One book July? I’m in!

01-07-19 One Book July
You’ve seen it all before, but here it is today

Since 2014, some enterprising ladies on the internet have been running a challenge called One Book July. If you’re not part of the “planning” community everything I am going to write from here on in will seem a little odd, or totally crazy, to you, but you may enjoy it all the same.

What is One Book July? Why One Book July? Well, there are an awful lot of different planning systems out there in the universe nowadays, and if you find you have even a slight interest in time management/planning/personal productivity, in a very short time you are probably going to fall down a massive rabbit hole and find you go from owning one little week per view diary that fits in your pocket to one of every type of diary/ring-bound planner/Travelers’ Notebook/Erin Condren Spiral Bound planner/Cocoa Daisy insert….. you get my drift.

Noticing the growing tendency for people to become overwhelmed by the choice available, and by the number of planners they personally own, a group of ladies suggested that for the month of July 2014, interested members of the community should pick one planner and one pen and use them exclusively. Some people managed it, some people found out a lot about themselves but didn’t complete the challenge. Each year since then, the challenge has been issued, but each year it has a new twist and members of the community can choose from a number of options that have built up over the years.

As a person who has stood on the edge of the rabbit hole, but not disappeared down it, I haven’t previously been enticed by the One Book July challenge, although I’ve often watched videos about it. This year, however, I’m going to break with tradition and take part. That’s because this year the group are putting their focus on The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll and I am still reading this so I think there is a lot of value to taking part in a group reading of it.

My planner/bullet journal set-up is going to be the one I’ve been using the past couple of months – my Filofax Notebook with the Mark and Fold weekly diary pages at the front and lined notepaper behind them. This is a departure from the standard Bullet Journal set-up, particularly in that the optimal paper suggested is always dot grid. I love lined paper and hate any kind of grid so I’m following my own heart on that particular point. I find the pre-formatted diary pages work well for my future logging and as a repository for upcoming events but I hope to put into practice a better way of processing information on the collections and longer-term lists side of the equation, and learn a lot about the goal-setting and reviewing area which I am poor at, to say the least.

Just a word, before I depart, about the one pen part of the original challenge. Really? One pen? No way! One book, all the pens – that’s the way to do a challenge!

For the expert information about this year’s One Book July challenge, check out Dispatches From The Frat House https://www.carieharling.com/one-book-july-2019-introduction/ or search for One Book July on YouTube for a plethora of videos.

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.


 

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 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.


 

A song list

15-02-19 Old New Tech
Old tech in the foreground, new tech in the background

As well as a quote this week, I’m going to share a song-list with you.  The quote is hand-written and shown in my photo. The song-list is playing along with it:-

‘Only The Lonely’ sung by Glen Campbell
‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ sung by Judy Collins
‘Crossroads’ written and sung by Don McLean
‘I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now’ sung by Harry Nilsson
‘Until It’s Time For You To Go’ sung by Glen Campbell
‘It’s Over’ sung by Glen Campbell

(For the record, ‘It’s Over’ isn’t the same song which Roy Orbison sang. I love both of them.)


Diary by Mark and Fold
Fountain pen inks by Lamy and Graf von Faber-Castell
Fountain pens:
Waterman Hemisphere (blue)
Lamy Safari (black)
12″ MacBook by Apple
Steel ruler made in Germany – just like me!


 

One advantage of pen and paper

Never break down

There are numerous articles on the internet written by fans of pen and paper (see below for some of my favourite blogs/sites) and almost all will at some point make a comparison between the analogue and digital platforms. This will inevitably include a trope which goes along the lines of “… Unlike your mobile device, pens and paper never run out of battery.”  I am always a little annoyed by this – a device usually runs out of battery because the owner is either not recharging it regularly (perhaps they are stuck in the 1990s and think the battery has to be run down completely before recharging) or they are not in command of their usage (if they know they are a heavy user, they can carry a mobile battery charger, for example). It also ignores the fact that you can just as easily run out of ink, or come to the end of your notebook if you are the type of person who doesn’t plan ahead.

However, I have an observation of my own to make, and it goes like this:

I have never yet received a phone call from a scammer alleging that they are telephoning me from Parker Pens and they have “information” that my pen is not working properly and to avoid untold terrible things happening, I should hand over my pen to them immediately.

In this one way, the old pen and paper does indeed trump the new technology, to the extent that I think I will tell the next scammer who calls that previous phone conversations have convinced me that computers are deeply unsafe and I have therefore sold mine and replaced it with a typewriter. Actually, this is not as far-fetched as it sounds – our local charity shop has three typewriters currently for sale and I am having to sit on my hands to prevent me spending money I don’t have on one then trying to find space I don’t have to put it in!


Some of my favourite paper-centric sites are:-

Stationery Wednesday – the blog from Bureau Direct, online stationery shop based in the UK

Endpaper – the blog from Paperblanks, manufacturers of very decorative journals and diaries.

