Thursday, 31 October 2013

Fingers Crossed

I still haven't tried on Rubble. Perhaps I'm in denial.

I've finished knitting and sewing Boxy. Last night I gave it a wash in hand-hot water - the yarn is oiled for industrial knitting - and then a wool cycle in the washing machine, and it is drying very carefully on the airer. I tried it on before washing and was very happy with it, so everything is crossed.

 The shoulder seam is a three-needle bind-off and while I was doing it I was worrying a little becasue the yarn is so fine in places. The idea of casting off live stitches with fragile yarn was not a relaxing one: if the cast off ever snapped, the whole thing could disintegrate very rapidly. When I got to the end I discovered that I had done the thing I so often do on a three-needle bind-off, which is actually to end up with the row on the right-hand needle. At first this seemd like a disaster, but I turned it around and cast off in the other direction, making it a double seam. It hasn't made for a lumpy finish so I think it's turned out to have been a very beneficial mistake, and I did it deliberately on the second shoulder.

I don't particualrly like working with a short cicrular do I didn't knit the sleeves in the round. I worked them on the flat and then sewed up the sides and the sleeves at the same time.

When I tried it on, it was the lightest and warmest cloud. I hope I'm still happy with it when it dries and that it doesn't have to be turned ito a blanket.

I think I'm going to knit another Boxy very soon. I'm in a slight toil about the yarn. I had a very bad accident on eBay the other week: a nice woman in Austria was selling some madelinetosh Merino Light in different shades of blue. Europe means no tax, and no outrageous Royal Mail charge. Nobody else was bidding, so what could I do?

That's Denim, Mourning Dove, Stovepipe and Ink. I already have a couple of other madelinetosh blues. Very tempting. I think graduated rather than stripes. But on the other hand, I have some very nice light turquoise Wollmeise. Decisions, decisions.

I really like this Sweatr-r-r  but since I have decided never to knit anything with fitted armholes again, I think I might just steal the idea of the coloured patches down the front and apply it to another Boxy. Perhaps I could do that with the blues.

I've lately become obssessed with a shade of light green which is begining to show up everywhere. I bought a black and cream tunic which came tied up with ribbon in this shade, and I've seen it everywhere since. I thought a Shag might be good and found a ball of Jaeger Matchmaker on eBay in a shade called Hop. This is a very good name for the colour; it has the zest of spring shoots. I need to track down another ball of it.

It turns out that Frau Wollmeise does a beautiful Spring green, called Fruhling, appropriately enough. She does some fabulous light greens, with names like Wasabi and Pesto and Pistazie and Lowenzahn (dandelion?) and Petersilie and Spinaci and Mistelzweig. Lots of vegetables in there.

The photograph isn't quite true: imagine a little more yellow. I wonder if I would have the nerve, or the complexion, to wear that.

Perhaps the matching nail polish is as far as I will go (Essie, The More the Merrier).

One of my neighbours has had a baby and I was wondering about knitting a hat. I didn't think she was a pink-and-white girl and I was very glad to see that Baby, when I met her, was wearing a black knitted hat with little white scottie dogs all around it. So I made her a flying helmet with some Cherry Hill Possum Worsted that I've been hoarding for a while. I have a few skeins of this. It's very warm but it's too soft to show up a stitch and the colours disappear so I have trouble finding uses for it. The colours show up very well in photographs but not so much in real life.

It's too big so I'll have to knit another one for this winter, but it's cute and as always so easy and quick to knit.

I think the last piece of knitting I have to report is this.

One of my loved ones asked me if I would sponsor him to shave his head in November, for a good cause. I said I would rather sponsor him not to shave his head, but either way he's going to need a hat. This is some lovely squidgy Malabrigo in a shade called Blue Graphite. Here it looks like black and in reality it's usually a subtle grey but in some lights it's a beautiful dark blue grey. This time of year the light in Ediburgh isn't good for seeing colours: my flat is on a corner, half facing north and half facing west, and I can sometimes be seen scurrying from window to window trying to make out what colour something is. The rooms are painted the same colour but look totally different: I once nearly had quite a bad row with a  friend who would't believe that the bedroom is painted green because it looks like baby blue. She's a designer and knows about these things so professional pride was on the line, but nothing changed the name on the can of paint, Jade White.

