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Kyle's Favorite Things

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Quick Overview:

    Hey everyone this is Kyle and I'm trying something new out for this blog, I want to make a list of some of my favorite things to write with and use. Please keep in mind that for this list I will be sticking to things carried by Pen Boutique so some things I use aren't going to be listed, just something to keep in mind. I just wanted to share how my collection has grown and my tastes have changed throughout my time in the writing hobby and hopefully give people some good background to items they may not have previous experience with. 

Background:

    My interest in pens started from my Mom who introduced me to Fountain pens with a Lamy Vista when I was 12 which was way too young, at least for me, to be responsible for a fountain pen. I lost the pen and kind of fell out with the pens and decided to start using Mechanical pencils. I began with the kind of crappy plastic Bic pencils and as time went on and I got more responsible I upgraded to Alvin drafting pencils the have the knurled metal grip and I thought they were the coolest thing ever. From there I got some nicer drafting pencils from Pentel that would make me excited to do school work because I would be able to use my cool new pencils. Then when I went to high school I got my first Rotring 800 because I liked my Dad's Rotring pencil set and wanted one for myself, I used it all throughout high school and during my senior year I decided I wanted something new. I bought my first Lamy Safari since the Lamy Vista my Mom got me and I also bought a Kaweco Special Pencil, I loved the pencil but had a love hate relationship with the Safari. At the time I was only using cartridges and just wasn't very excited by it, at this point I didn't even think about using a converter and just decided I was more of a pencil guy. Fast forward to me getting accepted into my first choice college and my parents got me a new fountain pen that I mentioned to them in passing, The Kaweco Alsport Stonewashed blue. Again I used this pen with cartridges and just didn't clean it too often, it got crusty and just decided to carry it around and hoped it worked. I never really cleaned it and used it sometimes in high school but once I went to college I didn't really use it. Coronavirus hits and now we are all in quarantine and I start looking at some of my previous hobbies like clothing, jewelry and record collecting, all of which need a certain amount of care to make sure the items stay in some good shape. This reminded me of fountain pens and so I started doing some research. When I got back home from college I got my first ink bottle, Diamine Oxblood, and a TWSBI Eco which really got me into pens and opened my eyes to all the ink options I was previously blocked out to with cartridges and ever since then my collection of pens and inks has grown quite a bit and I couldn't be happier. I also began journaling and writing a lot more as a result of this hobby so I've formed strong opinions on all things related to paper, ink and pens. Thats enough of my background, why don't we take a look at some of my favorite and mile stone pens and other stuff from my collection!

Pencils, A.K.A The beginning:

  • Rotring 800 .5mm- This is the first pencil I really kept track of and took care of, I had one for all 4 years of high school and then unfortunately left it in my pants when I washed them so I'm on my second one. This pencil is perfect for me, it is on the skinny side but I don't find myself minding even though my hands are on the bigger side. The feature that really sold this pencil to me is that the tip is retractable, if you twist the knurling near the knock system in the back, the tip comes out from the pen body. This is nice because you don't have to worry about damaging the fragile part of the pencil where the lead comes out if you drop it or something like that. With it being an all metal construction, the pencil has a fantastic weight as well and just provides a great writing experience, this remains one of my favorite writing tools in my collection to this day. 

  • Kaweco Special Polished Brass .5mm- After using my Rotring for a while I decided I wanted to switch things up and this was what I decided on. It is quite a bit thicker and slightly heavier than the Rotring which is nice but unfortunately it doesn't have the same retractable feature so you have to be a little more cautious with this one. I really like the feel of the knock on this pencil and it feels vaguely steampunk to me which is cool, I also like that it kind of has the classic pencil shape but just with metal instead of wood. I'd say this is also a very strong option for an EDC pencil that will last a lifetime, these are the only two pencils I really use anymore and I can't recommend either of them enough!

Ballpoint & Rollerball:


  • Kaweco Brass Sport Ballpoint- I bought this before I was into fountain pens at all and I really liked it, this and the previous mechanical pencil are what really opened my eyes to Kaweco. I really enjoy the pocket sizing of this pen although it does make my hand tired during long writing sessions. I think the weight of this pen helps it a lot and don't really see myself writing with one of Kaweco's regular sport ballpoints just because its a little too small for my hand. This takes D1 refills which are pretty common so finding another refill shouldn't pose a problem and this thing is built like a tank so I usually just throw it in my pocket or a bag and don't have to worry about it breaking or anything like that which makes it a very convenient and reliable choice in my eyes. 
  • Retro 51 Tornado Rollerball- I bought this on a whim after starting here because I thought the design was very cool and obviously had a nice tie in to both Pen Boutique and Maryland. I had not owned any Retro's before this and really enjoy this one. The knurled twist mechanism is easy to operate in one hand and the cap-less refills it takes are wonderful to write with. The pen feels pretty solid but I'm still careful with it because I want to preserve the beautiful design on it for as long as I can so this stays in a pen case when I travel with it and I have something more rugged from Karas or Tactile Turn to throw around. Retro's are a solid choice for a rollerball because most are themed and they truly have something for everyone, did I mention they are pretty affordable as well... Whats not to love? 

