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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I have mentioned “I have a rule against” a few times while writing this site. This will be a summary of them.
Buying stuff: I’m a minimalist, and I do therefore try to minimise the amount of stuff I own and use. And therefore I try to only have notebooks, inks, pens etc that are useful for me. If I test out a notebook, I make sure that it is something I can use, even though I prefer other notebooks. For example the Rhodia Webnotebook, it isn’t my preference, but it is still close enough to what I usually use for me to use it from page 1 until the end
Notebooks: every notebook I review and test on this site, will be used to its fullest, and if my views on it change after my initiallreview I’ll write about it. I never stash stuff away before I have used it up.
Inks: I limit the amount of ink I have on my desk, because I feel very uncomfortable about the idea to have enough ink to last longer than a life time. I currently own two a little bit over half full bottles and one almost empty.
Pens: I want to have enough pens in rotation so that I can always refill my pen case with a full pen when needed. Most of them are cheap, and two of them are expensive.
My typical ink in the beginning was black, I used the Lamy and Pilot cartridges for a very long time. And I loved them for the convenience. I would probably have used cartridges in my Vanishing Point if the Iroshizuku line was available on that form(you can have that idea for “free” Pilot, just send me a red Falcon with a soft broad nib in exchange). Then I moved over to bottles, first Noodelers Bernanke (which I loved), then I moved over to the Lamy black (which I hate) before I ordered my first Iroshizuku bottle (take-sumi) and I have gone through two full bottles and two half bottles of Iroshizuku ink since then.
They have some shading, in the of their inks, but no glimmer or crazy colours. This J’herbin ink is all kinds of crazy, the colour is fantastic, it is a reddish brown, with gold glimmer.
This is probably the first time I’ve used “fantastic” and “brown” in the same sentence.
I have now used the ink quite a lot. First I used it in a Noodlers Ahab for a few weeks, and now I have used it as my only ink in all of the pens I have in rotation. And I enjoy it a lot.
The dry time is a little bit longer than what I prefer. But I think it is a great ink.
Diamine have been on the top of my list of ink brands I was going to look more into after I have used up some of my the ink on my desk. I’m down to two opened bottles now.
My interest in shimmer and shading inks probably started with the Tsuki-yo for the shading part, and I got very interested in shimmer when I reviewed J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre.
The writing experience with this ink is very good. Nothing to complain about when it comes down to the lubrication of the ink. And the colour looks fantastic. It is a beautiful turquoise with silver shimmers. They are very subtle, and you only see them if you know to look for them.
I did initially think that the colour was a little bit too light, but I have come around on that. Even though I would have preferred a darker colour.
I’m probably not going to buy a whole bottle of this ink, at least not now. I might do it in the future. But I’m just a little bit fed up on green at the moment, But I like it a lot more than the green ink I previously used (shin-ryoku).
One final note. I have not tested this ink as thorough as I usually do. I have only tested it with my board vanishing point. In contrast to how I usually test ink, which usually entails me inking up every single pen I own to get an impression on how it works with finer and broader; stubs; wetter and dryer.
I would without doubt recommend it, if you are looking for a turquoise ink.
When I want to test an ink, I have two options either I buy or trade a sample or I buy a full bottle. I would probably just get the bottle because it is not THAT expensive.
What I want is something bigger than a sample, but smaller than a 50ml bottle. 10 or 15 ml would be perfect. Because a small sample is never enough for me to do a proper test. I like to test it in many different pens in order to get the full picture of how a ink behaves. But the problem with the full bottle, is of course to get rid of it, if you don’t like it or don’t see yourself using it all.
The reason I try to always test a ink with as many pens as possible is because to use a ink with a finer nib versus a broader one or a dry pen vs wet pen is very different. The colours are different. And the dry time is different.
Some inks look better with a fine line, while others look much better with a big wet one. And some inks are just unusable with a wet nib because you have to take a nap while you wait for a page to dry
This is a A5-ish notebook with dot grid on the left side and lined on the right side – what I usually call dual layout. The paper is okay, but it bleeds through a little bit more than I’m used to. It’s not that bad, but a little bit worse than for example Leuchtturm1917.
The design of this notebook is not ugly, but it isn’t anything I like either. The only way to describe it is how iOS apps used to look before everything went “flat”. There are probably some people that love how it looks. But it isn’t my kind of thing.
My three big complaints of this notebook is:
The paper quality makes something to be desired. Close, but no cigar.
The lack of felt page markers is really annoying.
The format of the book is similar to A5, but a little bit shorter. This drives me nuts. Why wouldn’t you follow an established standard? This is the kind of thing where I mumble “fucking Americans”, we have the metric system and various other systems for a reason.
