Penemuel talks about pens, and sometimes writing. But mostly pens.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNoWriMo Ate My Brain!

It's November, which means it's National Novel Writing Month, commonly called NaNoWriMo. Head over to for more information, but basically it's a 'competition' for people to try to write a 50,000 (plus) word novel in 30 days.

This is the first time I'm trying it, because it's the first time I've really had a coherent story that would potentially be that long and wasn't something I'd already written (you're supposed to start a NEW work of fiction on November 1st, not rewrite or continue something you've already done.)

I'm invoking the Luddite Clause and hand writing my novel, in a notebook, with a fountain pen. Yep, I'm not only trying this for the first time, I'm going old school! I'm up to 12,474 words so far, and have filled more than half of a small (5.5" x 3.5") hard-backed Piccadilly notebook (square ruled, which is MUCH better than lined for my tiny writing) and figure I'm going to be using at least one more. Luckily I stocked up before Borders closed...

I'm also using my Lamy Vista with Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun ink. It's particularly fitting for the novel I'm working on, which has to do with Shadows and shades of grey... (I'd bought a bottle of this lovely blue-shaded grey ink, thinking that I'd never use the whole thing. Except that I've used a full Lamy converter's worth every day since I started this. The level of ink in my bottle is actually starting to lower!)

The picture is the notebook I've been writing in - I started at the back because I'm a leftie...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Just a quick word about Pilot Petit 1/2/3 inks

I worked my way through the katakana (yikes - I'm rusty!) on the Japanese Pilot site's Petit 1 page and am kind of sad about the limited number of colours the ink cartridges are now available in. No more violet, no more dark green, no more turquoise (takoizu), brown, wine red...

The only colours listed now are:
Baby Pink
Apricot Orange
Apple Green
Clear Blue

Guess it's a good thing I have that ink syringe kit!
I have no affiliation with Pilot - I just love their pens.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I found them!

After years of unsuccessfully searching for those old, cheap, used-to-be-sold-in-grocery-stores Sheaffer pens, I finally found some on eBay. Still haven't managed to locate a transparent purple one, but clear, transparent blue, green, red, & black aren't bad! (Lamy Vista included for size comparison)

I used these all through high school and into college, to write letters to my friends, to write stories, sometimes even to draw with. I knew nothing about fountain pen maintenance at that time, and just stuck in a new cartridge whenever the old one ran out. I'd also switch colours all the time, and some of my notebooks have the most interesting gradation of colours as things went from, say, emerald green to lavender, or turquoise to red. (Brown to turquoise was pretty unattractive...) Ahh, nostalgia...

Monday, August 1, 2011

A plethora of Pilot Petit 1 cartridges

In my last post, I mentioned that I did a bit of panic-buying when I thought that the Petit 1 was being discontinued. None of the locations I tried had any purple cartridges left, but they did have a number of other colours...

I had already collected a number from my various Jet Pens orders, but I also bought a whole lot from MaiDo Stationery (they still have some, including the possibly-discontinued dark green):

I love the Japanese packaging - those nifty plastic bags with the reusable sticky closure. As a long-time anime fan, I'm very familiar with them, and was amused to find them here, too. All my little plastic capsules full of cartridges (3 per little capsule), packed in a Japanese plastic bag. Here's another picture, where you can see some of the labels, sort of. You can at least see some of the colour families:

However, those cute little plastic capsules are terrible on storage - they just take up too much room with too few cartridges inside them. So, since I had a number of small ziploc baggies from other purchases, I took all of the cartridges out of the capsules, and put them into baggies by colour. To be able to tell which ones are what, I peeled the little plastic labels off the capsules, and stuck them on the baggies (since I can read Katakana, it was easier to just use the original labels than write on each one or make my own labels.)

Whew! Should last me a bit before I have to buy any more...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Lament of the Left-Handed Fountain Pen Fan (or something like that)

I had a favourite fountain pen for years - it was one of those cheap Sheaffer ones they used to sell in the stationery aisle in grocery stores. They were the thin-barreled ones, not the thick ones like the calligraphy type; available in Fine and Medium nib, and in a multitude of colours. My favourite of all of them was the transparent purple, but the clear one was great, too. I lost my last one a few years ago, and realized they were no longer selling them in stores. I searched online, and discovered they seemed to be completely gone. There were Sheaffer school pens, but these were thicker and because they didn't have the metal band around the threads, the body was less sturdy (I've cracked at least one from screwing the nib into it too far). And they don't have transparent bodies - just a window to see the ink through. The red pen in the picture is the new one. By the way, both types of Sheaffer pens use the Skrip ink cartridges, which come in a whole bunch of nifty colours (though I think some of the cooler ones (grey, burgundy) have been discontinued...). The nibs have a rounded end, and work equally well for both left and right handed writing.