The pattern is Stephen West's Dustland Hat and I bought these smart new needles because I didn't have any 4.5mm dpns.

I pronounce the 'K' and the 'Z'. They're nice and light and slick.I got the wrong size but  the yarn isn't falling off the needles all the time.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Cool again

I tried on Rubble eventually, although I haven't had another look at it since the weather cooled down enough to actually wear it and I haven't photographed it. I think it's OK. I'll have a look at it soon and report back.

I have been blasting on with Boxy. I'm making the seamed version, because like Jean and Sally Melville I think that garments hang much better if they're properly structured and seams help to give them structure. I don't seem to hate purling at all nowadays, and in fact probably feel exactly the same about purling as I do about knitting. Also, something with as many stitches as Boxy would get wildly twisted if knitted in the round, and I would get RSI in my shoulder, so flat it is.

I spent some time labouring over what size to choose, peering at other people's choices, but I eventually decided to do as Joji says, and chose the size that fits my arm circumference even although it's a bit bigger elsewhere. I'm making it slightly shorter than the pattern: the largest size is three inches longer than the smallest and one of the things I learnt from watching What Not To Wear is that long tops make your legs look short. Well, maybe not your legs, but certainly mine.

The purl rows at the shoulder don't really show up because of the marl, but I expect they add to the structure too. The pattern is well written and even I didn't make any mistakes doing the second side. At least, I don't think I did.

The yarn is lovely. The two plies are fairly loosely twisted together but I expect them to fluff up and become more dense once it's finished and washed: it needs a hand-hot wash to get the oil off. It's not totally cashmere-soft at the moment but certainly very nice to work with, and very airy. If the shape turns out to be a terrible mistake I can just chop the arms off and use it as a blanket.

Remember my floorboards are six inches wide. This picture shows the front and the first six inches or so of the back. Since the cashmre is so soft and doesn't wear very well,I might make some plain black elbow patches, but I'll have to see first where the sleeves fall and if it actually has elbows.

Last Tango in Halifax is being shown in the US and they're filming a second series. I think I was watchhing The Fall last time I wrote; it was terrifiic but I hope I'm not giving anything away if I say the last episode was a huge letdown. What Remains finished on Sunday and we're still reeling from the ending.

Those of you who follow the Idiosyncratic Fashionistas and live in the UK might like The Fabulous Fashionistas documentary showing on Channel 4 this week, on - oh, tonight, at 10.00.I expect it'll be available on 4OD.

And on Wednesday there's a doco on BBC4 called Knitting's Golden Age. It seems to be the first in a series about textiles but the website isn't giving much away, and the Radio Times mention is full of the usual patronising nonsense, but we shall see.

Family Snaps
Thanks very much for the comments about the photographs. Yes, I'm very lucky, Mette.  I wish I were well enough to organize them properly and annotate them, but at least I can post some of them here. Here's another one.

This is my great-grandfather, Robert Glen, in the late 1920s. He's the one in the wing-collar, bowler hat and very shiny shoes. He was a butcher and cattle-dealer so those must be some of his beasts, as we used to say in Scotland. His son married the dark-eyed girl you saw in an earlier post. He was still working when he died on the 2nd of July 1929, at the age of 94, and he only died because his wife had died on the 13th of June. My grandfather buried them 3 weeks apart.

Hot hot hot

I wrote this a while ago and didn't get round to posting it,  but rather than changing all the tenses I'm just going to post it and then start a new one.

Some time in August

I've hardly knitted a stitch since my last post. It has been so horribly hot that I couldn't think about it, not even the big cotton heap that is Rubble: I finished seaming it and gave it a wash but I couldn't bear to try it on.

