Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Linen and fountain pens

The new linen fabric that I ordered for light weight towels and my DH's medium weight sheets is in.  I've cut out 6 towels, each 1/2 the width of the fabric which is wide enough to tie the short end around my neck sort of like a cape, for my hair to lay on to dry after washing it.  They are a bit over 41 inches long, which will be long enough unless my hair grows nearly to my knees!  These towels are made of a lovely violet handkerchief linen.  Violet the color of the flowers, so dark blue-purple.  I am hand hemming one, but haven't decided whether I'll hem all of them by hand or do some on machine.  I'm not in a terrible hurry, so probably they'll end up as hand work.  The first one is over half hemmed and I'll work on it more when I've got a chance.

The medium weight linen fabric for my DH's sheets is royal blue.  I had made him some from light weight linen last year, but they were just the width of the fabric and he asked for one that is wider.  I've finished one, by machine, and he's been using it since.  I didn't try to do a french seam, I just overlapped the selvedges and stitched them down, one line of stitching at each edge, so that should be plenty strong.  The cut ends I simply folded over about 1/4 inch and straight stitched.  Simple and neat.  The narrower sheets are going to my sons, who also sleep hot.

A few years back I got my old fountain pen back out.  I have always liked fountain pens, and I love the different color inks available these days.  My husband and one of my sons also have gotten into fountain pens, and they are all the 3 of us use, given a choice.  One of my favorite pens is a Pelican M201 which I purchased from Richard Binder.  Richard custom grinds nibs (the part of the pen that writes on the paper, delivering the ink) as well as sells stock pens.  He is very well known for his work on nibs, making sure that every pen he sells writes to very specific requirements.  Richard and his lovely wife Barbara run their business and are regular visitors at various pen shows.  I see them at the Ohio Pen Show in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the nice features of the Binder's online store is that you can purchase a pen body and select for it a nib to your specifications.  My first pen from him was the Pelican M201 with a Binderized Extra Fine (XF) steel nib.  No one else I know likes this pen/nib, because the very fine line requires an extremely light touch.  Any pressure on it at all and it will feel scratchy.  However, with a light touch it simply glides on the paper, leaving an extremely fine line which dries very fast.

My second pen from him, which was purchased at the pen show, is a Pilot/Namiki Vanishing Point with a custom ground 5 mm cursive italic nib.  I love this nib and pen. The automatic thin/thicker lines make writing fun and interesting, with a very distinctive flair.

I keep both of these pens inked and in use all the time, unless they are being cleaned.  However, some time ago I noticed that the Pelican nib didn't write quite like I expected.  I decided that I need to get it to Richard to have him take a look at it and perhaps tune it up.  In the mean time I haven't been using it, but I miss it very much.  So I thought I'd take a look at his web site to find out what can be done.  Learned that he isn't doing much in the way of custom pen work these days, although he does do some at shows.  This particular nib was not very expensive, since it was my 'starter', and I decided it might be time to try another nib.  Richard has a whole range of customized nibs for the Pelicans and for the Vanishing Points.  I was tempted by another Vanishing Point, but decided that I'd stick with just getting a new nib for the Pelican.  I selected a full flex XF/XXF duo-point nib.  Duo-point means it has been specially ground so that held the regular way it will write one line width, in this case Extra Fine, and turned over, the other side of the nib writes XXF.

I inked it with Pilot iroshizuku asa-gao, a lovely morning glory purple/blue.  When using the XXF the color exactly matches the color on the box.  When I use the XF side it is darker, with color depth variation and looks more blue.  Really fun and beautiful.

I've been enjoying this brand of ink in several colors lately.  I first got a bottle of this brand of ink at the pen show in the color tsutsuji, the color of Azalea's, a really intense fuchsia/magenta dark pink.  I love the color in the flowers, and this is equally beautiful.  Very bright and not usually something I'd use at the office, but I've been using it in a journal for over a year and a half.  The color was beautiful, the flow and feel of the ink on the paper very nice, so I decided to try some other colors.  Like the asa-gao I'm not using in my Pelican.  I've got the 5 mm cursive italic Vanishing Point inked with syo-ro, Pine Dew, a lovely dark green with hints of teal.  I've got a Jinhao 111 inked with yama-budo, Crimson Glory Vine, a rich pinkish purple.

All of these inks feel very nice and smooth on the paper, the colors are rich with some variation, making it interesting to write with and enjoy. One of my sons loves reds, so he is trying out momiji, Autumn Leaves.  It is the color some sugar maple leaves get in the fall, a beautiful pure red.

So many colors to enjoy.  I'd love to have more pens inked at a time, with more colors, but I just don't need that many.  I'll just take the colors in turn, whatever appeals to me when I reink my pen, or decide to ink a different pen for some reason.