As 2022 comes to a close, many websites republish popular and/or well written pieces from throughout the year, and this blog is no different. I recently went through my stats and tallied which posts you lovely readers have decided to view the most over the past 3 calendar years, so here are the top 10 posts from Left Hook Pens (so far).
Despite not being very active in 2022, my goal is to write more and continue to grow this blog in the new year. Thank you to everyone who have linked to, read, and engaged with these and my other posts, and I wish you a happy new year!
If you’ve read any of my other TWSBI reviews, you know that I really like their piston fillers. When I heard that TWSBI was coming out with the Swipe, I was skeptical. Why is this company that helped to democratize the piston fill fountain pen making a cartridge pen? What is this Tesla-looking clip? Why is the spring inside the converter? Why not just buy a Go? After reading and watching two reviews of the Swipe, and then buying one, my answer to these questions is why didn’t TWSBI make this pen sooner? The Swipe comes with two converters: one is spring-loaded and the other has a traditional twist mechanism. There is also a black ink cartridge included, along with a spring that holds the cartridge in place. All three of these are thicc, and standard international. I haven’t tested to see if these converters will fit in other standard international pens though.
By giving users a choice of cartridge/ converter style they can decide if they want to spend 4 more dollars for an Eco, 6 less dollars for a Go, or any dollar amount for some other cartridge/ converter pen. With the Swipe, TWSBI has offered an excellent starter fountain pen that is competitive (in price as well as usability) with the Lamy Safari, Kaweco Sport, and Pilot Metropolitan.
The grip section on the Swipe is comfortable, the converter is easy to clean, and the weight is light. I really like that the grip section is crystal clear. It extends far down enough that you can see into the converter, and you can see how much ink is left in the feed while cleaning. I got the smoke color, and that is transparent enough that I can see the whole converter. The cap has a very firm snap; I have splattered ink while uncapping this pen. The barrel is pentagonal shaped, which kind of acts as a roll stop. The clip is low profile enough that it won’t stop the pen from rolling on a low incline. The nib on the Swipe is the same nib that’s on the Eco, Go, Classic, and both Minis. I purchased this pen with an Extra-Fine nib, and it writes quite wet with Diamine Wild Strawberry.
The Swipe comes with the spring converter already in the pen. Unlike in the Go, the spring is inside the barrel of the converter. I’m not sure how the metal would do with ink in it for long periods of time, but if it were to be damaged the spring included to hold cartridges in place works as a replacement. TWSBI is also excellent about sending replacement parts, you just PayPal them $5 USD for shipping.
The spring converter takes so little effort to take apart, it’s wonderful. The spring keeps the piston seal at the back of the converter barrel, so when you unscrew the metal sleeve the rod comes right out. The spring slides out easily as well, you can just tap the converter barrel on a hard surface and the spring slides out. One thing that I didn’t notice until after I took the converter apart is that there’s a small agitator ball that can get lost easily. These converters are definitely some of the easiest on the market to completely disassemble.
The piston converter is a chonk as well. I used a syringe to fill this converter, so I can’t say how well it pulls in ink. The thing that I like about this converter is that the piston is able to go all the way back, so it can hold as much ink as is possible. I haven’t tried the included black cartridge yet, but it is substantial. This seems like an unnecessary amount of plastic, but this cartridge would be a good one to reuse multiple times. I inked the piston converter with Birmingham Chrysanthemum, which is less wet than Wild Strawberry. This ink works a lot better in the Swipe, is less of a gusher, and ink doesn’t splatter when I uncap the pen. This pen writes smoothly, and performs as well as every other TWSBI with this type of nib.
My takeaway from using the Swipe is it’s a great entry level pen. If you want to try TWSBI and don’t know where to start, try the Swipe. If you know you like piston fillers and want a solid pen, try the Eco. If you want a no fuss pen that’s easy to take apart and put back together, try the Swipe or the Go. If you want to try a TWSBI pen but have a $20 USD budget, try the Go. TWSBI has a great lineup of pens at $30 USD and lower, and now they really have a pen for any taste. The Swipe is available at your favorite purveyor of fountain pens.
I’ve already reviewed the Eco, specifically the yellow edition from last spring, but I feel that post didn’t accurately reflect my feelings about this pen. I used to have four Ecos, and now I have one, and I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s my first Eco, the transparent orange edition from 2019. This was my fourth or fifth pen in my collection, and I was so excited about it! It’s a beautiful color, and the Eco is a great beginner pen. There are many people out there who collect every color released of the Eco, but I cannot afford, nor do I want to be one of them. I’m the kind of collector who likes to use all of her pens, and I feel bad if I don’t use a particular pen that I’m fond of. When I had four Ecos, I felt neglectful of my beloved orange. So I sold the other three to a better home.
There has been a lot of writing lately about special edition burnout. It’s come to a point where “special edition” doesn’t really mean anything, and manufacturers are taking advantage of consumer hype. I’ve only been in the fountain pen hobby for two years, but this has definitely gotten worse over the last year or so. Finding a particular model of pen that you like among a growing sea of colors is special, because you form a bond with this tool that can be kept for years and years. The thing about the fountain pen hobby is that FOMO is driven almost purely by social media.
“Buy it for life” is also being used more in the outdoor industry, and I’ve seen it applied to pens occasionally. Many people buy a fountain pen specifically to reduce waste and to have a serviceable writing instrument. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people, and I have more ink than I and my girlfriend will ever use. The Eco is definitely a “buy it for life” pen, it even comes with everything that you need to service it yourself. It seems like there are many people out there that question the durability of TWSBI pens because of cracking. All TWSBI pens have an o-ring on the section threads to make a double seal inside the cap. Unfortunately, this makes it very easy to over-tighten the cap and crack the barrel. You can prevent over-tightening the cap by stopping when you feel resistance from the o-ring. It takes one and a half turns to fully cap the Eco. On TWSBI demonstrators, you can see when the inner cap seal hits the end of the section.
I’ve dropped my Eco quite a few times, from about two feet. These drops did no damage to the body of the pen, but one of the drops misaligned the nib. The height of these drops is minimal and it’s onto a wood floor, but I dropped a Platinum #3776 from the same height and cracked the finial. This was minutes after I got the pen, and it’s the reason I returned it. The cap seal on the Eco is so good that the nib never dries out. My Eco is always ready to write, and has never hard started. This pen has never let me down, and I believe that it never will. Forming emotional attachments to inanimate objects is a very human thing, and it’s important to recognize that in a materialistic hobby. Most pens that people come across everyday are disposable, but a fountain pen gets brought to life every time you fill it and write with it. I don’t care if this is overly sentimental because I’m a Pisces.