CALLIGRAPHY MEET

I joined a calligraphy group on Facebook called Calligraphy Spot about a year ago. I joined because I liked looking at other people’s calligraphy, not that I wanted to make my own. I know, it’s weird. My focus is on using fountain pens for regular writing, rather than using dip pens for decorative work. But I managed to convince my sister to join the same group.  She even attended a calligraphy workshop and bought all the starter materials – Zebra G nibs, straight holder, oblique holder, Desiderata Daedalus pen, calligraphy pads, walnut ink, you name it.  I feel a little embarrassed that I’m not as determined as her to make art. She’s progressed so much in pointed pen calligraphy in a couple of months since she started.  I still print in my journals, and wonder whether my cursive handwriting will ever improve.

There was a small calligraphy meet scheduled the other day, at a little crepe restaurant in the mall near our house. It was supposed to be a pencil calligraphy and watercolor art meet.  Normally people bring their materials with them, order a snack, and share tips about what materials work best with what style, about techniques, things like that. My sister was there ahead of me, brandishing her Desiderata pen. I already knew some of the people there, they were also members of Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, which I help moderate. My sister explained to them that I just liked looking at other people’s calligraphy, but they said I was welcome anyway, hahaha.

The conversation veered from what fountain pen inks were archival (I participated in that discussion) to pencils being archival, to what pencils were locally available that could work best in calligraphy (Staedtler 6B, Caran d’Ache 9B, Palomino Blackwing, etc.), to special mechanical erasers, to Desiderata Daedalus pens being used as eyedroppers vs. with converters, to regular Zebra G nibs vs. the titanium version, to what locally available papers were worth investing in (Elias calligraphy pads and loose paper by the ream, Craftdoodle calligraphy pads, etc.).  It was all fun and fascinating. I should have brought my fountain pens (even though they don’t flex) and paper and doodled around just for fun.  There were a few one-on-one sessions for pencil calligraphy and how to use a Desiderata pen. The watercolorists were doing florals.

We had to leave before dinner, but we dropped by National Bookstore to buy specialty pencils. I had fun, and met new friends, and bonded with my sister.  I’m game to go to another meet in the future.

IN PROGRESS: LILO’S PATTERNED CAMI

[NOTE: I’m sorry to have lost the photos to this blog post, due to Multiply ending its hosting services.]

This is the cami front I started while watching the Federer-Roddick Wimbledon final.  Two more nights of tv knitting, and I finished it.  There’s no pattern – yet.  I’ll write it up afterwards. I just followed the shaping of one of Lilo’s t-shirts with an inch added to the width, so she can wear it up to next year.  I made the neckline a V to follow the pattern that just showed itself on the bottom panel.

Here’s the back panel started.  I ran out of variegated cotton so I had to return to the mall to buy another ball.


Anchor Lifestyles crochet cotton is pricier than my usual brands, Cannon and Monaco, about P52 (USD 1.07) compared to the usual P35 (USD 0.72). Mind you I’m comparing mall retail prices, since I’m not buying in bulk. Anchor, like Cannon and the local Red Heart, is made by Coats Manila Bay, Inc. “The only ISO 9001 certified thread company in the Philippines.”  This is the very lovely colorway KAM17 / 210783 / 65-PHHT.  It’s supposed to be a size 10 thread, but it’s just very slightly thinner than Cannon or Monaco.  Softer than Cannon, with more sophisticated colors.

I’m using US size 2 (2.75mm) bamboo circular needles, which give me a gauge of 9 stitches by 12 rows.  I think my Addi or Inox 2.5mm circular needles would give roughly the same gauge.  Again, it’s all stockinette and shaping.  No fancy stitches.  It’ll expand sideways to accommodate at least 10 months worth of child growth.

Stay tuned, folks, I might finish it by Wednesday.

MAKING BOOKS

I used to think that one day I’d write a book.  Somehow I never made the jump into longer narrative fiction, as I woke up one day complaining of how work killed my creativity.  I still haven’t written a publication-worthy poem since I left Australia, but I did wake up another day to realize that creativity extended to what I could make with my hands.

