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    In its heyday, Parker was on top of the pen and pencil world. Anyone who was anyone owned a Parker, with many of their classic designs still highly sought after to this day. The last couple of decades haven't been so nice to this once elite brand though. Their offerings have been mostly mediocre in my view, and are getting lapped by competitors who offer more for less.

    I was honestly not excited when I heard about the latest Parker fountain pen releases, but one thing caught my eye: They used the word Vacumatic in the product description. Along with the Duofold and the 51, the Vacumatic is classic Parker design at its best. I own a Vacumatic and it remains one of the most intriguing and beautiful pens I own. Just that one little mention had me anxious to see what Parker had up its sleeve.

    The Parker IM Premium pays homage to the original Vacumatic's horizontal stripe design, and they pulled it off well. The Emerald Pearl model I received from JetPens shares a bit of the color scheme with my classic Vac, but the materials and functionality are completely different.

    First off, this is an aluminum barrel pen, unlike the resin barrels of yesteryear. So, no translucency through the barrel, but rather a solid, lightweight metal replacement. Secondly, this is a cartridge/coverter filler, meaning no fancy vacumatic filling action, which is likely a cost issue. This is not your grandfathers Vacumatic, and based on the naming, it isn't supposed to be.

    The IM Premium is a good quality entry level fountain pen - that's what it is designed to be. I think Parker pulled it off well here, too. It has a classic look while retaining a modern style. The traditional Parker arrow clip is there, but they mix in a brushed metal section to give it an up to date feel.

    One thing that caught my eye when first unboxing it was the scale of the nib compared to the pen body. It is small - smaller visually than I am used to. Once I inked it up with the provided blue ink cartridge it wrote so well I no longer noticed the size. The medium stainless steel nib is smooth and the line width is controlled and just the proper width. The ink flow was spot on. And the blue ink color itself? Really, really nice, which was another surprise.

    I didn't think it would happen, but I am enjoying this pen. Either Parker has been doing a better job of late (I dig their Jotter 60th Anniversary Edition), or I am turning into my grandfather. Neither of those would be a bad thing.

    (JetPens is a sponsor of The Pen Addict and I received this product at no charge.)


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  • 10/13/14--09:00: Cult Pens (Sponsor)
  • If it is pen, pencil, and paper you are looking for - ANY pen, pencil, or paper - Cult Pens has you covered.

    I've long been a fan of the wide range of products they carry, but my favorites are some of the unique goods made just for them. Collaborations with big-time brands like Kaweco and Diamine highlight their offerings which give you an experience you can only get at Cult Pens.

    The special edition Kaweco Classic Sport in Dark Brown is a prime example. This barrel color is a US and UK exclusive to Cult Pens, and if you are a fan of Kaweco like I am, it is a must get.

    Ink it up with with one of Cult Pens' beautiful Diamine "Deep Dark" ink collaborations, which are available in short international cartridges and both 30ml and 80ml bottles. I'm partial to the Deep Dark Blue, and the full lineup contains red, green, brown, purple, and the recently added orange to fit any writing situation.

    Cult Pens has the widest range of pens on the planet, and is really worth checking out. As a special offer for Pen Addict readers, Cult Pens is offering a 10% discount off of your order through October 27th with the code "penaddict2014". Visit this dedicated landing page for all of the details.

    My thanks to Cult Pens for sponsoring The Pen Addict this week.

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    It was an honor to have Bullet Journal creator Ryder Carroll back on the podcast! We discusses his highly successful Kickstarter project to create a community-driven website for the Bullet Journal, as well as an awesome notebook product whose name you HAVE to hear him pronounce. This is some Marvin Gaye level goodness right here!

    Show Notes & Download Links

    Rate & Review us on iTunes

    This episode of The Pen Addict is sponsored by:

    -- Dash: Create beautiful dashboards with a few clicks. Sign up now to get one free private dashboard.

    -- Pen Chalet: Use the code PENADDICT to save 10% on your order or click the ‘podcast’ link at the top of the website and enter the password 'penaddict' for even more savings, as well as your 10% off.

