and so the letters can be quite decorative, or include little gifts. I like to write in my letters about which pen and ink I am using because I love to read this information in the letters I receive. I have some decorative notepaper, quite a bit of it from Kikki K, so I don’t decorate the letters themselves, but I do like to add some fripperies on the envelopes.

Speaking of envelopes, I am addressing the letters this year with my lovely little typewriter. One year I hand-wrote the addresses with fountain pen and ink and then overlaid them with sellotape to provide a waterproof layer; the other year I hand-wrote the envelopes with ballpoint pen. Of the three, the typewriter is the nicest – it still seems like a hand-crafted solution, whilst being neat, legible, and waterproof.

For letters that I am sending abroad, I have a pack of postcards from Norwich Castle Museum. These feature images from the Norwich School of painters, mostly local scenes or still-lives. Many of these hang in the Castle Museum itself as it houses a good art gallery as well as the historical and natural displays.

The little bone-handle pen-knife in my picture above is an item I use for opening letters. To the best of my knowledge, it belonged to my grandparents when they lived in their lovely house in York, and passed along via my mum to me. It is a delicate item, very much for the genteel lady. My dad always carried a pen-knife which my sister now owns. It was mainly used for peeling apples, sharpening pencils, and for tamping down the tobacco in his pipe. I find it sad that the pen-knife is now seen as a weapon rather than a utility item, and is therefore (understandably) frowned-upon.

In other news, yesterday was my birthday and it was very book-orientated. 2019 is definitely going to be a year where I read a lot. I have already determined that I am going to get back into the habit of just browsing in bookshops. It seems to me that I stopped reading a lot at around the time when I stopped browsing in bookshops a lot; I am not sure which one led to the other. However, it does seem to me that when I take the time to simply wander around and look at books, I see all manner of items which catch my eye and I am certain that this can only be of help to me in my desire to read more. My favourite bookshop to browse in was a small independent book store in Norwich called Gliddons which was around until the 1980s. I remember buying my first copies of books by John Fowles, Elizabeth Jane Howard, and F Scott Fitzgerald there, as well as many a sci-fi book from the bookshelves in the basement. Second to that, the big Borders store which opened in Chapelfield in 2005 and sadly departed in 2009, was a favourite. This was a huge book shop for Norwich and I can remember buying many a ‘business’ book there, as well as the first paperbacks I owned of Haruki Murakami novels. The best shops for browsing the books in Norwich now are The Book Hut (independent), Jarrolds (independent, part of local department store) and Waterstones (chain).

Right, I am heading off to clean out a fountain pen then tomorrow I can refill it with a new colour ink, ready for some more letters.


Are you taking part in InCoWriMo this year? Have you done it in previous years? Would you do it in future years? What do you think?


 

Early 2019 inky matters

02-01-19 2019 Initially Inked

Welcome to the first blog post of 2019, how lovely to have you join me for some inky-matter chatter.

To start, these are the pens I’ve got inked and the colours they are sporting. Somehow in the fun and games before Christmas, I lost track of which inks I was using and so I am not 100% sure what is in the Cross Century and the Lamy LX. C’est la vie. Once the current ink is used up, I will be sure to fill them and actually make a note.

The three pens I am sure of are the three that I am carrying in the lovely 3-pen case that I received as a Christmas gift; these are two Waterman Hemispheres and a Lamy Safari. The Safari has been out of rotation for quite a while. I used it extensively as my work pen up to the middle of 2018 and it lived in my desk drawer at the office. Since that part of my life is in hibernation, I haven’t been using it. This isn’t a slur on the Safari, it is a very good workaday pen; it’s just that I have others I prefer to use. However, I think it has found its calling as a full-time “red ink pen” since I decided to try out the Ruby Lamy Crystal ink in it. In the past couple of days I have recalled just how much I enjoy using red ink for underlining titles and drawing attention to important notes.

If you have read my New Year’s Eve post, you will know that I received two bottles of ink for Christmas, both from the new Lamy Crystal range. I am very happy with both these inks and I thought I would do a swatch sheet to compare with a couple of comparable inks from my meagre collection. Please note the writing on the swatch sheets is done by dipping a pen, whereas the sample in my ink log above is from a filled pen. The large colour swatch on each sheet is done using a cotton bud dipped in the ink which results in lower saturation than writing using a nib. The prices I have quoted below are the price at time of writing on the web shop of The Writing Desk. Prices from other suppliers may vary.

Lamy Crysal “Ruby” and J. Herbin “Rouge Caroubier”

These are two scrumptious red inks and I find them to be relatively ‘warm’ shades without veering off into the orange end of the red spectrum. I enjoy them very much even though I usually lean towards the cooler rather than warmer shades (although I did try out the Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki – Winter Persimmon – shade a couple of years ago and surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it).

These are both admirable ink shades and appear well-behaved on the page, although please bear in mind that I do use papers that are known to be receptive to fountain pen ink. It is not my intention to provide an in-depth review using varying paper qualities with feathering and bleed-through tests, although I am sure it won’t be long until those well-qualified in reviewing inks start posting reviews of the Lamy Crystal line.

The Lamy Crystal ink comes in a 30ml bottle for £9.50. The J. Herbin ink comes in either a 30ml bottle for £5.99 or standard international cartridges in a tin of 6 for £2.60.

Lamy Crystal “Peridot” and Graf von Faber-Castell “Deep Sea Green”

The Lamy Crystal Peridot is another lovely shade, leaning towards the bluer/teal side of green, but still recognisably green. It has a spruce feel to it; a hint of winter woodlands. This tendency is even more pronounced in the Graf von Faber-Castell Deep Sea Green which is definitely heading off in the deep turquoise direction. I admit that of the Graf von Faber-Castell offerings, I prefer Moss Green over Deep Sea Green and this is reflected in the fact that I have used up what I had and so can’t provide a swatch. I can safely say that I like the Peridot colour so much that I won’t be yearning for the Moss Green for a while.

Again, I have nothing but good things to say about both these inks so far as how they behave on fountain-pen friendly paper. Both dry in good time, which is important to me as I hate waiting around for the ink to dry. Yes, I am that impatient woman!

The Lamy Crystal ink comes in a 30ml bottle for £9.50. The Graf von Faber-Castell ink comes in a 75ml bottle for £24.99 and standard international cartridges at £2.50 for a cardboard pack of 6 or £8.49 for a super gift-box of 20.

Packaging

02-01-19 Lamy packaging

I will wrap up by saying a little about the packaging of the Lamy Crystal inks. Lamy are renowned for having a nice, minimalist aesthetic in their packaging, and most items come in packets that can be easily recycled. The Crystal ink range sports a clean white cardboard box, highlighted with details in the appropriate ink colour. The ink name is clearly visible, which I believe makes it a lot easier for people new to buying fountain pen inks (or buying as gifts) to locate the appropriate colours. The glass bottles are functional, having wide tops to make filling pens easy and an interesting, rounded tricorn shape to the bottle. The base of the bottle is good and solid and I don’t imagine the bottles having any tendency to tip whilst you have them uncapped. I am happy to report that the design of the packaging demonstrates a level of thought that I would expect from this brand.

I hope this inky-fingered post has provided some food for thought and look forward to seeing you again later in the week for another little meander through my mind.


Have you tried out the Lamy Crystal inks, or are you familiar with their main range?