Update on Frostagarn — New Price Break on Vintage Swedish Frostagarn

October 8, 2017–update:  Since last month’s bulk discount announcement, three colors have run out.  The photo to the left reflects the current availability.

I purchased many boxes of the Borgs Swedish yarn called Frosta over a year ago from an estate sale on the west coast.  It was produced in the mid-century modern period and is no longer made. I have listed it in my etsy shop, and sales have been brisk at $8/100gram with 110 Meter on the skein. Generally yarn of this caliber ranges from $10-16/skein

As of this blog-posting, I will be reducing the price for larger orders to help move the yarn to fiberartists who are on budget or just looking for a good deal.  It is currently the lowest priced yarn I carry, and frankly I need the space for newer yarns coming in.

If you are buying 1-14 skeins, the price is $8 per skein.  Notice the price drops significantly as you buy greater quantities.  If you want to order for a group of friends, why not bring the price down to $5/skein.  There will be no delay in shipment because it is on on premises right now.

A color sample card is included in my Samples package sold on etsy. The colors are limited to two basic color ranges: HOT pinks, oranges, and yellows ….

and COOLER natural greens, browns and golds.

Note: The chocolate brown, rust, and two other greens are now gone. See sample card at the top of post for availability–though quantities are less.

They can be used with other Frostagarns or mix them with Rauma, Lundgren, or Asborya (currently made by Borgs selling at $13-16/sk.)   You can mix and match colors as you choose. Any quantity, as long as it is still available or any Frostagarn color, just send me a list of what you want and I will send you an online invoice.  Or if you’d rather purchase through etsy, send me an etsy message telling me what you want, and I will do a special listing just for you.  Very easy.

Here are the price breaks:

1 – 14 skeins @ $8.00/skein

15 – 25 skeins @ $7.00

26 – 49 skeins @ $6.00

50+ skeins @ $5.00

Here is a close-up shot of a totally Frostagarn-made rya.  It has a coarse feel as most rya yarns do.  The twist is looser than other rya yarns, but the twist is maintained when the loops are cut.  I made sample swatches of rya rugs (like the photo below) using every type of rya yarn I carry, and was very pleasantly surprised at how nice the Frostagarn functioned solo on a backing.  I have been adding maybe 10-20%  Frostagarn to most my kits I offer along with a mix of the Lundgren, Rauma ryegarn and prydvevgarn, and Asborya.

By comparison (for those in the know), the same company, Borgs in Sweden made Frostagarn as they still make the Asborya today which sells for $13-$16.  The older yarn has the more characteristic coarse rope-like twist than the new which is definitely more on the soft side.

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

2014-08-05 12.05.12

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.

2014-08-05 12.26.57

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?

 

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.