Pen and ink

It is very rare these days to receive a hand-written letter, but everyone seems to love them. I think that because most of our post consists of bills and junk, the sheer novelty of such a thing has the capacity to bring a smile to the faces of most of us.


We have the technology

Sometimes I will rouse myself and put pen to paper, but it’s fairly rare these days – although I always include a hand-written note when I send a hand-crafted item. Social and electronic media in their various forms are so immediate that often a letter is not the the best way to exchange information. But a real letter, in ink, on real paper does so much more than deliver facts – the materials and time taken to create it are a message in themselves.

I was delighted, therefore, to come across a little letter-writing project being publicised via Twitter (@silverpebble ‘s #writealetterbyhand). The idea was that you signed up and were allocated a person to write to. They could be anywhere in the world, and all you had to do was to commit to write a single letter, by hand. Anything more was purely by choice. How lovely to make contact with someone for the first time this way… I’ve made lots of connections via the internet, but the idea of a real letter being created and sent through the post was very appealing. So I signed up, and was allocated “my” person – she’s in Australia.


Once upon a time it may have been ink

On Tuesday I received the letter from the person who was given me to write to – a real letter, with a stamp, and on nice writing paper. How lovely. So, this afternoon, I decided to write my letter to Australia and a reply to the one I received. I wanted to do it right – with my fountain pen and on proper writing paper… both of which I have but don’t use often. The paper and pen were easy, the ink a little more of a challenge. The first bottle I opened contained some sort of gloop – possibly a distant descendant of ink, but certainly not ink any more. Then I realised there were cartridges in my pen box… I inserted one into my pen and discovered that it contained more of the gloop-formerly-known-as-ink. At this point I was beginning to gaze longingly at a biro. However, I persisted and located a second bottle of ink that sloshed when I shook it. I filled my pen and began…



One letter in, two letters out

… writing real words on real paper… and getting ink on my fingers. This afternoon I’ve created two letters, to go to two people who I don’t know. They will hold something in their hands that I too have touched – now that is something special. It makes me think of all those lovely letters and knitted/crochet creations I received from around the world when we were making The Masterpiece* together. I am sitting on all those squares you so lovingly made for me as I type… and up on a shelf is the book of your letters that came with them. I’m still collecting squares for a second friendship blanket should anyone ever feel like contributing… and I’d be delighted to reciprocate… plus you’ll get a letter from me too… possibly written with real ink now I’ve found some that flows!!


* If you weren’t a reader of this blog a couple of years ago, you may have missed The Masterpiece, but the story starts here and (mostly) ends here and you can see all the contributions here.

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  1. What sized squares would you need for your friendship blanket?


  2. And now I’m wondering if I sent you a square for that second blanket ….. somewhere in the dim recesses of memory there is an intention ……..

    I am inspired by your hand written, inky fingers and all, letter writing. I am so out of practise I often forget to pop a note in when I’m sending goodies out. Once letter writing was a part of every week. They would arrive regularly and in the evenings I would sit down with my pad and my pen and respond in full. Often pages. My best friend and I corresponded for years when our lives put miles between us and I had boxes of her letters stored in my room until one day I decided to throw everything out when I was changing countries.

    I always feel our blog exchanges make us modern penpals, minus the handwritten part, the inky fingers and the lengthy wait 🙂


    • Yes, I have one of your squares! I seem to recall writing a letter to you when I sent some antique buttons, however I’m sure that it wasn’t written using my fountain pen… next time something comes your way I will make sure there is a real inky old-fashioned letter.


      • Oh my goodness, yes that is right – I think that letter is still around here somewhere, along with other notes you have sent me – probably on my board where I pin all kinds of things 🙂 I’m glad I actually sent you a square!


  3. I love receiving hand written letters, but have trouble knowing what to do with them! With e-correspondence, it has a home, and I can search for it easily, but a letter…They are *almost* becoming rare enough to put into a scrapbook, but that would only add to the *stuff* I have to find a home for. That said, I have a nice box of notecards for when I send quilt blocks out, or to say thank you, or to send condolences. There are still plenty of opportunities for actually writing, and I do try and make the most of them before my handwriting deteriorates completely!


    • I know what you mean about letters – the scrapbook that goes with the masterpiece is lovely to browse through, and I’m glad I compiled it. As for other letters – I don’t throw them away but I’m not very good at storing them sensibly ether… perhaps I should start a new scrapbook, as you say they are a rare thing these days


  4. Letters can be such a gift! you’ve inspired me to dig out my fountain pen! Cheers, Ben


  5. Delightful post! I’ve gone back to re-read the early Mastepiece posts and have had a wonderful time along the way.

    I love the idea of letter writing. I have atrocious handwriting, so limit my penned notes to a few paragraphs. I did send three letters by mail this week, though and enjoyed taking the time to do it write. I’m always particular about the postage stamp and use my best printing for the address. I wrote pages and pages of letters to friends for years. A beautiful and welcome art.


  6. I love handwritten letters and often send them. But my handwriting along with so many others is sometimes not completely legible. I often misspell and have to overwrite something. So I write it on the computer in large font then print it out and put it in a card. At one time, I had no trouble with spelling. It went when the Bells came. 🙂 We do all love real mail. I still write out thank you cards though. There is no excuse for bad manners.


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