VE Magazine features Mid-Century Modern Ryas and my Efforts to Revive the Almost-lost Art of the Rya Rug

Rya Rug-making…Yesterday and Today. This early ad is from one of my old C.U.M. Rya catalogs from Denmark.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from the editor of VE Magazine (stands for VintagExplorer) based in the United Kingdom.  VE is available both in print and online with subscriptions from all around the world.  She was working on an article featuring the history of mid-century modern rya rugs and some of the unique advertisements that were created to put this art form on the map.  You have to see them to believe it!  Click here to go directly to the Rya Rugs article.  If you are a fan of all things vintage, treat yourself to a trip back in time.  Let me know if any of you remember the advertisements.  I recall my grandmother saying, “That’s ridiculous.  Who would put a rya rug in the beach sand?”  But the image lasted for decades for me.

The article also contains rare information about the history of the Nordic ryas to which I can attest there is very little written.  I was thrilled to see the history is very similar to what I have assembled for the history chapter in my book on designing and making the off-loom rya. (Phew!  So I know it is all TRUE!) She wanted to conclude her story with an optimistic word about making a rya rug today…and she found me.  Of course I gave her all the info and photos she needed to complete the story.  The off-loom art of rya rug-making has a new ally of support and outreach to the world.  So exciting to have others sharing the story.

Louise working on her first rya of her own design at the February 2017 Rya Sewing Circle at Byrdcall Studio. Denis is starting on his third rya of the past 12 months!

I think it is really cool that she has put the challenge out to the VE readers to make a rya rug.  A kit is a great way to get started, or start designing your own.

I keep adding to my kits-on-hand inventory from Rauma of Norway each month.  I also have a few of my earlier designs listed on etsy. Why not check out my etsy shop?

If you would like to share your latest rya project, or even a vintage one, post on Pinterest or Instagram with hashtags #vintagexplorermag, #ryarugs, or #midcentury.  Be proud to share in any social media you choose and in real life, too, like as a fiberart in the County Fair!  If there is no category for “Rya Rugs” request a new category for an old craft.   The more we get our ryas “out there” the more people will realize it isn’t just an art of the past.

While your interest is peaked, why not check out these links:  www.vintagexplorer.co.uk and www.mantiquexplorer.co.uk

If you remember these ads, tell us.  If you care to comment about this blog, feel free to do so below.  You may not see your comment immediately, but check it out later and see what others have said.  Thanks!  Knot on!

Perfectly manicured hands demonstrate the rya knotting technique in another promotional photo by C.U.M. Rya of Denmark in 1960s-70s..

 

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!

Online Viewing of Rauma Rya Kits Currently Available

img_5967

This one is named “ILD” which translates as “Fire.” I have a small kit for $206. which measures 16″ x 35″.

Once a month, I order rya yarn, backings, and rya kits from Norway.  The kits are a relatively new addition to my offerings.  In my last order, I purchased four kits which had no one waiting to receive them meaning that they are available at this moment.

  1. ILD (In reds as shown and in Blue-Greens.)
  2. Gry
  3. Vinter
  4. Anemone (My best seller in recent months)

Here is a new way for you to view what is available in kits from Norway (as opposed to viewing my past blogs where I have listed individual designs.) Click on this link to go directly to Rauma’s web site in Norway.  http://www.raumaull.no/produkter/ryer

This is Gry. I have it immediately available in these colors, but can also order it in purple-reds or gray-blues.

This is Gry. I have it immediately available in these colors, but can also order it in purple-reds or gray-blues. It costs $350. 24″ x 43″

Then click to download the various catalogs to see all the available kits.  I believe I can get any one of them for you.  Send me an email asking for the price of a particular kit.  Please use the order #number along with the name of the kit and the size you are interested in.  I’ll get back to you with a price.  The kits come in three different price ranges depending on how many strands of yarn are used on the needle and if the rya has a sculptural effect or not.  I can tell you the cost without you knowing the details.  😉

vinter-photo

“Vinter” is available now. You can guess what that translates to in English. The kit is 24″ x 43″ and costs $350.

anemone-copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m thinking that if local folks ordered (or bought) kits, I would organize mini-classes of 3-4 students at Byrdcall Studio for a little class (maybe two hours) in getting started on your kit.  (Free of charge.) I’ll probably keep doing this for years to come, too.  I might as well start now.  I’d be looking for a minimum of three students, so let me put you on my future mini-class list.

