More retractable fountain pens

So, if you want a good retractable fountain pen, you have one good option. And I have only seen one other option, which isn’t that good to be honest.

On one side you have the Pilot Vanishing Point and on the other you have the Lamy Dialog 3.

I have a VP and I love it, even though it has some constraints. The short version is that it is a special pen, where Pilot have made many hard choices in order to get a pen that is as good as it is. But that means that it won’t be a good fit for many people. The biggest problem with it is that the clip is kind of annoying for some people, doesn’t hold enough ink, and that it is a pain in the ass to fill when you ink bottle runs low.

My impression when I was going to get a retractable pen, and spent some(a lot) of time researching is that the Dialog isn’t that great. I might get one at some point, but not now.

Here is the thing: we need more retractable fountain pens. To get some fresh blood and some competition in this market where Pilot and their Vanishing Point dominates. I get the engineering problems with making it. But I want more competition here. Because many people cannot use the only good retractable fountain pen available, because of the clip.

It would be really awesome if someone started to sell the mechanism, and then as a result a lot of different pen designs based on it.

Two years have passed.

There aren’t many things I’m worse at than keeping up with anniversaries and stuff like that. Part of the reason is that I write most of the post from a few weeks to a few months before they are going live, so I have little to no connection to when something will be live. That has the added benefit of me doing everything I can to make them have as little connection to “right now” as possible.

By the time this goes live I would have written this blog for over two years. A lot have happened over that time. These days I’m more or less happy with the kind of stuff I’m using. And the main area of experimenting is new inks. I might try a couple of new notebooks a year, and I only get new pens when I see something I don’t have in some pen I discover.

I guess I have moved over to what I really wanted this site to be about. Writing more about using the products, than the products themselves. And how to go about figuring out the perfect stuff for me. Rather than reviewing all the Lamy Safari or TWSBI colors.

What if I actually manages to schedule this post for the real anniversary next year?

In rotation

I haven’t written about what I use and carry in a long time now.

The pens I carry change from week to week, but what I have with me today is my Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco Stub and TWSBI Eco Broad. And I have my trusted Travelers Notebook with two lined refill, one Nock.co pocket sized notebook. And two Leuchtturm1917 A5 notebooks; one lined for writing and one dot grid for tasks and stuff.

My current ink is Diamine Sargasso Sea.

I’m mostly happy with my setup at the moment. There aren’t much I change, except for my ink every few months. But I do wish Leuchtturm1917 would expand the available colours available for their various notebooks. Because I would like to have different colours for the two notebooks I carry.

Binder Clips

Binder clips are probably my favourite “hack” to get page markers in notebooks that don’t come with them. They are dirt cheap and works great. I use them both with my Travelers notebook and my pocket sized notebooks to be able to find the first empty page as fast as possible.

I don’t use any fancy ones, just the plain black no-name ones you can find in any office supply shop. And I’ve had the same box for years.

They are durable, and stay put. My only complaint about them is that I wish I could find a version that was smaller and didn’t get stuck as easy when I take notebooks in and out of my bag.

TWSBI Stub

Stub nibs are not my favourite thing in the world. They are kind of scratchy if you don’t hold them in the right angle, and other nibs like my medium or broad’s are way smoother. But it looks so cool.

The way I use pens is that I have all the pens I own and enjoy inked up and I just cycle through them, and move over to the next one when my current one runs out of ink. And I have a system for cleaning them every other refill or something like that.

Most of them are in rotation because I love writing with them. The one exception is my TWSBI Eco with a Stub nib. I don’t hate writing with it, but I prefer every other pen in rotation over it. The main reason I keep it in rotation is how cool my writing looks with a sub nib compared to everything else I own.

Thick vs thin notebooks

I have used very thick notebooks, and I have use very think notebooks; everything between the Travelers Notebook refills to huge A4 notebooks with around 500 pages.

There are good and bad things about both and everything in between. These days I tend to prefer the ones in between; like the hard cover Leuchtturm1917 A5 notebooks. Because I think they are the perfect compromise between not taking a lot of space and being very heavy and being too expensive because you run through a lot of notebooks.

The good thing about smaller notebooks is that they are small, you can fit them almost everywhere and they are not very heavy. Perfect examples of this are pocket sized notebooks like Field Notes and both versions of the Travelers Notebook; I always go with the latter if I want a notebook but don’t have a lot of extra space. While the good thing about the huge notebooks is that you get a lot of notebook for your money because there are more pages to cover the cost of the cover, than if you have smaller ones.

What’s right for you? Well, it depends on you. I would try out different M-x postformats. And different formats will probably be good for different I use the smallest possible notebook (a Nock.co pocket sized one) for writing lists on the go, and I keep my journal in a Travelers Notebook because the think refills and soft cover makes it possible to always have it with me. But when it comes down to task management and drafts of larger texts I prefer Leuchtturm1917 A5 notebooks; enough pages that they last for a long time but small enough to not be a hassle to bring with me every single day.