Fountain Pens:


  • Lamy 2000 (OBB)- Although this wasn't my first gold nib pen, I strongly believe it makes for a good entry point into the upper echelon of gold nibbed pens. I also happen to be a massive fan of this design which was based off of some principals of the Bauhaus school of design. The transitions on this pen are seamless and the materials, stainless steel and Makralon, are very durable and will stand the test of time. Thanks to the piston mechanism you get a lot of ink capacity and the ink window, in theory, lets you know how much ink you have left in the pen. The wide variety of nib sizes is also a very nice touch and even the OBB is the same price as the more standard nibs. 
  • Pilot Custom 823 (F)- The custom 823 is one of the best choices, in my opinion, for a gold-nibbed work horse pen that will have no problem accommodating longer writing sessions. This is a vacuum filling pen that is also equipped with a double reservoir system to prevent leaks which makes it a good option for someone who travels often. The #15 nibs on these are wonderful to write with as well, the Fine on mine is by far the thinnest line I own which is useful for some specific applications. The only downside I have with this pen is that I wish the clear and FA nib where available outside of Japan. Oh, and did I mention, the ink capacity is massive in this pen and will last quite a long time.
  • Aurora Optima (F)- I was very pleasantly surprised when I first purchased this pen and let me come clean, I had my doubts. This pen is rather short but due to the ergonomics it gets "locked into" my hand and is actually very satisfying. The ink window is also one of my favorite parts of this pen as it is by far the clearest, and easiest ink window to see through. The piston on this is smooth and works very well, ink capacity is also deceptively large for a pen of such small stature. The Aurora nibs are also all made in house, paired with their ebonite feeds you should never have a problem with hard starts or skipping, at least I haven't ever had those problems. Another drawback for me was the price, for such a small pen I was hesitant to pay around $450-$550 but after using it for a while I don't find myself regretting it at all and this pen has quickly grown to be one of my most reliable options!

  • Visconti Homo-Sapiens (M)- This pen was the first I considered a true grail pen and I was able to buy it the first day I started working for PenBoutique so in a sense it resembles my first job. I think Grail pens get even more special and personal when you can tie them to personal experiences and accomplishments. I love the Visconti power filler mechanism and think its one of the better vac filling mechanisms, the homo sapiens I have also has the double reservoir system which will be nice once Im allowed to travel again. The 18k nibs are really nice and don't skip or hard start for me which is my #1 pet peeve for pens so its good you don't have to worry about that here. While this pen was expensive, I'm very glad that I was able to pick one up and don't see myself ever letting go of it!
  • Pelikan M1000 (M)- Now here we have it, my absolute favorite flagship pen. Yes you heard me correctly, I didn't say 149 and I didn't say King of Pen. While both those pens are very strong options and have distinct benefits, they don't top the M1000 for me. The piston is beautiful and smooth, also doesn't back weight the pen too much. The clip is fun but still professional, the body is an ink window, the nib is wonderfully bouncy. Really what more do you want in a pen, the wet lines it lays down are wonderful when paired with a sheening ink, I really can't describe how much I enjoy this pen and its nib, if you have the option to test one out, do it.

Ink:

  • Sailor Ink Studio- Let's just get this out of the way, these are my favorite inks, end of story. During my time spent writing with fountain pens, never once have I inked a pen with black ink and I often find myself looking for not only colorful inks but ones that are interesting to look at when dry on the  page. These inks tick all the boxes I look for and almost all of them have either, exceptional sheen, or beautiful shading. The inks also aren't too dry or overly wet either, I firmly believe that these inks are perfect, at least for my needs and that almost nothing looks better on Tomoe River paper than Sailor Inks. 

  • Montblanc Homage to Moctezuma- This is probably the most expensive ink bottle I picked up and of course some of that is for the Montblanc name but this ink is exceptional. I also am quite a big fan of the psychedelic purple they did for the Beatles but this one takes the cake. I always have this in at least one of my pens because it is the most beautiful turquoise and has some darker shading which elevates it over any other turquoise, also has a great viscosity! I would strongly recommend someone has either this or Psychedelic purple in their ink collection, yes they are that good.
  • Pilot Iroshizuku- Possibly one of the most popular ink lines to date, the Iroshizuku line is based off of Japanese nature and the colors that nature produces. These are the first inks that I really got into aside from my bottle of Diamine Oxblood because like many of us, I got started with a bottle of Kon-Peki. I fell in love with the blue of Kon-Peki and its subtle red sheen so I decided to branch out and get a couple more which resulted in Yu-Yake, Yama-Budo, and Tsukushi. Since then I've used them when I know I don't want to experiment because I know that the colors are lovely and that they perform well in all my pens, overall a very solid choice and Would recommend Yama-Budo be in everyones ink collection!
Paper:
  • Tomoe River- I started with Rhodia paper just because it was the most readily available and easy to find, it was good but the actual surface of the paper is a little slick for me to write on. I tried Clairefontaine and had the same issue but then as I began doing a little more research I picked up my first Hobonichi Techo which had Tomoe River paper in it, and let me tell you, I have not journaled with anything else since then. I prefer the 52gsm to the 68 because I feel that you get both better shading and better sheening which is what I look for when using fountain pens. Despite the thinness of the paper it doesn't bleed at all and I haven't had any problems with hard starts or skipping that I've had with Clairefontaine. While it is a little more expensive, I firmly believe you are getting what you pay for and like I said, I will probably never journal with anything other than Tomoe River again.
-Kyle

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9 comments


  • Very cool blog. I love hearing about what people love to write with.

    Nor Monroe on

  • Waiting for Sailor 1911. Ordered from Pen Boutique.

    John Curry on

  • Great article.

    Linda DAVIS on

  • Kyle, you are spot on! I have never bought a Pelikan, an Aurora or a Pilot I have been unhappy with and I have bought pens for many years! All have great nibs that write reliably and smoothly. I have several Pilot 74’s, Pelikans in all sizes, and five beautiful Auroras—Optimas and 88’s! LOVE them all.

    Gail on

  • Great list, I will have to try the Mont Blanc ink one day, have been having fun with the Diamine and Herbin.

    Nicole Campbell on


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