Giveaway Winners: Hobonichi x3

Thanks to everyone who entered the Hobonichi x3 Giveaway. I feel like these books are headed off to good homes. Hopefully, there will be more awesome giveaways, reviews and eye candy in 2018, so stay tuned!

The winners, selected by our random number generator, are:

Lydia, Marie and Elise, I don’t know what you do in real life but together you sound like a crack team of superspy superhero cover names. Use those planners to save the world! And have a fabulous 2018!

Pencil Review: Red Pencils

Pencil Review: Red Pencils

I have a thing for pencils, particularly red/blue pencils, but you knew that already, didn’t you? So, in my never ending hunt for red/blue pencils, I occasionally come across red marking pencils. These are also extremely useful. For most people, these are correction pencils or grading pencils. For me, these are sketching pencils so my criteria for usefulness is often slightly different.

For grading, teachers are looking for red pencils that can’t be erased. I’ve come to understand that in Japan, there is a tendency to prefer a warmer, red-orange color rather than a bright fire engine red as it seems less harsh  in the already over-angst ridden Japanese educational system.

For correction notes in a professional setting, erasability is an either/or proposition.  It’s not necessary but can be helpful if someone changes their mind about a change in a document.

For sketching, I like being able to erase but for a lot of artists, its not necessary. The point of sketching in red is that you can then ink over your red lines, scan in your drawings in color and then drop out the red channel in RGB and voila! No sketch lines. Hence, the need to erase is not necessary. I like to be able to erase some of the lines just because they can get a little distracting. I like the red lead (or blue, also an option) because its less smudge-y than graphite as its usually wax-based and tends to stay put or fade rather than turn my paper all grey if smudged.

So, I thought I’d round up the pile of red pencils (not artist grade, so there are no Prismacolors or the like in here) that I’ve acquired and show you the differences.

I tested these in a sketchbook with toothy 60lb drawing paper and then did some additional tests on Rhodia smooth paper as well.

The Hex-Shaped:

Viking Valgblyant Jumbo ($3) The Viking is the only jumbo-sized red pencil in the mix and while I’m not sure the original intention for it, I was charmed by its white gloss paint, dipped end and hole drilled in the end as if to hang it by a clipboard for marking off orders. It also erased pretty well so I might work well for quick under sketches on large canvases, for outdoor marking or other big projects. I’m envisioning it used for wall murals maybe?  The thick lead would make it durable too for heavy hands. The lead was a warmer, orangey red but it felt a little dry and chalky overall.

Ticonderoga Erasable Carmine Red ($9.69/doz.) Oh, Ticonderoga. I keep trying. The box I purchased was a “made in Mexico” set I picked up at my local big box office supply store. I was hoping it would bode well for the quality. I resharpened them from the factory “pre-sharpened” point in hopes of getting a less scratchy writing/drawing experience. Overall, it was a pretty dry, hard pencil. It made erasing very challenging as well for a pencil clearly labelled “erasable”. At the price point, they are about $0.80 per pencil which is twice the cost of the Musgraves.

Musgrave Hermitage 510 Thin Red ($0.40) The Musgrave Hermitage Thin is the classic red checking pencil. It’s the least expensive in this group and I’d consider the baseline by which to judge all other red pencils. It is a solid choice. The color is a good true red, the price couldn’t be better and the look is classic. The Hermitage is still made in the USA, it is a fairly sharp hex and has a pleasant creamy consistency.

Mitsubishi Hard 7700 ($2) The Mitsubishi Hard 7700 is cooler in color than their Fine Vermillion 2451 round. The end is unfinished but a beautiful glossy finish with a soft hex shape. It keeps a good point but feels a bit drier on drawing paper than the Ticonderoga.

Of the three hex-shaped red pencils, the Musgrave was my favorite core, the Mitsubishi had the best feel in the hand because of the finish.

The Rounds:

Kitabobshi Red Pencil 9352 ($1) The core of the Kitaboshi Red is the coolest red color of the three round pencils I found. The consistency of the core of the Red and Vermillion feel similar. They are both soft but drier than a Prismacolor.

