Update on Frostagarn — New Price Break on Vintage Swedish Frostagarn

October 8, 2017–update:  Since last month’s bulk discount announcement, three colors have run out.  The photo to the left reflects the current availability.

I purchased many boxes of the Borgs Swedish yarn called Frosta over a year ago from an estate sale on the west coast.  It was produced in the mid-century modern period and is no longer made. I have listed it in my etsy shop, and sales have been brisk at $8/100gram with 110 Meter on the skein. Generally yarn of this caliber ranges from $10-16/skein

As of this blog-posting, I will be reducing the price for larger orders to help move the yarn to fiberartists who are on budget or just looking for a good deal.  It is currently the lowest priced yarn I carry, and frankly I need the space for newer yarns coming in.

If you are buying 1-14 skeins, the price is $8 per skein.  Notice the price drops significantly as you buy greater quantities.  If you want to order for a group of friends, why not bring the price down to $5/skein.  There will be no delay in shipment because it is on on premises right now.

A color sample card is included in my Samples package sold on etsy. The colors are limited to two basic color ranges: HOT pinks, oranges, and yellows ….

and COOLER natural greens, browns and golds.

Note: The chocolate brown, rust, and two other greens are now gone. See sample card at the top of post for availability–though quantities are less.

They can be used with other Frostagarns or mix them with Rauma, Lundgren, or Asborya (currently made by Borgs selling at $13-16/sk.)   You can mix and match colors as you choose. Any quantity, as long as it is still available or any Frostagarn color, just send me a list of what you want and I will send you an online invoice.  Or if you’d rather purchase through etsy, send me an etsy message telling me what you want, and I will do a special listing just for you.  Very easy.

Here are the price breaks:

1 – 14 skeins @ $8.00/skein

15 – 25 skeins @ $7.00

26 – 49 skeins @ $6.00

50+ skeins @ $5.00

Here is a close-up shot of a totally Frostagarn-made rya.  It has a coarse feel as most rya yarns do.  The twist is looser than other rya yarns, but the twist is maintained when the loops are cut.  I made sample swatches of rya rugs (like the photo below) using every type of rya yarn I carry, and was very pleasantly surprised at how nice the Frostagarn functioned solo on a backing.  I have been adding maybe 10-20%  Frostagarn to most my kits I offer along with a mix of the Lundgren, Rauma ryegarn and prydvevgarn, and Asborya.

By comparison (for those in the know), the same company, Borgs in Sweden made Frostagarn as they still make the Asborya today which sells for $13-$16.  The older yarn has the more characteristic coarse rope-like twist than the new which is definitely more on the soft side.

 

Open Letter to my “Stitches United” Rya Class

Dear Class,

I decided to share this letter as a blog because there are so many others out there who might be in the same stages of rya learning as you.  Plus, this way, you can all communicate with each other and me by adding comments below.  Maybe even people who were not in the class might ask questions or offer ideas, too!

First let me say, I totally loved being your instructor at Stitches United in Hartford, CT last week.  I now know that people who handle yarn regularly as knitters or weavers have a more natural tendency to grasp the basic concepts of graphing a rya rug.  I can’t wait to see the outcome of your designing work.  You were all so diverse in your designs.

But I also know that once you are away from class it is easy to forget something or find that your knots are doing things that you didn’t intend them to do, so let me know how I can help get you back on track if anything goes wrong.  Here are some typical questions that arise:

What do you do if you skipped a warp bundle and your knots are not lining up as you expected?  It happens to the best of us.  Easy to fix.  First confirm that the knots you are making now look exactly like the knots you were making in class and have not morphed into some mutant knot.  If the knot is fine, but you just skipped a “hole” you can get back on track by either extending another knot to “skip another hole” or use the warp bundle next to the gap twice…overlap a knot. Who would know?  Of course you can pull knots out by the head, and replace them where they belong or just change your design slightly.   I almost never pull out knots to fix a mistake.  If you can get away with fixing a booboo so no one knows it happened, that is an excellent choice.

What if you started making 15-16 knots from each threading, but as you progress, your loops get steadily longer and now, half way through, you realize you are getting 13-14 knots per threading?  You might be okay with the amount of yarn given for this class, but you might run out, and that is not a problem, just an inconvenience.  Best thing would be to cut back on the loop length gradually, and increase the “turn of your scissors to make a slightly greater variation in the pile length of each knot.  No one will know.  😉

Remember the Gray Fireflower design on which you all made your first knots?  I just finished that a couple of evenings ago.  I really like it.  Take a look.

