Kum Automatic Long Point Pencil Sharpener.


I ordered a Kum Automatic long point pencil sharpener with Blackwing branding at the same time as I ordered my first box of Blackwings. It cost about $7.50 at JetPens. It has two holes, numbered, you use the first one to shape the wood, it will stop shaving off wood when you're done and then you use the second hole to sharpen the tip.

I got this one because it was not too expensive, and I hoped that the blackwing branding on it was a sign of quality. It works great. I don't have any complaints about it, it sharpens my pencils every single time. Without any issues. The only think I wish was different is more space for shavings.

I'm probably going to get a couple more of them. This is the sharpener you want if you want a long point sharpener and only care about the utility of it.


Palomino Blackwing.


I bought my first box of pencils not too long ago. And I think this is the first time I have paid for a pencil. Why? I'm not sure to either of the why questions. I have never bought a pencil because I didn't know it was more to them than the crappy plastic thing I got at school, that us boys always tried to bend into weird shapes. And I'm not sure why I bought a box of them now. I guess it was because a lot of people I respect enjoy using them.

My biggest surprise about pencils is how similar to fountain pens they are. Everyone have their own taste. And you have a lot of the same problems: both are very fiddly. Also: there are compromises. For example a softer pencil is smoother, but you need to sharpen them more often. Not unlike how broader fountain pens are more smooth(until you move into stubs), but they require more ink and take longer to dry.

I have enjoyed the Blackwings a lot. And I use them a lot. They are great to write with for example on the train and other places where I don't want to think about ink smudging. They also look fantastic. Which was kind of the reason I went with the regular blackwings. But I will probably check out the 602 the next time. Because I think I will prefer a pencil that doesn't require as much sharpening. But who knows? This is new to me.


Using a Iroshizuku bottle as a inkwell.


I wrote about an idea I had not too long ago. The idea was to take empty Pilot Iroshizuku bottles, clean them and then use them as a inkwell or a ink bottle for other inks. Because not every bottle of ink is the same. Some of them are just a bottle, with a flat bottom. And that can make it a struggle to fill your pens, even though there are a lot of ink left. Especially with pens like the Vanishing Point.

I started doing this a few weeks ago and it works like a charm.

This got me to think about looking for something even better. But it works for now.


How I rotate pens


Like I mentioned in a earlier post, I have limited the number of pens I use to three. My Lamy 2000, Pilot Vanishing Point and my Pilot Metal Falcon. The way I rotate them is that I always use the pen that is all the way to the right in my Nock.co Hightower. And when I write it dry, I refill it, and rotate everything to the right and the pen I wrote dry in the left pocket.


Where to go next?


Where am I going with pen, paper and so on in 2018?

Pens: I'm not sure, there are some pens I would like. But they are priced way above my comfort level or never in stock.

Inks: I guess this will be where I start to experiment more in 2018 and moving forward.

Notebook: I'm more or less happy with what I have, and I don't think there will be that many changes here.

Notebook covers: I'm very curious of what Nock.co will come out with in this area this year. And I guess a large portion of what I'll buy will be coming out of Atlanta.


How things have changed since I got into fountain pens.


I was walking around in the city, while Ingri and I were waiting for the train back home and I walked past one Leuchtturm1917 display case and two Lamy display cases. And I thought: damn things have changed since 2013.

Back when I started, the only fountain pen related thing I knew about in Norway that was available was Parker. You could get the cartridges, while pens was something you had to order. And there was Mont Blanc stuff. But that's stupid money.

In 2018, I could jump on the train, buy a Lamy Safari, Al Star or any of the entry level Lamy pens or a Leuchtturm1917 notebook. Something I had to order from UK or US in the past.

This is weird.


What I Carry


What I carry these days are more or less the same as always, with some minor changes.

I always carry three pens, and I rotate them from a collection of five that I have in active use: Lamy 2000(M), Pilot Vanishing Point(B), Pilot Metal Falcon (Broad Flex), TWSBI Clear Eco(B), TWSBI Black Eco(Sub).

