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.


 

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?