Provanmill is a part of Glasgow

When I say horribly hot, I am aware that this sounds a bit ridiculous to the rest of the world. I have family in Brisbane, Australia so it's one of the places on the weather app that I check most days: in Brisbane it is currently winter and the temperatures are much the same or hotter than those in Edinburgh, where it is currently summer.

I am a bit of a limp rag at the best of times but in this I am a damp, limp rag. My father used to call me Gollum but in fact he wasn't much better, as it's from him that I inherited an extreme sensitivity to sunlight. So although there has been much staying indoors, there has been little knitting.

I haven't entirely stopped buying yarn, however, weak-willed creature that I am.  I bought a skein of madeinetosh Merino Light in Curiosity from eBay, thinking that it was a grey which would go with some of my blues, but when it arrived it has an undertone of greenish yellow which won't work with them at all. I might sell it. And I've been buying hugely expensive quantities of Wollmeise merino to make a Boxy, gathering it from thither and thon with the help of Ravelry stashes.

However, while I was waiting for it to arrive I had a casting-on accident. What happened was that I was shifting stuff off the sofa because I had a visitor coming. When I bought this sofa a few years ago a friend asked me if I was happy with it and I said, Well, it seems to be mostly covered with knitting and wool and books, but it's very comfortable, and she said, 'So it's really just a very expensive shelf?' Which it sort of is. Anyway, I was clearing wool and books off the shelf and carrying them through to put them on the bed (this is a small flat) and  as I do every time I do this I had to pick up the bag containing some Colourmart cashmere that I bought last winter. (The printout inside the bag says it was the winter before, but that can't be right, can it?) It's a black and white twist, slightly thick and thin.

 I'd been swatching Wollmeise on different sizes of needles so I had the required gauge for Boxy at the front of my mind, so  I fished the little Colourmart swatch out of the bag and what do you know?

Friday, 28 June 2013

Bootee Binge

You're absolutely right, jeanfromcornwall, it's knicker pink, a colour which haunted our youth, plainly. As far as I can see however, later generations aren't scarred in the same way so I took a deep breath and handed the blanket over and it appeared to be very welcome. I also handed over a rabbit, one of the Jellycat soft toys, which I find irresistible, and it appears to be very popular.

The baby is a beautiful little girl and the first time she met me she slept happily in my arms, so she's obviously perceptive and intelligent too. Then I got sidetracked into bootees. I like Elizabeth Zimmermann's pattern in The Opinionated Knitter and I couldn't resist casting on a whisper of Kidsilk Haze in Cream.

And then another one.

Impossibly cute. I followed these up with another pair in madelinetosh Merino Light which I think is called something Rose.

I must do another pair soon.

I'm sorry to have taken so long to post, Amy - I got the idea into my head that I really must finish Rubble before I could do another post here, but I've decided that doesn't matter. The second half has taken much longer than the first; I'm not sure why because I like the pattern and I want to have it finished but somehow it keeps sitting there and not growing. But now it's nearly done.

This is a very bad photograph but it's late at night: you'll have to forgive me. It's nearly done, just one more cuff to do and the neck. I'm not going to do the ribbed neck: I'll just pick up the stitches, knit a round, and cast off. It looks huge but every time I try it on it looks about right, which is worrying in that it means that I'm huge but reassuring in that it means I've made it the right size.

I've been called away for some emergency cat-sitting or I would have got it finished this weekend. I'll take something smaller and lighter, perhaps the denim Shetland Triangle which you all thought I'd abandoned. I've been thinking for a while that after all those lacy shawls I used to do, I have recently had a long spell of being a project knitter. Franklin has obligingly written an article about this in the latest issue of Twist Collective. Although I've enjoyed a lot of these big plainish projects, my thoughts have secretly been turning to froth again and it might be nice to test my enthusiasm on the Triangle.

