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A Little Rya Designer’s Lesson — Gentle Blending

Before my book was printed, I often gave you little rya designing lessons here in my blog.  Now that the book is out, of course I am thinking, “Oh, I should have told them about this… or that.” So here is a technique I’ve alluded to, but now want to share in detail–and it is easy to do.

What is the easiest way to make color transitions so smooth that they look like paints bleeding into one another?  That was my goal when I sketched the design I call Red Sky at Morning (see page 169 in my book). I didn’t want to see the lines of shape designation as I blended colors.

I drew a big “sun circle” on my Rauma wool and linen backing by tracing a barrel lid. Then drew lines of energy radiation which I knew would take me from hot light yellow sun, through oranges, reds and into several shades of purple.  I made a threading card as a guide–but a loose guide from which I would flex my color choices as I moved upwards.

I worked on it. Nieces and nephew worked on it (at a weekend family reunion), and it progressed.

Right before the pandemic closed everything down, I did a program at the Carroll County Library Branch in Eldersburg, Maryland.  All who attended learned to make knots on Red Sky at Morning.

I moved slowly on it so I could save the knotting for classes I was to teach this summer, but due to COVID-19, those classes will not materialize this year. So I have not been holding back for the past few weeks as I plunge into the heart of the sun.

Now here is what I hope you will notice.  If I stuck rigidly to the lines on the backing, you would notice the color separations. But the trick to diminishing the “hard line” is to skip a knot right by the borderline and place a knot from the next color combination by the dividing line.  See if you can see what I’m talking about in these photos.  It is very effective.  Under the first arrow, do you see the orange strand in the yellow territory? Under the second arrow, can you see the yellow knot in the hot white sun area?  That is what I think will help anyone working on “soft transitions.”

And here is where Red Sky at Morning is today, June 11, 2020.

Any questions.  Feel free to ask or share in the comments. Comments won’t show up immediately, so be patient.

Happy Knotting,

Melinda

 

Social Connections with Rya Rugs this Spring

Life has changed in many ways since I last wrote to you.

The work of 8 years of my life materialized in book form on March 17, 2020. Since then I have been mailing out several books each day and enjoying the feedback I’m receiving. Yet there is the other major life change we’ve all been experiencing together–the new reality of living with the threat and the challenging consequences of COVID-19. We are all in this together.

My situation is I live at home in Maryland with my husband (he’s recently retired) and dog (she is not retired). My daily life has been–and still is–focused on what comes in on my computer (emails & orders) and following through with answering requests in my studio which is located right behind my house.  I am working quite full time while social distancing. I miss getting together with my friends for dinners and happy hours.

I have been giving a lot of thought on what I can do, how I can best spend my time to be of service to people who are also staying home and looking for meaningful things to do. A few things come to mind. I have supplies in abundance which you can view on my website here or look in my Etsy Shop which is more complete.  I have dozens of kits ready-to-go or could be ready-to-go in a day or two.  The best way to see what is on-hand at my studio is to look at the “Rya Kits in my Etsy Shop.”  The other way is to look at the Rauma Rya catalogs list here on my website in the Shop under Rya Kits in files listed in brown lettering.  I don’t have them all, but I have many which I have not yet listed on Etsy, so just ask me if I have one that interests you.  And of course if you don’t already have the NEW rya book, I think you might get hours of learning and creative stimulation from it. I’m caught up on the order onslaught, so now I can send the book to you same day you order. Due to the disparity between cheap Media Mail postage in the USA and quite a bit higher rates to Europe, I have posted a second listing for the book on Etsy just for International order for the Book. (As inexpensive as possible.)

And finally, if it is information you need, information I can help you if you are stuck on a project. If any of you have a rya project that you stopped working on because you forgot how to do it, you ran out of a color, lost the graph, whatever–I can probably help you. Wouldn’t completing a nearly forgotten rya be a productive outcome of our stay-at-home time? Or starting on your first kit, or designing your own for the very first (or 10th) time. I am here for you.

 

Another thing you might enjoy is the Facebook Group off my Byrdcall Studio page called Rya Rug Friends. We have about 223 members from USA and around the world who share rya projects, designs, experiences, some really useful and interesting stuff. It will help you feel connected to a nice group of friends you haven’t met yet, but you may have a lot in common with them. Why not join today if this sounds interesting? It is a peaceful, kind, and positive group focused on traditional rya rug making.

