Sunday, April 08, 2007

Journey from Knitting in Japan to Scotch Pie (via Africa)

Some of you know I lived in Japan for a few years in the 1980s. Although I learned the rudiments of knitting as a kid from my Grandmas, I didn't really learn to do all the knitting, purling, increases or decreases until I decided to knit a sweater from a Japanese pattern. I re-taught myself by looking at the pictures and it gave me a style different from what most knitters use here. I didn't just knit continental, I knit with an extra twist and a different wrap.
I learned to knit in a more "Americanized" way from my Sis-in-love, Lynn (of COLORJOY.COM)
While bopping around the interweb this morning I came across a very cool bit of information. The history of knitting in Japan. There are some wonderful old photos, and a lot of information I've never encountered before.
Here are links to parts one and two:

Part of the magic of the internet is the chains of info that can lead you on a pretty fantastic journey from your armchair. From the article on Japanese knitting, I found a link to something called naalbinding.
I'd seen this before when I studied Norse Archaeology, but I'd not remembered the term, and this is a terrific explanation of it as it relates to finds from many cultures.
The core site of this article seems to be an online village for a group of living history re-enactors in Great Britain who concentrate on how life was at the turn of the first century (AD). I find it sweetly ironic that the internet is providing a base of operations for them. I love the internet, can you tell?
Their site led me to Teacher's TV to watch a video of a history celebration in Islip.
This site is cool! It seems to be a sort of online television station for instructors to share info with each other, and with their classrooms. I found their video section chock full of interesting stuff. A video of a lecture on the type of minds needed for a globalized world, another about a girl who is providing shoes, medicine and toys to Malawi (a country in southeastern Africa) and thousands of others on many topics. Some of them are not accessible outside the U.K. but many are. Fascinating stuff.

I had to look up 'Malawi" in Wikipedia. The entry told me that the country of Malawi was born a month after I was, November 1962. If you are unfamiliar with the realities of poverty in small countries, I recommend your brace yourself before reading further in the article. Here a few hints. Malawi's exports value only $596 US dollars per person, per year. That's about what our household earns per week. And according to a 2005 Food and Agriculture Organization report 25% of the population would not have enough food to survive that year. Being who I am, I am appreciative to have learned this sad stuff about Malawi, but I am unable to spend more time at this moment learning more.

So I move on to a more optimistic sector of information, the music of Malawi. I find out something fascinatingly unexpected. "Malawians have long been travellers, and as a result their music has spread across the African continent" And that in the late 1960s Malawi had its own form of jazz which "has little in common with its American namesake" based on traditional acoustic music. These days there is a folkfusionist group from Malawi called Pamtondo, (site heading is 'Where a little of Malawi meets the world in Scotland')

Pamtondo refers to women at the mortar pounding flour, and a wonderful painting or mural of this is HERE. After reading about the famine in Malawi, the name of the group has even more resonance. And then I read this ARTICLE about the meaning of the music and its connection to women by John Lwanda. GREAT article. Please read it if you are at all interested in African jazz.

Then I decided since I was 'there' I'd learn more about that area of Scotland (Bothwell). I had learned (in the Wiki article) that the first European in Malawi had been Dr. David Livingstone. And here on the Pamtondo site I learn that John Lwanda lives across the river from Dr. David Livingstone's birthplace. Small small world indeed.

On the Pamtondo website they mention "the famous Tunnocks Bakery"in Uddingston so of course, being hungry for breakfast, I had to find out what they are famous for. Ah! they are famous for Tunnocks Tea Cakes and Caramel Wafers. Hmm. Maybe our local Hillers carries them. I'll check next time I'm there. But wait! Someone has said (on a site about Strathclyde's best bakeries) that Tunnocks makes "the best Scotch Pies ever".
What is a Scotch Pie?

You know, I found a recipe for Scotch pie on a site called (love the name)
It seems to be a sort of mutton or lamb pie (source of the endearment 'Lambie Pie'?)
here is a link to the SCOTCH PIE recipe
And now to explore Rampant Scotland dot com
Hmm. This may take a while. their header says
13,000+ Scottish-related Links, regularly updated.
3,700 Web page features on Scotland and the Scots.

I'd better get some breakfast first.


Jan in PA said...

You are so right, the Internet is a wonderful place. I usually hear a word or phrase and come to the computer to find more about it. Link after link then on to more and more (distantly) related subjects and finally I look up to see that hours have passed and I have no clue how I got there.

You have shared some interesting information today. If you don't hear from me for days, it's all your fault, lol.

Lynx said...

the internet is a dangerous place for those of us with any degree of ADD...
the internet is its own version of six degrees...
Kevin Bacon is SO cute!!!
oh, look at the pretty froggy...
see, I can *be* the internet too!