You all know about the knitting and how it forced me to use Math.  I’d say that’s karma, since I chose a college course on the basis of what I did well and how few Math subjects were required, haha.

Now I’m binding books by hand, after taking a course with paper artist Loreto Apilado last May.  I always thought Moleskines were the kind of thing I’d never leave home without.  In the pre-Moleskine days I lugged around a Philamlife black diary, in which I wrote, colored and pasted everything that made life more interesting.  I didn’t know that would be called journaling and collecting ephemera today.  The black diary had really bad paper, although a Pilot 55 with a Japanese fine nib worked well on it.  I kept nine years’ worth of journaling in them, enough to fill a small baul (a mother-of-pearl inlaid chest my mother gave me when I turned 18).

My particular favorites were the Toyo Rock Drill engineers’ notebooks that my dad brought home from Japan.  Not only did they have the best paper, they also LAY FLAT when opened.  There was a major section with unlined paper and a smaller section in the back with grid-lined paper.  The pages were smooth and somewhat coated, perfect for fountain pens, without bleedthrough or feathering.

I kept thinking of this when I learned to make books.  Moleskines are ridiculously priced, and the paper quality is uneven.  If the only pen I can use on it is a Lamy with an extra fine nib, that would mean my other pens would go relatively unused!  I did go around and tested different brands of papers, and found some that fit my requirements:  smooth, no feathering with a wet medium nib, no bleedthrough.  Since I do support a number of fundraising projects, I thought my blank journals would make a good charity bazaar item.  They make splendid gifts people would actually use (well, if given to the people who appreciate these things).

So this month, after scouting around and accumulating materials, I was finally able to make two hardcover blank books with ribbon markers, one each for my good friends Jenny and TAO.  It’s good that I hadn’t forgotten how to make the books since May.  I tried as much as possible to make them look neat but they do retain hallmarks of the handmade (the deckle edges remain untrimmed, there are a few non-obvious glue bubbles that bug me, etc.).  The very first book I made, the product of the workshop, is now being used as an “ideas” journal for my knitting and binding.

May and Reg’s books are next up for production.  May made me a gorgeous silky pen wrap and I’m making her a book in exchange. Reg’s is a belated birthday gift. I’m also raffling off a couple of journals at the FPN-P Anniversary Pen Meet in July.  Then I’ll maybe try exposed-spine binding.  Ambitious, but when I get it done, you’ll know.  This year is full of creative opportunities.

MY VERY OWN HANDMADE HARDCOVER JOURNAL


Today, on the third of a three-Saturday classical bookbinding workshop, I finished this.  It’s 192pp, with a cranberry-colored Philippine handmade paper cover and a yellow bookbinder’s paper spine.


Don’t mind the dark blots on the left-side endpaper.  That’s archival glue that hasn’t dried fully yet.  This is also Philippine handmade paper.  The swirls are made of paper as well – it’s NOT a print.  I believe this paper was made in Batangas although it is being sold at the malls or in National Bookstore, in different color varieties.



The pages open flat, which is what I love about sewn bindings.  We used lock stitch.  I love how neatly I was able to do this.  (One day I will learn Coptic stitch.)


Next time I will add a ribbon page marker.  I also want to try a smaller format, like a pocket-size journal.



Some of my classmates are librarians, but some, like me, wanted to learn how to make pretty and useful things.  This three-day workshop was held on May 16, 23 and 30, at the Lopez Museum in Ortigas Center, Pasig City.  Paper artist Loreto Apilado, our teacher, is conducting a Book Repair workshop soon.  I want to study that too!

For more details on activities at the Lopez Museum, visit their blog.

MY BLUE CABLE RIB SOCKS


I finished these 2×2 cable socks some time after I finished Mimi’s cappuccino socks. Well… I started them before Christmas, laid them down, misplaced them, found them again and finished them in January when I was having my thyroid woes. Nothing like keeping your hands busy to get your mind off things.

