Wiser Web Wednesday– a weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:
The Unroyal Warrant
A new Field Notes colours release always brings a good degree of interest around the web. This, a unique one in that we have a larger sized notebook in a two pack rather than the traditional 3 pack of pocket-sized notebooks. I’m really looking forward to getting some of these myself, however in the meantime, some thoughts from The Unroyal Warrant: Field Notes Arts and Sciences Edition Review
Office Supply Geek
Whilst we are on notebooks, a look at the new limited edition 80 Year Anniversary Rhodia Ice notebook range from Brian at Office Supply Geek: Rhodia Ice 80th Anniversary Notepad
The Writing Arsenal
OK – last notebook link. Writing Arsenal Tim with his Field Notes Shelterwood Review, concluding this particular edition is not a pocket notebook: Field Notes: Shelterwood
From The Pen Cup
Of course we also need something with which to write in these notebooks. This is a great post from Mary describing how impressions of a pen can change markedly depending on paper and proposed/actual use. When I purchase my Metropolitan will it be M or F?: Too fine?! The Pilot Metropolitan/Lizard/Fine nib
I’ve been using my trusty Retro 51 Tornado (all black Stealth model) for a good while now, and hadn’t really been in the market for another, however the colour of this Kiwi model is enough to make me reconsider. Azizah at Gourmet Pens appears to be a fan as well: Review: Retro 1951 Classic Lacquer Tornado
With the ever increasing number and size of apps, along with the amount of photo and video we all take these days putting a significant strain on a 16GB device, a nice guide from Bradley Chambers on managing this precious space: How to Free Up Space On iOS
World Aeropress Championships
The World Aeropress Championships took place in Rimini, Italy last weekend, alongside the World Barista Championships (congratulations to Hidenori Izaki for becoming the new WBC). Give Japanese and WAC Winner Shuichi Sasaki’s recipe a run for yourself. Perhaps a return to the traditional, non-inverted style of brewing may be the order of the day?: Shuichi Sasaki’s WAC winning recipe
I’ve been a long time user of Launch Center Pro on my iPhone, and am currently setting up some actions on my iPad. A recent update of the app to version 2.3 saw IFTTT integration added, greatly expanding LCP’s ability to trigger automated web recipes in addition to the URL scheme actions that have long been at its core. Macstories also has a fantastic guide to getting started with LCP, a link to which appears early in the article: Launch Center Pro 2.3 Extends iOS Automation
After planning to write a post on each of these pens separately, I came to the conclusion it would probably be best to combine the two. Although each was purchased for slightly different reasons, I often use them interchangeably, despite one being a rollerball and the other a fountain pen.
As you will see from the images, I am talking about the Kaweco Classic Sport Rollerball (Black), and the Kaweco Ice Sport Fountain Pen (Green; M Nib). I’ve had both of these pens in regular use for quite some time, with the Classic Sport approximately 12 months old, and the Ice Sport around half that, after a kind member of my family made good on one of my Wish List items last Christmas.
Both pens were purchased (or wish-listed) because they represent great value for money, and German manufacturer Kaweco has quite a good name in pen circles.
My purchase of the Classic Sport Rollerball was made after hearing the Kaweco name mentioned on The Pen Addict podcast, when the episode numbers were still in their 30’s (and orange T-shirts with episode 100 hashtags were unheard of). I believe at the time my intended use suited the Classic Sport rollerball a little more closely, being a compact, easy to carry pen which would write on most paper types without any problems.
My interest in the Ice Sport soon followed after seeing the attractiveness of the Kaweco AL Sport fountain pen line, which in my opinion is even more impressive after the introduction of the new stone washed models. This of course warranted a test run of the Kaweco nib, conveniently achievable at a far lower price point with an Ice Sport model.
After writing many thousands of words with each, I still love both these pens. Here’s why.
Look and feel
If you have not seen a Kaweco pen of this type before, the compact (read short) design is immediately apparent. I was at work when the Classic Sport arrived by post, and still remember my wife calling me and advising it was “very small”, and checking “are you sure that is what you ordered?” Having never had one in my hand at that point either, I was a little concerned, however once I posted the cap and gave it a test run, it was clearly perfect for its intended use.
I love the design of the Kaweco range, and although these lower end models (currently AUD$37.95 for the Sport Classic and AUD$39.95 for the Ice Sport; see links above) have bodies manufactured of plastic, they do not feel cheap in any way. The octagonal shape of the cap and resulting ridges prevent the pen rolling off a desk if used without the clip, which is exactly how I use the Classic Sport (as you can see by the accompanying photos, with the exception of one to demonstrate how it looks with the clip). When capped, these pens measure 10.5cm in length, however when the cap is posted (as intended for writing), the length is a much more writing friendly 13.3cm. Both pens are also quite light at around 10 grams, as you’d expect given the size and construction material. A nice touch on both is the screw-on cap, which in my opinion adds a little more quality to the overall feel.