Filofax – blog from Filofax, almost everyone knows Filofax, right?

Goulet Pens – an American online fountain pen and paper retailer, Brian Goulet is a prolific producer of quality information about this niche arena.

Philofaxy – the daddy of all the paper planner blogs, chock-full of information going back to pre-history when planners were all-but dead and buried.

The Writing Desk – okay, they don’t have a blog, but they do have an online shop plus a bricks and mortar store in Bury St Edmunds, UK. Mainly, though, they are my ‘local’ fountain pen specialist and for that reason alone they get to be mentioned here.

William Hannah Daily – William Hannah is a small UK business manufacturing and selling very desirable leather disc-system notebooks and refills. David Round has been posting a daily photo on Instagram for many months, each featuring a brief hand-written entry and featuring a variety of the leather products of his company. Now these are also being featured in their own section on the company website, and you can even subscribe to receive them in your inbox if you choose. There is a blog on the same site, but it has been dormant for a little while.

Wonderpens – this blog, written by the lady who runs a couple of stationery shops in California, is just delightful.

Fountain Pen Follies – another great blog specifically about fountain pens. If you only read one thing, read her recent “Happy December” post because it is lovely and amusing.


 

Stationery – Five things

Tomorrow, Friday 2nd November 2018, is Fountain Pen Day and in its honour I thought I would give you another glimpse into my psyche by telling you about five stationery items that exert their influence in my life.

5 things stationery
Mark + Fold exercise book and 2018 diary; Cross Apogee fountain pen; Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue ink

A favourite paper brand

I’ve said it before; I will say it again – Mark + Fold do some spectacular paper products. They use a fair amount of UK-produced paper in their line-up and that fits well with my desire to “shop local” where it is practical to do so without having to compromise too far on quality. They sell individual items on their website, but I currently have a subscription to their stationery box which arrives four times a year and is completely drool-worthy. I am already deeply regretting that I won’t be able to renew the subscription next February, but on the whole having my sanity is slightly more important to me and that means earning a much lower income than I would ideally like to. The unfortunate downside to these products is that they are really high-end when it comes to price. Are they worth it? Oh, yes, but only if you actually have the money to spend on them.

I use the diary every day and I love it to bits and it has been the single most-used item I have received, although remember that Graphite Writing Stick? Well, I am using that a ton too! As to the exercise book, well I am a big fan of exercise books in general because they are so portable and practical and I am still in love with the practice of having a “rough book” like we had at school to take random notes. Oh, dear – now I am overwhelmed by an urge to scrawl the names of the people I hero-worship over the cover. I must resist….

A fountain pen I own and love

Apogee 4
Cross Apogee Frosty Steel finish

Ah, the Cross Apogee. It is so pretty. It is quite large and quite heavy, at least compared to my other fountain pens. I love it so. If only I could find the magic way to get the ink flowing well again. I had this same problem with my other Cross fountain pen, and it resolved itself after many months of trial and error and sitting in the naughty corner. I still don’t know exactly what made it start working properly again,

I treated myself to the Apogee when I got a permanent full-time job; I had been admiring it in person and online for many months prior to actually buying it. It’s the only fountain pen I own with a gold nib and I must say I really like how it writes. Mainly, though, it’s the lacquer finish on the pen that has me hooked; the colour and the patterning are reminiscent of a man’s silk tie, subtle and resplendent by turns. Perhaps I need to buy some pen flush….

A fountain pen I would buy in a trice

Waterman Exception
Waterman Exception Slim fountain pen, blue with chrome trim

Oh, hello, lovely – wanna come home with me?

This is the pen I have been promising myself I will buy the next time I am really flush and have something special to celebrate. I was thinking of treating myself to it for my 60th birthday in 2020, but that idea is receding. 65th? 70th? How long will they keep making this beauty?

If I could only have fountain pens of one colour, it would be this blue, the blue of the sky crossing from day to night, and always matched with a chrome finish to emulate the stars. (My Cross Century II and my blue Waterman Exception are similar to this shade.) I particularly love the design of this pen; the square profile, the slight taper to the barrel. It is sleek and futuristic but in a classic way, never veering towards pastiche. Plus, I love the Waterman pens I currently own and they are really my most-used so another model from this brand is high on my wish-list.

A fountain pen I would never buy

Visconti Pentagon
Visconti Pentagon Blue fountain pen

By rights I should love this fountain pen. It is a lovely shade of deep, dark blue and see that marbling? You get that on fountain pens that are made with resin and it always looks spectacular. The chrome trim is spot-on and that design is interesting with its faceted shaping which carries through onto the cap. Visconti is a great brand, too, with a proud history of pen-making and this design is one of the more affordable in their range.

