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!

Grand Finale for Byrdcall Shirts at Art in the Park

A typical "double-wide" booth at Art in the Park back in about 2011.

A typical “double-wide” booth at Art in the Park back in about 2011.

This colorful floorcloth sold at AIP on the rainiest day when I was ankle deep in mud!

This colorful floorcloth sold at AIP on the rainiest day when I was ankle deep in mud!

Drum roll, please!  The studio is preparing for the last day of presenting hand-printed shirts at the Carroll County Arts Council’s Art in the Park.  Please mark your calendars for Saturday, June 4 from 10 – 4 PM. I have lost count, but I believe I have been showing and selling my art there for 16 years without a break—rain or shine!

The first year I scraped together enough to barely fill a borrowed 10 x 10 tent….some hand-woven belts, some painted floorcloths… I can’t even remember.  I think I made $50 and that was about “booth fee.”  I was happy!

A few years later I had bought my own tent, folding tables, a van(!), and filled the booth with hand-painted glassware, a few hand-printed shirts, and floor-cloths. In the past few years, I have displayed my work in a “double-wide booth” with all shirts!

Frank Baylor shares Thoreau in Vietnam

Frank Baylor shares Thoreau in Vietnam

Jan and Dave Flora at Machu Picchu.  Jan is wearing "Bee!"

Jan and Dave Flora at Machu Picchu. Jan is wearing “Bee!”

The shirts are popular, they last better than most shirts, and they make people feel good.  They seem to be the shirt-to-wear when you want to share a bit of who you are. People wear them to amazing places. What more could we ask for?

bins reorganizedThis year, I have organized my work in a very different way–really better for you. Instead of 26 stacking baskets containing ONE DESIGN in various colors, styles, and sizes, the baskets are arranged according to size. So you just go to your “size basket.” There might not be all 26 designs, but so many you’ll still have a hard time deciding which to buy.

My friend and invaluable helper, Debi Robertson, and I are looking forward to seeing you there.  Come early if you have something specific in mind you are looking for.

I will recognize you (probably) but I’m horrible with recalling names, so have mercy and tell me your name as you say HI!  I’ll have my name tag on, so you have no stress there.  😉

Now you are wondering, “What if she doesn’t have the design I really want in my size?” My good friend, Jennie DeArmey (we worked together at Piney Run Park back in the mid-80’s)–and I inventoried ALL of my blank Comfort Color shirts. So if you want me to print one for you, we will look on the blank shirt inventory page, and if I have what you are looking for, I will print the design you want on it!

Shirts stackedWhy I am I leaving such a great show? Two main reasons:  1.  The rya rug-making supplies business requires more of my time, and nearly all of my studio space, and 2.  The shirt brand that you have come to know and love (Comfort Colors) has not been readily available since late last summer.  It was very challenging for me to meet all my fall and winter orders.  But I’m not sad about moving on…the rya world is on the move and I still have a book to complete…can’t forget that.

 

When the dust settles after the show, I’ll regroup and will probably maintain one basket for every size.

I’ll make them available to the public during the Carroll County Artists Studio Tour, Dec. 3-4 at Byrdcall Studio.

shirts in rackFor those of you who do not live within driving distance of Westminster, Maryland you can easily buy the shirts you want (while they last) at my Byrdcall Etsy shop… very easy to do.  In fact if you go to etsy now, you can see the actual shirts that I will have at Art in the Park.  (Don’t tell anyone but you could have first dibs today!)

I will be very sorry not to be part of this super show in 2017, but it has been the most wonderful annual art show for keeping me in touch with my extended community.  You have made me feel valued for the creative work I do, and you honor me by wearing my shirts. Fear not, I’ll keep you posted on where this all goes as it happens.

Love ya, Melinda

A Challenging Rya–and the story behind it…

DSC_6221

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.

IMG_1369

 

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

 

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.

 

Easy way to Order Hand-Printed Shirts (if you can’t get to a show.)

Melinda holding new shirt design - CopyWhy didn’t it dawn on me sooner to make it easier for you to order a shirt?  Now, all you need to do is email me the information listed below.  I am printing about once a month, so get your order in for the next printing day.

I sell the silkscreened shirts on my etsy shop…click here.  But only a few of the handprinted shirts are on etsy.  You can buy or place an order at my shows, but here is another way.

