Sunday, July 09, 2006

Painted warp

I suggested that our Spinners and Weavers Guild have a 'Something New' Challenge for the rest of the year - participants to try out a technique new to them, write a report for the newsletter, and everyone who participates goes into the draw at the end of the year for a voucher for a fibre or yarn supplier.

So, to provide a first example to the guild, I decided to try out painting a warp, something I've not done before. I wound the warp this morning - a fine white wool - and I ended up going into our guild rooms this afternoon to dye it as it's much better set up for laying out long warps, plus the microwave and dyeing equipment is all there.

I'm quite happy with the outcome, particularly given that my dye mixing was definitely not scientific! There's enough to make two scarves, each one going from red through purple and blue to green and then back out to red again. Now I just have to wait until it's dry, then put it on the loom, then decide what pattern and colours to use in the weft and do the weaving. That's all ;-) In all that spare time that I have...

The Ancient Art of Par-King.

(Procrastination hit this morning, and I was inspired to write this for my batty writers' group after some discussion about the terrors of parking.)

The Ancient Art of Par-King.

The origins of this art-form are lost in the sands of time. Earliest recordings are found in Asian poetry scrolls dating to 1000BCE, where Par-King appears to have been practised by court poets near lakeside views. It is said that some poets entered a prolonged trance state while Par-King that could last for weeks.

As with many adoptions from the East, the artform appeared in the Mediterranean during the early Roman period. The Romans, however, turned it into a competitive sport, with competition amongst chariot drivers for Par-King spaces in the centre of Rome rivalling that of the Gladatorial contests in the Arena. Par-King differed from the Gladitorial contests in one key aspect; it actively involved spectators, who paid for the privalege of riding with the chariot drivers while they Par'K'd and who could become as aggressive and combatitive in defending a Par-King place as the drivers themselves.

The practice of Par-King ebbed and flowed during the Dark and Middle Ages, with many regional variations evolving. (The Venetians, for example, used boats.) Popularity again soared from the eighteenth century onwards, when large proportions of the populace across Europe moved to the rapidly growing cities. The competitive version of Par-King has always been more widely practised in metropolitan areas, whereas rural areas - particularly isolated rural areas - maintained the original, meditative art-form. (Except on market days, when a friendly, informal version of the sport was played, usually with much good-natured humor.)

In the modern era, high-stakes Par-King contests are conducted every day across much of Europe, North America, and in major cities in Asia. Participation in the sport of Par-King is higher than in any other sport, involving some 70% of the population on a daily basis. Competition has grown so fierce in some places that the competitors spend vast sums on large vehicles to terrorise competitors in smaller ones, and injuries, while still relatively rare given the vast number of players, do occur. Elitism has also entered the sport, with some competitors paying large daily sums to compete on less-crowded Par-King fields.

Sadly, it is only in the backwaters of modern life - rural communities, and some small towns - that Par-King is still practised in its original art form, as a joyful, meditative practice. While some urban youth do practice a version of Par-King - in pairs, in dimly lit areas at night - adherents of the old ways consider the limitation to pairs in the night-time to be a corruption of The True Practice of Par-King, which, they say, should be able to be undertaken by any devotee, at any time.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Out and about

We had a great trip with friends on Saturday down to part of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. A wilderness area, gorgeous scenery, good company - what more can anyone ask for?*

After enjoying the view from the lookout at Budds Mare, we then drove along a 4WD only access track down the escarpment to the Riverside camping area on the Apsley River, nestled in the narrow valley. There we boiled the billy and had morning tea in glorious winter sunshine, then went for a mild bushwalk, then picnic lunch. We didn't see a lot of wildlife, but there were tree-creepers on the nearby trees, and a wallaby munched happily 100m or so away from us. We had the place to ourselves otherwise - not another soul for miles around.

Sunday afternoon saw another short excursion into the landscape - DH and I took the dogs over to Bakers Creek Falls, at the top of the Metz Gorge, the nearest part of the vast New England escarpment to our place (only about 5km as the crow flies.) So we had a pleasant walk along the road there, and the dogs had a great time exploring a new place - lots of exciting smells to sniff, although once again we didn't see anyone else. A pleasant stroll in a country lane with stunning views off to one side... life is indeed rich!

*Other than wealth, copious quantities of chocolate, time to write, and a large publishing contract.