And by the way, remember that horrible-looking chart to help you mathematically calculate the amount of yarn you would need?  I did that chart using Gray Fireflower as the example, and I am ecstatic to say that the quantities of yarn I gathered to make that rya came out perfect with about  7-9 strands extra of every color.  I knew it should work out, but to do those calculations and a couple weeks later have it come out right on target…just thought I’d confirm with you the the system works!

Now I am adding you all to my e-newsletter mailing list as you all gave me permission to do.  I welcome you to send me photos of your rya work and any question you might have.  Post your questions and comments below.  (You might not see your posting right away, since I have a security measure to keep spammers from posting their ads.) I don’t think you can post pictures in the comments, but I can edit this blog and add your photos as you send them.

Thanks and keep in touch…  Melinda Byrd

PS  Here is the first photo sent by Grace with her cat design a little more than halfway done! I love your colors, facial features, and whimsicality! (Grace is already planning her next rya.)

 

And here is Grace’s complete and hanging on the wall!  Amazing…

Here is Karen’s all complete.  She revised the necklace design at the end (due to shortage of a color she was planning to use) but the outcome is very eye-catching!

And this just in from Julia Horgan, inspired by the drawing of the hydrangea flowers and leaves.  Great color blendings.

 

And this just in from Connie–now complete!  Looking good! Great technique–actually ALL of you have great technique! (In case you forgot, Connie’s inspiration was the calendar page of the fall colors in the aspen grove–zoomed in.) Love it!

And below is Nancy’s–all done.  Remember how Nancy loved the traditional Finnish ryijy from one of my catalogs? She redesigned a smaller version as seen here, but she also asked me to order the real kit from Finland which she now has received and will be starting shortly.   We know it will be quite different to knot, but the colors will be spectacular and the yarn finer and softer. (Remember the Finnish skein I showed you in class–how it looked like nice yarn for a sweater?)  So stay tuned on Nancy’s report on the new project!

 

So here are the Finnish Kit supplies from Suomen Perinnetekstiilit (Formerly Vuorelma) in Finland.  Since it is a larger backing with many more knots across each row, Nancy will be able to get the clear definition of the tulip flower.  Can’t wait to see her progress.

Remember, feel free to comment below.

A Rya Challenge for the New Year

img_0289Happy New Year!  I think we stay young when we do things we have never done before on a regular basis.  If nothing else, it definitely keeps life more interesting.  So that will be one of my driving forces during 2017.

I have been designing and making rya rugs since I was in 6th grade, so my new thing to start the new year is to make a “kit” rya rug from Norway–and an easy one at that. So, for me, my challenge is to not ad-lib or substitute colors.  Why am I holding back on my creativity? img_0267The reason is I have been selling the Rauma Rye (Norwegian for rya; pronounced the same) kits for over a year now and I have never made one.  Most design-kits have been available for decades, if there ever were any “bugs” surely they would have been worked out by now.  I ask my customers after they tell me they have completed a rye kit if they had enough of every color.  Usually the answer is yes, and I have to wonder when they don’t if it is because they made the pile a little too long. img_5967 So now I am putting myself to the test.  I am also putting Rauma to the test. It is coming through with flying colors. Many of my questions are now answered.

The neat thing is: I am totally LOVING making the kit called “ILD” which means “Fire” in Norwegian.  I have seen a photo of a completed Ild in gradations from black-purples-reds-orange-yellows.  But Ild is also offered as a kit in these cool blues-greens, but I didn’t know what they would look like together.

Two evenings ago I started knotting Ild while watch a Netflix movie (Sully, starring Tom Hanks). So sitting on the couch with my rya in my lap, I knotted the bottom 6″ within two hours while watching a riveting movie.  Now, two days later I am almost half way done and I can’t stop! The color combinations are amazing.  This is a great “starter kit.”  It is small 16″ wide by 32″ tall. It is totally symmetrical.  Reasonably priced at $206 for all supplies.  And now it is the only kit of all my Norwegian offerings that is personally “test-driven” by me.  (aside from my own designs!)img_0265