Ordering a Hand-Printed Shirt — 2015

Email me your request.  I will check my bins to see if I have exactly what you are looking for, and if I don’t, I will hand-print one for you.  There is no added charge except postage:  $4—short sleeves; $6—long sleeves.  If buying multiple shirts, I’ll weigh them and quote an actual price for you.   My next printing day will be about 10 days after the Mistletoe Mart ends — the week of Thanksgiving.  Orders placed by November 17th will be printed along with all my Mistletoe Mart orders and should be in your hands by the end of November. 

If you would like to save on postage, you can pick it up at my studio in Woodbine, MD during the Carroll County Studio Tour Dec. 5-6 between 10 AM – 5 PM.  Just tell me when you order so I don’t charge you for postage.

All you need to do is tell me the following for me in an email sent to byrdcallstudio@gmail.com.  I will send you an easy online invoice and the process gets underway.

  1. Tell me the design name:  Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to see about 20 of the designs.  Ask me to post a picture of any other design you want to see from the list below.

Action in the Riffles,   Bee!,   Blues,    Brookie,   Calf & Cow,  Canada Goose,  Cupcake, Peace-Dove, Three Fireflies,  Great Blue Heron,    Hops, James Ranch,  Kitty Waits,    Knotty Dogs,    Listening,  May the Road,   May the Wind,    Monarchs & Milkweed,    Puffin,  Serpent Ridge Original,   Simplify/Thoreau,  Three Crows,    Today I Will Create,   Tree Frog,    The Woolie,    Under the Palm,   Waiting for the Green Flash,    Wanna Play?   Waste Not,    Yin Yang Labs.

  1. Tell me the Style: (All Comfort Color brand Shirts)

Ladies T-shirt,          Ladies Long sleeve,

Unisex T-shirt     Unisex Long-sleeve T-shirt,  or   Child’s T-Shirt

  1. What Size?

Adult   S     M     L      XL      XXL     XXXL   or  Child   XS   S    M    or  L  

(XXL and XXXL additional $3)

  1. What Color?  (I may be able to get others, so ask if you want something different.)

Unisex (Men’s) T-Shirts:  Flo blue,   Yam,   Crimson,   Berry,   Hemp,  or   Blue Spruce

Unisex  Longsleeve Shirt:   Flo blue,  Yam,   Crimson,   Berry  or   Blue Spruce

unisex shirt colors copy

Ladies T-shirt:  Flo blue,   Violet  Sea Foam, Hemp, or Crimson

Ladies Longsleeve: Flo blue,  Violet,   Crimson,  Chocolate  or Denim (not shown)

ladies shirt colors copy

Children’s Shirts:  Flo blue,   Blue spruce,   Denim,   Berry  or   Lagoon

5.  Second choice if first choice color is unavailable.

6.  Name, Address, zip, phone number, and email address

7.  Do you want me to mail shirt or will you pick-up during Studio Tour?

8.  Let me know if you want me to add you to the Byrdcall Studio Monthly e-Newsletter mailing list.

9.  Absolute deadline for receiving your shirt.  ASAP is standard for me.  But let me know if your request is date-dependent so I can determine if there is a timing issue.

Prices:  $25 for Adult and Child T-Shirts, $30 for long-sleeves.

Maryland Sales Tax of 6% is added.

Add $5 for Great Blue Heron—a 2-color process.

Add $3 for XXL and XXXL

The not-so-fine print:  I move quickly on paid shirt orders, but occasionally the shirt company can not send me a certain size or color as soon as I would like it.  You can really help by making a 2nd choice, just in case 1st choice is on extended backorder.  

And from a crazy busy artist’s perspective, the easiest order for me is the one where I get an email that says, “Melinda, I would like the ‘Today I Will Create” t-shirt in a Ladies size Large.  What colors do you currently have on hand?”  I respond, then they can choose one or ask me to print one.  Often shirts go out in the mail the same day!

Thanks!  Remember this blog posting is always here, so refer to it whenever you need a shirt.

Mistletoe Mart and tree glasses 013

 

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

1series

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

disc2

Spotlight on Angie Michal and her First Rya Rug

6serieswith dog

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.

1series

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!

7series

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…

3series

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

Lesson #4 Calculating How Much Rya Yarn You Will Need

Hi, FriendsDSCN6910

In lesson #3, we marked all the color areas on the graph paper with a corresponding yarn blending number which we also tied to our threading card for reference, like a paint by number painting.  (Oh no, don’t glaze over yet!)  To determine the amount of yarn we’ll need, first let’s do it mathematically so we know the ballpark amount.  This technique is really easy, and I can in a moment tell you how much yarn any given backing will require by multiplying the number of knots that can be made across a horizontal row times the number of rows in the rug.