T-Shirt Tuesdays:  Just for fun (plus it makes me feel happy), I have been giving away a free T-shirt of my Byrdcall designs every Tuesday evening. You can look at all the T-shirts I have available in my Etsy Shop. Pick one that is listed in the drop-down menu next to the photographs.  Then on my Byrdcall Studio Facebook page, tell me what design, color, size, a Ladies-or-Men’s style shirt you want. I will draw one name each Tuesday then mail the shirt free of charge to the winner. (USA mailings only please). If you don’t win, your name stays in “the hat” for the future drawings. I welcome any and all to participate–most importantly you have to choose a shirt that exists now because I am not printing more at this time. These shirts are also available for purchase, but wouldn’t it be more fun to win one? So far, congratulations to:  Libby Monaghan and Judy Rhoades!

Finally, I will be placing my order for Rauma Norwegian supplies on Friday (4/24/20) for a late May delivery (probably). if you have a particular rya kit in mind, let me know soon so I can add it to my order list if I don’t already have it.

Stay safe and healthy. Be happy with the joys in life that already surround you.

Cheers, Melinda

Feel free to share your comments below. There is a delay, so don’t worry if you don’t see your comments right off the bat.

Out with the Old…and In With the NEW!

I tend to hang on to all the vintage rya yarn I find or buy on eBay. But in my last newsletter, I announced that my “hidden stash” really is available to you. I described all the yarns that no one sees. So, a long-time customer (and now friend) from Arizona had her eye on the vintage Frostagarn from Sweden and after some cheerful negotiations, she bought about 100 pounds at a good price. This was also very good for me since I need space in the studio for my growing rya yarn, backings, and kit supplies–and not to mention the 500 books I’ll be bringing home from the printer next month!

So, all of the natural and earthy colors of Frosta are gone as well as many of my Bergå and Nordiskas yarns. Out with the old…and in with the new!

I still have plenty of vintage Lundgren yarn, a little Åsborya yarn, and new Rauma yarns rolling in each month. Happy to move the vintage to a new home overlooking the Arizona mountains.

Now you can update your Frosta sample cards. All I have left are the hot colors: yellow, goldenrod, oranges, and magenta.

The Developmental Tale of a Rya Design by A “New” Designer

 

Elizabeth Terzakis with her father, John, on an extended vacation in Sweden this past summer during which time he knotted this rya rug.

Elizabeth Terzakis likes to keep her rya rug-making father happy. He is happiest when knotting a rya. Elizabeth lives on the west coast; her parents live on the east coast. John made a few ryas and fell in love with the knotting. Elizabeth loves the end-product, so now she supplies him with designs and supplies, and he spends many happy weeks working away.

I frustrated Elizabeth a year or so ago when she wanted me to design a rya for John, and although I can design with the best of them, I turned her down since my priority was to finish writing my book. And I refused to do the calculations for how much yarn she would need. (You see, I’m not always nice.) But she was a good sport and agreed to try her hand at designing her own and making her own calculations. Check out this blogpost of their collaborative project this spring.  She was my guinea pig at trying out the charts and worksheets which are in the soon-to-be-printed book.  

Here is her second design as it progressed through the necessary stages.  She was kind enough to share the commentary in her own words: 

“A friend of mine’s parents were moving into a new home on a lake, and he wanted to give them a housewarming present. I thought a rya rug would make a great gift, asked for a shot of the lake, and was presented with the photo below.

“Since it had been some time since I had done any drawing, I warmed up by doing a free-hand pencil sketch of the photo, scaled to match the proportions of the Rya-rug-to-be.

“For additional warm-up, I made a color drawing of the scene with pastels.

Because I know that rya rugs tend to work better when they are more abstract and that the recipient of the rug wanted something in blues, greens, and yellows, I simplified the design and adjusted the palette.

“I then blocked out the rya backing with black yarn and drew the design onto it with chalk, following a black and white version of the colored pattern shown above. My father and friend had rejected my earlier rendition of the tree, saying that it looked like “a giant and malevolent spider,” so I replaced it with a softer version (one has to compromise, sometimes, in a collaborative project).

“Next I retraced the pattern with a black Sharpie and chose my yarns.

“Many knots later, we had the finished project.”

Everyone creates their own path when designing ryas. Every now and then I like to feature a creative process–especially when it has been photo-documented so well. Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth.  I’m sure your friend’s parents love it. Readers, kindly share your comments below. Comments might not show up immediately, so be patient. Cheers!

~ Melinda

I’m Seeking “Testimonials.” Can You Help?

 

2017 Stitches United Rya Rug Making Workshop in Hartford Connecticut

It is a little embarrassing to say, “Hey, got any praises you can sing for me?” But in truth, I am looking for your kind, but earned, words of recommendation that I can use to improve my new website which is in the developmental stages. 

