Saturday, 29 June 2013

JetPens Haul, Oh My!

After what seemed like months of breathless anticipation, my JetPens order finally arrived today. (It was really only about 3 weeks, but that's a long time to hold your breath!) This order was all about fun! I was looking for some new writing pens in interesting colours, so I ordered a few different brands to try out. Namely, the Zebra Sarasa 0.7mm Gel Pen, the Pilot Juice 0.5mm Gel Pen, and the Marvy LePen Fine Point Marker Pen.

They all come in such a wonderful range of colours, it was hard to choose just one or two of each. I'm especially in love with the Marvy LePen: it has the best name! And it's embossed on the barrel in a spiffy silver font. Love! It reminds me of the Needlepoint pens from Typo, but with a finer point and more interesting colours. The barrel is a little narrower than I'm used to, but it writes smoothly.

The Zebra Sarasa Port Wine colour is a beautiful deep plum/brown colour. It writes very smoothly, and so far seems to be long-lasting. (I wrote my Pages with it yesterday and it barely made any impression.) I'm not quite as happy with the Pilot Juice pens, unfortunately. They didn't write all that smoothly: the pen seemed to drag on the paper and it was more of an effort to write. I haven't tried writing any longer passages with them yet though, so I'll reseve my final judgement.

I also got a Pentel Pulaman Disposable Fountain Pen, after reading about it on Simplicity Embellished Blog. Cole is right in pointing out that this isn't actually a fountain pen. It's a fine point felt-tip marker with a slightly flexible plastic nib. But it just looked so beautiful, I wanted it anyway. The first thing I thought when I saw it was, "it's too nice to throw away!" The dark brown body is sleek and sophisticated. While the line doesn't have the beautiful shading I love from fountain pens, it's still a strong, satisfying black. The tip writes soooo smoothly and the pen is comfortable to hold. If only it were re-fillable!

I also bought refills for some of my other pens, but the fun part was these novelty erasers! They were so incredibly detailed, I couldn't resist.

I feel like I'm reverting back to childhood, collecting erasers, stickers and stationery. It's a bit mad! I have to admit, I'm already plumping up my JetPens wishlist again.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Quick Project

Last weekend I suddenly got fed up with working on long-term projects. Heck, even a scarf is a long-term project for me! I wanted instant gratification. So I grabbed some spare wool and a crochet hook, and I made this mini mat:

I even embroidered a border. I made most of it in the car, on the way to various places over the weekend. I just had to wait until I got home to snip the trailing ends off. It was so very satisfying to start and finish something in one weekend - way out of proportion to the time and effort actually spent on the project! I could become a quickie project convert very easily.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

My Story in June Warrior Call

I mentioned a few posts ago that I wrote a piece for the June edition of Warrior Call, the collaborative e-zine produced by the Creative Warriors Circle. The zine has now come out!

This month's themes are awareness, possibility and transformation. My story is about a discouraging experience I had when I was younger, and how I (eventually!) overcame it to start my journey of exploring creativity. There are also a piece by another guest writer, a vision board project, inspiring journal prompts, and more.

It was daunting for me to put myself out there by writing a personal story and submitting a drawing for all the world to see. I'm proud of myself! A huge thank you has to go out to Samie Harding for making it possible!
I hope you'll consider getting a copy!

❖ Purchase Here ❖

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

[Bendigo Woollen Mills] Stellar

Sometimes crafty inspiration comes together perfectly on its own, like the stars aligning in the heavens. About a month ago I read this post from Violet le Beaux about making a big squishy scarf for winter. It left me feeling all inspired, and I decided to have a look through my stash that weekend to see if I had any wool suitable for making a similar project. I wasn't sure that I did. That very Friday afternoon however, what magically appeared in my mail box? A sample card for Bendigo Woollen Mills' latest limited edition yarn: Stellar. I swooned ... I knew it was meant to be!

I wanted a scarf that was striped like Violet's, but in three colours. They were all so beautiful, I couldn't choose! I knew I wanted green: I have an old green scarf I made years ago that's falling apart, so this scarf could replace it. But the other two colours? I narrowed it down and then Husband helped me make the final decision. He has a great eye for colour. My final choices were Emerald, Amythest and Shell. I placed the order and waited the agonising week for my wool to arrive!

Finally the joy appeared in my mail box. I cracked open the plastic bag and yes, the wools are as beautiful as on the card. Stellar is a mix of 50% wool and 50% bamboo. The wool provides sturdiness and warmth, while the bamboo adds lightness and a beautiful subtle sheen. It's a joy to knit with: smooth, soft, and without the tendency to split that some of their Classic wools have. Bendigo Woollen Mills products are already good value, but Stellar is at an introductory discounted price until the end of June.
(Eugh, I'm starting to sound like an advertisement! I don't get paid by anybody to say anything. Maybe I'm just trying to convince myself to buy more!)
I'm seriously tempted to buy some of the other colours.

Now the scarf itself - after a bit of sketching and a few false starts test swatches, I decided to go with an evenly alternating stripe. Instead of using Violet's method, I decided on a pattern I've used before. I first came across it when looking for a Harry Potter scarf pattern, to fill a request from a friend. By slipping every second stitch, you can knit a tube - on straight needles. No messy circular or double-pointed needles necessary, and no sewing up at all. I call it the Harry Potter because it's like magic. It takes a bit of persistence to learn, but once you master it, it flows and the result is bloody brilliant.