All of them are inked up with the same ink, as always. I currently use the Diamine Sargasso Blue, which I reviewed a while back.

As always, I use my Nock.co Hightower to carry my pens and pocket sized stuff.

Some of this stuff might change when Nock.co releases their A5 and Travelers Notebook Covers.


Pairing it down even further.


I'm lucking enough to own a lot of great pens. But that means that I can't use all of them. Or I can at least not use all of them all the time.

I own a few Retro51's, three Pilot Metropolitan, one Lamy Safari, two TWSBI Eco, one TWSBI 580AL, a Lamy 2000, A Pilot Vanishing Point, a Pilot Metal Falcon and one Noodlers Ahab.

The way it works for me is that the pens I use is the ones I have in my Nock Hightower. It has room for three pens. And I have a system for rotating the pens in it. Too few pens means that you run out of ink, and too many means that they dry up or that you spend more time making sure that they don't dry up than you spend writing with them.

My problem before I started to move pens out of rotation, first with the Metropolitans and then the Eco's was that there was three pens I enjoyed way more than the others. I love the Metropolitan, but I enjoyed the other five pens way more. And I also loved the Eco's but I loved the other three pens more.

The result was that I almost never used them, except for when it felt like "I had to". Therefore I decided to clean and rotate out everything that I didn't enjoyed the most. And I'll probably ink them up when I test out inks.

My current pen carry is as follows:


Limiting the number of pens I have in rotation


I think there is a maximum number of pens I can keep in rotation. For me is it around five. Because there is only so many pens you can write with regularly before you have to spend a lot of time making sure they don't dry up.

When I got my Metal Falcon I decided to empty, clean and stop having my two Pilot Metropolitans as a part of my daily carry. This is kind of weird, because up to this point all of the pens I enjoy using have been a part of my rotation. But the truth is that I enjoy all the other pens in my rotation a lot more. And seven pens is a little bit too much.


Removing one notebook.


The notebooks I have been carrying as of late – I don’t remember exactly when I re-added the pocket sized notebook to what I carry – but it has remained the same since then.

I carry one Nock.co pocket sized notebook, one Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal, one Leuchtturm1917 Lined A5 and a regular sized Traveler’s Notebook filled with lined refills.

The reason I carry two different lined notebooks is that one of them contains drafts for various long form stuff I am writing, while the other is just journal entries.

I have decided to do something about this. What I’m going to do short term is to use up the last lined refill for my Travelers Notebook, before I move over to just using the Leuchtturm1917 and then I’m going to move back to using the Travelers Notebook.

As always, I might go back, if that makes sense. But at the moment it feels light to slim things down a little bit. And only carry one notebook for each thing, instead of two for long form writing. x


A Vanishing Point with CON-70?


I really love my newest pen, the CON-70. And, then, I got this idea after a few days of using the pen. Damn, I want a Vanishing Point with this converter. Like I have said many times, I don’t think the 0.4 or 0.5 you can get into the standard converter is enough.

I usually can get through one or multiple days with that. Except for when I en up writing a lot by hand. Then I run through the converter fast. It’s not about that, it’s rather the fact that I hate to have to worry about it. I never do with my Lamy 2000 or TWSBI pens.

The reason I worry is that I have filled it in the morning, and written it dry before the day was over more than once.

Now.

A Vanishing Point with a larger converter, would mean that the pen would also be larger, and it would be heavier. This would probably make it even less accessible to women. And that sucks. But, I’m not saying “scrap the existing one and make this one”. I’m saying make this in addition.


The Pen Addict 2018 Kickstarter


The Pen Addict Kickstarter just went live. I pledged in this time, for time first time.


'Review


I got one of the Noodler’s flex pens in the spring. It was cheap, and I only ordered to verify that flex nibs was something I could get into. And, of course, it was. The next step was a little bit more difficult. Because I wanted something nicer, and hopefully less smelly. And, while there are options, there are not a lot of them.

There was some from Franklin Christoph, two versions I think; I got the news when I was in the middle of it. And I think Edison are selling the same nibs.

