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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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Lesson #2 in Creating a Rya from a Painting

Monet-5-ready for painting

Last week, I prepared the backings by hemming them to the desired length.  Now I will show you how I take a painting and adapt it so it can be knotted as an off-loom rya.  The design I am working on is from a painting by Claude Monet, but this could just as easily be an original pastel or oil painting, or a zoomed-in abstract from a colorful photograph.  Designs are everywhere.

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I like to use diluted watercolor paints so I can see the graph lines as I work.  Even if an area was going to be black, I would watercolor paint with gray just to give me the idea of dark or black.  Note that the graph paper is not standard.  In a one-inch-square there are 70 smaller squares representing where the knots will be.  (See the close-up shots below.) I carry this special graph paper if you want to give a shot at designing your own someday.  As I paint, it dawns on me that I ought to be thinking yarn-colors, not paint-colors, so I grabs some color samples.  (I know that is not so easy for you.  If you are serious about designing a rya, I’d recommend a yarn sample card set with about 80 colors. My Yarn Samples as sold on etsy.)2014-08-05 12.16.00

So I roughly paint a similar image to the inspiration, dabbing in color and thrust and shapes.  I avoid too much detail because detail doesn’t translate well into the moving pile of a rya rug.  Luckily Monet did great organic flowing designs.  Here is my watercolor nearly complete.  Remember it is just a guide, not a literal painting.

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As soon as I am happy with the feel of the painting, I start to “square-off” my painting lines into color areas for the yarn.  It is fun to follow a curved line making only horizontal and vertical lines.  That is squaring off.  Each of those squares will be a knot with one, two, or three different shades of yarn.2014-08-06 11.43.45

And another squaring-off illustration.  When I am painting, I pay no attention to the grid lines.  Don’t even try to paint according to the grid.  Squaring off will make it look as though you planned it out very carefully.2014-08-06 11.42.29

2014-08-06 15.21.02I will leave you today with this image as I walked away from it this evening.  It is more than half squared off.  In the next work session, I’ll show you how I make a corresponding color card showing exactly what color yarn will go where.  Any questions?

 

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