Since these blogs are interactive, let me ask you:

If I offered a half-day mini-class on getting started on a Wreath Rya Wall-hanging this Fall, would you be interested?   See Wreath Rya in my Etsy Shop

headband-with-rya-knotsWould you be interested in a mini-class in designing your own rya with other beginners?  I’m thinking of offering classes with themes.  For example a rya class for quilt-makers to incorporate their quilt designs into ryas… and a class for visual artists to turn their abstract paintings into rya rugs.  Stay tuned and let me know if something interests you.  I’ll put you on the list to contact when that class happens.

Have you ever made rya knots on clothing?  Hats and mittens in particular?  If you have, tell me about it, or better yet, send me some pictures.

You can take a plain crocheted head band and turn it into a fun art piece.

And another random question:  If you have made ryas before, and hang them on your wall, HOW do you hang them?  What is your technique?  Yes, I am writing this part of the book now and would love to learn from YOU.

That is all for now.  I have a lot more blog posts in mind which you may be seeing sooner rather than later… and a newsletter should be out in a week or so.

Thanks so much for your interest.  Stay tuned. … Melinda

PS  Feel free to comment below.  I love to read your comments.  You might not see it immediately, but there is a delay in posting to stop spammers.  Thanks!

 

 

 

Become Part of My Rya Book–Strike a Pose!

Denise with Lloyd (1)

Denise from Washington state by way of France.

Thank you once again for your patience in awaiting the completion of my book.  Now I have something fun to offer you.  I don’t know about you, but I enjoy people-watching wherever I go.  It is fun to watch people go about their lives whether they are creating art, walking through an airport, or standing proudly with a rya rug they have created.

Theresa from Pittsburgh by way of Zambia

Theresa from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by way of Zambia

As they say, inquiring minds want to know.

Over the years, many of you have sent me photos of your completed ryas.  Now I am asking you (and even those I have not met yet) to send me a picture of YOU holding your handmade rya, standing in front of it, sitting on it or laying on it, but I want to see your face!  I don’t care if it is a kit, or your own design, or made by your grandparents.  I am inviting YOU to submit a photo of yourself with your favorite rya for possible inclusion into the book in a random photo spread.

Jo Ann from Maryland

Jo Ann from Maryland

Our demographics are very diverse, our faces are beautiful and happy, and the ryas colorful and creative.  Wouldn’t that be a page-spread you would enjoy seeing in the book?  And all the more fun if you are among the many faces of rya in this unique book?

OK, even if you have sent me photos in months or years past, please resend or take another shot or two.  My book producer will use the photos that have high enough resolution to be clear, and fit well into the double-page spread.  They can be square or rectangular.

Melinda with "Purple Loosestrife" from Maryland

Melinda from Maryland with “Purple Loosestrife”

We will probably reduce them to 2″ x 2″ or 2″ x 4″, but send fairly large clear digital images. We will probably caption with your first name and the state, province, or country you are from.  If you tell us a tad more, we might be able to add a note about if it is your 1st or 10th rya.   We will need to have a Release Form signed which we ask you to send along with the photo (which basically says you give your permission for us to use your photo for this book and book-related press.)

Click on the link below for the Release Form. It is a PDF.  You can print, sign, and scan to send back, or sign and take a digital photo to send with your picture, or snail mail if that is easier.  Click here for form:  Release Form for Rya Book Inclusion

Sarah's first rya of her own design under her husbands feet in Kentucky

Sarah’s first rya of her own design under her husband’s feet in Kentucky

You get the idea.  I don’t care when you did it, I don’t care where you got the supplies.  I am looking for clear pictures that show your happy face with your rya (you don’t have to show the whole rya if it is big.  Just sit on it, or lay on it and have a photographer friend shoot you with your face in clear view.  For best light, shoot outside on a cloudy day so the shadows are soft, but many of these indoor shots are fine!

Erma from Pennsylvania.

Erma from Pennsylvania.

Send a couple of photos and we can choose the best for the book. If you are thinking, “Oh, she probably doesn’t want my little rya,” Yes, I do!  Big, small, simple, complicated, almost done, or done years ago…  If in doubt, just send the photo and release form.  If we can use it, we will.   Please don’t make me beg!  Feel free to ask questions.

Please have your photos and release form to us by May 15, 2016.  Thank you!!

judy nelson-moore with rya

Judy from New Mexico with her first rya rug.

