A Challenging Rya–and the story behind it…

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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.

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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

 

Rya Yarn Supply at Byrdcall Studio Update

This is an important blog for anyone who is interested in my rya yarn supplies.  (If not, you won’t hurt my feelings if you skip this message.)  If you have my sample yarn cards, go get them and follow along with me.

pinksreds2The BIG NEWS is that I now carry every single color– 82 in all–of the Rauma Ryegarn from Norway.  I started slowly, but a year later my shelves are stocked with 5 or more of every color.  I reorder monthly so if you need more than I have, I can get what you need within 4-6 weeks. And I can send you what I have immediately to get you started asap.

These are the 82 Rauma Ryagarn color I have on hand.

These are the 82 Rauma Ryegarn colors I have on hand.  100 g skein. 2-ply.  75 M.    $16/skein.  Yarn sample card is $5.

soldout Lundgren copy

 

OK, Now pull out your Lundgren Rya yarn sample cards.  The yarn in the long skinny picture is sold out, but I have all the other Lundgren colors. (See at the bottom of this posting below)

This is the yarn that my grandparents had spun for them of New Zealand fleece by Harrisville Designs of Harrisville, NH.  No more of this yarn is being produced in the states. I still have thousands of skeins, but not in these colors.  If you are desperate for one of these sold out colors, feel free to ask me about it.  I may have a cut skein somewhere that I can offer you.  And I can definitely make a suggestion as to a substitute.

If you have your Lundgren Yarn sample card in hand, I suggest that you put an X through the sold out color numbers rather than removing the yarn.  If you leave the sold out yarn in the card, you can refer to that color when communicating with me.

If you don’t have a Lundgren Rya yarn sample card, I would recommend that you order my full line of rya samples.  I make this available for immediate sale at my etsy shop.  Click here to read more or to make a purchase.

The samples I send you include not only the yarn, but a variety of backing swatches to choose from as well as a detailed description and price list.

The next BIG NEWS of this blog is that I have now sold out of all of my Finnish Vuorelma yarn.  I only had about 8 colors in stock before they declared bankruptcy a year ago.  Very sadly this is one more Scandinavian Rya supply company that has succumbed to economical woes and lack of sales of rya supplies. (My guess.)  So if your yarn card has Vuorelma yarn on it, X them out.

And finally, I still have a solid supply of Asborya rya yarn from Sweden.  It takes me quite a bit longer to receive these Swedish yarns, but many of you love their softness.  In the yarn sample cards that I send via my etsy shop, I enclose a card of Asborya yarn samples.  As far as I know, no one else sells Asborya yarn samples.  They can be viewed online, or you can get the actual yarn to feel along with my rya samples.

Pirkanmaan Kotityo Oy Rya yarn samples - reduced

Pirkanmaan Kotityo Oy Rya yarn samples. Click on image to zoom in for detail.

I have bought rya backings from another Finnish supply company, Pirkanmaan Kotityo Oy.  I intend to purchase more of their backings and yarns soon.  This would be ideal for those making rya wall-hangings.  Here is what their yarn sample card looks like.  Heavenly colors.  A lighter weight yarn … so you can add more strands on the needle for endless possibilities for blending.  Acquiring more of their yarn will be a goal of mine for 2016.  Tell me below which colors you would be most interested in buying–no pressure or commitment!

Friends, this has been a long blog, so I appreciate your patience.  I just want to keep you informed of the status of your favorite yarns.  Please share with any other rya folks you know.  They will appreciate knowing what is available.

PS  For clarity, there is still plenty of Lundgren Rya yarn.  See image below. (Note: #91 sold out.)lundgren sample cards 12-2-15 copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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