You’re on the Map!

I’ve been spending quality time writing my rya book lately!  Yeah!  But I did an impulsive “just for fun” thing a couple of weeks ago.  I ordered a nice paper map of the United States.  My husband helped me out by cutting a cork board to fit it, and we mounted it on the wall of my office.  I love it!  Then I took all the folders from my “Rya Customers” file (Yes, real paper folders) and typed out the name and town of every person I’ve helped with rya supplies in the past year–maybe a little longer.  Then I cut the name labels into thin strips and tacked each one up on the map.  You guys are all over the place!   (Apologies to my non-USA rya friends around the world…)map of usa

Why did I do that?  Well, for fun.  Girls just gotta have fun.  But in a practical way this helps to keep me focused on who you are and where you are.  There are some very helpful benefits provided by being able to SEE where you all live in this country as a whole:

  1.  I don’t have to rely on my poor aching memory. (“What was that lady’s name from Tucson, AZ?”)
  2.  In future years (after the book is done) I may travel to teach classes in off-loom rya rug making.  It would be so helpful to be able to see at a glance how may of you living within a reasonable drive of where I might teach.  Then I can let you know, and you can let your friends know.
  3. And a third fascinating idea I’ve been playing with in my head for about a week now. A man from San Francisco left a comment on the Youtube video page asking if there were any rya groups in his area that he might get together with to get back into making ryas with company.  Hmm.

That last one really hit home with me.  I can’t travel the world now to teach, but what if little pockets of rya knotting groups started here and there across the country?  With the map, I could clearly see where you live near other rya rug makers.  You could share techniques and teach each other.  How would this work?  It is still a little sketchy in my brain right now, but when we have a greater density of rya folks in specific DSCN7158areas, I could help by sending an email to let’s say 6-8 people within an hour drive of each other.  I would say, “Hey, do any of you have a favorite free meeting place like a side room in your library, coffee shop, arts center, a church recreation room–any friendly public place where you could carry in your tote bag full of your projects.  I would also ask you if it was OK to share your email address with who ever offered to coordinate a little get together.

If you say “Yes, give them my email address!” well, the rest is up to you all to work out the best day and time.  Do you think this pl_DSC0033an has merit?  I think we need to wait a little longer for the density of rya artists to fill in on the map, but I think it could be doable within a year or two.  Imagine groups of fascinating rya artists and beginners getting together once a month (or season) to help each other out and answer the many questions swirling in your heads.)

This could become a (don’t click on that–no such thing).  Or it could be a Rya-bee.  Think of the confidence a beginner would have to be surrounded by sharing rya folks…. Please share your ideas and comments below.

Thanks, Melinda

16 thoughts on “You’re on the Map!

  1. What a great idea! I’m sure classes like that would be much appriciated.
    And I hope you’re not just planning to travel in the USA with your rya-knowledge.
    Don’t forget Scandinavia!!!

  2. What a terrific idea! I would love to join a small group to work with. I think having to leave the house to go to a studio or workshop will also serve as a motivator (something I very much need)…

    When I lived in San Francisco few decades ago, there was a community art-center called Mason (something) in the Marian area….that was a wonderful space for artists of all kinds to use as their own little workshop…and it was free (except for supplies). Anyway, I love your creative idea and looking forward to someday attend your live workshops… Thank you!

    • Hi, Azita! Your area (near LA) has the greatest density of people who have bought supplies from me in the past year. Laguna Hills, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Pacific Palisades, and you in Northridge all have rya folks who might be interested. If you think of a meeting place, you could be the firts to see if my idea could really work… No pressure… 😉

      • Hi Melinda,

        Thanks for the info. All these cities are approx 75-80 miles from me (one way)…..except Pac.Palisades. The trouble with LA and surrounding suburbs is its crazy traffic which everyone tries to avoid. So, although a gathering of the group is doable if everyone is inclined to meet somewhere 1/2 way, but bec’s of traffic headaches I wonder how regularly they’d be willing to meet…

        I still think this will take off, if not near me (right away) but somewhere and soon … it is a wonderful idea and I think it will begin to ignite the fire of enthusiasm in people and spread sooner than later. You are on to something big… 🙂

        • Good Point, Azita…and things like that are hard for me to imagine. I mean the pins on the map are jus a few millimeters away from each other!!! I think in time there will be a lot more in your area. My friend, Jean, just asked if I’ve heard about I took a quick look and it has lots of potential for anyone who wants to use their site to generate interest for a group to meet up within 5-10 miles… If anyone wants to check that out, let us know if it might work in your area. Also my pins represent just a small number of people who know rya and might be searching for a group.

