Sunday, May 25, 2008

Major Errors, and Quills...

No! No! I don't need 00 needles. I need 000 needles. Merlin knows where my head was when I posted that!!!! size 1.5mm, 000 in US Sizing.

(yes, I've got three sets of aluminum, but they BEND....which is fine if you are knitting really fine yarn, but if you are using them to get regular sock yarn really dense, oooh, what a mess you can end up with! {Ask me how I know.})

I got a lovely response from Ophelia Ballycastle about my sadly thwarted attempts to post on parchment. She wanted to know where I got my quills.

In fact, I used two quills. The blue words were written with a a fountain pen from an "as seen on TV" offer - I did not pay full price, however. I found the set for about a third of it's original price, and of course no postage, at Big Lots, a Muggle Salvage store.

The Red words were written with a steel nib and a red nib holder, which I purchased in a box at a Muggle Book store in their bargain section. It seems Hermione and Mad-Eye (I HAVE mentioned that Mad-Eye is not dead, haven't I? I thought I had...anyway...) cleverly packaged a concealed writing kit under the guise of a Muggle love letter kit! Apparantly the Muggles were not too loving around Valentines Day 2007, because this year these showed up for less than a Starbuck's Latte in January, and I cleverly snapped a few up.

However, that does not tell Ophelia where she can get one, and so I thought I'd expand a bit.

Metal Quills, in fountain pen or dip varieties, are often encountered in any of several parts of US Muggle Bookstores. Generally, the fancier Calligraphy kits will have them, usually as fountain pens, and these might be either in the art area or the bargain area. Be careful - the less expensive kits often have markers, which are easier to use, but I am sure you all already know where to buy markers. The other place is the gift section. The Chain Barns and No Bells seems to always have an array of the metal nibs, some attached to feathers, some in straight wooden or metal holders, and also glass pens which are lovely but not the same thing at all.

Other places fountain pens can be encountered are office supply stores - not all, but many, and art supply stores - the better ones, not necessarily the art supply section of the nearest chain crafts store.

They can also be ordered from This site does actually metion Harry Potter himself when you click on Quills, so perhaps they are accustomed to outfitting Witches and Wizards. They offer steel nibs and also real feather quills.

Now I have not made an extensive study of magical pen technology, but I do know that when made by Muggles, quill pen points are only good for a few pages at most. Just one of Professor Snapes assignments of "three feet of parchment" on some potion ingredient would have necessitated recutting the nib.

Bearing this in mind, I went and found two other sources which tell you how to process and cut your own pens from the plain old feathers which one can often find at craft retailers. (These are often sold so that little children can make imaginative and entirely innacurate renderings of American Indian garb, if that helps you find them...) I found the first website thorough, but a tiny bit confusing. I found the pictures on the second website to be a great help, but not enough on their own to easily yield one a really superior pen.

The second website, by the way, seems to be run by Muggles who take their history very seriously indeed. American Civil War re-enactors would find them kindred souls as to accuracy, I think.

I hope that any of you who have been finding it difficult to get your homework done because you did not get enough quills at Scrivenshafts and were hoping your people would send from home, instead of making you spend your Hogsmeade weekend allowance on them, may now be able to owl this information to the appropriate parental or other units and have this miscalculation taken care of. (Because most certainly, no student would willingly leave for school without enough equipment to get their homework done...)


Ophelia Ballycastle said...

Thank you so much I will be sending an owl with this information to my father asap. Or may just try and get Daddy to spend the money on a steal nib so I won't have to waist time sharpening the nib. Very interesting seeing how they are made. You use them but never think about where they come from.

Suzann said...

I have the 000 in Addi circs. They bend T. For some reason only known to Addi these needles are like 40 inches long. Do they think you are knitting an afghan with them? Who knows. I found them by accident at some online shop. Even with sock/laceweight yarn they went bendy. I think if they were something more sturdy they would just snap. Could you do a slip stitch pattern, that is really dense.
This historic homes around here all sell quill pens and ink. While everything else is very accurate (hand sewn dresses)The pens don't last. Mr Jefferson would not be amused :-)

smariek said...

1.5 mm! You must knit under very good lighting. I'm having a hard time with 2.25 mm and darkish yarn, but then the lighting in my room is not the best.

Cassandra Puddlemere said...

Last term a bunch of first years ate dome canary creams and turned into huge squaking chickens. So I collected their feathers and turned them into quills. I should see if I have any left!!!