Ink Review: PenBBS #140, Bloom

Occasionally I get a sample of something I must have a bottle of. Such was the case with PenBBS #140 Bloom (60mL for $16). If you’re looking for metallic dust, you CANNOT go wrong with PenBBS. They have the finest sparkle I’ve seen, and Bloom is a gorgeous orangey red with gold glitter.

The sparkle is actually incredibly hard to capture. It’s easily seen as you look at the ink swatches, but I have to turn the camera just right in the light to get that sparkle and shine there.

I think this one would be a fun one for the holidays; especially to address your holiday card with? It’s bright and cheerful and the hint of gold makes it feel super festive.

In terms of what it compares to in my ink stash, I was sure I had lots of comparisons and then didn’t find as many as I thought. It’s a little more orange than PenBBS #220, Watermelon Red, and parts of it actually look quite close to J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques which I really didn’t expect. I was eager to compare it to Papier Plume’s Heart of Gold, but I found that Heart of Gold was much more tomato/orange.

My only complaint about Bloom is that it comes out fairly lightly in writing – I wish I could get more of that color saturation. Maybe I’ll throw it in a wider, wetter nib and give it a try on this year’s holiday cards!

DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were provided to us free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Well-Appointed Holiday Giveaway

Well-Appointed Holiday Giveaway

This year it seems appropriate to give a little back to our fabulously supportive readers. In the spirit of giving, I am giving away ONE (1) $50 spending spree to either our Big Cartel OR Etsy shop. (That’s right our international readers can enter this one too.)

TO ENTER: Leave a comment telling me (1) either what you have always wanted to buy from our shop or (2) how you are “paying it forward” this holiday. Play along and type in something. It makes reading through entries more interesting for me, okay? One entry per person.

If you have never entered a giveaway or commented on the site before, your comment must be manually approved by our highly-trained staff of monkeys before it will appear on the site. Our monkeys are underpaid and under-caffeinated so don’t stress if your comment does not appear right away. Give the monkeys some time.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday December 10, 2021. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 5 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.

Ways to Swatch with the Original Col-o-ring

When Ana developed the original Col-o-ring in 2017, she knew she wanted to make it the perfect ink testing swatch book. She spent months testing the paper, and swatching her own samples. But she had no idea how everyone would use them. From gorgeous swatches to doodles and sketches, we’ve all loved seeing how you use your Col-o-rings. Here are a few of our favorites!

We never get tired of seeing gorgeous rainbows:


Gorgeous things happen when you add a little gold to your swatches:

And how amazing are these little drawings? Ink swatching cards aren’t only for ink swatching!

And these beautiful watercolors!

How do you use your Col-o-ring? We’d love to see! Share your swatches (or doodles) with us on Instagram using the hashtag #coloringinktestingbook!

P.S. A Col-o-ring makes a FABULOUS stocking stuffer for an artist or fountain pen ink love…. just saying!

Ink Review: TWSBI Grape

Ink Review: TWSBI Grape

TWSBI has new colors! Most of the time, this announcement means a new 580AL or Eco from TWSBI, but today I’m showing one of the new TWSBI ink colors.

TWSBI released 5 new colors in their ink lineup – Grape, Tangerine, Navy, Crimson, and Forest Green. I purchased a bottle of each at Vanness where the 18mL bottles were $6.50 each, coming in around $0.40 per mL.

The bottles for the 18mL inks are a beautiful frosted glass with a bit of heft for their size and, my favorite, are square for easy storage with other bottles. The packaging is secure and not excessive.

TWSBI grape was not the color I had imagined – I was expecting a much more purple ink.

Instead, Grape is not what I would label as purple at all but rather a deep fuchsia. Although the color was a surprise, I still love it. plenty of shading and a touch of a dark halo.

A swatch on Tomoe River paper:

A swatch on Cosmo Air Light paper:

I love the crisp outline on the CAL paper. As usual, the ink shows as a bit more blue on Cosmo Air Light.

I’ll be working my way through these inks in the near future! For now, here’s a glance at all five on Tomoe River paper:

and on Cosmo Air Light paper:


DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were purchased by me and I was not compensated to write this review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: The First Day of Inkvent!

Link Love: The First Day of Inkvent!

I was delighted to be able to open the first window on my Diamine Inkvent Calendar this morning. I am sharing a peek of the window but I will save the ink swatches for later so I don’t spoil the surprise for anyone. We will be doing our annual Inkmas starting Monday, Dec. 13 and leading up to Christmas. Leave a note in the comments if there’s an ink you’d particularly like us to include in Inkmas this year.




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity (& Knitting!):

Other Interesting Things:

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Nankniswemo: Completing a challenge!

Nankniswemo: Completing a challenge!