I have used dual layout notebooks before, mainly the Field Notes special edition from about three years ago, or something. And it never clicked with me. My opinion have been that people should get a Travelers Notebook and fill it with different refills if they just want multiple page layouts in their notebook.
The way I usually use notebooks are either long form writing or writing down lists. And to use a dual layout for something like that is either confusing or plain wasteful. So what I had to do in order to test out this notebook was find something I could use it for where it made sense to have one layout here and another one over there.
I decided to use it for creating “mockups” for app and web development stuff I do at work and for fun. This means I need to carry another notebook, and that was exactly what I needed…
The dual layout is good for some stuff. And my mock up notes are less messy and easier to understand when I use the grid for the mockups (crappy drawings) and the lined part for describing what it is.
Now. I’m not 100% sure if the improvement is big enough for me to justify carrying another notebook. I guess time will show.
In this post I’m going to take a look how various notebooks I have used hold up in use. How does they look when they are new versus after I’m done with them.
I think Field Notes are the gold standard for notebooks that look fantastic both new and even better when they show some wear and tear. While I think their design new look good, they are in no way my favourite.
As said, they look fantastic after being used. The only problem with them is that it isn’t that they don’t hold up that well if you have them in your pack pocket for months, instead of weeks.
Leuchtturm1917 (hardcover, A5)
This notebook looks okay or fine but not fantastic when you start using it. It isn’t ugly or anything, but it is just “utilitarian” and does the job. I don’t think anyone buys a Leuchtturm1917 for its aesthetics, but rather their fantastic paper and features.
The notebook does not look good after a few months of wear and tear, but I have never experienced that any of them are falling apart, even after carrying them in by bag for months.
This is based on the Blue limited edition one, but I expect it is similar on previous limited editions and their regular black one.
It looks amazing out of the pack. I greatly prefer it to Field Notes. And I think it has a Field Notes thing going for it where it looks cool as the colour are worn off after being in my back pocket for a few weeks.
I’m not 100% sure, but it seems like the material the cover is made of holds up better than Field Notes when it comes down to not falling apart.
Not unlinke the Leuchtturm1917, the orange Rhodia Webnotebook doesn’t look that great after using it for a while. It looks a little bit "dirty" and some posts of ink etc. The black one might not show it as well as the orange one.
If I would pick one of each category, one A5 and one pocket sized notebook based on how they look after being used for a while, I think Field Notes and Leuchtturm1917 is the obvious picks. Field Notes looks the best when they are worn down. And Leuchtturm1917 takes it a little bit better than the Webbie. It doesn’t look good on either; but it is much more visible on the webbie; and neither is made in a way where it looks good.
But this is of course not the way I pick notebooks. My prefence at the moment is Nock.co notebooks for my pocket sized needs, and Leuchtturm1917 for everything else.
This is probably the most impressive kind of paper on the planet. It is super thin, or can take more or less any ink you throw at it; I think I was pouring ink at it at some point. It is the paper used in the Hobonichi Planner. But the other side of the impressive capacity to deal with ink without bleeding through or feathering is that the dry time is very long.
I get why some people love it, and it is the kind of paper everyone should try. But I consider it completely unusable for regular use, because it takes too long for the ink to dry.
Fantastic paper, but not for me, my kind of pens and inks I use.
How much and how often you clean your pens are up to you, but I think it is a good idea to do it now and then.
I try to do it myself not every time I refill my pens but every other to every third time. And I only do a full “flush water in and out until its 100% clean” when I change inks. I just flush clean water through the pen a few times before I refill it. Takes less than a minute per pen.
If you are using a cartridge converter type pen, then there is no damage to cleaning it every time you have the opportunity. But the more often you clean a piston filler, the shorter time it is between each time you have to grease the piston.
Like with everything else, there is something that is too much and something that is too little; the trick is to find a place in the middle.
You probably know why, but I am going to explain it anyways. The reason you want to flush water through your fountain pen from time to time is to make sure nothing dries up in the feed of your pen; and that is bad because it blocks the ink from flowing through your pen and onto the page.
If you use a piston or a converter, just suck water in and out a few times, and use a bulb syringe if you use cartridges.
But the most important thing is to do a thorough cleaning when you are switching inks. The first reason should be obvious to everyone, but it is to make sure that you see the proper colour of your new ink and not some weird mix between the old and new. But even more important is to make sure that your pen are completely clean when you start using your new ink, because some inks don’t mix that well. Everything from combinations that actually can damage your pen to combinations that clog up your feed.
They come in two forms, both of them bleed like crazy. That’s what make them bad. But they come in many different thicknesses. Bad thin paper is just horrible; think Moleskine; because you get bleed through on multiple pages at a time.