With this Monet’s Bridge design, I have hemmed two (2) 34″ wide rayon and linen backings which each can hold 84 knots across the row.  84 x 2 = 168 knots across the row.  In this backing there are about 21 rows per foot and this is a 4-foot tall rug,  I happened to hem the backing in a way that allows for 82 knotable rows.  So our graph is designed to be 168 knots x 82 rows.  (Calculator, please.)  168 x 82 = 13,776 knots in the entire rya.

With this number, you can figure out lots of information.

  • If you make 150 knots per hour, it will take you 91 hours to knot a rya this size
  • If you make a loop (pile) that is about 1 1/2″ long, you will get about 325 knots from a skein.  13,776 knots divided by 325 knots per skein  = 43 skeins needed for this 4′ x 6 ‘ rya.
  • If you wanted a 2″ long pile, you would get about 300 knots from a skein.  So how many skeins would YOU need to knot a 4′ x 6′ rya?  Calculators welcome.
  • If you don’t like complicated stuff, and you hate math, you could simply say, “OK, my rug needs 43 skeins of yarn, I will order a mixed bag of the colors I need–maybe only 30 skeins, then I’ll see what I run out of, and order more of that at that time.”  I am fine with that.  It gets you started, and by the time you need more yarn, you’ll have a good idea of future needs.

If this doesn’t really interest you, don’t bother reading any further!  But if you are one of the many folks who has asked for this and can not wait for my illustrated book to come out, brace yourself…. here comes the real math with no apologies.

Here is the threading card to show color combinations matched with a number to go on the graph.

Here is the threading card to show color combinations matched with a number to go on the graph.

For each color combination threading you have created on your threading card, count–or estimate–the number of knots in your rug of each of those color combinations.  I usually count by 10’s or square inches on the graph which have 70 knots.

Worksheet for tallying knot counts and math to determine how much of each color Part I.

Worksheet for tallying knot counts and math to determine how much of each color Part I.

 

 

 

Now I agree, that is a lot of counting and numbers.  Now we’ll make sense of them.  The last column on the right (below) tell us how many skeins of each pure color we need to order to make our Monet rug.  Notice only 1/4 skein is needed in certain lesser-used colors.  Lots of 1/2 skeins.  As my grandparents did, I also am happy to split skeins for rya rug makers.  It can save you a lot of money to only buy 1/4 instead of a full skein of every color.

There may be easier ways to do this, but I don't know what they are.  This actually works and doesn't take as long as you probably think it does.

There may be easier ways to do this, but I don’t know what they are. This actually works and doesn’t take as long as you probably think it does.

 

 

Rya Monet yarn pile

I pulled all the yarn from the storage shelves for making this rug.  Here is what the pile of supplies looks like.  So now, all that is left is to have Bill stop by to reacquaint himself with rya rug making, give him a mini-lesson until he feels totally comfortable with the project that will take him about 90+ hours, then home he goes to work on his rya at his leisure.  I can’t wait to see the design become reality.  I’m sure Claude Monet is thrilled too.

PS.  As I was writing this all down for you I was a little mortified that I had chosen such a detailed design with which to explain the yarn calculations.  I’ll go with a more basic design next time.  My book will have it MUCH more basic to start, but this degree of difficulty is good to know if you want to design your own from paintings for example.

Questions?  This is a good place to ask.

 

Studio Elves Hard at Work

DSCN6752

Jennie, JoAnn, and Karen each took on 10 color cards to load with yarn.

DSCN6754

JoAnn became very skillful at making skeins from big hanks of yarn with this antique skeining machine.

I held my first of many studio workshop days in Byrdcall Studio this week.  The goal was to familiarize helpful (and interested) friends in some of the day-to-day operations in the studio as they relate to my new rya rug design and supply “division.”  The other goal was to have fun with some awesome women folk who volunteered to help me get this “show on the road” as we made yarn sample cards and spun skeins from hanks of dyed rya yarn.  The less time I personally spend making yarn sample cards, the more time I have to work on my book on making rya rugs.

After a grueling three hours in the sweatshop, we enjoyed a variety of salads, bread, and guac&chips (by Karen) under the patio umbrella.  I believe everyone had a good time and I am very well supplied with sample yarn cards for a few weeks (hopefully).  Soon we will be putting together kits, organizing yarn displays, hemming backings for orders, and having more fun.  I have a few other people on my “helper list” who could not make it this week.  If you would like to help out some day, please let me know.  Thanks.

And very sincere thanks to these three women who caught on quickly and made my day a wonderful day!

DSCN6756

Karen and Jennie put finishing touches on the sample cards.