Now I have a fun offer for you. I would like to offer a small rya sewing circle of 3-4 people who want to come to my studio here in Woodbine, Maryland to start on their own Ild kit or any other rya project you would like to make. I’d be happy to set you up with these colors, or the red one, or we could do any color transition you want to do such as browns-rusts-yellows or purples through pinks.  I can personally teach you in a small group setting.  If you can’t come to my studio, You can still buy a kit and I will mail it to you. Click here to see the blue-green option or Click here to see the red-yellow option I’ll start the first few knots for you.  And for January and February, we can do an email progress-sharing report for all Ild makers, and in spring I will post a picture of everyone with their completed rya in what ever colors you chose to make them.  Contact me if you would be interested in starting with this kit this winter.  Let me know your general time availability. Weekdays, or weekend, mornings or afternoons.  Note:  I have just set aside Wed., Feb. 8 from 2-4:00 as a rya sewing circle day.  The first 4 people to contact me will be included in this sharing afternoon together.  Email me at byrdcallstudio@gmail.com.

img_0277All that to say, I AM LOVING THIS RYA EXPERIENCE!  And want to experience it with YOU! Throughout 2017 I plan to shine a spot light on various designs or ways of designing.  Keep me posted if you don’t want to miss a Rya Sewing Circle aimed at giving you confidence and a good healthy start on your project.

If you live anywhere near Connecticut, don’t forget to check out the STITCHES UNITED Conference in Hartford the last week-end in April.  I’ll be teaching there, and there is still time to register for my class. ILD and about 4-5 or my own designs will be on display in the Hartford Convention Center.

Feel free to comment below about other class types you would be interested to have me schedule in 2017.  Completing the book is my #1 priority, but a little class fun really makes my day!

A Design to Uplift and Heal

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Lately, writing my rya book has been first and highest priority in my daily life.  But with the stress of the recent presidential election and its outcome, I found myself sitting quietly in the studio last Sunday and wondering how to move on.  I had not even looked at my book document on my computer for nearly a week. I was not productive in any way.

Even though I had not carved a woodcut or linocut in over a year, I found myself taking a linoleum block from my carving bin and started to draw safety pins on it.  (The safety pin is being worn by many to symbolize standing together and uniting for the safety of others. When I saw a woman wearing a safety pin on her sweater in the market the other day, I felt a bit of optimism and comfort.  Such a small thing to wear a pin, but a big thing if it makes others feel camaraderie or united in some way. )

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This is a Unisex shirt in the color Berry. Click on the image to go to the etsy shop to see details.

I laid a little pin on the block and drew it, then moved it and drew it again, then opened it and drew it again.  Next thing you know I was carving it and within a couple of hours it was done! The process has been healing for me, but the real healing came when I thought, “I can not ‘market’ this art like my other designs, because there are too many people really hurting now and it would be unfair for me to profit on their loss.”  I got a big smile on my face (the first in days) when I realized that I could market them as printed shirts where a significant portion of the cost of the shirt would go to directly benefit marginalized people in our community and aid in creating unity among us all. I named the design: Unity.

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These long sleeve Comfort Colors shirts are now available in my etsy shop. Click on photo for details.

I selected two nonprofits which are near and dear to my heart and have promised $10 from each shirt sale to either of these nonprofits as selected by the person purchasing the shirt.  I have hand printed a total of 30 shirts in Ladies and Unisex style in long and short sleeves.  But I also have recently received from my local silk screener 200 more, so they can be distributed far and wide without taking up every minute of my life doing the printing by hand.

The nonprofits (to start with) and their missions are as follow:

  1. Common Ground on the Hill.  “Our world is one of immense diversity. As we explore and celebrate this diversity, we find that what we have in common with one another far outweighs our differences. Our common ground is our humanity, often best expressed by artistic traditions that have enriched human experience through the ages. We invite you to join us in searching for common ground as we assemble around theimg_5446 understanding that we can improve ourselves and our world by searching for the common ground in one another, through the lens of our artistic traditions. In a world filled with divisive, negative news, we seek to discover, create and celebrate good news.”          Walt Michael, Founder & Executive Director

You may recall from previous blogs and newsletters that nearly every summer for the past 15+ years I have taken classes during their summer camps and for the past two years I have been teaching rya rug making classes.

2. Mary’s Center  “Our mission is to build better futures through the delivery of health care, education, and social services. We embrace culturally diverse communities to provide them with the highest quality of care, regardless of ability to pay.”

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This is a Ladies style T-shirt. Click on photo to see the available hand-printed shirts in my etsy shop.  Hand-printed being rubbed from the inked carved linoleum block!

My niece, Emily, has worked in Washington DC at Mary’s Center since graduating from college.  Actually she did an internship there during college.  She has shared with me the wonderful service they provide.  I like to support them.

