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!  She had to set it aside for a little while because her life plate became too full–including enjoying the graduation of her son from college!  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–almost done.  Remember how Nancy loved the traditional Finnish ryijy from one of my catalogs? She redesigned a smaller version as see here, but she also asked me to order the real kit from Finland which should arrive any day now.  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!

Remember, rya students, 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!

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’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

The Yarn Guys Come to Byrdcall Studio

The Yarn Guys

Three Yarn Geeks: Me, Dennis Rinkenberger, and Jeffrey Wall in Byrdcall Studio

One year ago this month, I found The Yarn Guys.  They are the exclusive distributors in North America for the Rauma Wool Factory in Norway which has been producing excellent wool yarns since 1927.  Anyway, I found The Yarn Guys in Illinois in pursuit of the best rya rug yarn available to supplement my rya yarn supplies.   It is spun of fleece from the indigenous Spaelsau sheep of Norway, a tough and hardy breed.

Gorgeous natural grays

Gorgeous natural grays

I have been gradually buying more and more ryegarn (rya yarn) colors from them as well as awesome heavy wool backings.   It has been years since I’ve seen natural grays in rya yarn… Look at the mixed fibers in these skeins.  And the dyed yarn is gorgeous, too.

So it came as quite a nice surprise to get an email from Jeffrey Wall of The Yarn Guys yesterday saying that he and Dennis Rinkenberger–the other Yarn Guy–were heading to a yarn show in New York City and heck, Baltimore is nearly along the way from northwest Illinois, so why not stop by my studio, bring me some Rauma Rya kit catalogs and check out my studio.  We had a great morning together “talking shop.”

Look at this luscious spectrum of colors!

Look at this luscious spectrum of colors!

Why is this so exciting to me? Well, how many people do I come across in real-life-time who even know what rya (rye) is, much less work with the yarns everyday?  So much of my day is on the computer emailing and responding to rya questions, which–don’t get me wrong–I enjoy very much, but face to face with other humans who live and breath this stuff is exhilarating. One of the most exciting things that I learned is that I am the only supplier in the USA at this time for the Rauma rya backings!  That is very cool.  And I am totally sold on the quality. I think that I will soon be on my way to adapting my “hundreds of designs” to fit the Rauma backings.  The other cool thing about meeting these guys today is the fact that they are just learning about rya rug-making now, and I’m hoping that they left feeling like the possibilities are endless…which they are.

… And later in the day, the floor loom that my grandfather, William E. Lundgren, made half a century ago came back home to me today… but that is another story for another day.

Love ya!   Melinda

Show me your Rya Projects!

In a recent newsletter, I asked for those of you who are making progress on ryas–or have just finished one–to send me pictures for the newsletter.  It is really fun to hear your designing stories.  Here are a few I received.  More to come….

bild

Mia from Sweden is working on this beautiful rya. She found the “kit” in a chest purchased at an auction. When she told me that she couldn’t find instructions on how to make it (in Sweden) I realized how important is is for me to get the word out on making your own rya. Mia has offered to translate my book into Swedish when it is done. I better get to work.

And here is another great one…

Kay Ahearn's Spaelsau rya

This is a truly international rya with a great story. Kay from New Zealand has just completed it, but she is still tweaking it in certain aspects. She started by buying a Finnish backing from me. Then she emailed me her design idea and we calculated yarn amounts needed online. My Lundgren yarn is spun in New Hampshire of New Zealand fleece, so half of the yarn she used came from her own “backyard.” Kay was helping me research sheep breeds in New Zealand, and historical rya breeds. She was the first to tell me about the Spaelsau sheep from Norway which is a heritage breed. The sheep in her rya is a SPAELSAU, so all the white wool in her rya is from Norwegian Spaelsau sheep! This is a masterpiece in my opinion and so much fun to watch develop over the miles. Thanks for sharing, Kay!

And another…

Grads,_shower,_rugs_054

And this one was recently sent to me by Janine who has made several ryas. She was kind enough to send me a large box of 23 lbs of extra rya yarn she had accumulated over the years. This one is a Swedish design which I was not familiar with. Very beautiful and soooo Swedish.

And another:

This is truly a blast from the past.  Imagine getting an email like this one I received a few weeks ago:

<<Melinda, was it you who gave a small class on making rya rugs in Concord MA in

1982? I am still working on my rug and now I vow to finish it and I am so happy

to have found you. I am sure it was you, anyhow you or a relative. This young

woman’s grandmother had developed her own line of colors and rya rug backing …

 I am so happy to see all your pictures, I am sure you are the same person!>>

 

beth Watson inspiration
From a photograph of a stegosaurus, Beth was able to see an interesting design in the skull and ear of the dinosaur. She blocked the image so she could graph it better.
beth watson graph
This is the graph paper she watercolor painted to create the design you see below. She used 27″ wide backing in two strips. One strip is completed and the other strip is nearly complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here is Beth’s rug within days of being complete:

Beth Watson

Can you believe this design came from the inner ear of a stegosaurus? Creative people like Beth make me very happy to be doing the work I do. Thank you for sharing. Now, get to work and finish that rug so you can enjoy it on the floor! Thanks for sharing, one and all!

Thanks for those pictures.  Keep them coming, friends.  Feel free to comment and share below.

Cheers, Melinda