Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Bag It! In Which Count Sockula Re-Appears

It was a dark and stormy night, when the Pharoah of Phiber, the Sultan of Sock Yarn, none other than Count Sockula, emerged after a long sleep. 

Because it was time to crochet bags, muahahaaaa.

When you think about it, a bag is nothing more than a giant, fishnetty type of sock with no heel.  So that qualifies as scary, right?

Bags are simple, E-Z crochet fun.  You can make small ones for gift bags or large ones for shopping bags.  You might even make really huge ones for laundry bags.

Here's a scary discovery.  Done with a Q-hook in the round, and worsted-weight cotton, a single crochet stitch looks remarkably like knitted lace stitch, only it's about ten times faster to work.  Okay, we concede that crochet uses more yarn than knitting.  But speed is what Count Sockula is all about.

This is a method, not a pattern.  Grab some cotton yarn.  Four ounces might do the trick.  If all you had was worsted-weight acrylic yarn, that would work, too, but the Count enjoys cotton.   

Then, select a granny square pattern.  Any granny square pattern.  We are after speed and simplicity here.

You start with a smaller hook (anywhere from a 7 to a 9) for the first couple of rounds, increasing the granny square as usual, then switch out to progressively larger hooks (10, 11, 11.5) until the bottom of your bag is the size you want.  (The bag will magically turn from a square to a round, so make the bottom a bit smaller than you think it should be.)

Now, switch to the Q-hook, pick up the yarn, mark the beginning with a stitch marker or thread, and work a single crochet in every other stitch or so, which works really well when picking up stitches in the chain-1 spaces of your average granny square.  Do not increase at this point.  You're just going round and round. With UN-joined rounds, so you really need that stitch marker.  

(There's a variation that's even looser and more lace-ish: work sc-ch 1 all around.)

Work in the round until the bag is as long as you want.  Then switch off to a smaller hook and work the handles.  You need a smaller hook because you want the handles to be a much tighter gauge than the big, loose Q-hook stitch.  I will go back to a size 7 through 10 for the handles.  

In working the handles, do this however you like; I usually work a single-crochet chain with the yarn still attached (because Count Sockula is monumentally lazy), then go back on the chain at least once with slip stitches and work them all along the length of the chain.  Or work single-crochet handles off the bag and attach later.  Whatever suits you.

Sometimes Count Sockula goes a little crazy and works the bag on a granny rectangle. Here's a good pattern:

In either case, the same principles apply: stop increasing when you think the bag is almost big enough.

Here we go:



So there you have it: bag and baggage.  Happy Halloween, muahahaaa.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Blue? Blue-Black? Or Somewhat In-Between? In Which Dr. inkensteinWonders

My dear friend Susan, learning of Dr. Inkenstein's Grayish-Blue-Black quest, asked a great question: 'Can't you mix inks to get the exact color you want?'

And of course you can.  I've done it.  Lots of others have, too.  But you might run into problems when two inks from different sides of the tracks clash and start a feud.  The results: SITB, or as it's technically known, Slime/Stuff/Shinola In The Bottle.

Recently Dr. inkenstein had to dump an eyedropper glass bottle of Fireball, a custom red-orange mix, because of SITB.  Also a bottle of Everflo True Blue, which was not a mix at all.  And it's harder to clean a contaminiated (and potentially beloved) pen than dump a bottle, so no matter how it hurt, out the bottles went.

Then, when mixing inks, there is also the factor of losing one or more components of the inks, such as Wetness, Flow, Lubrication, Bulletproofness.

Ink.  It's kinda like science!   You need a lab coat, test tubes, a Jacob's Ladder, and maybe even lightning!

So on to testing more loads of blues and blue-blacks:


And yes.  You can tell that Diamine China Blue is in no way even remotely blue-black.  But I included that color to make a point.  Probably. 

And yet...what of the Misty Blue?  Has it BB elements, hints?  And the Akkerman?  Is it BB?  Indigo?  

Where do you draw the line?  And with what color?

Shootout! In Which Dr. Inkenstein Draws Down Orange

A quick-draw shootout between two sorta/kinda orange inks: Lamy Copper Orange and Noodler's Apache Sunset: the former produced as a liquid companion to Lamy's Copper Orange Al-Star fountain pen, the latter famed for its shading.

Here in scannage, there's less visible difference between the two, but In Real Life, the Lamy ink is less of a simple orange and more of an orange that can't decide if it wants to grow up to be pink, coral or red.   Maybe I like it.  Will have to see if it works well in pens with fine nibs.

The real difference is here, in the chromas.  Which read right-to-left opposite of the way they appear in the written shootout. Operator error.  But behold:
See?  Different-y.  A LOT.
Until next time.

Monday, August 10, 2015

MI-10: In Which Dr. Inkenstein Gets Beachy

Just havin' some fun, as the Summer Mystery arrived:

One final addition to the MI-10 Experience: I had neglected to run a chroma, so I did a quickie here.

These two were inks I might never have tried, though 'Carli' is a color right up my alley, and if I were buying an Edelstein it would be this 'n. I didn't notice the dryness many people mentioned in their reciews, but the Rotring Artpen might be a garden hose.

Loved working with 'Lloyd.' It glides in the pens I used, I see lavender and turquoise notes in the chroma. Oddly enough, 'Lloyd' seemed to have an affinity for my fingers like no other every time I opened the vial, some of it leapt onto them. 