I have come to this conclusion after trying out more or less every single format available over many years, and tried them out for different kinds of use cases.

The process of figuring out what works for you is something I personally think is very valuable, because it is the only way to find the best options for you. And I always try to identify when something isn’t working anymore.

Filling the Vanishing Point

I do love my Vanishing Point. AndI guess it is the pen I use the most. But there is one thing about it I’m not that fun of. And that is how much of a pain in the ass it is to fill it when your ink bottle gets low.

Like I have said many times before, the Pilot Vanishing Point is a pen with a lot of compromises that are necessary to get a good, reliable, retractable fountain pen. sing that converter I hate.

This problem on the other hand has to do with the nib design, which I assume is that way because it was needed by the mechanism. Anyways. The problem is that the place where the ink are sucked into the pen, is very high on the nib; much higher than most pens. That means that the point where you can problems filling your pens from a bottle of ink will be much sooner with a VP than any other pen I own.

Ink Review: Diamine Sargasso Blue

I received this 30ml bottle of ink free of charge from Tudos, for the purpose of reviewing it. Tudos have been very supportive of The Ink Smudge since our paths crossed, and I would recommend checking them out if you live in Norway. I buy all of my notebooks from there

Funny thing, I can never for the live of me remember what this ink is called. I always have to reference my “Transparency” page.

This is my first bottle of ink, that isn’t from Iroshizuku in a few years. I got to say it, the experience is very different.

First of all, I love the ink, the colour is awesome and I enjoyed writing with it. Are there inks I didn’t enjoy using? Yes, I have used inks that feels “scratchy”, and I really hatet that. I assume it was because the ink wasn’t lubricated enough.

But, the bottle feels really cheap. It is plastic. This isn’t all bad. But it is another world than the awesome glass bottles Iroshizuku comes in. I see two problems with it though, the hole can be a little bit narrow for some pens, and there is no design accommodations to make sure you can use as much ink as possible.

Keep I’m mind though, this ink is priced at $7.50 while a Iroshizuku is priced at $30: the latter comes in a larger bottle, but still at least twice the price. ($0.25 per ml vs $1,7 pr ml)

This ink looks awesome. It is kind f weird that I have gotten so into blue inks lately. I used to hate them.

This ink reminds me of those light blue standard inks everyone sends you with their pens. I call it “BIC blue”.

I hate those inks, but I love this one. It is a darker, and looks “just right”. I have tested it with all of my pens and it looks just as good with finer and broader nibs.

The only bad thing about this ink is that the dry time is significantly longer than with Iroshizuku. It isn’t so long that it is a problem. But I notice that it is something I need to think a little bit about.

Keep it in mind if it is the kind of thing that is a deal breaker for you.

Leuchtturm1917 as the new Moleskine.

When I talk about Moleskine, not the current incarnation of it, and more the idea than the product itself, it is with good memories. There are many good things about them as a brand, even though the product itself is beyond shit from a paper perspective.

I have been hoping for Leuchtturm1917 to become the new Moleskine for a while now. And I kind of see it happening. Their products have much of the same general aesthetic. I have even seen Leuchtturm1917 notebooks in similar setups in som stores here in Norway. You know the narrow and tall square things Moleskines always are in at bookstores?

Their lineups are also very similar, the biggest difference is that Moleskine have way more “special editions” and “special use case editions”. And I really wish Leuchtturm1917 extended more in the latter category.

What I mean when I say I wish that Leuchtturm1917 becomes the new Moleskine is just that Leuchtturm1917 is becomes default “fancy notebook” for regular people. And that you can get them everywhere. But that the product and the paper remains the same.

The thing I still like about Moleskine to this day, is the fact that if I want to do X for example travel or cooking. I can find a good notebook layout for X from Moleskine. And for what ever company that want to kick them off their trone, need to copy and out do them both there and in the available everywhere and in your face part.

Task Management in 2018

One of the most important, if not the most important part of a well functioning system for managing the things you have to do is a ever changing system to manage it all.

The system I was happy with in 2010 or in 2012 or 2015 is not the same as what I am happy with today.

I started to notice some eh let’s call them “growing problems” with my pen and paper only system earlier this autumn; the short version:

  • I forgot to write stuff down
  • I didn’t find some of what I wrote down
  • etc
  • etc

So, I decided to move back to Todoist. Their apps aren’t the best, to say the least. But they do have a good API. So I can get it to do what I need.

Where does pen, paper and all the stuff we love fit into this?

While I don’t currently use pen and paper to mange everything (at the moment) I still use it for a few very crucial tasks. I still use my beloved Leuchtturm1917 dot grid notebook in the planning stage, or when I do a brain dump. And I still use it to map out the most important stuff I need to get done day per day per week.

And I do of course bring my notebook instead of a computer do meetings, like a grown up.