Sunday, 18 September 2011

Stationery purchases... Thank you The Journal Shop!

Oh, I just can’t resist them… Cartesio and Ciak – from The Journal Shop. Even better as they are 3 for 2 at the moment!
I always have a page per day, red leather Ciak as my journal. I love the way the elastic strap holds a pen against the pages and I adore the paper (although this year I did wonder if they had made it thinner than in previous  years as there was a tad more bleed-through).
I also have a Travel journal by Ciak – royal blue cover, with plain paper on one side and lined paper on the other. I tend to stick things to the plain paper side (either directly or using corner mounts like you get in photo albums) and then write about it on the facing page. I don’t use it nearly enough though.

Anyway, when I ordered my usual red, day-to-page journal I spotted that there was a “buy two get another free” offer. As many of you will realise, I love notebooks and I have come to the realisation that any notebook smaller than a large Cartesio (also in the three for two offer incidentally) is just too small. To cut a long story short, I quickly added two royal blue A5Ciak notebooks to the basket, one of which was then free.

I was going to stop there, but then… well, then the Cartesio was calling me and I fished out my current Cartesio (sea green) and remembered how utterly gorgeous it is and why it is usually my notebook de rigeur). So, I popped a couple of them in my basket (again in sea green. I would have gone for another colour had there been any in stock in size large, but there wasn’t. So sea green it was again. This isn’t a problem. The colour is fantastic!).  And then, because that covered the ‘buy two’ part, I needed something for the ‘get one free’ part, so I popped in the only Habana smooth (twin pack) in 16x24 cm that they had – red. Not my colour of choice. I would far rather have had them in Hawaii (vivid blue) but it was not to be.

What are they all for? (Sorry – that must have been the influence of DH breaking through!)

I will probably give one of the Ciaks away to my sister (who likes stationery as much as I do). The other Ciak may well turn into a notebook for ‘writing for ten minutes every morning’ in. Either one of the Habanas or one of the Cartesios will become the notebook for my next novel. It mostly depends on whether the Habana lies flat. If it doesn’t, it’s sacked as a book notebook (which has to lie flat next to my laptop otherwise I will get very grumpy!).

I do find it hard to choose between the Ciak and the Cartesio for my everyday notebook. The biggest selling point for the Ciak is the horizontal elastic closure which holds a pen against the edge of the paper with no worries at all. However, it has a softer cover and does not lie flat (that’s its most annoying feature!). It has a beautiful feel to it though and the paper is high quality and despite the softer cover, it is good enough to write in whilst perched halfway up a mountain waiting for DH to take photographs of the view.
The Cartesio is glorious as a notebook – beautiful cover, high quality paper, lies flat, has a stiff enough cover to write in it whilst perched up the aforementioned mountain. But (and it’s maybe only a small but) the closure is vertical, which means the pen falls out.
In all honesty, the fact that the Cartesio will lie flat usually outweighs its inability to hold a pen. Hence me giving a Ciak to my sister, not a Cartesio! I can always put an elastic band around the Cartesio to hold a pen!

I did have a good rootle around the Journal Shop site (since there was a 3 for 2 offer on. It would have been rude not to!). I have long been intrigued by the C.OVER (“see over”) notebooks but I don’t really fancy either the fact that it only comes with plain paper, or the fact it only comes in black. The Mood refillable notebooks are also intriguing but seem expensive and it isn’t clear how many pages come with each refill.

Anyway, the ‘notebook emporium’ (as DH refers calls my stationery stash) is now nicely restocked. Thank you The Journal Shop!

Friday, 9 September 2011

Fountain pens and italic nibs

Those of you who know me, will know that I like to write in fountain pen. I don’t know if it’s because I slow down and focus on my writing more when I write with one or whether other writing implements like biros just do horrible things with my writing, but in fountain pen, my handwriting usually looks relatively nice and with biros it doesn’t. Of course, the exceptions make the rule – I have one Parker fountain pen that can make my writing look like a spider has scrabbled across the page after taking a dip in my ink bottle and a few biros can make my writing look okay.

My favourite pen (for years – I shudder to think how old this pen is now, since I had it in school!) is an Osmiroid. I think it was bought as a pen for left-handers and it has a gold nib. I’m not left-handed, but I do put more pressure on the left-hand side of a nib than the right, from the way that I hold my pen. Anyway, for whatever reason, I adore this Osmiroid.

Over the summer, I also became interested in calligraphy (after a wonderful trip to Iona) and bought myself a Sheaffer Calligraphy pen. I’m not very good at calligraphy (I don’t have enough time to practise) but I do like the look of my ‘normal’ writing in it. However, the nib is far too broad for everyday use and so I wondered about getting an italic nibbed fountain pen. I mentioned it to my Dad at the weekend and he had a boxed set of a Parker fountain pen with a broad italic nib and a standard italic nib (and a non-italic nib) which he gave me along with a huge box of cartridges! (Thanks Dad!)

Well, here is my compare and contrast. The standard width italic nib is fitted to the Parker.

The different nibs and what they do to my writing
As you can see, I have several Parker pens (mostly gifts from people who know I like writing with a fountain pen!). Apart from the one fitted with an italic nib, they all have the same “Medium” nib (allegedly), yet my handwriting is very different with them.

The first of the ‘other’ pens is the one I like the least. It’s a Parker Vector (I think) and my writing is always terrible with it.

The second looks like an identical pen (different barrel colour) – Parker Vector – and again has the same nib (and same ink) and yet looks like a broader stroke and is much nicer to write with.

The last is also a Parker, but I don’t know what kind. A Sonnet I assume (since I do have a Sonnet box, so that would be a decent clue!). This is lovely to write with – it has a rubberised grip area and is chunkier in the hand and is very comfortable to write with. If I was a little happier about changing nibs, I would swap the italic nib into this pen. Maybe DH can help. The other bonus of moving the italic nib to this pen is that it wouldn’t look identical (until uncapped) to the pen I really don’t like!

The gallery!
Left to right:
Sheaffer calligraphy, Osmiroid, Parker with italic nib, Parker that makes my writing look terrible, Parker that’s not too bad, Parker Sonnet which is lovely.

Things I don’t like about fountain pens:
Much as I love writing with a fountain pen, there are three things that can really annoy me.
1. That when you come to use them after a few days away, the darn thing has dried up and it takes ages to rehydrate (Yes, I’m talking about you, Mr Sheaffer Calligraphy).
2. That after being neglected for a week or so, all the ink disappears without trace. You know you left them at least half full and yet when you return to them, they are empty (Yes – you again, Mr Sheaffer Calligraphy. You are by far the worst for this! See final letter of your sample writing for proof!).
3. You start writing with them and they cover your fingers in ink. I’ve found that usually it isn’t really coming from the pen, it’s coming from ink that is in the lid that has then been transferred to the barrel. Application of cotton-buds to clean the cap out (and avoiding dropping the pens) works well, but I usually only remember to do that after I have been covered in ink.