If you would like an original hand-printed T-shirt, you can buy them now through my etsy shop for $25 or $30 for long sleeves.  Each time one sells, I remove that shirt’s description for the dropdown menu of availability.

Later:  On Dec. 2nd I  picked up 200 more shirts from my local silk-screen printer.  They are currently listed in my etsy shop, Byrdcall.

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These ladies enjoyed a shopping frenzy knowing $10 from each purchase benefited a favorite nonprofit for unity.  Click this photo to see my new silk-screened T-shirts on etsy which cost $5 less than the hand-printed ones.

Designing, carving, and printing this design was healing for me.  generating funds for my favorite unifying nonprofits makes me feel good and I love knowing that each person who buys a shirt is wearing it with pride and love.

I am back to writing my book now. Yesterday I made progress, and today I plan to wrap up Chapter 5!  I am thankful to have art as an outlet in life to work through stress and challenges.  I hope you are all well and doing the same in your own way.  United we will make it better.  We will go forward with eyes open.

Donation Update:  As of 2/7/17 the sales of these shirts have generated $450 for Mary’s Center, $280 for Common Ground on the Hill and $140 for the Social Justice Committee of Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalist Church.  One day in the studio–with hopes for a more peaceful world has put $870 in the hands of people working to make that difference.  And the donations continue.

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And I also silk-screened Ladies style long sleeve in Lagoon and Denim and Black. And Unisex style long-sleeve shirts in the color Blue Spruce. Click this photo to see the etsy listing.

 

A Challenging Rya–and the story behind it…

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As most of you know, I’m not taking on any big design “jobs” until my rya book is completed.  But early Fall 2015, I received an email so intriguing that I had to find an excuse to tackle this challenge.  So I justified it by deciding to document this project as a lesson for the book.  Mission accomplished.  Here is a sneak preview.

paintingPolly Pook made ryas 40 years ago when she worked for a rya supply company in Illinois. The backing fabric she used was different from what I was familiar with, but she was excited to learn to knot on a backing I had from Sweden from the 70’s which was just the size she wanted.  She and her husband, Peter, live in Ontario.

Peter had painted an oil painting of a Canadian landscape. They wondered if this image could be drawn onto the backing.  I have often told people that pictorial images often do not become good rya designs, but this painting was strong enough in colors and design to hold its own as an abstract scene in rya.  So I said YES I could do it for them, if they would allow me to use it as an example in my book.  They were pleased with the idea and helped me along the way as much as they could.Acetate overlay Pook

First, they bought my yarn and backing samples on etsy so they could match yarn colors to the painting.  (Online photos often to not show the true yarn colors.)  Then Peter traced the painting on a sheet of acetate in order to make a line drawing for me to transpose onto the backing with a laundry marker. (Brilliant!)  I had never known anyone to do this before, but it is all part of simply figuring out in the most logical way how to get a job done.  I love it! They sent me digital images of the painting, the line drawing, and the line drawing with yarn color numbers written in each space–which was extremely helpful for me.Pook line drawing from iPad - cleaned up

I used the grid method to transfer the design from 8 1/2 x 11 paper to 34″ x 55″  backing.  I drew lines on the paper with a ruler and stitched the same proportional lines on the backing. Then with a laundry marker, slowly drew what was in each “square” onto the backing.  I’m not going to say that it was really easy because there actually is quite a bit of detail there, but in the end it came together very nicely. Pook line drawing with numbers 9-16-15Don’t worry–the book will have an easier example of how to draw on a backing.  All the same, isn’t it nice to know that this can be done?

working photoSince the backing being used was a traditional Swedish backing measuring 34″ wide x 55″ long, I knew that it had 85 knots across the row and 95 rows (I counted them).  85 x 95 = 8,075 knots in the whole rya.  Good to know.  I also knew that Polly wanted a pile length of about 1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″ which calculates to about 300 knots from a Rauma Norwegian skein of rya yarn (ryegarn).  So how many skeins would this rya need?  Very good: 8,075 knots divided by 300 knots per skein equals about 27 skeins required for this rya.  We round up to 30 skeins.  Helpful info, but how much of each color?  Aye, there’s the rub.

Pook painting divided into cmWas I in over my head? To figure how much of each color, I went back to a photocopy of the painting and with a ruler, drew lines dividing the painting into 1 cm x 1 cm squares.  It could have been any small size like that, but I thought 1 cm was good for counting the colors that fell within those squares.  I know this will sound like I’m from another planet, but I used math to make the calculations.  I’m going to write this more clearly in the book (I’m practicing on YOU!).