Then you have the whole vintage market. And the last option, except for the one I went with, was the Aurora limited edition one.

And then you have Pilot’s Falcon and Metal Falcon.

I went with the Pilot Metal Falcon. Why? The Aurora was limited in availability and way about my comfort zone. And the FC I want (Model 66 Solid Ice) is never available, when I check. And Edison is way too expensive for me.

The Flacon and Metal Falcon are both very good options for what I wanted. Something a little bit nicer, in the less than $300 price range. And with a gold nib. The regular Falcon usually retails around $150, and the Metal Falcon around $240.

What you get for an extra $90 is a bigger converter, a bigger and heavier pen. The increased weight is because the pens made out of metal instead of resin. Other than they look more or less identical; but I think the Metal is a little bit larger. The reason I think you want the Metal Falcon instead of the regular one is because it can old up to 1ml of ink. While the CON-50 (the old standard converter) olds up to 0.5 and the CON-40 (the new standard converter) holds up to 0.4ml.

I think the CON-70 is fantastic. What I ask for in a converter is enough capacity that I can get through a day of a lot of writing without problems. My Falcon can do that, without any problems, my Vanishing Point on the other hand can’t.

Fantastic pen, and I can without doubt recommend it if you are looking for a good pen with a flexible gold nib.


A good inkwell?


I’ve had this on my mind for a few months now, and things that stay that way for a very long time are usually in the “not the worst thing in the world” camp.

The kind of bottle you get with your ink varies a lot, based on a few different factors; usually the price and the amount of ink. For example Iroshizuku have fantastic bottles, while Diamine have bad bottles and Noodlers aren’t the best, but not the best either.

There are a few different things I think are important when you are judging a bottle; but above everything there is two things that are the most important. How easy is it to fill your pens when it starts to run low? Is the opening large enough to fit any pen?

On one side is it really dumb to spend a significant amount of money on designing and producing a glorified container. You’re just going to use most of the ink before you throw it out. But on the other side is designing a good one important for the experience of using the ink, and you get to use more of it if it is good.

On the other side would a fancy bottle make the product more expensive. But the added cost will be lower per ml for larger bottles.

Would it be worth it to buy a inkwell that is designed to make it easy to use as much as possible of the ink? Then the whole “how good is the ink bottle debate” is void. I actually think I would. But I might consider re-using some of my Iroshizuku bottles until I find something I like.


Being left handed.


As a white straight cis male working I don’t have that much experience that the system are working against me; and I don’t experience much fill-in-your-ism-of-choice-here.

But there is one area where I really can feel it. I’m left handed. There are some products more than others that seems to be designed in a way where they have made a mathematical model for the dead center for normal or the bullseye of normal. And then they have designed a product to serve them, and to only test it on people who qualify as normal.

There are a few products I always bring up when I complain about this, the Vanishing Point or the Lamy Safari; but you can also spot some of the same problems if you look at for example the nibs available for the Lamy 2000.

The problem with the Lamy Safari, and all the other “cheaper” Lamy pens is that the grip section is molded, and it doesn’t work that great when the way you hold the pen is opposite of “Normal man”. While the problem with the Vanishing Point is just that the clip becomes a little bit “in the way” if you are left handed; the difference is that, if you are right handed it will end up between your thumb and your index finger; while for us lefties it ends up between your index finger and middle finger.

Both of these problems could be solved relatively easy; you just make a “reversed” version. The problem with the Lamy 2000 nibs are that the “Oblique” nibs don’t come in a lefty version, and good luck writing with those left handed.

I’m pretty sure they don’t do this to be assholes or anything like this. I just think that they didn’t even consider testing it on left handed people before putting it out there.

I just wish that more companies did a better job to make sure their products either work for everyone or that it is a version that works for everyone.

Because you have two options, either you design stuff in way where they are fully functional no matter what hand you write with. Or you design stuff in a way where you need separate models for left handed and right handed. The key is that you either design stuff to be universal or you have models for both groups.


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


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.