Kitaboshi Vermillion Pencil 9351 ($1) The Kitaboshi Vermillion is almost the same color and consistency as the Mitsubishi Fine Vermillion Hard. I can’t tell that the core consistency is all that different than the Musgrave or the hex Mitsubishi but if you prefer round pencils over hex shaped pencils, than either of the Kitaboshi would be a good option.

Mitsubishi Fine Vermillion Hard 2451 ($2.50) The biggest difference is that the Mitsubishi Fine Vermillion Hard has a finished end with ferrule and eraser. It’s the most expensive and the exterior finish doesn’t feel any smoother than the Kitaboshi. If you like the warmer red color and like a round pencil, go with the Kitaboshi over the Mitsubishi Fine Hard.

I generally prefer hex-shaped pencils though for colored pencils I love Prismacolors so I do make exceptions. These round red pencils don’t offer more than the hex red pencils.

The Mechanicals:

Pilot Color Eno 0.7mm Mechanical ($2.75 & $1.65 for 6-lead refill) While the mechanical pencil bodies don’t really matter here, the Pilot Color Eno 0.7mm may be the gateway for some into the world of colored mechanical pencil leads. You can put any color lead into any mechanical pencil as long as its the right diameter. The standard Color Eno leads are fairly soft and a little on the pink side.

Uni Kuru Toga 0.7 with Uni Nano Dia 0.7mm Red ($7.50 and $3.30 for 20-piece refill) The Kuru Toga is a favorite mechanical pencil for many folks so I put my favorite red lead into it. I hate to bias this but there you have it. This is my go-to lead as it fits into many of my mechanical pencils (it’s also available in 0.5mm). It’s soft enough to work with a light touch. It’s still a cooler red than the hex pencils but since it is in a mechanical pencil, I don’t have to worry about having a sharpener handy and can lay in fine details for drawings.

If I were only using red pencil for writing, I’d go with the Musgrave Hermitage but since I am mostly using it for sketching, I tend to favor the Uni Nano Dia 0.7mm Red in whatever mechanical pencil strikes my fancy. The leads fit in my vintage Sheaffer Skripserts, my Kaweco Special in Black as well as the Uni Kuru Toga so I have a lot of pencil options.

NOTE: I employed the Doppel-Läufer Universal 0440 rubber eraser ($1.50) for the erasing as it has a grittier end designed for erasing colored pencil and ink. So most pencils erased a bit but red pencils just don’t erase as well as graphite pencils do.

DISCLAIMER: Some items were sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Others were purchased from shops with my own funds. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: Rounding Up 2017 and the Lamy Aion

Link Love: Rounding Up 2017 and the Lamy Aion

Year End Round-Ups, Favorites & Top Posts:




Paper & Notebooks:

Other Interesting Things:

Giveaway: Hobonichi Techo x 3

Giveaway: Hobonichi Techo x 3

I got whipped up in the frenzy of the launch of the 2018 Hobonichi Techo products this year so I bought one of everything before they sold out without knowing for sure which one I would actually use. FOMO is a terrible thing. Then the Jibun Techo was released a couple weeks later and I got  caught up in the frenzy of that. So, I have more planners than I have plans. I went overboard. So, you win! Or you can. I’m giving away the excess. Here are your options:

 Set #1:

The Hobonichi Techo Original A6 Avec (Two 6-month books plus the 2018 Weekly calendar book) with Melon cloth cover and clear protective plastic cover.

Set #2:

The Weeks with forest green cover and Circling Stars plastic cover plus the Weeks Corner marker.

Set #3:

Hobonichi Techo A5 Cousin with Water Blue cloth cover and Hana Nomad Plastic Cover.

All three sets are brand new, never used. Some were removed for photography purposes only but have never been written in or opened for more than a peek.


All you have to do is tell me in the comments which set you want. I’ll pick three winners in this giveaway, one for each set. Let’s do this!

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, December 29, 2017. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Saturday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your 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 7 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.

