Rya in a Day!



OK, I admit, it is only 12″ x 12″, but that is because I made it for the 12th Anniversary of my favorite art people, the Carroll County Arts Council.  The Carroll Arts Center opened the doors to their new home in the old art deco theater at 91 West Main St, Westminster, Maryland 12 years ago.  (I was fortunate to be a member of the Board of Directors back when this excitement was taking place!) They are celebrating with an art exhibition where every piece hanging on the wall will be 12″ x 12″ and sell for $144.00.  What a bargain! The show is called Footworks and will run from April 16 – June 5.  Opening reception is 4/16 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM.

1Now for you rya-curious folks (or rya experienced folks) here is what I did.  I hemmed an acrylic rya backing to 12″; no problem.  Then I did something I have never done before.  I cut the backing vertically to 12″.  I’ve always told people not to do that because it would compromise the strength of the rug, but, hey, this is only a 12″ piece.  No one is going to walk on it.  So I zig-zag stitched the edge a few times, and it was a perfect 12″ x 12″ piece.

Then with a laundry marker I drew the rough image of concentric “flower bloom” lines [Theresa Nkonde’s interpretation] or “nebula explosion lines” [Marge Simmons’ interpretation].  By 9 AM I had the drawing complete.  I had no intention of working on it all day.  I gathered a few small partial skeins of random “hot” colors and started knotting at the lower left corner.  My intention was to work for a half hour or so blending the darker colors to the yellow-hot center adlibbing all the way.3

I had yarn orders to fill, I had a book to write, a dog that needed a walk, and a lasagna to make before supper; but throughout the day I kept going back to this little rya just to see how “one more row” would change its appearance.


I was addicted, I admit, so I worked feverishly off and on all day.  Why did I use the acrylic backing you ask (instead of wool)?  For one thing, I have a lot of it, and it is the least expensive backing I have. Also, it is white which makes drawing images on it a cinch, and while it is not really a floor-worthy backing, it is great for a wall-hanging or work of art.  And for the first time, I used 4 strands of yarn on the needle instead of 3 to really give it a rich solid feel.  And finally for you really perceptive folks, you might be wondering how it would fit as a 12×12 piece of art when the pile clearly extends beyond the 12×12 backing.  You are so observant!  As I knotted, I pulled the knots just tight enough to bring the width to 11.5 ” and the pile extends out the extra width to make it a perfect 12×12.

6Well, you guessed it, before the sun set, it was complete, and I love it.  So HOT!  I realize I could do the same backing preparation for others and gather similar yarns in small amounts (in some cases just a few strands of certain colors.)  So this will be a high priority for me to make available for others.  I’ll come up with a few color schemes, too.  Stay tuned–or if you can’t wait, just ask me to make a kit for you.  The acrylic backing is really 27 inches wide.  I might suggest keeping it that width so it doesn’t have to be cut.  The over all look would be almost the same.  Just wait and see what I come up with as an offering for those of you who really like this piece.  I call it FIREFLOWER.

Watch it GROW in time-lapsed video–a one day rya.  Click below for a silent 30-second show.

Has anyone else tried drawing a pattern on a backing?  How did it work for you?  It sure makes for a fast knotting project.  Feel free to offer comments below.  Your comment won’t appear immediately, but soon after you post, it will be shared.  Thanks for reading along with me.

11 thoughts on “Rya in a Day!

  1. I want one! Please let me know when you have these kits available… I understand exactly when you say ‘one more row’ and I love how you left the middle strands uncut. Very nice! I have to finalize my design so that I can place my order, pronto!

    • I’ll prepare a kit for you, Angie, not that you need my design skills with your own exceptional ability! Do you want the color very similar to mine ? Or another color transition like dark blues through greens to yellow or purples? hahaha. Too many choices. I’m going to wait until my next order from Norway arrives next week. then I’ll have even more colors to choose from. Thanks Angie.

    • Thanks, Judy! The loops are fun and effective in the center. The other fun thing was using four strands because it really amps up the color blending possibilities…you understand the color blending, I know. Nice to here from you.

  2. I would absolutely love a kit to reproduce your design in the same colors. As a total beginner, the size would be perfect for me and the depth of color would be an inspiration for the eyes! Please sign me up for a kit!

    • OK, Gabrielle, I am putting together a kit for you. It will take a couple of days to get all the parts including specialized instructions ready. I’ll email you soon! Melinda

  3. Love it! It reminds me of an Ege rya rug my hubby and I bought in the 70s, and which I gave up at an unspeakable price at a garage sale so long ago. I could kick myself so many times for doing that. Now in our mid-60s, I would love to duplicate it and your selection of a pillow would be somewhat comforting to me to see every day. The colors are so similar to our rug, but I would like to add a bit of rust and very deep purple into it, maybe just thin lines of both colors, substituting your light purple for the dark purple color. I am very interested in your thoughts on this and would like to know an estimate on the cost. Being on limited income, I would have to save up for this luxury item. I am so happy finding you on the Internet as I thought this was a lost art.

  4. Hi, Connie,
    I worked on this today. It would be no trouble for me to sub in more darker purples and rusts for you. No additional charge. Let me know when you are ready to get started. Thanks, melinda

  5. As a followup to Connie W’s comment, my wife and I bought two Ege Rya rugs at Scan back in the 1970s, both in the Vesuv pattern — one red/yellow/purple and one blue/green/purple. We split and i kept the red one. Being stupid, I used it for a rug (isn’t that what it is???) instead of hanging it. They weren’t expensive then. Unlike Connie, I still have mine…or what’s left of it. After being used heavily and worn thin, the cats peed on it, and it got rolled up and stored in a trailer where the mice and wasps made nests in it. Oh, the horror… Now that I realize its value i’m trying to find someone to restore it. There aren’t many of those places in southern Virginia! It’is so bad that I may need to have it cut into a couple of smaller pieces. Ugh. Please forgive me!

    • Yikes! Leroy sounds like your poor Ege rya has seen better days and I’m not sure what to tell you. I have never had an Ege rya (they were machine made I believe) so I’m not familiar with the possibility to cut it and bind the edge. Cats can do a terrible job on any rug…must have broken your heart to find your cat’s surprise for you. I guess my first reaction is to just make another one and hang it on the wall. That would be the easy thing to do. Clean, fresh, of your own design. I’m not accepting rya repair work since my work load is already beyond my ability to keep up, but it sounds like your life would be a lot easier if you just let it go. If it were hand-made by someone you knew, I’d be more inclined to fight for it and try to figure out a way. If I were you, I would contact local cleaners or fabric repair places…bring it to them and see what they say. Maybe you’ll find success there.

      OK, for all of you who are reading this, if you are making a rya and you are going to put it on the floor, just know that in time it will show the use in one form or another. Hang it on the wall; it will look awesome forever. But who am I to talk? I have many ryas on my floors, and occasionally they do need a patching. Good luck, Leroy.

      If anyone in blogland knows of anyone who is knowledgeable and skilled at rya repairs or cleaning, please let me know. I will offer a free referral service for them.

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