See if you can follow this–and tell me if you can (or cannot) in the comments below.  On my 8 1/2″ x 11″ photo of the painting I drew 18 vertical lines 1 cm apart.  Then drew 27 horizontal lines to the top of the picture.  I didn’t choose those numbers; that just happened to be the measurements of that picture.  Stay with me now.  So the photo now has a grid with 18 x 27 squares for a total of 486 squares. THEREFORE the yarn in 486 squares = 27 skeins, rounded up to 30 skeins for a little spare yarn for wiggle room.

So with great patience I counted how many squares of each color and estimated when a square was half one color and half another.  I had the yarn color cards to know which colors would go in which squares.  So I started counting:  Threading #1 was a dark green. There were a total of 16 squares of that color.  So how much yarn would that be? 16 divided by 486 = .033 x 30 skeins total = .98 skeins, rounded up to 1 skein.  Phew!  If anyone followed me, you are hired!!

Pook Threading cardHere is another:  The mustard color was filling 31 squares on the grid.  31/486 = 0.064. Multiple that times 30 skeins and you would need 1.9 skeins rounded up to 2 skeins. Piece of cake!  It is magic.  For you mathematicians out there, please explain this phenomenon in the comments section  My aging brain is having a hard time expressing why this works so well.

A54BD205-1B82-4D5E-B4BC-98EE675C29A6And finally for those who are very advanced out there, you are thinking, “But what if there are three shades of mustard in that last example?”  Well, you would simply divide the two skeins by three colors and realize that you would need about 3/4 skein of all three of those mustards.

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Hopefully, you are still with me.  Peter and Polly came to the DC area to spend Thanksgiving with their daughter. They all came by the studio to pick up the rya “kit” and for Polly’s lesson since this was a new kind of backing for her.  She is now working on it at home in Ontario and I hope to share a photo of the finished rya wall-hanging in an up-coming issue of the Byrdcall Blog.

Here is what her work was looking like in January!  Way to go, Polly!

 

Rug in progress 1-21-16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here is what it looked like on April 11, 2016.

Polly Pook in progress

 

I Now Offer Rya Kits from Norway!

Rauma Ryer Folder11Reinlav-cover copyIf you have been patiently waiting for me to finish my book so I can create more rya kits for you to choose from, you don’t need to wait any longer.  I have been selling all the rya supplies offered by Rauma of Norway for over a year now.  I stock 76 of their 82 colors, and by November 2015, I will carry all 82 colors of their rya yarn (ryegarn) from the indigenous Spaelsau sheep of Norway.  I also carry their heavy wool and linen backings in 26 sizes.  What I did not have until this week, was access to their 125+ prepared kits.  Now I do.  This is huge.

Back in the old days when I worked with my grandparents, there was no internet with which to post photos of rya kits.  So you had to request a catalog which we had to snail mail to you to choose from.  It was a time-consuming and expensive process and hit-or-miss as to whether there were designs you wanted to make within that catalog.

Today, I am simply posting a few of the many designs you will see in the coming weeks. If you see one that you love, call or email me and order it.  I will place the order for your kit which generally will arrive in about one month.   I can send an online invoice to you, so when your kit arrives, I can ship it right off to you.  I will be adding instructions in English for those of you whose Norwegian is a little rusty.  If you are new to the rya process, I will start making the first row of knots for you to copy my process.   If you live within driving distance of my studio, you can pick it up (save shipping) and I will watch you make the knots until you are comfortable with the process–but that is something most people can easily figure out on their own.  The kit will have everything you need in it.  The ease of this kind of transaction will free me up to first finish writing the book, and eventually allow more time for me to teach classes and make up my own kits.  So without further ado . . . . The beginning of my Rauma offerings…Folder #11:

Rauma--Anemone -adjusted price

This rya has two types of yarn: ryegarn and prydvevgarn. The price for this kit is $386.

 

Rauma Ryer Folder11Harmoni copy

 

Rauma Ryer Folder11Kongle copy

Rauma Ryer folder11Leikarring copy

This heart-shaped design rya is knotted with two types of yarn: ryegarn and prydvevgarn. The price of this kit is $540.

 

 

 

 

Rauma Ryer Folder11Spire copy

This kit, Soldans, is made with both ryegarn and prydvev yarn. The kit price is: $386.

This kit, Soldans, is made with both ryegarn and prydvev yarn. The kit price is: $386.

Sommerfugl is available in 80 x 120 cm (31" x 47") for $488.