Giveaway Winner: Jibun Techo 3-in-1 Life Log Diary A5 Slim

Giveaway Winner: Jibun Techo 3-in-1 Life Log Diary A5 Slim

First, a Merry Christmas to all! And then, a big thank you to our anonymous donor for the Jibun Techo for this giveaway. The pen community really is full of the nicest, most generous people I have ever met.

And finally, a great big congratulations to our winner:

I hope that the Jibun Techo 3-in-1 helps make 2018 more organized so that you have more time for friends, family and homemade baked goods!

Thanks to all my lovely readers who left comments and Pay It Forward ideas. Reading all the wonderful, generous gestures that each of you do makes me so happy. There was lots of pen, pencil and notebook distribution to friends, family and colleagues, volunteering, baking, extra generosity when tipping, care for animals, tutoring, and some special love for bloggers and podcasters. If you want to see just how awesome the pen community is, read through the comments to see how amazing everyone is. I wish I had 82 Jibun Techos to give to everyone of you.

12 Days of Inkmas Bonus: Diamine Wine Divine

12 Days of Inkmas Bonus: Diamine Wine Divine

Since I didn’t align my 12 Days of Inkmas properly, I decided to give you a bonus Inkmas. So, on this magically, snowy Christmas Eve here in Kansas City, I give you a toast of Diamine Wine Divine ($20 for 50ml bottle) to celebrate.

As you can see, there is gold sparkle to the burgundy ink. And I had a little trouble with my spelling. No worse than any of my other swatching crimes!

I loaded this up in my Wing Sung 698 Demonstrator with EF nib. It appears to be a knock-off Pilot nib in a pseudo-TWSBI-esque style pen so I’m wondering if I could swap out the nib for a Pilot Plumix calligraphy nib to get maximum ink coverage?

With soft light, you can see the gold in the large painted letters very clearly and a few hints of the gold in the smaller letters like “extra fine”. It’s not nearly as apparent as yesterday’s Spearmint Diva.

With more directed light, I tried to pick up more of the sparkle in the painted letters. It’s hard to get the effects in still photos.

I made a few more attempts using a flash to get the sparkle to reveal itself but, in writing, Wine Divine was not nearly as sparkly in a fine nib pen as Spearmint Diva.

As for color comparisons, there is not another sparkle ink in my collection anywhere close but Robert Oster Maroon 1789 was similar in hue.

So, I enjoyed playing with this sparkle ink because sparkle inks are always fun but Spearmint Diva was more sparkly. Wine Divine is a bit more subtle and the burgundy/gold combo is certainly classier but, c’mon, we’re talking about sparkly inks so how classy can I really be?

Happy holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukah! Happy New Year!


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

12 Days of Inkmas: Diamine Spearmint Diva

12 Days of Inkmas: Diamine Spearmint Diva

On the last day of Inkmas, I finally broke and dipped into the glitter ink. This is Diamine Shimmer Spearmint Diva (50ml for $20), the perfect Christmas Eve eve ink… all sparkly, icy and seasonally green.

The sparkle is a fine silver and it catches the light really well.

There’s even a really nice bit of magenta shading in the swatch and with the dip nib. HAWT!


I filled my TWSBI Mini Demonstrator with the EF nib which is the first time I’ve actually used a glitter ink in a fountain pen rather than just dipping into the ink. This was the ink to jump into glitter ink full monty.

Even with an EF nib, I was able to coax sparkle out. It was very visible once the ink dried and the ink dried quickly with the fine nib. Double bonus for a lefty. Thanks to the transparent body, I was able to see when the sparkle had settled and give the pen a good roll on the table to redistribute the flakes.

I don’t have any other sparkle inks that even compare. J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor is much darker and DeAtramentis doesn’t make a sparkle ink even close. The only ink I had that compared colorwise was Kaweco Paradise Blue.

All-in-all, I was super happy with Spearmint Diva, except the name… It’s a little silly but so is sparkly ink. Great color, great sparkle distribution and so far, no clogging.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.