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?


 

2018 in 9 chapters

Prologue

2018 is singing a triumphant closing number and 2019 is poised to make its entrance so what better to do today than reflect on some key themes from the year? You might want to make yourself a cuppa before you head into this – it’s going to feel like you’ve been reading for a whole year before you get to the end!

Chapter 1 – the ignominy of scriptwriters

I’m going to start with Kojak, but I promise I will bang on a lot less about this subject in the New Year (maybe!). Today I want to talk about how cruel script-writers can be. Since July, I have sat through four series of this excellent show from the 1970s and in almost every episode, Detective Bobby Crocker has crossed a busy New York road. Every time he crosses a road, he does it perfectly – he looks in both directions before he crosses, he carries on looking both ways as he crosses, if a car approaches, he calmly and politely alerts the driver by holding up his hand, if a car stops he generously raises a hand in acknowledgement and thanks. I am not kidding, every time I cross a road now, I think about Bobby Crocker and his road-crossing technique!

I therefore consider it a betrayal that, in Series 5, the scriptwriters decided that he should get knocked over by a car whilst crossing the road! This scene could have been done with any other detective in Manhattan South and been utterly understandable. But no, they had to choose Crocker!

(It’s okay, he only banged up his elbow and lived to fight another day, but that’s not the point.)

Chapter 2 – knitting

So, on to the serious stuff. At the end of 2017, when my knitting spirit was slightly under par, I decided to set myself the goal of knitting one garment and three pairs of socks for each of the four seasons, with the year divided at December 21st 2017; March 20th 2018; June 21st 2018; September 23rd 2018 and ending on December 20th 2018. I actually knitted three garments (the chunky sweater, sleeveless top, and maroon superwash sweater) plus two pairs of socks (both in Mr B Yarns – “Where the Wild Things Are” and “An Inspector Calls” colourways). I am not downhearted because that’s an improvement on the previous couple of years. Also, I am only counting my personal knitting – it would be a lot more impressive if I added in stock I’ve knitted for my Etsy shop, and the Christmas gift jumper.

The most important thing is that I love and wear the items I’ve knitted this year, so I consider it good, solid progress. What I am taking forward into the new year is a renewed commitment to work on the project/s I have on the needles every day, rather than to revert to my normal ‘boom or bust’ nature. A tiny bit of progress every day is the best way to go, and I find if I pick up something intending to only knit a couple of rows I will probably still be there at the end of an hour thinking ‘just one more row’. This is especially true of the Gaudi caridgan I am currently working on.

I do like the idea of dividing the year into the four seasons and I will continue with that for the coming year, just in a more organic, less goal-driven way.

Chapter 3 – reading

I haven’t read as much in 2018 as I intended to, although I have read more than I did in the previous few years so, again, there’s been a bit of progress.

The reads I have recorded were:-
Frenchman’s Creek” Daphne du Maurier – re-reading of an old favourite
Eight Girls Taking Pictures” Whitney Otta – gift from my daughter and a thoroughly fascinating book
Hypothermia” Arnaldur Indridason – Skandi-noir crime-thriller passed on to me by my daughter
The Great Gatsby” F Scott Fitzgerald – another re-read; another old favourite

For Christmas this year I received four books as gifts, so these will be my initial reads going forward:-
Little Miss Christmas” Roger Hargreaves – read this as soon as I unwrapped it on Christmas morning
Iceling” Sasha Stephenson – science fiction, really keen to read this as soon as I’ve finished the Murakami
Killing Commendatore” Haruki Murakami – new book; my favourite author; lovely dustcover, but simply stunning covers underneath it; started reading this on Christmas Day
Uncommon Type” Tom Hanks – I’ve seen so many snippets about this since it was published and I’ve been thinking about getting it, so great to receive it as a gift, and keen to read after I’ve read the others

As with the knitting, I am finding with reading that if I do a little each day I achieve more than if I think I will spend a big block of time reading something.

Chapter 4 – creative writing

Back in the early part of summer I put in a lot of work on my creative writing and I hit 10,000 words on the first draft of what I like to refer to as my novel. Then I stopped. I had good reasons for stopping, not to do with lack of enthusiasm for the project, just that my attention was needed elsewhere. Towards the end of the year I’ve been thinking seriously about short fiction pieces, and looking at Medium as a platform to get some of my writing past the draft stage on into an arena where it stands a chance of being read. I intend to write more about this in the next couple of weeks as I firm up my plans.

Chapter 5 – weight and health

I think in 2018 the most beneficial thing I have done is change my diet, lose weight, and become more active. It took a big change in my lifestyle to prompt me to do this; I had been unhappy with my weight and generally feeling lumpy and unfit for a long while, but I was stuck in a rut of spending too much time on work I didn’t particularly enjoy and not enough time on creative things that I would enjoy, then compensating myself by over-eating.