    -- Squarespace: A better web starts with your website. Use code INK for 10% off


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  • 10/15/14--05:00: Lamy 1.5 mm Stub Nib Review
  • (Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

    When I wrote about the Pilot Plumix several months ago, I said that it wasn't a large enough variation for my tastes. Well, I tried the other end of the spectrum with a 1.5mm Lamy calligraphy nib, and I can't say the same thing about this one. This nib makes a voluptuous line, but doesn't quite cut it for me in the everyday writing area. Still, it's a fantastic nib and loads of fun.

    The Lamy 1.5mm calligraphy nib fits on almost any Lamy fountain pen very easily. Just slip off the normal nib from the feed, and slide the 1.5mm nib on. If you have a Safari, Vista, or AL-Star lying around, this is a great way to try out a well-made calligraphy nib. There are many other options, but rarely for this price.

    First looking at the nib, you can't really tell it apart from the other Lamy nibs. Then, you notice the blunt tip and the large "1.5" stamped on the top and realize how wide it actually is. I really had no idea it would be that wide. Little did I know.

    I put the nib on a Safari that I had lying in a drawer, and promptly filled it up with some green ink. In my rush, I didn't think to pick out an ink that has great shading qualities, so I was little disappointed to find that the finished product looked a bit like a magic marker line—wide and wet. After a quick flush, I filled it with J. Herbin Rouge Hematite. What a difference that made. It no longer looked like a magic marker line, but a sophisticated and interesting line of varying widths, shades, and hues.

    This nib was made to be used with calligraphy lettering. I don't do much calligraphy lettering, and I certainly don't claim to be any good at it. Using this nib and experimenting with the variations, I wanted to practice lettering a lot more. Expert lettering really takes a lot of skill and practice, and I really admire anyone who can make it look fluid and consistent. They've put a lot of practice into it, and they can make it look as easy as scribbling in a Field Notes book propped up on my knee.

    That said, I didn't really find much place for this nib in my everyday writing. For one, you have to write really big in order to form letters and words (as opposed to big blobs of ink). Second, since the nib is wide and requires a bit more from the feed system, there are consistent starting issues. They're never difficult to get rid of, and I found that they're actually very predictable, but they're still frustrating in general writing practices.

    For me, this nib gives me two things: the ability to play and experiment with large, ornate lettering, and a nib that provides a great showcase for inks that have excellent shading properties. This nib is more about creating art, and much less about writing things down.

    If you're even the slightest bit interesting in calligraphy nibs, and you already have a Lamy, I can't think of a better way to try out a calligraphy fountain pen (I'm not counting disposable porous tip pens here) than the Lamy nibs. They have other sizes besides the 1.5mm, which are 1.1mm and 1.9mm. I just recommend getting an ink that shades well to go with it!


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    I love it when Chad Doane creates new products. Not only do I get to add them to my ever growing arsenal of DP goods, but he is quick to hook up the readers of The Pen Addict as well.

    The Utility Notebook Small Color 6 Pack is the latest Doane Paper release, featuring one each of navy, sky blue, rover green, crimson, autumn and primer gray color covers. Each 3.5” x 5.5” memo book contains 48 pages of Doane’s famous Grid + Lines paper and are made in the USA.

    Chad is offering up THREE 6-packs to readers. Here is how to enter:

    1. Leave one comment on this post anytime between now, and Saturday night at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. You are limited to one entry. This contest is limited to US residents only.

    2. For this contest, I will pick three winners at random from the comments section of this post. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the numbers of the winners.

    3. The contest winners will be posted on Sunday, October 19th. The winners will have one week to email me via the Contact link at the top of the page.

    Thanks to Chad Doane and Doane Paper for offering up these notebooks. Good luck!


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    A few years ago I reviewed the Rotring Tikky Graphic Drawing Pen in the 0.4 mm tip size. I enjoyed the build quality of the pen but the 0.4 mm tip size spews ink. Not in a terrible mess kind of way, but it goes on heavy. Great for artists, not so good for my writing style.

    With all the praise this pen gets and my love for drawing-style pens I knew I had to pick up a smaller size. I went as small as they make (0.1 mm) and my writing is much better off for it.