Sommerfugl is available in 80 x 120 cm (31″ x 47″) for $540.  This kit is composed of both ryegarn and prydvevgarn.

Rauma Ryer Folder11Tre

Available in 40 x 120 cm (16″ x 47″) for $286 or 60 x 110 cm (24″ x 43″) for $350.

Rauma Ryer Folder11Tulipan

Tulipan is available in the Reds as shown or also in Blues. The price for either is $350.

I think that is enough for now…. very soon, I will add more.  Stay tuned and thanks.  By the way, as far as the price of the kits goes … I did some calculations of what the basic materials would cost if bought separately, and in truth, the kit cost is very comparable.  I was surprised at how little mark up was added for the “kit construction.”  I figured some of you were wondering.

One of my most experienced rya customers, Murray, just ordered the first Rauma kit from me.  (He has made many Rauma kits though.)  When I received it and opened it to make sure all was in order, I noticed that the gorgeous yarn colors were a little different from the ones in the catalog.  Some of these catalog photos are old back in the day when the color vibrancy scale was amped up. (Think of the old National Geographics, where the vivid colors were a tab more vivid than reality.)  So you might expect your rya to be a bit more subdued than the photo.  Frankly, the colors in Murray’s kit were stunning, but you should know there is a possibility of a color variance.

And as a final note, those of you who are already designing your own, keep it up!  The kit is a great way to start, but designing your own is a rush!

Share Your Rya Story

Lynne, from Massachusetts has designed and knotted three ryas in the past year. Lynne was a beginner!

Lynne, from Massachusetts has designed and knotted three ryas in the past year. Lynne was a beginner!

I would love to have you share your rya stories with each other and me!   I’m looking for stories to add to the book I am writing about off-loom rya rug designing and making.  You can call me lazy if you like, but I feel rather than me telling you everything I know about rya, you might get more out of reading the book if you meet other people who have discovered rya. So if I think others can relate to what you have to say, or if you have a technique you would like to share or an opinion you would like to express, please share it in the comments below or email it to me at byrdcallstudio@gmail.com.

Nancy from Florida just completed a rya rug started by her mother decades ago.

Nancy from Florida just completed a rya rug started by her mother decades ago.

Anyone can post here (assuming it gets through my spam filter: me)  I will be selecting from these comments ones that would bring home a point to my potential readers of the book.  I will contact those folks and possibly ask for you to elaborate a little more and perhaps submit a photo of some of your rya work or a photo of you or both!  I will not be able to pay you for these comments, but if yours are selected to go in the book, I’ll send you a complimentary copy as soon as it is published.  If you work in a rya business, I’ll promote your rya business in the book.

My goals is to make the books as helpful and motivating as possible.  Sometimes beginners who have just fallen in love with an art can be the most motivational.

Heli MG's Award- winning Eco Fur Convertible Coat. Heli has turned rya into a modern fashion statement.

Heli MG’s Award- winning Eco Fur Convertible Coat. Heli, from Finland, has turned rya into a modern fashion art form.

So whether I know you or not, whether you made rugs for the first time this year or 50 years ago, whether you weave them on looms or on pre-woven backings, if you are completing a rya rug started 50 years ago by a parent, I want to hear your story–how you found supplies, how you discovered rya, challenges, rewards, designing experiences, ideas for the future, helpful hints, anything you would like to share.  Feel free to forward this to anyone with a story to share.

If you are wondering if your story is worth telling, just the fact that you are considering telling it means it is probably worth reading.  This blog is an easy place to start telling your story.  Go ahead; don’t be shy.  You will help give others confidence.  I may or may not be able to use it in the book, but I’d love to see what turns up here and how I can work more fun into the book with your perspectives.

Mia, in Sweden, lucked into finding a whole rya kit at an auction. She basically taught herself how to make it, and it is progressing nicely. Is it done yet, Mia?

Mia, in Sweden, lucked into finding a whole rya kit at an auction. She basically taught herself how to make it, and it is progressing nicely. Is it done yet, Mia?

I hope to have the “stories” in place in my book rough draft by the middle of September, so if you are tempted, please send your stories soon.  Many thanks in advance.     Melinda

I’m Teaching Rya at Common Ground on the Hill this Summer!

Student making color blending choices

As you may know, I have been a regular “student” of the Traditions Weeks at Common Ground on the Hill  since 2000.  If you are not familiar with their programs, take a look at their web site.  It used to be a one-week long residential (and commuter) Arts Camp focusing on the arts in all genres from all cultures. For the past several+ years it has grown into a 2-week camp. During Week II, I am teaching Scandinavian Rya Design where you will design and make your own rya with my guidance. (If you don’t know about rya, watch this 10-minute video I made with the Carroll County Times in 2012.)