And matinee jackets. Yes, Mary Lou, I think it's more a British expression. After some consideration I don't think it's the same usage as a matinee at the theatre, but more a distinction between nightwear and daywear. A baby at the time of my Granny's knitting pattern book would have worn a long flannel nightie which tied at the back, and been put into knitted garments for daytime.

The Past
I have had this photograph for a long time, since my mother died and I acquired her collection of family photographs.

It shows my mother's mother's parents, outside their house. Do click. They were Jessie and Robert Forrester. I like their vegetable garden. Jessie died before my grandmother married so I've never heard anything about her: my mother didn't know her as she did her paternal grandparents. I've wondered from time to time where the house was but I thought I didn't know, until one weekend recently when it occurred to me to google a couple of names that have cropped up in family stories. And what should I find?

It's at Mill of Torr, Stirlingshire. The vegetables have vanished from the garden and it all looks a lot tidier now.

These were taken on the doorstep.

My Granny is the dark-haired girl on the right. (She's not the knitting Granny; that was my father's mother.)

Her brother Jim is the handsome man at the left in the top photograph. I don't know who anyone else is. You can see that country people didn't buy new shoes that would only be worn once for a wedding, but they did polish their boots very well.

This is Granny and Jim many years later. I'm almost certain this was taken against the wall of the outbuilding in the first two pictures.

The walking sticks are Jim's. He had very bad arthritis. You can see he still has his moustache and his lovely smile.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Still Dithering

I still haven't decided what to do with the pink shawl, but thank you very much for all your comments. Sea, I know that the mum wants lots of pink things so I'm not worried on that score. It's the shade of pink that concerns me, and I think you're absolutely right about ballet pink, stashdragon.

I should watch some of Call the Midwife, Mary Lou,  just to see the knitting. My Granny had a book of knitting patterns which were her staples, and there were two baby jackets in it which she must have knitted over and over. Matinee jackets they would have been called. Does anyone know why? I can't imagine babies ever went much to matinees. I thought the term would have passed into disuse but I see from Ravelry that it's alive and well. There was another pattern in her book which she knitted over and over, for a short-sleeved lacy top to be worn under a tailor-made tweed suit. A woman's tweed suit was called 'a costume' in my youth. I think the tops might have been knitted from baby yarn as they were in those soft pastels like lemon and pink and wisteria, and a pale green. Pale green and lemon were worn by very small babies because you wouldn't know whether they would need blue or pink until they actually arrived. Changed days.

It does look better in daylight, Fiona, but not better enough, if you follow me. If it were a hotter pink, I'd be a lot happier. But I don't  want to spend money on dye and anyway I think dyeing would knacker the cotton and acrylic blend. But the baby was born on Saturday so there's much more important things to think about than blankets. 3.2 kilos, which I believe is a perfect 7 pounds. Mother and baby are both well.

I have been making progress with the Mediterraneo [BIG] Rubble, so much so that I had to rip it back again because I had overshot the increases for the arms. I've made it a little longer because I was worried about it being too short, and now I think I've made it too long, but I won't really know until the underarm seams are sewn so there's no point in flapping, and anyway it won't be too too long and I think this is a pattern I'll knit more than once. In sewing terms, this is a toile or muslin, a trial garment, except that I should be able to wear this.

The sleeves don't look wide enough here, but that's because it's squeezed onto a needle which isn't as long as the row. The neck comes up a bit higher than I expected and I have a very short neck so I don't think I'll add any ribbing. I think I'll just pick up the stitches, do a couple of rows, and cast off, so that it's a rolled neck edge. But we'll see.

It's the last episode of Broadchurch tonight (Monday) and I shall be all agog. Actually finding out who did it will be a slight disappointment as it always is (or is that just me?) but it's been absorbing and the photography and music have contributed to that a great deal. I have arrived at an age where usually I just complain about music on television, but on this it has been a major part of the whole. I have been distracted by one major hole in the investigations (why haven't they got the boy's phone records from his provider?) but I'm prepared to overlook that for the purposes of suspending disbelief. Last week we saw a major suspect written out but another who had been drawn to our attention was strangely absent. . .