So thanks once again to the Undisputed Queen of Ink-stery, for the opportunity to try a range of inks I might not have otherwise sampled.  

Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Platinum vs. Platinum: In Which Everyone Wins

Platinum makes a wide range of pens, from the inexpensive Preppys (which Dr. Inkenstein loves and owns a stable thereof) to the still-inexpensive Plaisir (ditto)....but then, I stepped over the edge.

So...Platinum Century 3776.  I had wanted the Bourgogne the minute I saw it, thinking, 'I don't really go for red pens, but this one...!

Like a ruby, glittering on velvet.  

Yes.  Must get. 

 Finally I sprang for one with a Medium nib, and it is soooo beautiful!  Like gazing into a full glass of top-flight burgundy: translucent yet deep, mysterious, elusive.

I had a moment of panic when I couldn't get a partly-empty Platinum cart from a Preppy (filled with Aurora Black) seated. But then I used a new cart and it seated and started writing in moments.

The M is not quite as broad as the Plaisir or Preppy M, or so it seems to me. And the nib is VERY springy. And just a bit scratchy, or it has an even smaller sweet spot than a Sailor nib.

(At that point, I hadn't written but a couple of sentences yet, so hoped maybe the slight catch in the nib would disappear soon.)

I think I have a medium touch, and the nib feels ULTRA-springy!   But then I am comparing it directly to the Plaisir/Preppy line, and those are, happily, nails. 

In the 3776, I have a Platinum Black cart. The Preppy has been refilled with Aurora Black. The difference, so far, has been very difficult to discern. 

Unfortunately, there is still one snaggy spot, and I can't see anything obvious under magnification.

I see a difference in the line width with my nose a foot from the paper...but after all there are two different inks in use. Maybe the line/nib output would have seemed closer with the same ink, but the Preppy does write broader and maybe wetter.


Final thoughts on this gorgeous writing instrument?

To be perfectly blunt, well...I got it at a good price.  It's PURDY.  And I'm getting used to it.  But other than its looks, I did not experience that 'swoon, this is PERFECT!' feeling I get from Sailor ™ pens, or that robust friendliness Platinum offers in its lower-end models.  And if I'm being honest with myself, I'll reach for a Plaisir or a Preppy before the 3776.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Continuation! In which Dr. Inkenstein Furthers the Blue-Black Quest

Three pens loaded for testing.

Due to the ink tests, I decided that Diamine Twilight will be the next ink in my five-dollar Tachikawa manga pen, which may approximate the mix of original black ink and the Noodler's Navaho Turquoise I kept throwing into there.

Five days later, Dr. I. was still soaking and flushing that needle-nib pen that had been filled and never cleaned for ten years....water in cup still blue after one week's soaking. Ten years. Five days. I suppose it will take its own sweet time.

The first batch of blue-black testing, on Rhodia Uni:

The Diamine Prussian Blue looks greener than it is...the Tanzanite and Chopin look all to similar in this scan. I believe the Chopin is a little 'softer.' Thanks to KLP for both those samples!

Ooo...maybe I'll do a trio of chromas...

Which turned into a quartet. Diamine Prussian Blue shows turquoise in its corona. Edelstein Tanzanite washes into a royal blue, while Chopin plays it slate. The Skrip BB is from the conical Slovenia bottle and has a really interesting forest-green center.  Dr. Inkenstein loves inks with complex chromas.

To be continued....soon.

Blue-Black On The Gray Side: In Which Dr. Inkenstein Goes on a Quest

Once upon a time, Dr.  Inkenstein needed a blue-black ink that leaned gray.  Muahahaaaa!

You don't normally think of spring and summer when you think, 'Blue-black inks!  Yeahhh!'  You kinda think, 'Autumn.  Gray.  Rainy.'

Unless it's a rainy spring day.  In which case, on with the show:

 Chesterfield Sodalite (which is, I THINK, some sort of Diamine ink) was my go-to,  gray-leaning blue-black.

However, when I recently loaded it in a hooded Jinhao 599,  the ink looked gray. Just gray. As in...gray.

And it seemed very dry. Draggy, even!  Perhaps it's IG? In any case, it doesn't seem to be the same ink color I started out with.

So began the Quest for something WET and lubricated, a blue-black that tends toward gray but still has identifiable blue components.

Not greenish. I love that, but have plenty of those!   I went to some fountain pen forums for suggestions and got several good ones.  AND some donated ink samples from KLP and Reprieve and others!
Thanks for your generosity!

.I next dip- tested as many inks as I could on a small piece of Rhodia. I used some of the inks sent by KLP and Reprieve (sincere thanks to you both for your generosity!), plus the few I had on hand that were suggested.

Only the Diamine Denim was actually loaded in an actual pen. 

The color in this scan isn't fully accurate, but you can see Diamine Twilight was too green, and JH Bleu Nuit too blue for this Quest, though both are lovely and useful colors. The Hudson looks almost as blue in the scan as Bleu Nuit but isn't.

Of my own inks, visually, the OS Manganese and Hero come close. Of the Ink Gifts, I loved the Tanzanite, Chopin, and HH. 

Next: Loading a few pens and taking them for a short test-drive. Stay tuned.