Now I am two stone lighter than I was; I have eaten well, though not to excess, over Christmas without either gaining or losing any weight; and I feel a hundred times better about myself than I have for a long while. The trick (for me, at least) is to recognise what your particular downfall is and then just apply yourself to correcting it. For me, it’s snacking – I never have been one for eating huge meals, but will happily graze on sweetery until the cows come home. Forcing myself into a routine of eating three meals a day and not snacking in between has been the key as far as eating goes, and I think if I maintain this then I have a good chance of establishing a weight that I am happy with and can maintain.

That is one side of the equation. The second, equally important thing for weight loss is EXERCISE. I don’t think you can lose weight just by changing your eating (input); you also have to address your exercise (output). I initially committed to doing at least 30 minutes of exercise a day and quite quickly upped this to an hour a day. About 50% of the exercise I do is walking because it’s the thing I enjoy and I can easily do and I find it beats cycling into a cocked hat for general fitness.

The other 50% is down to that blue plastic step! No, it isn’t pretty; no, it isn’t exciting; but, boy, does it work! I don’t use it for fancy workouts; I don’t follow some wonderful programme – I literally just step on and off it for 30 minutes. Sometimes I listen to music whilst I’m doing it (Dusty Springfield is great!); sometimes I watch TV (The Professionals; Alias Smith & Jones); I just make sure I do at least one session a day – two if it’s rubbish weather or there’s some other reason I don’t want to go out for a walk.

The third element in my fitness triumvirate is the Apple Activity App (and it’s only the Apple Exercise App because I choose to live within the Apple ecosystem as opposed to the alternatives). I use this to keep me accountable for exercise and general movement. It tracks three things:-
Move – I keep this target purposely low; it’s currently set to making sure I burn 360 calories per day and most days I will double this, every so often I will triple it. ‘Move’ is hard to define as I notice I get a higher ‘score’ if I sit and knit than I do if I actually go out and walk, but you take it as it comes, really. The app also tots up your Move streak and at the moment I have met my Move target for 110 consecutive days.
Exercise – I have this set to 30 minutes per day; again, I usually achieve more than this. Both timed workout sessions and general exercise count in this one, although you have to go for a brisk walk rather than a general amble for it to be deemed exercise.
Stand – This is always set to a minimum of 12 hours ‘standing’ per day – which means that you have got off your chair and moved around for a minimum of a minute in each of those 12 hours. It’s a good one because it is surprisingly easy to remain relatively motionless for huge stretches of time, and on this one sitting knitting doesn’t count as ‘standing’ – you do actually have to get up and walk about.

Using this app has shown me that I am very motivated by achieving targets, no matter if they are completely arbitrary and even if I don’t really understand what constitutes a particular achievement. Give me a big, shiny, virtual medal and I’ll obey you!

Chapter 6 – stationery

My love of stationery has continued to thrive in 2018 and I have been lucky enough to be able to use my fountain pens and lovely notebooks even more as I have gone through the year. In February I took part in InCoWriMo for the second year and totally sucked at it! I will do it again in 2019 and I’m determined to succeed in sending out 28 letters this time. I’ve corresponded with some lovely and interesting people doing this challenge and it is well worth it.

I didn’t increase my store of fountain pens during the year, and I don’t have any intention of doing so in 2019. I did receive two lovely new bottles of ink as Christmas gifts. These are from Lamy’s new Crystal ink range and they are both simply gorgeous. I feel rather ho-hum about Lamy’s standard inks so wasn’t sure if this higher-end range would inspire me, but I am very impressed with the initial try-out. Although they aren’t huge bottles (30ml compared to 75ml in a bottle from Graf von Faber-Castell), this keeps the price at a point where you can comfortably put it on a gift list. (I am a normal person some of the time and I can completely understand that people who don’t use fountain pens might baulk at shelling out £23-£29 for a bottle of ink from lines like Graf von Faber-Castell and Pilot Iroshizuku.)

I am still a sucker for a pretty, or simple but incredibly well-made, notebook. In fact, I choose my handbags based on how easily I can fit an A5 notebook and pen into it. On that front, I received a further very thoughtful gift at Christmas, a leather case to carry three pens which is proving to be such a good item to take in and out of your bag.

Chapter 7 – being a fan

A huge part of this year for me has been about being a fan, primarily of Blake’s 7, but also of Dr. Who, Kojak, Alias Smith and Jones, and the hundred other little flames I keep burning across the years. Being a fan brings me so much pleasure and it is a joy that I share with my grandson which is even better than experiencing it alone.