Monday, 8 April 2013


I did do another round of stocking stitch before I started the picot bind-off on the Pinkwheel baby shawl, and then I started to warm to this project again.

The combination of garter stitch rows, YOs and picot bind-off. all worked out as well as I could have hoped and I was quite happy with it.

And then I washed and dried it, and I hated it again. I think it looks like a bit of old tat and I'm going to give it to my friend's cat-charity shop. Perhaps someone will give them a couple of pounds for it.

I've made Pinwheel Blankets in All Seasons Cotton before  and been more than happy with them, and I'll use this border again, so it's sort of hard to say why this combination is so horrible. I think it might be down to the shade of pink, which reminds me of the 1950s, and not in a good way. It's the colour of old plastic and artificial silk and bathroom fittings and toothbrushes and plastic cameos and yes, the gums on false teeth. So I'll buy the baby a present out of a shop and we'll all be happier.

I started  a stay-on sock and then couldn't understand what to do next. I'll have another go some day when my brain's sharper.

I forgot to mention that I finished the Denim Kidsilk Trio cowl and I've been wearing it ever since. I just cast off at the end, put a twist in it, and then seamed up the join.

I know, I'm terrible. So far, no-one has stopped me in the street and accused me of not kitchenering it.

I had thought of going to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival but abandoned the idea because I wasn't sure there was any seating and I didn't want to take the risk. How wise I was, for once. A friend who went reported that it was full of lovely stuff, but mobbed, jam-packed and full of queues. I hope I can go next time. She also said it was full of Stripe Studies and Color Affections. After a moment's disappointment that I wasn't totally original, I decided that it's nice to be part of a wave.

The Shape of Knitting
Lynne Barr's wonderful new book The Shape of Knitting arrived while I was packing to go and stay with the cat again.

The subtitle is A Master Class in Increases, Decreases and Other Forms of Shaping, and it has sections with her brilliant instructions and photographs.

And patterns.

A section on Three-Dimensional Knitting.

A whole section on casting on and casting off.

And more patterns.

I was very tempted to pack some yarn so that I can cast on while I'm away, but I've decided instead to take the turquoise Rubble and read, mark, learn and inwardly digest Shape before I do anything rash.

Flickering Screen
There's a good series on television just now called Broadchurch. It stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman and it's another crime drama. I do wish that we ever had any other sort of drama on television  especially when we have such good actors. Both of them are doing seriously good work on the London stage these days, and do we ever get to see it? No. Broadchurch is a cut above though and I find myself thinking about it between epsiodes (I cannot type 'episode' right first time) and wondering what the people are doing. It's in eight episodes, and we still have three to go. I'm going cat-sitting again and will be relying mostly on Netflix and dvds, but fortunately I'll be able to see Broadchurch.

P.S. A passing friend has just said how nice the horrible pink shawl is. She isn't usually given to unnecessary politeness. I shall see what I think when I come home.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Bogged Down

I haven't been ill this time, just bogged down in a bit of knitting that I'm not finding very inspiring. At one point I was so uncaring that I didn't notice I'd picked up the wrong needle and I produced this abomination, pink Pinwheel and Mediterranean Rubble conjoined.

But I'm about to start the picot bind-off, unless I decide to knit another round first, so the end is in sight,  albeit somewhat distantly. It's 530 stitches, give or take, which isn't too bad.

The cat-sitting went well. Here she is, telepathically informing me that it's 5 o'clock and time for her dinner. In fact, it was only 4.30 so she's going to have to wait a little longer. It was during that very hot week we had at the end of February and her Mummy and Daddy were colder in Spain than they would have been here. Now we're freezing at night again and lots of people have snow. Crazy.

I got some photos of past knitting. Boys in Doctor Who scarves.