The cast-on is 64 sts, and I used Monaco crochet cotton with a US size 1 (2.25mm) pair of bamboo needles 40″ long. My cable needle – badaboom! – is a bamboo toothpick 2.25mm in diameter. Very very nifty to use a bamboo toothpick, the stitches don’t fall off as the surface of the bamboo holds the stitches well. Great for small-diameter portable projects. It follows the standard sock pattern, only I realized (quickly enough in the middle of knitting the first sock) my design error.


You may notice that the last cable columns on either edge of the sock front sort of blend into the stockinette of the underside. I was trying for symmetry, so to fit the cast-on, I inadvertently left the P2 column out. Next time I shall try for:

P1, cable, P2, K2, P2, cable, P2, K2, P2, cable, P2, K2, P2, cable, P1 = 32 (front)


Yes, it’s very pretty with clogs and certain sandals.

SHIPPING WITH JOHNNY AIR

I ordered stuff from eBay and Knitpicks.com recently, so am sort of celebrating an early Christmas.

Johnny Air Cargo played Santa this time, not Philpost. My previous eBay order of bamboo circular needles did arrive on time, via USPS-Philpost (30 days shipping). I paid PhP 35 processing fee, which is correct. I figured nobody there would be interested in what looked like barbecue sticks stuck together with a nylon cord. While I was relieved at receiving my items, I still can’t shake my mistrust of Philpost, and continue to dread missing items, having to deal with “creative taxation” or seeing “received partly torn” notices on my envelopes. I know current Postmaster General Hector R. R. Villanueva is trying to do something about public perception of Philpost’s service, but I am not about to tempt fate yet, seeing how close we are getting to Christmas, financial crisis and all. Desperation and corruption go hand in hand.

Several years ago Johnny Air came to my attention via Pinoydvd.com. They offered safe US-Philippines shipping for dvds. While I wasn’t that much of a big dvd buyer, I filed it away in my head. I came across them again this year, when I heard from my friend ECT that she had bought a Nikon D40 and had it shipped quickly and safely via Johnny Air. She picked it up in their Megamall branch.

Of course the cheapest way to send to the Philippines will always be the relatives’ balikbayan box — IF you have the patience to wait till December or January. For people who have a choice, Johnny Air’s “Shop Online Service” is great. It’s safe. It’s fast. It’s reliable.

I blog about this because I’m a satisfied customer, and you might need the information one day. (I also don’t want to impose upon my relatives too much, because I love them, and their plates are full in these trying times.)

Let’s say you want to buy something from eBay (vendor A) and something from Amazon.com (vendor B). Amazon.com offers free shipping for your item within the US. I mean, you wouldn’t want to waste the savings, right?

1) You write an email to Analyn Diego at analynd@aol.com / analynd@johnnyair.com to advise her that you plan to buy items from vendor A, B and C. You let her know to combine these packages into one shipment, which must fulfill the minimum 2-lb requirement.

2) You shop online. Under shipping info you write:

ATTN: Analyn Diego/Client’s Name (this means YOU)
Johnny Air SOL
6904 Roosevelt Avenue
Woodside, NY 11377
Tel. (718) 672-7080, (917) 332-7806

3) You email Analyn Diego again, with your shipping details.

Vendor
Order #
Tracking #
Item/s
Descriptions

Specify whether you want to claim it at JAC Makati or JAC Megamall. Provide your contact details so they can notify you when you can pick them up.

4) Shipping is by volume weight. As of my order it was USD 7.50 per lb + USD 5.00 handling fee. For further inquiries you can call JAC Customer Service at 631-7101, 638-8512 or 0917-8100306.

I see in the USPS international postage calculator that it would have cost me at least USD 29.93 for 6-10 days’ Priority Mail shipping.  Who would bother to combine packages for me? And even then, I wouldn’t even be sure whether I’d get it via Philpost or if I’d be charged extra fees.

In my case, I ordered my items on October 14, and received them October 24 from JAC Megamall. I paid USD 27.50 for 3 lbs. I showed the very nice folks my ID, and within a minute I got my box! And yes, they smile, too. Nowadays perhaps we don’t count on people to smile a lot, but when they do, it really makes my day.

Now remember, it only works if that price and service are acceptable to you. If you are able to find a similar service that is also as reliable, let’s hear about it!