This year was a happy one as we went about celebrating 40 years since the first showing of Blake’s 7, and we pushed the boat out with a weekend convention where I met loads of lovely people: fans, crew and cast members. I am still smiling with pleasure every time I think about it. It was sad, too, as the inimitable Jacqueline “Servalan” Pearce passed away; a tiny, but larger than life lady who leaves behind the most marvellous memories with all who met her, however fleetingly.

I know it has also been a tough year for Ian Kubiak who organises the Cygnus Alpha conventions and I just want to ackowledge how much poorer my life would be if I had not stumbled upon his web page in 2016 and reignited my love of Blake’s 7. Ian, his family and all who help out at the conventions have earned a very special place in my affections.

Chapter 8 – word of the year

I am not keen on New Year’s Resolutions, but for a few years now I have chosen a ‘word of the year’ to give me something to focus on. These have been “Return” (2016); “Flexibility (2017); “Home” (2018). Whilst I didn’t really manage to be terribly flexible in any way at all during 2017, I think keeping home in mind through 2018 helped me a lot and it was very successful. I have always been very much a homebody – it is where I feel happy and free to be creative. For me, there is nothing better than shutting the door and knowing that nothing needs to intrude unless I will it. Except, of course, for those lovely people I don’t actually know who like to spread joy by phoning me from foreign climes to suggest that my broadband will be disconnected unless I give them control of my computer.

For 2019 I have chosen “Establish” as my word of the year and this is to help me focus on getting things onto a firm footing through 2019 whilst trying to be more the person I want to be and less the person that convention suggests I should be. I am looking forward to seeing how this works through the upcoming year.

Chapter 9 – visitors on WordPress

I have loved writing my blog this past few months, but I think even more than the writing, I enjoy seeing all the countries where visitors have logged in to view my posts. In 2018 these have been (from lowest number of visits to highest number):

Switzerland – Thailand – Philippines – Netherlands – Austria – Japan – United Arab Emirates – New Zealand – Ukraine – France – Portugal – Egypt – Russia – Croatia – Indonesia – Sweden – Hong Kong – Finland – China – South Africa – Australia – Romania – India – Ireland – Germany – Canada – United States – United Kingdom.

So, if you are the person who visited from Switzerland today and read my Quote of the Week from Bob Dylan, thank you, I hope you enjoyed your trip. And, of course, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has come to look at my tiny plot on the internet and has enjoyed what they have read here.

Epilogue

Whew, this is a mammoth blog entry. I would like to end it by wishing everyone all the best for the coming year.

Propser 2019
“Live long and prosper.”

 

Get ready, get set, go!

 

To begin, just a brief update following Monday’s post – I am back on track with the Christmas knitting. The problem that had discouraged me responded well to a quick fix and so, with a huge sigh of relief, I have continued on my merry way. Having a day or two away from it was definitely the best way to go.

So, on with today’s post. You may recall that last week I was in limbo as far as my planning/organising/diary keeping for 2019 goes; now all is resolved. I am the happy (ecstatic) recipient of the 2019 bound diary from Mark + Fold as part of my subscription to their quarterly stationery box service. I will be so sad when this expires, but I’ve got a good stock of items I have received from them so it isn’t as if I will suddenly be doing cold turkey on the posh stationery front.

Receiving this parcel means, naturally, that the planner binders I unearthed last week will return to their repose. I will doubtless get them out again this time next year. They are not dissimilar to one of Dickens’ ghosts – come Christmas, they remind me of what may happen in the future, and then they disappear whilst I lean from my window bestowing bonhomie upon confused neighbours. I don’t do the whole trying to buy the biggest turkey in London thing because, frankly, I am not that keen on turkey.

I have said before on the blog how much I have enjoyed using the bound diary this year. The way in which I have used the relatively simple page layout has varied during the year, but over the past few weeks I have really got into my stride with how it can best work for me. I think this is something that will/does change as one’s life changes, so it might not stay the same for the entirety of next year, but it’s working at present. The thing I particularly like about this diary is that you can change up how you lay things out in it quite easily – a useful attribute when you’re inclined to get bored as soon as you’ve done things in a particular way for a short while.

Paired with the diary will be the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists’ 2019 Calendar to keep dates front and centre, but mainly to provide a picture to look at.

It is also time to move from one journal to another as I finished the last page in my current book on Saturday morning. This changeover is like-for-like, but I shall have to see how it goes when I have filled this Rhodiarama notebook. The first entry on the completed one was on 2nd October 2018 and I have been very consistent, only missing two days between then and now. I am not going to depress myself by going back to check how many of those entries mention Kojak – I’m afraid it might be every single one! In fact, every entry might just be a synopsis of the plot of the previous day’s episode, not very cleverly disguised as a journal entry. I need make no excuses; I am a highly focused individual – a trait I share with my beloved grandson – and at the moment Fortnite and Kojak happen to be the things that we are focused on.