One boy in a Doctor Who scarf. I would like to point out that he's got it folded double so it looks much shorter than it actually is.

And a Coffee Cozy. I don't think I blogged about this. It's some of the bright red Sirdar Sublime Chunky Merino that I used for the Doctor Who scarves. It is the most brilliant true red: it's called Tartan but could easily be called Christmas, a colour that endlessly pleases the eyes.

I made the pattern up out of my head. The ribbing has a slit at the side so that it can fit different sizes or be rolled up for a shorter cup. I thought it was for a paper coffee cup; apparently it was for a travel mug  but it still fits, phew.

Someone on Ravelry has knitted another gorgeous stripy  cowl. I feel simultaneously disappointed and relieved that I don't have a lovely bag of leftovers that I could use as an excuse to cast on for this.

Composing Lace
One of my Twitter friends alerted me to a radio programme on the World Service about the Dark Days Music Festival in Iceland, which included an interview with Icelandic composer Hafdis Bjarnadottir who uses lace knitting charts as inspiration for her music - you can hear the holes being made. It's available to listen to here and here, but I don't know which of these, if either, will be available overseas. If you don't want to listen to the whole thing, the knitting bit starts at 11:20.

If you can't listen to it, there's a brief newspaper account here. It's written by someone who thinks knitting is frightfully amusing but we're used to that.

Silver Screen
Going round and round in pink circles left quite a lot of time for staring at the screen. I watched all of the latest House of Cards, and then couldn't resist watching the old one too. I felt the new one was too long; there isn't really any reason for it to last 13 episodes except that that's how long a television series usually is nowadays; for the same sort of reason the last episode was unsatisfactory because everyone who should have been getting their just desserts was being set up for the next series. The writing wasn't always very exciting, and one was told things - she's an outstanding journalist, he's got great promise as a politician - without necessarily seeing any evidence for these statements. The relationship between the politician and the journalist was much more of a transaction than a relationship - interestingly, in the older show the woman initiated things and was much more of a driving force - well, not so much at the end, but still. Apart from that, it was all watchable and Spacey was as good as I'd hoped. I like Corey Stoll, who played David Russo and thought he shone. Robin Wright was convincingly dastardly and always beautifully dressed.

The old one (1990) was skipped through much more quickly, three books boiled down into four episodes, and the ending was as definite an ending as you could get.  And everyone seemed to cope very well without mobile phones.

They're both on Netflix in the UK. I learnt recently that if you're travelling you can log into the local Netflix site using your home username and password. It remembers what you're watching and everything. I thought it was a mistake at first but it's just Netflix being practical. Bravo.

The BBC are showing I, Claudius again, all remastered and tidied up from 1976. They're not repeating it and it isn't available on iPlayer so one has to catch it on a Tuesday night. I was worried that it might seem very silly and out-of-date as innovative things often do 35 years later but I'm enjoying it as much as ever and am surprised by what huge chunks of it I remember vividly. The very modern style and avoidance of fake ancientness still works. Sian Phillips is entirely convincing as the deadly Livia and I'm dreading the appearance of John Hurt as Caligula. The scenery does wobble from time and ageing make-up has improved a lot since then, but it doesn't really matter.

I'd wanted to see Sightseers since it came out and have finally caught up with it. It's a British film, a black comedy. It has been described as Mike Leigh's Nuts in May meets Terence Malick's Badlands, and that's pretty accurate. It's about a couple who go on their first holiday together, and the people they meet. You wouldn't want to be one of those people for, oh, lots of reasons. This is the lovely knitted poster.

I suppose that being told a film is very funny is always a bad idea as it almost inevitably sets you up to be disappointed, and I think it probably works much better in a cinema with a responsive audience than watched in silent solitary contemplation, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected. I think I should watch it again with a crowd. It certainly had some very good lines. The actors who play the ghastly couple are also the writers  so I guess they may also be a couple in real life, although of course far from ghastly.

