1. I picked up the larger notebook today, and started in on lettering. I’d been using the KB4 notebooks, which help with vertical sizing, but these lines are even more helpful. You’re right about using a fine nib, though. I’m using an inherited Montblanc 146 with a fine nib, and to be honest, I had been ignoring it because I generally don’t like fine nibs. This book, however, has given the pen new purpose. Everything looks pretty scratchy right now, but in a few weeks I’m sure my hand will have improved with fine nibs. I’m hoping the practice with the fine nib will also help to improve my handwriting with the medium and broad nibs. Thanks for the helpful post!

    • Thanks for reading!

      I’m glad to hear you’re finding the lines helpful! My writing has also become much more consistent now that I’ve spent some time working on it with these lines. And I’m glad to hear you’re also breaking out pens that have been taking a back seat – maybe you’ll find you like the fine lines after all??

      • markbee

        I certainly hope I’ll come around to enjoying fine nibs more. Of course, the more practice I get with F nibs, the more I’ll enjoy them. I also started to notice that I can use a fine to grade with because the paper my students use sucks up ink, and makes the fine feel more like a broad! So now I’ve got fine and medium nibs for marking, broads for my daily use, and a 1.1mm on my Edison for letter writing. Who knew I’d need (need? hehe yes, need) so many different pens and inks!

  2. CT Henricks

    “When I was in college I spent some time teaching in Madagascar, an island country off the west coast of Africa.”


    Wikipedia locates it off the southeast coast, and that is where it was when I was in grade school (am 70 now).

  3. daniel

    “Madagascar was previously a French colony, and like Canada, they still have much of the vestiges of French language and culture around.”
    That is an unfortunate turn of phrase. The language I speak, write and read every day, like a lot of people in Canada, is not a vestige of anything. It’s a living language and culture which have their own existence.

    • Thanks for reading!

      I completely agree that Canadian culture and its languages are unique and change everyday with the people and communities that are here.

      I also agree with the fact that many Canadians speak French or English everyday, and that these two languages and cultures are in many ways very different from the original France French or British English that colonized parts of this country.

      In this way, Canadian French culture has some vestiges of France French colonialism and culture, mixed with a bit of British English culture and everything else that is here in Canada, but as you say, has its own existence.

      I think what I was trying to say is that Madagascar has adopted and adapted the French language along with and into its own Malagasy language, but still has some vestiges of French culture from colonization, for example, in using these “French-ruled” notebooks.

  4. Patricia Tyrrell

    So do you find that having practiced your handwriting on French ruled paper that your writing on straight ruled (or blank) paper stays on the straight and narrow?

    • wonderpens

      Thanks for your question! Writing on French-ruled paper helps mostly to keep your letters consistently at the same height. To an extent, just practising will help you keep your lines straighter, whether or not you’re practising with French-ruled paper. However, I’m not sure that specifically using French-ruled paper will help keep your lines straight on blank paper, or at least anymore than practising mindfully writing on straight ruled paper – hope that helps 🙂

  5. Dan Kim

    I was confused about how tall the d had to be, and stumbled upon your blog. Thanks for the clear and thorough explanation.

  6. Larynxa

    While it’s true that generations of French schoolchildren used J. Herbin purple ink in school, the colour was “Violette Pensée” (Pansy Purple), which is dark enough to be high-contrast on the page, making it easier to read. “Poussiere de Lune” is a dusty brownish-mauve, which makes it lower-contrast on the page. It’s also a much newer J. Herbin colour.

    • wonderpens

      Yes, actually, quite a while after I wrote this blog post, I did hear that it is in fact Violette Pensee used in schools, and not Poussiere de lune. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment – hopefully this may help future readers as well! 🙂

      • Larynxa

        I found out why French schools used purple ink: because the purple dye in it was the cheapest.

        That dye is Methyl Violet, AKA Crystal Violet, AKA Gentian Violet. It also has antibacterial properties, and is sometimes used as a topical treatment for thrush in babies and nursing mothers.

        According to http://iletaitunefoislecole.fr/A-l-encre-violette.html , some schools would buy master-size bottles of purple ink, but most went for the cheaper option of mixing their own from ink powder. Hérbin (“Etuifon”), Paillard, Chanta, Belga, and Encres Antoine all made ink powders in a variety of colours. Each tube of powder made 1 litre of ink. For those who didn’t need such a big batch, Miette made “Eureka” ink tablets. (Out of these 6 ink companies, only Hérbin still exists. Sad.)

        If you search on Ebay for “encre en poudre” or “encre granulee”, you’ll see some examples.

    • wonderpens

      The question mark and the exclamation point both only take up two spaces (including the dot): so the dot would be the on the bottom line (same as the bottom of the a) and the top of the both marks go up to the top of the second space (third line). The semicolon and colon have one mark inside the first space, and the top mark inside the second space. Hope that helps!

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