    The Tikky Graphic Drawing Pen has three main features. One, the ink is archival, which most other pens in this category have. Two, it has a metal encased nib to help with tip durability, which a few of its competitors have. And three, Rotring's Free-ink technology makes the ink flow consistently down to the last drop, which no one has that I am aware of.

    While feature one is great, and three is nice to have, I'm a fan of anything that makes fiber and plastic tips more durable, especially when dealing with 0.1mm tips. It usually doesn't take long for drawing pen tips to show some sort of breakdown but this one has help up well so far. More use will be needed to see if any real issues pop up but it is tracking nicely at this point.

    Ink darkness is important to me too, and the Rotring fares well there. On its own, I thought for sure the Tikky would be the darkest ink I would test, but to my surprise the Sakura Pigma Micron took that title. I've always felt the Micron was lighter than others so this comes as a surprise. I did use the 03 Micron so the line was wider but I don't think it affected the darkness. My favorite Kuretake Zig Mangaka falls in the middle of the range.

    Overall, I can see why this is a popular drawing pen. It is more expensive than many ($3.60 at JetPens) but it offers added features that make up for some of that cost. If you are in the market for a durable, dark drawing pen then the Rotring Tikky is worth a look.

    (JetPens is a sponsor of The Pen Addict and I received this product at no charge.)


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  • 10/17/14--14:00: Cult Pens
  • My thanks to Cult Pens for sponsoring The Pen Addict this week. Be sure to take advantage of their 10% off promotion for Pen Addict readers through October 27th!

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    FullDoug.jpg

    I was impressed with Doug Lane's writing at Modern Stationer right from the jump. His reviews are very detailed and always seem to contain a small anecdote that give you a peek into his personal side. My thanks to Doug for answering Three Questions.

    1. What role do analog tools such as pens, pencils, and paper play in your day to day life?

    Pens and paper are a way to trick myself into stopping to think once in a while. At my day job (product marketing guy at a software company), that mostly means not wasting the day away on the corporate e-mail hamster wheel or trying to please whoever is screaming the loudest.

    I've tried a bunch of "Getting Things Done"-style systems and apps, but I would always procrastinate on doing regular reviews and pruning of projects and tasks, which is the most important part of these systems. Now that my planning sessions involve getting to use my favorite fountain pens, inks, and notebooks, I look forward to it instead of putting it off. I also find that I'm more honest with myself about what I can actually get done when I'm writing tasks down by hand. With electronic systems, it's almost too easy to capture new items and shuffle them around.

    I also try to jot down some informal personal thoughts each day. My daily task list usually fills up a little over one page in my notebook. So, I try to force myself to fill the rest of the second page with thoughts from the day. Even if I don't have any particularly deep thoughts, I'll just log what I did, any fun (or challenging) moments with my kids, whether I was in a good or bad mood, etc.

    My weird mishmash of daily tasks and quick personal thoughts probably won't be of much historical value, but it helps me take stock of how things are going and spot any trends that I need to either correct or amplify.

    2. What are your favorite products you are currently using?

    I recently picked up my first Edison Pen, a Collier in steel blue, and I absolutely love it. I bought both a fine and a stub nib for it, so I can enjoy it for both routine writing and when I want to let some ink loose. I think I'm about to fall down the Edison Pen rabbit hole in a big way.

    I've also been hooked on the (awkwardly named) Muji High Quality Easy-Open Notebook for a few months now. It's a great notebook for the price and handles fountain pen ink well.

    I recently started using the Kokuyo Systemic Refillable Notebook Cover with it. The look and feel of the cover itself is just OK (I'm hoping these guys make a better one someday), but I love the utility of it. Something like the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter would be overkill for me, but it's nice to be able to tuck a pen, some index cards, and an iPhone into the Kokuyo as a minimal setup on the go.

    3. What post are you the most proud of on your blog?

    When my blog was around a month old, I wrote a post called "A Pen Geek in Seoul" that is a personal favorite. I was nervous about posting it at the time, since it was a bit more personal than what you typically see on a pen blog.

    I was also worried that people would misinterpret it as "OK, this idiot was going through a important life event, and all he could think about was pens."

    In the end, that was really the first post that I got a significant amount of comments and e-mail feedback on, and it was all very positive. Amazingly, I even heard from two people who had very similar experiences to mine.

