Who dun it? Solve the Rya Mystery…

At this point, after hanging out in the rya world for 40-something years, I thought I’d seen it all.  Then my world is rocked, and I’d like your help to figure out this mystery.  After I sent out my last newsletter, I received an email from a woman named Eleanor whose sister has recently passed away leaving an almost untouched rya kit. Perhaps sensing my commitment to keeping the art of rya alive, Eleanor sent me all of her sister’s supplies. There was a graphed design, a threading card, a backing about 2′ wide and 4.5′ long, curved needles, and the most amazingly prepared yarn I’ve ever seen.  Who put this kit together? When?  What country were they from?  Where was their business located?  Why have I never seen this style of rya before?  Let me show you. . .DSCN7119

Here are the details for anyone who wants to ponder this.  The backing is typically Scandinavian with a dark wool thread woven in the weft every ten rows which makes counting the rows easy.2015-05-08 14.27.36 What I’ve never seen before is a dark linen thread in the warp woven to help you keep your place as you use the graph paper.  Brilliant!  Have you ever seen that weaving technique?  Tell me if you have. The other interesting thing about the backing is the knotting rows are closer together than in the typical Scandinavian backing. This is definitely going to be a dense rya.

Yet it is the yarn that really took my breath away.  Who ever put this kit together had high quality yarns and a skeining machine which could simultaneously blend many yarns together at the same time.  They selected various weights of both rya yarn with its rope-like twist and what I believe is dyed linen, and blended 3-6 strands all together on the skein.  So when you go to load your needle, you have the blending all right there at your fingertips.  I’ve never seen this before.  Gorgeous colors too!  Who on earth did this?DSCN7125

The threading card has the name Susan Hammal who I imagine is the designer of the pattern, “Earth & Sky” but could be the creative one who did the labor-intensive preparation of the supplies for a whole line of patterns. Does her name ring a bell?  Google was no help, so it’s been a while since she did this, I bet.   Look at the notes below  DSCN7121

Notice the words, “3/4″ & 1 1/2″ pile.”  I always teach to cut the loops unevenly, but that is quite a dramatic difference in the pile length.  I like it!

Eleanor thought that her sister had purchased the kit in New DSCN7123Jersey.  That is a clue, but still all basic questions unanswered.  There was a “ruler” with the kit to ensure that the knots were made at a uniform loop-length.  (My grandparents never used the rulers, and neither have I, but many people only make rya with a ruler.)

DSCN7129The curve-tip needles were a surprise to me.  A customer once asked me if I carried them, and I had to confess I had never heard of them.  I don’t think they are made anywhere on earth right now.  Please tell me if you have a source for them?  (Sorry, I’m going to keep these.)

While I knotted my recent Fireflower rya kit prototypes, I used the curved tipped needles.  I like using them, but the straight tipped ones really work just as well.

DSCN7120The only weird thing is that the graph doesn’t seem to have logical color blendings next to each other.  It’s too hard to explain, but at a glance I can see that Eleanor’s sister probably was frustrated by what could be a designer’s error.  Maybe you can see on the graph below that color blending #1 (whites) is shown in other areas with the #1 showing which would give no contrast of course and may have been a slip of the pencil when numbering the graph.  If only we had a photo of what the finished rya looks like, we could figure out the intended color scheme. (Oh, I may have just figured it out.)DSCN7124I’d love to find the time to piece this puzzle together.  What clues can you offer?  The red tag says “Norwegian Rya Rugs” but did they come from Norway in this format?  Or do you think Susan bought supplies from Norway, then created her own kits?  Ah, I can hardly sleep at night.

So I am comforted to know that another artist who went before me was doing the same thing I am working hard everyday to share with you.  Her kits were spectacular.  I just wish I knew more.  The blog here is a great way to share info with one another.  Your comment won’t show up immediately, but check back in later to see what others have said.  And a final shot of the gorgeous yarns: DSCN7122

Eleanor, thank you so much for sharing!


5 thoughts on “Who dun it? Solve the Rya Mystery…

  1. What a clever idea to mark the spacing on the warp with another colour thread. I will have to try that on my next rya warp. In looking at the design, I think the background white yarns were perhaps meant to be cut to the shorter 3/4″ pile? and the other straight ones are left longer 1.5 inch, giving a ‘streaming’ effect to the stripes.
    Love your website and the work you are doing.


    • Hello, Päivi!
      It’s nice to get your ideas on this because you are not new to the rya world. I think that is interesting about the length of pile on the design. Is that typically a Finnish technique? It seems like it would be a nice design if they did it that way. I think I have figure out that the only mistake on the graph is the first vertical line on the right says “1” but probably should say”8″ and it would make sense. Päivi, have you ever seen a “kit” made with so many types of yarn in the threading–even dyed linen in the threading? And the whole threadings wrapped in skeins?

      And glad you like the black strand in the warp technique. You can revive that tradition! But the question is still out there…whose tradition is it?

      A note about Päivi, everyone. Back ten years ago when I was first realizing there was no internet presence regarding “rya” (practically), I always found Päivi’s web site. She is a one-woman operation, like me, and weaves ryas as well as weaving rya backings for others in West Sussex, United Kingdom. She also dyes the yarn herself especially for the kits she sells. Check out her web site: http://www.paivatar.com/pdf/rya-cat.pdf.

  2. Browsing on the internet I found a picture in a blog about locker hooking with Ryer Yarn from the late 60’s/early 70’s. I had to think about this Rya Mystery that I read a while ago. Look at this picture with Ryer yarn from Sellgren & Co https://trapunto.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/sellgrenrya.jpg
    I do not know if it is the same yarn, but it made me think.
    Hopefully it will bring you a little further in your puzzle.

    Best regards,
    Marian Korving

    • Thank you, Marian! Funny, I just bought an old rya (ryer) book by Sellgren & Co. featuring Sellgren designs. Someone else also mentioned Sellgrens when they saw this kit. I wonder if Sellgrens is completed closed down now or if they manufacture other fiber products. Marion, in The Netherlands, do you have a place to buy rya supplies like those made in the 1950s – 70s? Thanks. Melinda

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