David from Cincinnati with his most recent of dozens of ryas

David from Ohio with his most recent of dozens of ryas

10 More Rauma Rya Kits to Review

Here is the kit "Vinter" ordered by prolific rya rug-maker, Murray, from Novi, Michigan.

Here is the kit “Vinter” ordered by prolific rya rug-maker, Murray, from Novi, Michigan.

Happy New Year 2016!

Here are 10 more designs from Rauma in Norway.  These will come as complete kits.  We just received our first kit a couple of weeks ago.  The kit box comes with the appropriate sized wool and linen backing all hemmed and ready to knot.  It has all the yarn you will need.  They recommend two strands of yarn on the needle instead of three for their designs. You get a “kavel” (the ruler to wrap your loops around if you choose).  And of course, the graph, and needles.  I am always happy to start the first few knots for you, if you like.  It could take 4-6 weeks for your kits to arrive.  I ask for a $50 nonrefundable deposit when you place your order (to be deducted from your invoice when the kit arrives.)  Note: The colors in the photos here are scanned directly from the Norwegian catalogs.  The colors on the monitor may be slightly different than the actual yarn, but rest assured the the artist who designed the rug, designed it with the true yarn colors, which are spectacular!  And finally, there are two kinds of ryas among these kits.  One is completely Ryegarn from the Spaelsau sheep of Norway.  The other is a combination of two yarns, both from the Spaelsau sheep:  Ryegarn and Prydvevgarn.  The kits with the combination of yarns are a bit more expensive, but they have a more varied texture.  (I just ordered my first combination yarn kit two weeks ago (for Paul in Idaho Falls), so I’ll report on what I learn about it when it arrives.)  These ten designs happen to be “all ryegarn” and no prydvevgarn.

So here is Catalog #10 Rauma Ryer:

#159 "Barskog" Ryegarn only. 140 x 200 cm 55" x 79" $1,142.

#159 “Barskog” (Translation:  Coniferous”)    Ryegarn only. 140 x 200 cm   55″ x 79″    $1,142.

#327 "Gylden Sti" 120 x 200cm 47" x 79" Ryegarn only. $1,000

#327 “Gylden Sti”  (Translation:  “Golden path”)  120 x 200 cm    47″ x 79″    Ryegarn only.        $1,000

#10 FELL

#326/A “Fell” 120 x 200cm 47″ x 79″ Ryegarn only. $1,000. Also available in Blues. Request #326/B

#10 ILD

#106/A “ILD” (Translates to “Fire”) Ryegarn only. Multiple sizes/prices. Also available in Blues #106/B. 40 x 75 cm $206; 80 x 150 cm (31″x 59″) $586; 100 x 180 cm (39″x 70″) $790; 140 x 200 cm (55″ x 79″) $1,142, and 200 x 300 cm (79″ x 118″) $2,400.

#10 MOLL

#61/A “Moll” Translates as “Moth” 60 x 110 cm (24″ x 43″) $350. 120 x 200 cm (47″ x 79″) $1,000. Also available in shades of Red: #61/B, or shades of yellow-brown: 61/C

#10 TINDER

#325/B “Tinder” 120 cm x 200 cm (47″ x 79″) $1,000. Also available in two different colors: #325/A Black – Green or #325/C Brown – yellow.    In ryegarn only.

#10 TRINNING

#323/A “Trinning” 120 x 200 cm (47″ x 79″) $1,000. or 140 x 200 (55″ x 79″) $1,142. Also available in Gray – Blues. #323/B.    In ryegarn only.

#10 LYS

#116 “Lys” (Translation: Light) 100 x 180 cm (39″ x 70″) $790.   In ryegarn only.

#10 FJELLFLORA

#88 “Fjellflora” (Translation: “Mountain Flora”) Ryegarn only. 80 x 150 (31″ x 59″) $586.

#10 MOLTEMYR

#340 Moltemyr” (Can anyone translate?) Ryegarn only. 140 x 110 cm (55″ x 43″) $688.

And that is Folder # 10 from Rauma.   More designs coming ASAP in 2016.

Remember, I also sell the backings separately as well as all the Rauma ryegarn colors. You can ask me how much yarn any backing will require, and I’ll give you a good ballpark figure for your calculations.   I have graph paper in case you are inclined to design your own,  At Byrdcall Studio I have everything you would need to develop your own design.  (And frankly it will cost you less and you won’t have to wait long for shipment.)  I am relatively sure that my book on designing your own rya will be complete this spring/summer, so you have many options.

Start with my sample packet as seen here in my etsy shop.

 

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!