So what makes this in particular a pen I would never buy? It is the fact that, for me, it just misses the mark in every way. I own a Visconti pen and I so want to like it; I so want to admire the way the marbling highlights the resin of the body; to be entranced by the magnetic cap which clicks so satisfyingly closed. In some ways I do love it; but there is one big way in which it frustrates me and that is how it behaves with ink. It is what the pen afficionados term “a gusher” and I like my nibs to be dry, dry and hard, fit the pen with a nail if need be. Wet nibs are a feature of Visconti pens and a lot of fountain pen users adore them, but wet nibs and me, we don’t get along together. I find it too hard to find a pairing of pen and ink that actually works for me. Almost every ink I ever put in my Visconti has led to smearing of work when I’ve closed a book long after the ink “should” be dry. It has made me paranoid. I put the same ink in my Watermans, my Lamys, my Crosses, none of them smudge; the Visconti? Every single time unless I am writing on highly absorbent paper in which case the ink will feather or bleed through.

So the Visconti Pentagon is a pen that a younger me might have lusted over, but the current me will happily leave for someone else.

An ink I love

GvFC Cobalt Blue
Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue, watched over by Avon

Okay, ready to chorus with me? “Graf von Faber-Castell”. This brand of ink suits me so well. I understand from people who really know their inks that this is quite a dry ink and I can certainly see that when comparing it to, for example, the Diamine inks which I always want to like (they have an awesome range of colours), but somehow don’t get along with. Also, just what compares to the Graf von Faber-Castell ink bottle? Classy, that’s what it is. That’s the ink bottle Jay Gatsby would have. (Daisy would have Pilot Iroshizuku in the deep pink Yama-Budo, but really we aren’t here to fantasise about inks for fictional characters are we?).

My personal favourite colours from the Graf von Faber-Castell range are this classic Cobalt Blue; Hazelnut Brown; Moss Green and Violet Blue. I have also tried the Garnet Red (too close to Hazelnut); Deep Sea Green (nice, but Moss Green is nicer); and Midnight Blue (ho-hum). I haven’t tried Olive Green; Turquoise (I never like turquoise inks for some reason); Burned Orange (I am not in any way an orange person); Electric Pink (I would be up for a try-out of this one); Cognac (I am so happy with Hazelnut for my choice of brown); Carbon Black (I’m a blue or blue-black girl, although it’s useful to have one black ink tucked away for a rainy day so never say never); Royal Blue (well, it’s not Cobalt is it?). For the life of me I can’t remember whether I have tried the Stone Grey. I feel that I have and that it was okay, but it might have been a grey from a totally different brand.

When I am trying out an ink, I always opt for cartridges (if the ink comes in a standard International cartridge it will fit my Waterman pens), or a sample phial if the ink comes in a proprietary cartridge that won’t fit my current pen collection. If I like it enough to use all the cartridges, then I will look at getting a bottle, but I prefer to limit the number of bottles of ink I have.


Well, that was a marathon session, hope you didn’t fall asleep before you got to the end. Happy Fountain Pen Day – if you have a fountain pen, please use it. If you are out and about and can encourage anyone else to try a fountain pen, please do. If you have never tried a fountain and are intrigued, see if you can find someone who owns a fountain pen and can let you try it out.


 

Autumn wardrobe… of inks!

So, I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. I decided the time had come to re-ink my fountain pens and these are the four that have made it into the “regular rotation” for the coming weeks.

Pen rotation 10-09-18
Left to right – Waterman Hemisphere Blue; Lamy LX Rose Gold; Waterman Hemisphere Rose Cuivre; Cross Apogee Frosty Steel

The inks I have gone for are displayed on a page in my lovely general notebook from Mark + Fold. This scan gives a fairly accurate representation of the actual colours. That Lamy black doesn’t look hugely black in real life either and I wonder if their new ink range will be a little more vibrant. Have to wait until the end of September to find that out.

Inks 09-09-18A couple of points to note – when the current ink in the blue Waterman Hemisphere runs out, I will probably swap in brown or red because this colour selection is a bit heavy on the blue/black front. I don’t normally have a pen inked up with black, but I am trying to use up the Lamy cartridges I have. Finally, if using the Apogee on a daily basis doesn’t sort out its current cantakerous mood, it will be cleaned and put away for a while.

 

As far as inks go, I love the Graf von Faber Castell ones; the Moss Green, Cobalt Blue, Violet Blue, and Hazelnut Brown being my particular favourites. I have failed thus far to find a really good purple apart from the Lamy limited edition Dark Lilac shade from a couple of years ago. Please feel free to let me know your favourites, or provide recommendations, bearing in mind that I like my inks on the drier rather than wetter side (that will make sense to fountain pen users). No doubt when I do find one I like it will be from an astronomically expensive brand and I will have to live off beans on toast for a month to afford a bottle. Still, life is full of these little sacrifices and I rather like beans on toast.

Here’s hoping you are all getting a good start on your week.