Saturday, August 07, 2010


This week I've been distracted, oh there has been knitting, and finishing and spinning, and all the usual work and parenting and keeping up with events online .. but I have been distracted. I can pinpoint the start of the distraction quite clearly, to Overkill, who not only blogged about her recent procrastination ending in a fountain pen revival, but spoke of it in person to Bear and myself. Well ... I started thinking about writing instruments, and my early working days in a engineering design office. Oh we had a stationery cupboard the likes of which I have not seen since, there were red pens, black pens, blue pens, and green pens, all for the purposes of checking of and initialing different stages of drawings. There was lined paper, gridded paper and graph paper pads, in A4 and A3, there were pencils in every grade from H to 4B, the traditional kind in wood that you sharpen, the technical mechanical kind that took 0.3 or 0.5 or 0.9mm leads. There were erasing shields and scale rulers and erasers of all sorts of shapes and materials for erasing on paper and parchment and tracing paper. There was ink, in bottles and the specialized Rotring pens for detailing final drawings .. and in those days the pens were refilled with ink cartridges ... so there were all manner of pen cleaning tools and wipes and solutions to keep them working well. There were also piles of stencils for detailing drawings, curves and templates ... and technical drawing equipment like brass parallel rulers, and set squares.

Then there was my all time favorite, 2mm clutch pencils, that were sharpened with a special lead pointer. Reading about a return and rediscovery of fountain pens brought back memories of that stationery cupboard, and of using those specialized writing tools. I went hunting out the clutch pencils we had and found this, Bears old Faber Castell 4600N (circa 1970) 2mm clutch. Vintage. I headed out to the art supply store and bought leads and made use of it from that day on.

Then the very next day I headed back to the art supply store to get a lead pointer, it was no fun writing with a blunt pencil.
The day after that I was cruising the internet looking for more supplies and information on technical and drawing pencils. These are called clutch pencils in the UK and here in NZ, and are known as lead holders in the US. The lead is about as thick as that in a wooden pencil, but seems smoother and nicer to use. The beauty is that it can be sharpened to a fine point, but as it sharpens unlike a wooden pencil the balance doesn't change. It is apparently a classic, and in demand and I can see why.

Yesterday I looked thru the other bits of stationery that we have here, Bear has some that were his mums and his dads. Amongst that I found this lovely vintage mechanical pencil, unbranded, that takes a 1.1mm lead. And it has a box of leads with it. I've been using it as well ...for it is nice, very nice. Good news is that the leads it needs are still available and I've got some on their way to me. The minimum order was $20 .. so I probably have a lifetimes supply a $1.50 for 10, $20 is a whole lot of lead.

In the midst of all this distraction I have been knitting, I added Acorns to the nearly finished Squirrel Mittens. These were lovely, I knit 4 acorns in total, the first one was a little bumpy, the second I tried to knit in the round but really it needs the structure of the seam between the two sections to pull it into shape when it is stuffed full of fibre. The last two were good enough to use on the mittens. I attached them with self made rope, and then knotted them over the braid, before burying the yarn ends between the layers. I think they look good.

And I've also started a new project, Theodora, in the kit yarn, from Vintage Purls. This one is knitting up fast, with big bold sexy lace. I was going to knit a sock in Road Cone .. for my road safety working Bear ... but that is on hold for now. I've not quite sorted the pattern .... I needed a knit that required no planning on my part and Theodora fitted the bill nicely. The lace panel is bold, and clean and easy to work, the rest of the sock is plain .. so it is knitting up very fast. I've also done another square on the big blanket .. but as it is grey and garter .. well one photo of progress on a project like that is much like another photo, so I will spare you that.

so ... with any luck I will be more focused and less distracted this week, although there is so much out there learn about mechanical pencils. There are some beautiful pencils out there I've already succumbed to a set of five mixed vintage lead pointers and pencil sharpeners on TradeMe .... so I won't promise anything more. I found blogs on mechanical pencils, and an online museum on lead holder pencils, imagine what finding out about those does to some one as geeky about knitting as me?

I might have a new 'thing' to distract me .. but I think it is totally compatible with the knitting.

na Stella


Knitting Linguist said...

Oh, most definitely! I suppose that here is where I admit to an obsession with fountain pens. I have a lot of them (including a lovely vintage one that was probably originally used by another lefty, to judge by the nib). And once one starts collecting fountain pens, one must collect ink. In fact, come to think of it, I need some more ink... Hmmm... :)

hortenzita said...

The mittens with those acorns are wonderful! Congrats.

Walden said...

Love the pencils! Can't wait to see the sock all done, the purple is lovely!

adriene said...

Those acorns are absolutely adorable! And I have a secret obsession with pens and pencils. If I let myself, I'd have enough for an entire shop!

Holli Yeoh said...

The acorns are the perfect finishing touch. Adorable!

Anonymous said...

about that model lead holder(clutch pencil) IT HAS A POINTER!! built in and hiding under the butto..simply pull it off put the lead point in turn till sharp,tap out dust,and put back atop the pencil...self contained unit it is..