The technique is really nothing more than two alternating stitches, repeated back and forth, and I'm far enough into the scarf now that I'm used to it again, and I can pull it out on nights when I just want some zombie knitting. I can churn out a stripe in an evening if I'm feeling persistent. I want it to be long like my old one, but a new scarf may well be born into the world in less than a month!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

More Outgoing for June!

I'm excited to announce that I have a penpal! It's early days yet - this is only my first letter - but I hope it works out. May it arrive quickly!

I'm also still on a PostCrossing high, and I couldn't resist sending out another batch of postcards. One of the cards I sent last week arrived in Germany already, even with last Monday being a public holiday in Australia! That was exciting! I decided to turn on the 'allow sending to repeat countries' function, just to see what would happen. I drew addresses in Russia for all 3 cards. I don't mind sending cards to anywhere in the world, but I have to admit it is more fun sending cards to different countries in each batch. Perhaps I'll alternate having the function switched on and off in future.

The box at the back is a hard slip cover for putting my outgoing mail in to protect it while it's in my handbag. Things can get a bit rough when I'm on the tram, juggling my transport card, lunch bag, and sometimes even cup of coffee! The Petit Clover box came from Daiso and it originally held a letter set. I cut the end off to make slipping postcards/letters in and out easier. It'll get its first test tomorrow morning!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Say Hello to My Noodler's Pen!

Since I started journal-writing, I've suddenly become very interested in fountain pens again. A coincidence? I don't think so. I still had all my equipment from my last obsession with fountain pens a couple of years ago. I had my old Sheaffer fountain pen, which I was issued with when I was in Grade 6 at school. I also had the Pilot Petit Pen and the 4 Platinum Preppy Pens that I'd purchased at the time, along with all the various cartridges and converters that they require.

This time, however, I wanted more. I wanted to go deeper with my pen experience. So, as a reward for journalling daily for a whole fortnight, I ordered myself a Noodler's Konrad Flex Pen. The pen is quite popular and some of the colours were already sold out, and yet I still hard a hard time choosing! I finally settled on the Galapagos Tortoise barrel colour, which is a dark brown with tortoiseshell swirls.

The Konrad is based on a German design from the 1950s, and is fully customisable. The nib and ink feed section pull off completely and can be set to produce a thin line or a thick, wet line to the user's liking. It also has a flex nib, so when you press down harder, the two points of the nib separate slightly and produce a thicker line. Just like the nibs used in Victorian times!

Noodler's, being the fine writing instrument purveyors that they are, have also tried to use authentic materials in the construction of the pen. The feed is made of ebonite, the body of biodegradable celluloid. This plastic, in use since the 1940s, warms when held in the hand and gives the pen a more authentic touch. However, it smells funny. I'm OK with that though, because of the authentic touch thing.

The filling mechanism of the pen is the classic piston-fill. The nib end of the pen is dipped into a bottle of ink, and the screw-top on the other end is wound up, drawing the ink into the pen using suction. The great advantage of the piston-fill design is that you're not tied down to using cartridges. You can use any brand of ink that you like, and you don't ever have to worry that the cartridges will become unavailable. Again, there's a lot of room for playing around with this configuration. For example, if the pen has run dry, you can screw the piston down just a tiny bit to force the ink down into the feed (I recommend having some paper towels handy if you do that, as a big drop of ink came out when I did it!) Or, if the pen is half-full and you want to fill it again, you can turn it upside down and screw the mechanism up to eliminate the air pocket, and just turn it right way up again and suck up some more ink. (I haven't actually tried this yet, but it seems quite easy.) The only disadvantage of the piston-fill is that you have to dip the whole nib up to the body in the ink, so you need to have at least 2cm of ink left in your bottle. This YouTube video has a good review and demonstration of the pen, for the interested.

The Noodler's Konrad pen is certainly not a beginner's pen. The fully customisable nature of the design and the mucking around with open ink bottles can be pretty daunting. Once I started to get over my fear of spilling ink everywhere however, I really started to have fun with it. I'm still a bit scared of this pen, but I also freakin' love using it! The price was also insanely reasonable compared to some vintage-styled pens out there.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

June Mailings

I've suddenly become interested in PostCrossing, after an absence of nearly 6 months. No, I should clarify: I was interested in it all this time, I just wasn't motivated to send any postcards. Today was different: I was so motivated that I even created some spiffy graphics for my blog!

I sent a batch of 3 postcards this month, to postcrossers in Germany, China and Russia. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy choosing cards based on the person's profile and writing a personal message to them. I'm out of souvenir-style postcards now, so I'll need to go on a little shopping trip soon!
There's also a long-overdue parcel at the bottom there, going locally.

And because I needed an excuse to use my 'Incoming' graphic as well, here are the last 4 postcards I received, even though it was a few months ago now. I really like all of these.

These come from:
[top left] Poland; travelled 41 days
[top right] Germany; travelled 19 days
[bottom left] Thailand; travelled 23 days
[bottom right] Russia; travelled 46 days