    I've heard many people say that the best thing about the pen hobby is the people, and that was one of my first tastes of it.


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    In case you didn't know it already, Chad Doane is from Kansas City, and his Royals have made the World Series for the first time since 1985. Congrats to all of my KC friends and followers - I'll be rooting for you in the Series! (Sorry Mr. Snell)

    But you aren't here for baseball talk, are you? Tell me who won the awesome Doane Paper Utility Notebook Small Color 6 Packs already! Ok fine, here are the three winners:

    DP6_2.JPG

    Congratulations gang! You have one week to get in touch with your mailing address, which I will pass on to Chad for shipping.

    Thanks to all who entered and big thanks to Chad for offering up his great products for readers of The Pen Addict.


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    Finding the perfect pocket pen is a challenge. Most of us only carry one. Should it be a ballpoint that will write in almost any situation? A fountain pen that will give you the writing experience you crave? Or a rollerball that is a bit of a mix between the two?

    I’ve carried a fountain pen for the most part for the past couple of years, either the Kaweco AL Sport or, more recently, the Kaweco Liliput Brass Wave with a custom nib grind. Now that the AL Sport Roller Ball comes in the awesome Stonewashed finish I wanted to see if it could break into what has been a fountain pen only rotation. Short version: It can, and it has.

    If it wasn’t already obvious, Kaweco not only makes great pens, but many of their models are perfect for every day carry. The AL Sport Stonewashed Roller has the same great build quality as its counterparts. The aluminum barrel has a solid feel, threads nicely, and can take a beating on the go and not skip a beat when it is time to write or draw. Just what I want in a pocket pen.

    What makes the AL Sport Roller a real contender is the use of a Parker compatible refill. It ships with a Kaweco-branded Schmidt roller in medium, which on its own provides a smooth, dark line. It’s too wide for me, so I swapped it immediately with a Moleskine 0.5 mm gel refill in black and went to town. If you prefer the pressurized ballpoint of the Space Pen Refill that is an option too. Any Parker-style refill fits, making this a customizable EDC workhorse.

    Kaweco pens are built for this. They are durable, long lasting, and flat-out beautiful. The AL Sport line is made for the pocket as much as they are made for writing when it is time to get down to business.

    (JetPens is a sponsor of The Pen Addict and I received this product at no charge.)


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  • 10/20/14--09:00: Pen Chalet (Sponsor)
  • If you are a Pen Addict Podcast listener then you know how great Pen Chalet is. They carry all of the top pen brands such as Aurora, Delta, Kaweco, Lamy, Pilot, Pelikan - the list goes on and on. And the best part? They are an authorized dealer of all the brands they carry so you know you are getting quality goods backed by great customer service.

    Sailor manufactures some of my favorite fountain pens on the planet and Pen Chalet stocks the full lineup. Their latest release, the Pro Gear Sky, is a beautiful blue demonstrator with Rhodium trim, and comes in all three barrel sizes - Slim, Standard, and King of Pen. Everyone needs a Sailor in their life.

    A proud brand that has climbed back into prominence, Shaeffer is designing pens that make you pay attention. The Shaeffer Taranis features a sleek, modern design with a unique hooded nib. Also available in ballpoint and rollerball models, it is a striking pen that is sure to create envy among your friends.

    Pen Chalet stocks everything you need for a wonderful writing experience. From fountain pens and rollerballs, to paper, ink, refills, and accessories they have you covered. Pen Chalet has a page full of special offers exclusively for readers of the Pen Addict. Hit the link and see what you discover!

    This post is sponsored via Syndicate Ads.

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    Myke and I welcome another Mike back to the show, this time the one and only Mr. Mike Dudek. We talk about his recent deep dive into vintage Pilot fountain pens and whether or not his formidable Rotring collection stand a chance against this Japanese stalwart. We also discuss the making of Myke's custom pen, and the arrival of the INK on our respective desks.

    Show Notes & Download Links

    This episode of The Pen Addict is sponsored by:

    lynda.com: An easy and affordable way to help individuals and organizations learn. Free 7-day trial.