The Ice Sport has a transparent plastic body with the grip available in a variety of colours, matching the transparent, coloured cap (mine being green). A silver metal clip, markings, cap inlay and stainless steel iridium tipped nib complete the picture. The Classic Sport, is available in basic solid colour bodies with matching cap, gold coloured clip, cap inlay and markings.
My preference for an EDC (Everyday Carry) type pen is probably the silver (see also the recently introduced Skyline series), as gold in my mind represents a more conservative, classic accessory rather than a rough and tumble “in my pocket” type of one. Perhaps a little silly, however I would feel strange mowing the lawn in a gold watch too. Just me I guess.
Performance and Use
Both pens perform extremely well for their intended purpose. As mentioned above, each was purchased for slightly different reasons, though are often used in much the same circumstances.
Interestingly, both have turned into equally useful EDC type pens, and if I am entirely honest, the Ice Sport gets a little more use, despite it being a fountain pen. More often than not I carry a single pen on my lunch break, usually in conjunction with a Field Notes or some other form of notebook, and it is here a pen of this size really fits the bill. Although the pen goes equally well in my shirt or side pocket, I often find myself turning over the pen in my hand while walking. I simply like the feel of these pens in my hand. There is something comforting in having the familiar feel of the ridges and shape of either Kaweco in my palm. Again, just me I expect, and again, perhaps a little silly. When carried with other pens, it is generally in a Nock Co Hightower, along with two Field Notes, some index cards and more often than not few other folded notes.
As far as writing performance goes, I have no complaints with either pen. The Classic Sport rollerball has seen many refills, and currently contains a Retro 51 rollerball refill, providing a lovely, consistent deep blue line. The standard Kaweco rollerball that ships inside the pen also performed extremely well from what I recall, and I believe fitted a little more snugly, as there is a small amount of play in the current set-up. Not irritating enough to discourage me from using it however something to be mindful of if you are considering one of these models. It is only through ease of access to a pen store near my office that I have migrated to a Retro 51 refill.
The medium nib of the Ice Sport is fantastic. Having heard and read opinions that the medium nib is probably the least impressive compared with the B or F, I am obviously looking forward to trying out those sizes in the future. As far as the current stainless steel M nib is concerned, ink is laid down well, with no skipping or drag, and if kept capped, will start on the first stroke just about every time. Although probably at its best on my Rhodia Dot Pad, this pen sees most of its use in my Field Notes, and does almost as well there. Admittedly with the seasonal releases of the Field Notes colours editions this will not always be the case, however in the County Fair edition I am currently using there are no problems, and from what I have read, should be safe with the Shelterwood I have coming up next.
Refills for the Ice Sport are standard international cartridges, with Montblanc Irish Green in my current model (yes, matching the green cap and grip). The clear body is a nice touch, keeping the ink visible through the barrel for a nice effect, while providing a visual reference as to the amount of ink remaining. A squeeze converter is available for use with bottled inks at a very reasonable AUD$3.95 from Paper Trader, though for my use case, leaving it as a cartridge refill currently suits my needs.
As you can probably tell, I really enjoy using both of these pens, and using them often. The Classic Sport fits into my day to day office desk pen rotation, however both make the cut equally well as the pen I carry when out and about. If I had to choose between them, I’d probably go with the Ice Sport, simply because I do enjoy writing with a fountain pen, however depending upon what and where you will be writing, a fountain pen may not always be the best choice. If that is the case, the Classic Sport makes a compelling case as the pen you pick up or carry with you.
For a quality, well designed, functional pen that writes really well and is fantastic value for money, either (or both) of these offerings from Kaweco will fit the bill nicely.
Anyone with half an interest in pens and paper probably owns at least one Rhodia notepad, however my own usage has always involved the No. 16 size (14.8 x 21cm) and up. However on a recent trip to a local bookstore, my lovely wife recognised the familiar orange Rhodia cover, purchased a ruled No.12 notepad for AUD $4.95, and surprised me with this little pocket gem when she returned home. A win for me, as I had another notepad in my drawer, sans the guilt of buying yet another item of stationery.
I was keen to see how a notepad of this sized fitted my usual workflow.