Here's a writing sample with the newer Sheaffer pen - nice smooth flow, no scratching on the page, etc. (The colour is very muddy, because I recently switched a black cartridge out for a burgundy one, and it's... well, I didn't clean the pen first. Until recently, I was totally unaware of fountain pen maintenance -- those old Sheaffers used to get new cartridges whenever they ran out, and I never cleaned them before switching!)

Fast forward a few years, to when I learned of, and the discovery of the Pilot Petit 1 fountain pen - an absolutely adorable Japanese fountain pen that costs hardly anything, comes in about a dozen colours, has a transparent body, and has TONS of ink colours... very specialized cartridges.

Again, rounded nib = great for both lefties & righties. Cute size (I can carry it in my pocket!), and oh, the colours. How could I go wrong?

Yeah, that specialized cartridge.

It seems that Pilot is discontinuing production of the Petit 1*, and therefore, the cartridge is no longer needed. :\ No converter will fit, and the size/shape of the connection between the nib and cartridge means that no "standard short international cartridge" will ever work. *sigh* When I use up the last one, there are no more. Thankfully, like a good addict, I bought a good number every time I made a JetPens order. I'm planning to save some, and fill them from bottle ink & see how long they last with multiple reuses, but at some point, I'm sure this pen will end up obsolete for me, too. *has a sad*

So, yay for - again, like a good pen addict, I also bought a Platinum Preppy pen (see the clear & purple pen in the photo with the red Sheaffer). It's another cheap Japanese fountain pen, but unfortunately it doesn't have rounded nib (this is the 05 -- I got an 03 later, and it does - yay!) Sometimes it has some poor ink flow issues, and sometimes it's a bit scratchy (for example, see the underlines and how they skip at points.)

But, it's a pretty good pen for the price (cheap!), has a purple accent version, and... well, *sigh* it uses specialized ink cartridges...

I did, however, discover that Platinum also makes a converter that will allow the pen to use the "standard short international cartridge." I just had a hell of a time finding one, though - JetPens is out of stock, and I got scared I'd never find one, so I Googled and found Cult Pens in the UK - they have them, so I grabbed one. Also ordered a box of assorted Diamine ink cartridges to use in it, because they have some pretty awesome colours. I'm hoping that the ink plus the converter will alleviate the ink flow issues, and this will become my new favourite fountain pen. It doesn't seem to be a left/right hand issue, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

The other pen I looked at is the Lamy Vista (clear body version of the Safari), but it's yet ANOTHER brand that has its own specialized cartridges. Come ON, people, buy a clue... sooner or later, something's going to go out of stock or become obsolete, and there goes the use of your pen. (Plus, Lamy's pen is significantly more expensive than any of the others I've listed - even with the nice price cut online sellers give.)

(By the way, yes, Lamy pens do have a bottle ink converter that will solve the problem if the cartridges go out of production, but bottle ink isn't as convenient or easy to drag around all over the place as cartridges are. And if you're like me & want to change your colour all the time, you need lots and lots of more expensive bottles...)

*After I wrote this and originally posted it on my tumblr, I discovered they weren't discontinued after all, but the line was revamped. I'll be doing a post about that at some point in the future.

Monday, July 18, 2011

I love writing!

I love writing, both the act of creating something with words, and the actual act of putting pen to paper and making those words real. These days, I do a lot of my writing on the computer because it's easier, faster, etc., but every now and then I just have to do it by hand. And for that, one needs pens. Pretty, shiny, non-skipping pens.

As a leftie, it's kind of hard to find those because of the actual motions we make as we write. Pens, on the whole, are crafted to be pulled across the paper the way righties do; not pushed, the way we of the sinister hand do. For obvious reasons, fountain pens cause the most problems with this, but even some roller ball and ball point pens can be problematic.

However, I've discovered some wonderful round-nibbed fountain pens and higher-end liquid ink roller ball pens that work very well for me. Turns out all I have to do is buy Japanese or Korean ones! It's a shame that US manufacturers can't produce pens -- inexpensive pens! -- of the quality that the Japanese and Koreans do, but I suppose they've perfected the art of pen-making because they have to write all of those complex kanji characters in small spaces, and need pens that won't turn it into a blobby mess.

I'm not going to complain -- they make 'em in some of my favourite colours, too. :D

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


This is a brand new blog for me, but I had been posting my pen stuff on tumblr and realized (after about two weeks of going through the same bunch of bookmarks in my "pens" tag on delicious) that I really should do a blog specifically for pens and writing. So, here it is. Real content to follow soon. I hope! :-)