    Karas Kustoms: Get 15% off the newly released INK, by using the code "KARASINK" before you checkout, between October 20th to November 3rd.

    Hover: Simplified Domain Management. Use code 'SCRIBBLE' for 10% off your first purchase.


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    (Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

    There really is a notebook out there for every single occassion and purpose. If someone thinks of a new occassion or purpose, the notebook follows shortly after. I love the versatility of different notebooks and often find myself on a constant hunt for the right size for the perfect job.

    Recently, I've been on the hunt for a small, top-bound book with high-quality paper that doesn't break the bank. Enter the Maruman Mnemosyne N196 notebook. This notebook fits a perfect purpose for my workday: it sits constantly to the right side of my keyboard and mouse where I take notes during the day. It fits that purpose beautifully, but it's also starting to wander into other territories because it's just such a great notebook in general.

    The N196 is a B6 (4.9" x 6.9") sized book with 7mm rule and three divisions on the page. Division? That means that every 8th line is a darker weight, which creates three separate areas of a page. It's there if you need it, but it's also easy to ignore if you're focused on filling up the whole page. I haven't found myself using (or noticing) the division at all.

    There's 50 sheets in the book, and it's a spiral top-bound book, which is what I especially love about the layout of this book. When I'm jotting down notes through the day, I don't want to use a stapled, sewn, etc. bound book, as it won't lay open consistently. I also tend to get annoyed with side-spiral books as the spiral gets in the way of my hand when writing. I've always enjoyed using steno books for jotting down notes, and this fits the bill perfectly.

    The main difference between this book and your average steno book is the quality. This is the crème de la crème of steno books. (I apologize if this notebook doesn't actually qualify as a steno book—I just can't think of anything else when I look at it.) The paper is luxuriously smooth and handles every ink and pen I've thrown at it. It performs with Rhodia and Clairefontaine easily. I can see now why so many people have so much praise for the Mnemosyne paper. It's fantastic and always delights.

    If there's one flaw that I've noticed while using the book, it's that it doesn't really accept fine-tipped pens very well. My 0.38mm gel pens and rollerballs scratch across the surface and seem to hang every now and then. Take that with a grain of salt, though. I'm not a huge micro-tip pen fan in the first place, and that's a normal side-effect of pens of that size. I don't use them regularly enough to stay accustomed to the feel.

    The spiral binding is top-notch. It's strong and seems very resilient to being thrown in bags with other hard covered objects like books and computer bags. The front of the book is an elegant black with a small "Mnemosyne" label in gold foil. It's understated, and I love it.

    The back cover isn't extremely thick, but it is thick enough to serve as a writing surface if you don't bear down too hard. It works in a pinch, but you couldn't do it full-time.

    At $10.50, it's not a cheap notebook, but I think that's an incredibly fair price for the quality of the book. And, if you really like it, you can buy a bulk package of 5 books for a good deal cheaper (40% to be exact).

    Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with this form factor. It's portable, it doesn't get in your way when writing, and it's extremely utilitarian. I'm a big fan of the format, but if you don't happen to enjoy it, Mnemosyne has a large selection of other formats that feature the same dreamy paper. I've already begun expanding my collection. I hope my bookshelf (and wallet) can find the gumption to forgive me for the stress that is my addiction.

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    The Pentel i+ 3 Color Multi Pen is the latest entry into the customizable multi pen category. It’s not Pentel’s first foray though, as their Sliccies model hit the market back in 2009. It was met with mixed reviews, as was the Sliccies 2+1. I wasn’t a fan of either but the i+ 3 has finally put Pentel on the right track.

    The barrel design is what I like to call “standard operating procedure” for Japanese multi pens. Plastic barrel, clear, threaded section, plunger-style refill deployment - all the basics other companies have covered as well. It is good looking and inexpensive too. Everything you need to start building your multi pen.

    Building it out is where Pentel wants to seperate itself by giving fans of their inks - specifically the EnerGel and Vicuna - the opportunity to use them in a multi pen. The EnerGel is available in black, blue, and red in 0.5 mm, and the Vicuna in the same colors and tip sizes. There are also 0.3 mm and 0.5 mm pencil components.