I highly recommend taking the whole week off of work or routine if that is possible, and immerse yourself completely in the program. There are 5 periods each day plus meal time and concerts and lectures in the evenings and nights. You will meet people not only from all across the USA, but also the world.  You can also just sign up for one class, but believe me, you will want to stay for more each day.

Byrdcall Studio is filled with colors today.

Students from a previous class create their color combinations that they will knot onto their woven backings.

My class (in Week 2) runs from Monday, July 6 – Friday, July 10 from 9  – 11:45 AM.  We currently have 5 students signed up, but this kind of class is even more fun with a few more because you all will get to see what each other are working on which expands your knowledge of the craft. You don’t need any particular skills or knowledge in fiber arts. I can provide all the supplies you might need since they truly are very hard to find otherwise.)  Click here to see my Workshop Write-up.

ShelvesofyarnFor those of you who live out-of-the -area, what a perfect chance for learning new skills, meeting new people, enjoying (and learning) arts and music from all around the world in a safe and easy environment–McDaniel College campus in Westminster, Maryland.  If this interests you, do not delay.  Classes are filling quickly.  Hope to see you there.  Feel free to share this with anyone who love the arts and sharing and learning with others.

Melinda

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This is the beginning of Angie Michal’s very first rya which she designed and knotted.

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Who dun it? Solve the Rya Mystery…

At this point, after hanging out in the rya world for 40-something years, I thought I’d seen it all.  Then my world is rocked, and I’d like your help to figure out this mystery.  After I sent out my last newsletter, I received an email from a woman named Eleanor whose sister has recently passed away leaving an almost untouched rya kit. Perhaps sensing my commitment to keeping the art of rya alive, Eleanor sent me all of her sister’s supplies. There was a graphed design, a threading card, a backing about 2′ wide and 4.5′ long, curved needles, and the most amazingly prepared yarn I’ve ever seen.  Who put this kit together? When?  What country were they from?  Where was their business located?  Why have I never seen this style of rya before?  Let me show you. . .DSCN7119

Here are the details for anyone who wants to ponder this.  The backing is typically Scandinavian with a dark wool thread woven in the weft every ten rows which makes counting the rows easy.2015-05-08 14.27.36 What I’ve never seen before is a dark linen thread in the warp woven to help you keep your place as you use the graph paper.  Brilliant!  Have you ever seen that weaving technique?  Tell me if you have. The other interesting thing about the backing is the knotting rows are closer together than in the typical Scandinavian backing. This is definitely going to be a dense rya.

Yet it is the yarn that really took my breath away.  Who ever put this kit together had high quality yarns and a skeining machine which could simultaneously blend many yarns together at the same time.  They selected various weights of both rya yarn with its rope-like twist and what I believe is dyed linen, and blended 3-6 strands all together on the skein.  So when you go to load your needle, you have the blending all right there at your fingertips.  I’ve never seen this before.  Gorgeous colors too!  Who on earth did this?DSCN7125

The threading card has the name Susan Hammal who I imagine is the designer of the pattern, “Earth & Sky” but could be the creative one who did the labor-intensive preparation of the supplies for a whole line of patterns. Does her name ring a bell?  Google was no help, so it’s been a while since she did this, I bet.   Look at the notes below  DSCN7121

Notice the words, “3/4″ & 1 1/2″ pile.”  I always teach to cut the loops unevenly, but that is quite a dramatic difference in the pile length.  I like it!

Eleanor thought that her sister had purchased the kit in New DSCN7123Jersey.  That is a clue, but still all basic questions unanswered.  There was a “ruler” with the kit to ensure that the knots were made at a uniform loop-length.  (My grandparents never used the rulers, and neither have I, but many people only make rya with a ruler.)

DSCN7129The curve-tip needles were a surprise to me.  A customer once asked me if I carried them, and I had to confess I had never heard of them.  I don’t think they are made anywhere on earth right now.  Please tell me if you have a source for them?  (Sorry, I’m going to keep these.)

While I knotted my recent Fireflower rya kit prototypes, I used the curved tipped needles.  I like using them, but the straight tipped ones really work just as well.