I had to undertake a bit of a seek and locate mission over the weekend to find some paper I wanted to use with one of the Christmas cards I am writing. In the process, I happened upon a box of old photos so I seized the opportunity to dig out some that I either want to scan or want to show to relatives as I see them in the coming weeks. I am particularly keen for my grandson to see one of his mum at about the age he is now and she will get a kick out of it as it features a toy she has very fond memories of. Some of the photos have sneaked into the picture with my new journal.

In the dying light of Sunday afternoon I got out my fountain pens and had a session filling them with a selection of colours in preparation for writing letters and Christmas cards this week. I plumped for purple, brown and green inks. Yesterday, at last, I had the chance to visit The Writing Desk shop in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. What a charming shop! The service was great – unobtrusive, but friendly, and advice proffered just to make sure I was buying appropriate items. I hope to have the chance to visit again in the coming months.

I hope you are all having a good week. It has been fun looking back and looking fowards.


 

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.


 

Ink update/Crocker’s Pen

Currently inked update 1
Update on pens inked

So it’s time to update you on the inks in my fountain pens, now we are heading through October.

Colour me satisfied

I finished up the Graf von Faber-Castell Violet Blue ink very soon after my previous update and inked up the Waterman Hemisphere Blue pen with a cartridge of Caran d’Ache Chromatics Ultraviolet.

After that I worked my way through the cartridge of Graf von Faber-Castell Moss Green in my Waterman Hemisphere Rose Cuivre. I waited a while before refilling this one as I am searching for a decent purple ink. My favourite was the Lamy special edition Dark Lilac and nothing really comes close to that from the brands that I enjoy using. I have just bought some cartridges of Waterman’s Tender Purple to try out in this pen.

I am also constantly checking out red inks to find a favourite – I want a nice vibrant red, either a true red or one towards the bluer end of the spectrum. My favourite to date is J Herbin’s Rouge Caroubier. I decided to try out the Graf von Faber-Castell Garnet Red in my wetter-writing Visconti Rembrandt to see if it brought out more of the red, but this remains at best a dried-blood shade whereas the fictional Crime Scene Investigator in me wants fresh, arterial blood spatter!

I am currently nearing the end of the black cartridge in my Lamy LX Rose Gold and this pen may sit out of rotation for a while, although I love it dearly and will no doubt ink it again within a couple of weeks of making this decision!

I use my pens how?

It has struck me during the past month that although I will often have multiple fountain pens inked with different colours, I tend to use them pretty monogamously. Whichever pen I am using at a given time, I will use for pretty much everything I write – journal, appointment diary, catch-all notebook. Occasionally I will break out a different pen, usually if I need a contrasting colour for some reason, but I don’t seem to rotate between the pens I have inked during the same time period. I quite like the way this gives a visual represenation of the time when I was writing particular things, especially in my journal when I have a stretch of entries in one colour, followed by a further stretch in a different colour.

I thought it might be good to put in an example of my journal-writing, just in case anyone is reading who thinks that what you write in your journal needs to be exciting, or momentous, or even vaguely readable!

Journal example
My daughter is so looking forward to the day she inherits my mind-boggling journals!

I journal in an A5 Rhodiarama notebook, by preference the Sapphire colour cover which comes with orange end-papers, ribbon and elastic to keep it closed. Over and above my preference for colour, I am strict about journals having fountain-pen friendly paper and strongly, strongly prefer lined paper. These Rhodia notebooks have 7mm ruling and I would say that’s about right for my handwriting.

Crocker’s Pen Day

That was going to be it for today’s entry, but I watched what might count as the best episode ever of Kojak over lunch today and have decided to nominate today as Crocker’s Pen Day.

In this episode, which had me roaring with laughter on many fronts, Detective Inspector Theo Kojak and Detective Robert Crocker travelled to the middle of nowhere, Nevada, USA for reasons too complex to get into. Crocker lent Kojak his pen to sign in at the Motel and they left it sitting on the register. Now, I am sure any pen user watching would have been shouting along with me “Don’t forget your pen, Bobby!” As they exited stage left to their room, a suspicious-looking dude entered stage right – he had been dispatched by the bad guys to find out who these New York cops were.

Have you guessed? Yep, he picked up Crocker’s pen, wrote some information with it and pocketed it, despite Crocker returning and telling him it was his pen. The infamy! Later in the episode Kojak and Crocker got involved in a spectacular bar-room brawl, mainly due to Crocker not being able to let this guy get away with nicking his pen – perfectly reasonable if you ask me.

And here, for your delight, is the moment of the pen theft.

Give me my pen!
“Give me my pen!”

I believe there is a lesson to be learnt here about never letting suspicious-looking dudes get their hands on your pen!


Playlist: If this doesn’t make you want to take a listen to Elvis Costello “Watching The Detectives”, I don’t know what will!


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.