But. Bad think paper isn’t the worst thing in the world in some ways. Because bad thick paper have the shortest dry time possible. This is because instead of letting the ink dry on top of the paper like you see in the most extreme with Tomoe River, and in lesser degrees on Rhodia and Leuchtturm1917, the ink are just absorbed by the page.
I think it is a good idea when you are learning how to write with a fountain pen; especially if you are a lefty. And if you are in a meeting where you don’t want to stand out as the weirdo with arcane writing instruments and ink all over his fingers.
The Lamy 2000 and the Pilot Vanishing Point are probably the two most common “first expensive” fountain pen for many. They are two very different pens, and what makes each of them great is also very different.
What makes both of them great are the fantastic nibs and you get a lot for your money. But there are some good and some bad about both of them.
The Lamy 2000 has a hooded nib, I love it, but it isn’t a good fit for everyone. Some people can never get a hold of how to angle it. And it can be a little bit big for some users. But you get one of the best designed fountain pens, if not the best and a lot of ink in each filling.
The Vanishing Point on the other hand is a cartridge converter pen instead of a piston filler; this means that the ink capacity is much lower. And this pen is also much more right handed friendly than left handed. This is because of the profile and position of the clip. I’m not bothered by it, but a lot of people are.
Both of these pens are something you either have to risk or need to try before you know if it is something for you. It isn’t the biggest risk, because both of them would be fairly easy to sell used without too much of a loss.
You probably want both.
What I love about the Vanishing Point is how quick it is to unretract, write something down and retract the nib again; compared to taking the nib of a regular pen, write and then putting it on again. The thing that drive me nuts about it is how poor the ink capacity is.
What I love about the Lamy 2000 is that the ink almost lasts forever, and the nib is my absolute favourite. And there are nothing I dislike about it, but it is just much faster to use the Vanishing Point.
I would get both again without having to think that much about it, but the Lamy 2000 is without doubt the one I think is the better out of the two. But one of the reasons it is the better, is that the Vanishing Point is a pen design with a lot of constraints that are needed to give it the one killer feature that is the reason we buy it: the only good retractable fountain pen in existence.
My notebook system or set up (the set of notebooks I use and carry every single day) consists of a Travelers Notebook, two A5 hardcover notebooks and a pocket sized one.
The Travelers Notebook always have two lined refills in it, and I use it for my daily journaling, or long form writing when I carry as few things with me as possible. The only accessory I own for it is their excellent pen holder. But I only use it when the Travelers Notebook is the only stationary thing I carry.
My pocket sized notebook is currently a blue Nock.co notebook, and historically I have been a Field Notes user. But I finally got fed up with their paper quality. I use it for shopping lists, keeping track of hours I work etc. The basic rule for what I write in it is stuff I need to reference when I’m out, or stuff I felt like I had to remember when I was out.
My two A5 notebooks are usually Leuchtturm1917; lined and the bullet journal version. But I’m currently using a dot grid Rhodia Webnotebook instead of the Bullet Journal because I tested the Webbie out, and I have a rule against having notebooks I just tested a few pages in laying around in my home office.
The lined on are used for long form writing, like this article for example. And the dot grid are using to manage tasks. Think of it like the bastard child of bullet journal and the dash plus system.
One of the things I think is very weird is how many of their pens that I’m interested come as a cartridge / converter pen instead of for example a piston filler. While they at the same time use a converter that don’t use the room available in the pen that well and have a boring line of cartridges.
If I get a Pilot pen, let’s say a Vanishing Point or a Falcon. Then I’ll use the standard cartridge, which I would have to use a syringe in order to fill it up properly, and I would still only get a fraction of the ink of a TWSBI Eco or a Lamy 2000.
Second, their ink line up. Pilot have some amazing ink, many if not all of them from the Iroshizuku line. Why aren’t they available as cartridges?
Two of my all time favourite pens are the Pilot Metropolitan and the TWSBI Eco. I think an Eco is the best TWSBI pen you can buy, and probably the best bang for your buck in any pen.
I loved everything about it, except for the black / white parts. TWSBI finally fixed that by releasing an clear version. And the result is an pen that looks almost as good as a 580. It looks cheaper, but not by much.
I love the Eco, while I’m not that fund of most of the other TWSBI pens because they are a little bit too expensive to make sense for me. Why buy that when a little bit more can get you a Vanishing Point or Lamy 2000?
Karl, the owner to Tudos the only Norwegian web shop that carries the kind of stuff we all love have recently started a Facebook group for Norwegian Pen Addicts.
This is kind of weird for me, because before the Pen Addict Slack I thought it was just me, because of the lack of stores that carried fountain pen products in Norway. Then after the Pen Addict Slack I thought we were maybe two people? Now we have a real webshop, and there are aperantly as many as over twenty people that care enough to join a Facebook Group.