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.

Remember, rya students, feel free to comment below.

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..