          • Hi Melinda!,
            You have a truly enthusiastic way of progressing and helping folk in this line! Groups are wonderful indeed such as is suggested above! I am using my own non-Rya wool, as you know, but, nonetheless, folks can buy the wool from you from real Rya Sheep! -My question is: Is the Rya Wool you sell from America or just from the sheep of Scandinavia? Just a question for I wonder about it! Rya Wool is very hardy for rug -making and therefore will last a rug out for hundreds of years! My wool is much softer to the touch, although I will include the hairy bits especially for the same reason! So, are these Rya Sheep populating the whole world?

          • Hi, Anke,
            You ask great questions and I am only recently learning the lowdown on rya rug yarn. I’m getting help from “experts” in writing these pages in my book. The rya sheep you mention, (ryafår) nearly went extinct in the early part of the 1900’s. They were identified as an endangered species and brought back through careful non-interbreeding to keep their breed pure. Small farms in Sweden are working together to keep the ryafår flocks healthy, but for what I can tell at this time, there are only about 2,000 left. In the mid-century, my understanding is that most of the “rya yarn” was made spun of New Zealand fleece. Long stapled and rich in lanolin, but not from the ryafår even though is is called rya yarn. The term rya also refers to the type of knot (Turkish or Ghiordes) so people can make rya knots on anything without any regard as to the sheep it comes from…a knotting technique. For REAL ryafår yarn contact They have the only yarn spinning mill capable of handling the length of the ryafår fleece!

            There is hardy and excellent heritage breed (Spaelsau) fleece used in Norway at the Rauma company. And softer thinner, but beautiful rya yarns for walhangings, bench covers, clothing, etc. made in Finland still: contact them at .

            So, use whatever wool moves you. If it is not long-stapled and does not hold its twist well, I’d recommend that you hang it on the wall. As a sheep person, I bet you know (maybe better than I do) how to make the yarn of your choice work. We are all learning, and this forum is a great place to share with others. Thanks, Anke. Looking forward to heraing how your project is going.

  3. Thanks so very much Melinda! That is sad, basically that so few are left! I can however tell you that the wool I have has very long staple, especially Ingwer’s wool! These Manx-Loughton sheep, I believe live naturally in very cold and windy barren places – much like the St Kilda ones?! They are not for eating, and hence their wool is so beautiful and long! But I am getting old and befuddled, now and may have got that wrong! If I was young again I would aim to have lots of land and try and have some real Ryafar Sheep and they would live as long as God would like them to in happy surroundings all their life! I so love sheep!

    So, basically I can call my rug eventually too, a Rya Rug, couldn’t I?!!! I would love to be able to do that without telling fibs! Sheep like all animals too, belong into the Garden of Paradise, same as all good people etc. Thanks so very much! I can’t wait to buy your book, when it comes into print! 🙂

    • Anke,
      If you can’t call your rug a “rya rug” with handspun yarn from the sheep your raised, then very few people would have any business calling their rugs: RYAS! So you have earned the name hands down. Basically it’s the knot and the ” shag” that make it a “rya”. And if you use real ryafår yarn, that takes you over the top and you win the prize!!!

      • 😉 see my other sheep on my wall, if you like, I found a picture of them all together even! Off I go now, making the rolags! 🙂

  4. I live in Canada (Vancouver area) and have just started making rya rugs. I am making my first rya rug from a vintage C.U.M. Rya kit, which was supposed to be complete. However, likely due to my inexperience with consistent loop lengths, or perhaps one small skein went astray over 40 years of storage (!) I anticipate being short of at least one key color. I will reach out to Byrdcall for a match, but at this point I am continuing with my rya to see if I will be out of any of the other colors. Even with the uncertainty, I am half-way done and love working on rya (ryijy) knots. Would love to attend a meet-up at some point!

    • Hi, Laura, If you send me a snip of yarn that you are running out of, I’ll see what the closest match is for you. I do have some CUM rya yarn. Not much. But I’ve found that blending from different companies adds to textural interest. There is another lady in the Vancouver area… a couple more and we might get a rya party going. 😉 If you want to send me a strand, Mail it to me at: Melinda Byrd, PO Box 162, Woodbine, MD 21797. Glad you are enjoying your rya project.

      • Thanks, Melinda, our notes are crossing. I will send you a snippet of the yarn color as you suggested. Thanks so much!

  5. Metro Detroit Area I am currently saving for my first rya. I cannot wait! I will start with a small kit and would love a class! Looking forward to your book! Thank you for keeping it alive!

    • Cool. You’ll be my first map pin in Detroit! (I’ll message you back via etsy about that red Fireflower design you requested.) Thanks for your interest in keeping rya alive!!

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