    I went with the black and red EnerGel and the blue Vicuna refill. The EnerGel refills are excellent writers and I especially like the needle tip style as opposed to the conical tip. The gel inks are some of the smoothest and darkest on the market. But the Vicuna - that is the big winner here. I was already a fan of the 0.7 mm refills and the 0.5 mm may be even better. It is easily as good as the Jetstream and Acroball.

    So where does the i+ 3 fit in the grand scheme of Japanese multi pens? Pilot and Uni-ball still take the top spot for me, but Pentel’s fans should be pleased. This gives them a valid option to use some of the best refills on the market. If Pentel can find a way to broaden the EnerGel refill lineup with more colors and sizes they will be able to easily compete with the big boys.

    (JetPens is an advertiser on The Pen Addict and I received this product at no charge.)


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  • 10/24/14--14:00: Pen Chalet
  • My thanks to Pen Chalet for sponsoring the blog this week. Don't forget to check out these amazing deals exclusively for readers of The Pen Addict. There are some all-time classics in there!


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    The name Hobonichi has infiltrated the stationery lexicon in the US over the last couple of years, much of that thanks to Lindsay Nelson. Lindsay works for Hobonichi, providing the Japanese to English translations that have allowed the brand to expand outside of its homeland. My thanks to Lindsay for answering Three Questions.

    1. What role do analog tools such as pens, pencils, and paper play in your day to day life?

    I'm always blindly experimenting with my digital-analog balance. After reading about Getting Things Done, for example, I could tell it'd work well for me--but I had no clue whether I should use my iPhone or my paper planner. I'm fascinated by the idea of mastering a harmony between smart-phones and paper planners, so I'm still in the thick of trial-and-error to find it. Among other things, written to-do lists have totally trumped putting it in my phone; it's just not "real" enough when I type it in. My general rule is to outline long-term projects in Omnifocus and write each new daily agenda by hand in my daily planner. Budgets are also slipping through my fingers all the time, so I've been entertaining the thought of starting an old-fashioned ledger, for the same reason it feels more real spending cash than it does a credit card.

    2. What are your favorite products you are currently using?

    I'm going into my seventh year using the Hobonichi Techo, and I feel a real affinity with the product because it clicked from day one, although I've never, ever been a journaling person. I needed a planner for work, but I lived in Japan at the time, with a job that amounted to brainstorming ideas for projects I'd then have to manage myself. Muji notebooks are great, but I couldn't crawl out from creative slumps when I had a blank piece of paper plopped in front of me. Lined planners didn't feel free enough. The Hobonichi Techo gave me wide-open graph paper I could navigate around, but it was encircled it with a subtle structure that disappeared when I didn't need it.

    Shigesato Itoi, who created the planner, said my favorite description of it--the page is a tatami room, and you can pick each area where you want to lay your futon, have your tea, watch TV, have friends over... I couldn't ever keep a diary because it was a chore to write out my day, but now, writing things out isn't a chore anymore. I experiment with pens, glue stuff in, jot down stream-of-consciousness notes, have friends write me silly messages, stuff like that. Paper and pens are fun for me again, and having a long row of old planners line my bookshelf is so neat, because I know these inane books will be precious fifty years from now. Gosh, I didn't mean for that to sound like an ad--I've just been using it since way before I began working with Hobonichi. 

    My favorite black ink pens are the Sakura Pigma Micron sets because I've never had them smudge or bleed through paper, and they're just so handsome I could swoon. For colored pens, I love the Pentel Slicci, because they're sturdy, come in so many pretty colors, and most importantly, come in 0.4 size! That's my go-to size, because 0.1 or 0.2 is only comfortable when I'm writing in Japanese with its intricate characters, and 0.7 only works for writing in simpler English letters. So for someone who often writes in both languages, it's the perfect fit!

    3. What creation or design of yours are you most proud of?

    It's still a work in progress, but I'm most proud of the website I designed and created with the help of my husband before I began working for Hobonichi. It's a labor of love, but I haven't had any time to update it because I've been so busy with actual work. I'm actually hoping to use this site to track my progress with the digital-and-analog balancing experiments! (I'm also a big fat sucker for skeuomorphism.)


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