Thank you, Mary G.; it's nice to hear from you again.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

More Very Plain Knitting

I've managed not to keel over again, so that's encouraging. As anticipated, I've ripped the previous turquoise All Seasons Cotton sweater and have started on a [BIG] Rubble. (Yes, Fiona, we often follow each other: I still mean to knit a shadow[]box :) It's always interesting seeing a pattern going viral amongst one's Ravelry Friends, zigzagging up the page.)

I was working with 5mm needles, but my Inner Knitter kept telling me that it looked too wide and, more importantly, the fabric was too floppy. Since I've already got a well-worn and much-loved sweater in this yarn, you'd think all I'd have to do would be check Ravelry to see what needle I used, but alas, I didn't record it. Perhaps I knitted it before I joined Ravelry.

So I eventually gave in and cast on again with a 4.5mm needle and knitted for a few inches.

The lower one was definitely closer to what I want so there was more ripping, and then more knitting.

I'm happy with it now.

Since I finished the two little baby hats I've been thinking about a Pinwheel Blanket for the baby. I decided All Seasons Cotton would be a good idea again and at first was keen to do it in the old Printed version, in the pink colourway, Heart.

I used that on the edge of an earlier Pinwheel. It's discontinued, but I found someone on Ravelry who was apparently interested in selling some so I contacted her: No Answer was the loud reply. This was a mite frustrating as I could see that she had read it, and that was busy chatting to her real Ravelry friends, but after a while I began to wonder if the mother-to-be might think it was a bit hippy-dippy and tie-dye, so I went back to thinking about plain pink. There's a pale pink, called Fez, so that's what I got

This one is on a 5mm needle.

It's a very soft shade, quite close to the Shell of the Handknit Cotton I made the latest daisy hat from. It's very pretty. Sometimes in artificial light I think it's the colour of the gums on false teeth, but it probably isn't.

I'm going cat-sitting again, so I'm going to take it with me. I really want to take the turquoise, but  Baby is due on May Day and I don't think she's going to be late. I know how 'bags of time' can turn into Eeek!, so I'm not going to take any chances, especially as I would like to do quite a fancy border on it. Famous last words. I'm slightly apprehensive about the cat-sitting in case I get ill again - one of my plants died of neglect during my last bout - but I'm thinking positive.

The cat's Mummy and Daddy don't have as many channels of tv as I do, so I'm taking my iPad and planning to catch up with House of Cards on Netflix. I've watched three episodes and although I'm not quite sure it warrants 13 episodes, I'm fairly hooked. Spacey is terrific, of course, and there are all sorts of other good people. I still remember the BBC original, which I leurved, and Ian Richardson is a hard act to follow, but I don't think there's any point in comparing them: that was then and this is now, and so on.

I recently joined MUBI, which is wonderful. It's another online movie service, but instead of replicating the same selection of blockbusters as everyone else, it works on a smaller, more perfect base. They put up a new film each day and leave it there for a month, so at any time there are 30 films to choose from. Some of them are current, and some are films I've always meant to get round to seeing. Some I haven't heard of. At the moment it doesn't run on iPad, so I shall miss it when I'm away, but they're working on it. It's available in lots of countries so probably the best way to find it if you're not in the UK is just to google MUBI. It is amazingly cheap.

One of the first films I watched was Nanni Morretti's Habemus Papam, We Have a Pope, which appeared coincidentally a few days after the resignation. (Which resignation? There are so many nowadays.)

I like Morretti's films very much anyway, and this one is a treat.

Briefly, a new Pope is chosen, but when he's informed he has a panic attack and refuses the position. It looks gorgeous, full of red and pink silk robes and spectacular surroundings - the Palazzo Farnese, not the Vatican. If you've watched many Italian films you will recognize a lot of the Cardinals; Moretti has put together a remarkable collection of ancient faces. I wonder if they bought the cardinals' robes at an outfitters in Rome or if they ran them up in the wardrobe department. I don't suppose you can buy cardinals' robes off the peg.