At the beginning of the month, Laura talked about the NaKniSweMo (Knit a Sweater in a Month) Challenge that she and I both participate in every year. Like the NaNoWriMo challenge, we are not always successful but this year we both set ourselves pretty accomplishable goals. Laura spent a week in the car so knitting was about the only thing she could do making finishing the project more doable than other years. I took on a project that involved complicated colorwork at the beginning of the project, with more “brainless knitting” at the end so I could just knit, knit, knit! I also made sure to choose a short-sleeved pattern this year because anyone who has ever knit with me knows I hate knitting sleeves and do it grudgingly, usually after knitting three other projects just to avoid the sleeves.

Of course, I couldn’t work on this project without wondering, what inks best go with it.

Not only did my project (the Navelli by Caitlin Hunter) end up following the color scheme that the designer knit up her sample but it matched ALL THE THINGS in my stationery world right now. Inking up my Pelikan M205 in Moonstone and filling it with Colorverse #17 Vortex Motion or Lamy Crystal Agate was a perfect match to the dark Sunshine Yarns I used for the edging and colorwork pattern.  Colorverse x Opus 88 Adobe and Kyo-no-oto #4 Yamabuki-iro (also Birmingham Pen Co. Chuck Cooper Sunrise Key which is no longer available) matched the brassy yellow tones of my main color (yarn of unknown origin purchased at a swap sale). The light speckled yarn was also from Sunshine Yarns.

What really tickled me is that the whole project, while being OH SO AUTUMNY also matched the Laine My Knitting Notes notebook I’m using to track and annotate all my knitting projects but also my new Stitcher’s Oracle Deck.

Laura also completed her NaKniSweMo and posted this photo on Instagram with the finished photos and details but no ink swatches! What colors do you think might best match this yarn?

Laura's NaKniSweMo

My guesses would be one of the following:

Either Robert Oster Terra Cotta, Kyo-iro #04 Moonlight or Diamine Autumn Oak.

So, with NaKniSweMo behind us, its time to start our frantic holiday knitting. Time to get all the projects on the planner!

Our Holiday “Gift Guide” Wishlist: 2021 Edition

Over the years, we’ve done all sorts of gift guides and wishlists. This year, we tried to keep it simple. These are a few of the things on our wishlists that might inspire you. I promise we didn’t intentionally make everything teal and purple, it just worked out that way. 🙂

Ana’s Wishlist

One of the things I really want this year is the perfect monthly and weekly inserts for my personal-sized Filofax planner. So far, I’ve not been able to find the right combination of layouts and paper online or on Etsy so what I need is a day without anything else on my schedule so that I can just design the pages and print and cut them. Shop Brooklyn Grace Weekly and Monthly pages are REALLY close!

For actual purchasable goods, I’ve been eyeballing the Jam Studio Sticker Album in Twinkle Aqua ($15) to select and organize some of the stickers and washi tape that I’ve collected. I’ve also been wanting a Kaweco AL Sport (starting around $66) as I don’t own any AL Sports. Okay, I have one but it’s so rare I’m afraid to use it. If I were to select just one color of the AL Sport, I’d probably choose the Rose Gold or Violet.

Even though I own a ridiculous number of Birmingham Inks, I still see more colors I want. Antique Sepia, Rotten Seaweed and Periwinkle are all beautiful ($13 per bottle).

Laura’s Wishlist

Laura has spent the last two weeks on the road so I think what she really wants this holiday is the comforts of home: her own bed, good home cooked meals, access to all her yarn, fiber, pens and inks and sitting still for a bit. But she did take a few minutes out of her busy travel schedule to put together a quick list of her favorite things.

  1. The new inks from Dominant Industry (Yoseka Stationery)
  2. Sailor Pro Gear Slim in Blue Green Nebula (Pen Chalet)
  3. Musubi Sakura in Purple (Musubi)

Tina’s Wishlist

As an urban sketcher, I frequently stand on the sidewalk to draw, but there’s another kind of urban art that requires kneeling on the sidewalk: David Zinn’s! The Ann Arbor, Michigan, artist draws whimsical characters on pavements and walls with chalk, which means the ephemeral art eventually washes away. Before they do, though, he documents them with photographs and videos on Instagram, and I look forward to each post. High on my wish list is his newest book, Chance Encounters, which will be out in March. If you’re looking for gift ideas, I recommend his delightful 2022 wall calendar Street Art (I already bought one for myself, and several friends will be receiving them for the holidays) and postcard set. I also have his how-to Chalk Art Handbook, which is intended for young, would-be sidewalk artists. Although I’m not sure my knees are ready to draw on the ground, I learned so much about perspective and anamorphosis (the book explains what that is)!

A pencil geek would not be fulfilled without an El Casco sharpener. Friends who have one swoon about the perfect, slightly concave point this iconic sharpener makes, even on colored pencils. This has been on my wish list for a while, but there are many to choose from – 23kt gold? Chrome? Vintage? Decisions, decisions.

Also on my wish list for a while is something that I haven’t seen yet – but I’ll know it when I see it. I have been trying to make my tiniest sketch kit ever, which would be a small box just large enough to contain four half-size colored pencils and a waterbrush. Contemporary craft tins are the easy answer, but I got the idea in my head to find the perfect vintage box. The eBay rabbit hole is deep.

What’s on your wishlist?