DSCN7120The only weird thing is that the graph doesn’t seem to have logical color blendings next to each other.  It’s too hard to explain, but at a glance I can see that Eleanor’s sister probably was frustrated by what could be a designer’s error.  Maybe you can see on the graph below that color blending #1 (whites) is shown in other areas with the #1 showing which would give no contrast of course and may have been a slip of the pencil when numbering the graph.  If only we had a photo of what the finished rya looks like, we could figure out the intended color scheme. (Oh, I may have just figured it out.)DSCN7124I’d love to find the time to piece this puzzle together.  What clues can you offer?  The red tag says “Norwegian Rya Rugs” but did they come from Norway in this format?  Or do you think Susan bought supplies from Norway, then created her own kits?  Ah, I can hardly sleep at night.

So I am comforted to know that another artist who went before me was doing the same thing I am working hard everyday to share with you.  Her kits were spectacular.  I just wish I knew more.  The blog here is a great way to share info with one another.  Your comment won’t show up immediately, but check back in later to see what others have said.  And a final shot of the gorgeous yarns: DSCN7122

Eleanor, thank you so much for sharing!

Melinda

Spotlight on Angie Michal and her First Rya Rug

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I’m a sucker for a furry friend on a rya rug. Pets find them irresistible.

I like to feature other artists now and then.  It gives me something fun to post, without too much work on my part.  Angie from Coral Gables, Florida contacted me in the first week of January this year wanting to make a rya rug.  She had a vision and I helped her by sending her digital images of yarn colors to see what would work best for her.  She did a “custom order” in my Etsy shop of backing and yarn, and the new needle holder, and with no more help from me she created this amazing FIRST rya project!  Here’s Angie’s story:

4seriesThanks Melinda!

First and foremost I want to thank YOU for your enthusiasm and your willingness to help and share.

I got a subscription to Juxtapoz (an art magazine) as a Christmas gift. The first issue I received featured two or three interviews of artists alongside their work.  I enjoyed these ‘talks’ very much – I’m very interested in understanding where a work of art comes from and how it comes to be.  It was in one of these interviews that rya rugs were mentioned and, since I knew nothing about rya rugs, I went to Google to find out.  I came across your name and video and got hooked immediately.

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Look at Angie’s set up. See her colored graph paper on the left? Her colors all tagged with numbers to correspond with her graph. And notice the brand new needle holder constructed by my husband in my grandfather’s design. This woman is set to go!

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Here is an encaustic wax piece of Angies. Exciting medium to play with!

I am a stay at home mom.  I have four kids, our oldest is in college and our youngest is 7 years old.  I trained as an architect and practiced until our first child was born but I’ve always wanted to be able to express myself in other ways too. I like to be able to work on my projects in the little gaps that I get between all the other things that happen in a busy household.  I worked for a while with soft pastels and I feel very comfortable with the medium.  I recently tried encaustic wax and I love the smell of the wax, looking for interesting papers to use, applying colors in different layers and adding texture.  My pastels are more representational and detailed whilst the encaustic wax allows me to just play. 

When I first thought of what my rya rug would look like, I thought of colors – bright colors.  I had an image of blues and greens, perhaps because we live near the sea, with a bright ball of fire on one end. You were a big help when we started communicating – you ‘got’ my thoughts and helped put the colors together.  I think the whole thing happened because you were there straight away.  And not long after I placed the order my package had arrived! 2series

I went to work on that Saturday as I waited for my teenage son to return home one evening.  I feel there are two distinct phases in my experience of rya making.  The design process, the choosing of colors and picturing what it’s going to look like is full of energy, going back and forth, standing up and looking at it from far and then coming up close and splashing some more color here or there…

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I love to see the process of planning color arrangements. Here, I bet Angie was trying to visualize the finished rya by laying hanks of yarn on the bare backing.

The actual making of the rya, for me at least, was like meditating.  Knot after knot you keep completing rows and that is the perfect balance between switching off and being just barely present.  If I had a busy day I would excuse myself, sit at my desk and make a few knots and I was good to go.  It was like magic for my soul!

I am happy to say that I am working on a sketch for the next rug!  Can’t wait!  This one, I think, will be more geometrical.  I am looking at Bridget Riley for a project that I am helping my daughter’s art teacher with and perhaps I’ll let that inspire me…

Thank you for letting me share!                        ~ Angie

 

5seriesAngie, Thank YOU for sharing.  You are very inspiring and your rya is spectacular.  have you named it? Do you know where it will hang or lie?  Comments from others are always welcome.  Feel free to dialogue with Angie here. Cheers, to all!   melinda