Look and Feel
The Rhodia No. 12 is a small notepad (8.5 x 12cm or 3.3 x 4.7in) containing 80 sheets of acid free 80gsm paper. As with other Rhodia products, it is made in France to the same high quality usually associated with products bearing this name. Each sheet has micro-perforations across the top for easy removal, and everything is held together by a single reinforced staple.
It is available with a black cover or the classic Rhodia orange, in the usual paper variants of Dot Pad, Graph or Lined paper.
As expected, writing is the smooth enjoyable experience reminiscent of the larger Rhodia variants. One of the real advantages of the paper used in Rhodia notepads is that pretty much all pen types and of course pencils, are well received by the paper. I often use gel ink or fountain pens, and it is a real joy to know that a quick note taken will be captured the way I intended – crisp and clear with no feathering or bleed, and will generally be dry by the time the cover is closed or the page is torn out. At the outside, fountain pen drying time was less than 10 seconds, most often closer to 5, with liquid or gel ink around 3 seconds or less.
Although the size of the No. 12 puts it in the same use category (for me) as index cards, where it really shines is in allowing me to bypass such appalling paper as your standard Post It notes. Although my own use case rarely requires me to actually stick or post one of these notes, given their prevalence in the office and ease of scribbling a quick note for someone, they remain in widespread use by all – myself included. Despite the ongoing use of these tacky (yes I went there) pieces of yellow, I have always loathed the paper, the sticky strip on the reverse side, and the fact that when I write on them my pen invariably skips or doesn’t work on the top third where the glue resides underneath. Thank you Rhodia No.12.
The perforation across the top works flawlessly when tearing off each note, a Rhodia feature I found to be a godsend when undertaking InCoWriMo earlier in the year, with all correspondence for that challenge being written on No.16 Dot Pad. It is also nice to have both sides of each page lined, as occasionally the size dictates a second page for a single note.
I must admit I don’t purchase many notebooks this size, however this may now change as I have become accustomed to having this little Rhodia with me and put into use for a good many tasks.
It has clearly become a superior option to the dreaded office Post It note referred to above, providing a much nicer writing experience, and removes the need to fold the notes in half to avoid the sticky portion clinging to everything in its immediate vicinity. Here we are talking short notes for colleagues, phone numbers, ideas “filed” in to my Nock Co. Maryapple for later processing, or quick lists if I am going out to the shops in my lunch break.
Speaking of the Maryapple, as this notepad has become more entrenched in my workflow, I have found this case to be a perfect home for the No 12. When carrying between the office and home, my standard Maryapple case formation now consists of 2 Field Notes and a few index cards on one side and the Rhodia No. 12 in the other. With the cover folded back, the lip across the top fold keeps the notebook perfectly above the top of the case pocket. The more I use the Maryapple, the more uses I find for it, and the more I like it.
When sitting on my desk at home, the size of the No. 12 notes again suit quick lists if I’m heading out to the shops; as reference markers in books or magazines (with notes); for notes on my coffee grinders containing coffee type and grind information; and even a few quick sketches if the notepad was closest to hand when an idea struck.
One aspect of this Rhodia No. 12 Notepad which surprised me a little was seeing just how many more notes I have written since adding it to my workflow. Clearly not having a decent notebook of this size in the past decreased the amount of notes I produced this way – never a good thing! This has certainly changed now, and I can see the No. 12 being put to good use for some time to come. I am still using my Field Notes heavily, which will continue, as the two serve distinctly different purposes – the Field Notes unsuited to producing a quick tear out note of this kind.
Things I would change? Probably going for the Dot Grid option, particularly as many notes I write on a notepad of this size are oriented diagonally corner to corner; perhaps a 40 page option would be nice, as writing certainly becomes more comfortable without the large drop from the page to whatever surface it may be resting on, however this is taken care of soon enough by simply writing more notes!
By now it should be fairly clear I am rather taken by the No. 12 sized offering from Rhodia. Having used the No. 16 Dot Grid pads extensively for some time now, the question was never going to be about the paper, but the uses I may or may not have for the size. Over the past few weeks any doubts about when or where I may use notes of this size have certainly been put to rest, with the answer being anywhere and everywhere, which I must admit was a pleasant surprise.
At less than the cost of a cup of good single origin filter coffee, the Rhodia No. 12 is fantastic value for money. If you are a long time Rhodia user of the larger sized notebooks, you may be surprised by how often this smaller size comes in handy. For someone wishing to test out Rhodia paper and see what all the fuss is about without having to purchase a larger size? Perfect.
Me? I’m off to pick up a few No. 12 Dot Grids to leave lying around wherever I might need them.