Ella and Julia against the wind (sketch) (also a little giveaway)

Ella and Julia against the wind

Here are Ella and Julia, my two favourite ladies, on the beach on the most incredibly windy day.

If you like my sketches then you can see a lot more on Instagram. I thought it would be interesting to draw something different so I’m doing a little giveaway, of sorts. If you follow me on Instagram and you’ve posted a photo there that you’d like me to draw for you, just mention me on the photo (on Instagram) before Saturday 29th November. I’ll pick one (maybe more than one) at random, draw it and send you the original. I’ll take photos of the drawing and reserve the right to post those photos here and elsewhere but the original is yours. More details here.

Pink Pig sketchbook, Tombow Mono 100 pencils, Mitsubishi Hi-Uni pencil.

D1 refill comparison part 2 review

Comparison of D1 Refills (part two!)

D1 refill comparison part 2 review

Many moons ago I did a comparison of six different D1 refills and called it ‘part one‘. I was fully intending to do a ‘part two’ soon after but it didn’t happen. Here it is now, though. Better late than never!

Just to recap, D1 refills are small refills used in many Kickstarter projects and multipens. They’re mostly ballpoints but Pilot and Zebra do gel refills too.

In part one Monteverde Soft Roll Mini D13 and the Faber-Castell Ballpen came out on top. Will they stay there?

D1 refill comparison part 2 writing

Lamy M21 ballpoint

This is a lovely smooth writer that puts down a consistent line, starts well and isn’t gloopy.

Zebra 4C ballpoint

This is a pretty standard ballpoint. It works okay although does feel like it’s trying to get away from you a little. There’s nothing special about it.

Schneider Express 56 ballpoint

In common with full-sized Schneider ballpoints, this is a very smooth writer but it always feels as if it wants to escape and write more quickly than I want to.

Schmidt S 635 ballpoint

This isn’t quite as smooth as the Lamy M21 but it has a blacker ink. It’s perfectly fine but not special.

Tombow BR-VS ballpoint

Pale ink, inconsistent line, not nice at all.

Platignum Dual ballpoint

This is okay. Nothing special and I could only find it with blue ink.

Tombow Outdoor Pen BR-VMP

This is another refill I could only find in blue. It skips a lot and isn’t pleasant at all. It is pressurised so you could write horribly upside down or under water if you wanted to.

Zebra JSB 0.5mm gel ink

This is a mighty fine gel ink refill. Lovely dark crisp line. After trying out all these ballpoints it was a real treat to finally get to a gel one, I can tell you!


I’ve now tried out twelve D1 ballpoint refills and two gel ink refills.

Of the ballpoints, the two Tombows and the Platinum SBSP-120S were terrible. The Lamy M21, Faber-Castell Ballpen and Monteverde Soft Roll Mini D13 (the latter two from part one) were all pretty good. The rest are all okay but, really, why settle for okay when you have so much choice?

The best of the lot is the Lamy M21. It’s the smoothest writer but doesn’t ever try to run away from you.

Both the Pilot Hi-Tec-C and Zebra JSB are great gel ink refills. Both are expensive because they run out of ink quickly, making the cost-per-word a lot more than any of the ballpoints. I haven’t been able to test this objectively but it feels as if the Zebra runs out of ink quicker than the Pilot. I prefer how the Zebra writes but there’s not much in it.

Extra special thanks to Cult Pens who supplied most of the refills I’ve tried out in this part. They have a huge selection of D1 refills including all the ones I’ve tried here and quite a few more too.

D1 refill comparison part 2

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen clip

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen review

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen review

The Kaweco Allrounder is an all metal cartridge/converter fountain pen. It’s available in black, blue, red or silver and with nibs from extra-fine to double-broad. The pen in this review has the broad nib. It costs around £75 (around $115) and in the UK comes with a converter. (I don’t think this is always the case elsewhere.)

The design of the Allrounder is almost identical to the Student, the differentiating factor being that the Allrounder is made from anodised aluminium rather than the Student’s plastic. This also has an effect on the price: the Allround costs almost twice as much.

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen cap jewel

The design is from the 1950s and has a classic quality to it. The barrel is a simple smooth cylinder with no ornamentation or styling except for a small indentation at the very end.

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen end

The section is the same material and finish as the barrel, which is something I like. It’s comfortable to hold and a reasonable size. The build quality of the Allrounder is fantastic. Nothing is loose or rattly or wobbly. It all feels exceptionally well made.

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen uncapped

The nibs are interchangeable with other Allrounders, Students and Sports. I’ve heard varying reports about broader Kaweco nibs. I think you’re generally going to be fairly safe with extra-fine, fine and medium (but of course with nibs there are never any 100% guarantees) but broad and double broad can be problematic. I’ve got a double broad nib in my Dia 2 which is great but I’ve found this broad can run a little dry sometimes. It’s smooth but it’s as if the feed can’t keep the nib supplied with ink fast enough. I’d suggest that if you are buying a Kaweco and want a broad or double broad nib that you buy it from somewhere that will help you out with tuning or returns, just in case you’re unlucky. However you’re probably safer sticking with something medium or finer. Kaweco’s nibs at that end are generally wonderful.

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen nib

The cap closes with just a small turn and matches the rest of the pen perfectly. The cap is where all the ornamentation happens. The strong very clippable chrome-plated brass clip has some decoration as does the chrome-plated band around the base. It all looks good (except for the branding on printed at the top of the cap) and lends the pen a little retro class.

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen clip

The cap does post but not very deeply, making the pen very long.

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen posted

The supplied (in the UK at least) converter works well. It is in fact exactly the same as the one used in Monteverde pens (except with Kaweco stamped on the side) so it must be a standard and rebranded Chinese (I expect) model. Whatever, it works as it should. If you’d rather use cartridges then you can use any standard international ones.

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen deconstructed

With the broad nib, this pen wasn’t great. Once I swapped in a medium nib it became one of my favourites. There is a big price jump from the Student to the Allrounder but whereas the Student is a perfectly good pen (in fact, a very good pen), the Allrounder is a special pen. It’s extremely well made and the anodised aluminium finish is really very wonderful. Tread carefully if you want a broad nib but jump in with a loud hurrah if you like something finer.

Kaweco Allrounder fountain pen handwritten review

You can find some more reviews of the Kaweco Allrounder on Pennaquod.

Thank you to Kaweco who sent me this pen for free to review and to keep. I didn’t let their generosity influence my views.

Noodler’s Ink Sampler giveaway winners

I clearly don’t have very many European readers because there weren’t a lot of entries for this. On the one hand, that’s a shame because they’re great inks (mostly) but on the other hand it means I can bend the rules a little and send the prize of sets of four Noodler’s ink samples to everyone who entered: buntyw, Toni, James, Heather, potter2 and Tas. I’ll be in touch by email to get your mailing addresses.

Thank you very much to Pure Pens for sponsoring this giveaway. Pure Pens are the only official distributers of Noodler’s inks in Europe.

Update: James, your email address doesn’t work, can you contact me via the Contact page?