As I was working with my book designer, Ken Koons, in designing the back cover, we realized that many successful books list great reviews which help give confidence to the person trying to decide if they want to buy the book or not. We figured we’d probably just add rave reviews on the 2nd edition. So who knows where your testimonials will turn up?

Feel free to post your comments below in the Leave a Reply section. As always, you may not see it posted for several hours, so don’t feel like your comment was “lost in space” if you don’t see it right away. Brief comments sharing your personal experience as to how I was able to help you with your projects are best.

I’d love to hear from my former students, designers, beginners, accomplished rya artists, long-distance internet buddies, everyone with a story to share.

I thank you in advance. It has always been a pleasure and an honor to help you.

~ Melinda

Are You Interested in Ordering my Book when it is Released?

We are getting towards the end of an 8 year endeavor, my friends!  Some of you have been patiently waiting for many years. Now as I work with kind editors, indexer, and book producer, we are on track for publishing in the next few months.  No, I can’t be specific and unexpected things can happen, so let’s just say “quite possibly by the end of 2019!”  But I can not guarantee since I’ve never done this before and I never dreamed it would take 8 YEARS. But it will be worth it.

The sole purpose of this Blog is to help me determine (when the time comes) how many books to order for anticipated immediate sales right off the bat.  I don’t even know how much the book will cost you, but you will be under NO commitment-to-buy if you help me out in this little survey.

I’m using this blog so I won’t jam my email-box and I can always refer back to this list for priority mailings if I have more orders than I have books.  But I can guarantee I will fill and refill my Amazon orders regularly so every one who wants a copy gets a copy as quickly as possible. And you will be able to buy directly from Amazon once they have it up-for-sales.

So, all you have to do is post a comment below with your name and “Yes I want a book!”  You can phrase it any way you like.  😉  (Again, no commitment, since you don’t even know the price.) To add a comment, click on the little “conversation bubble” by the heading of this blog. No worries if you don’t see your comment right away. If this is the first time you’ve commented on a post there is a delay.

Ready … Set … GO!

FYI As of about 4 PM on Thursday, September 19, it looks like 136 book reservations made. 🤗

 

A Collaborative Rya Project

John Terzakis in New Jersey has made 3 1/2 rya rugs to date.  It is his new passion.

This is the 16″ x16″ kits which John had already made. Click to read more about it.

His daughter, Elizabeth, in California contacted me in January asking if I could redesign the “Fireflower in Grays” design to a larger rya kit for her father to make for her with some additions of cranberry reds.  That really didn’t seem to be too challenging a request, but in the throws of finishing my book, I couldn’t take on a designing job at that time.  Elizabeth had definite ideas for exactly what she was looking for, so I challenged her to do the designing.  When she shared her design on paper with me, I thought, “What a perfect opportunity to try out my worksheet and math formula on a rya-newbie.”  I sent her lots of information directly from the book manuscript so she could do the process that would tell her exactly how much yarn it would need.  In exchange for her doing this work (and helping me tweak the calculations worksheet) I agreed to drawn the design onto the backing for her.  Good trade. At first glance she felt overwhelmed by the process I had emailed to her unexpected, and said her schedule and busy life would not allow her to do it.  But on second thought she gave it a go and found that the process actually worked.  (I did have to make a clarification or two which I have amended in the book–lucky for you all!)  But she gave me a list of yarn needed which was quite exact from my perspective.  She and her mother both put some time into figuring, but I was so impressed that it came out so perfectly.

I, in turn, took her design onto which she had superimposed a grid, and I drew it onto the 80 x 120 cm Rauma backing from Norway for them.  I used strands of dark yarn to “stitch the grid,” then slowly and carefully drew Elizabeth’s deign onto the backing with a Sharpie Laundry marker. When I removed my grid lines, the backing was ready to go. Then I gathered the ryegarn and prydvevgarn exactly as Elizabeth had specified, and shipped the whole kit off to John.

I just found out that he is moving right along–maybe halfway done at this point.  I hope to share a photo of the completed rya here soon.  Since then I have spent hours working on the worksheets and formulas included in the book to make everything even clearer…and then I’m always here for you if you have a question.

Here is the pile of yarn needed as gauged by Elizabeths calculations. I know it is right!

New! Cherry Wood Needle Organizer

I learned a lot from my grandparents as I worked with them in their Lundgren Rya, Inc. office back in the day..  My grandfather in particular was always making things.  He was a true inventor. Rumor has it he had 125 patents to his name, but truth be told, he held many jobs working for mills and factories who actually put the patents in the company’s name.  But in any case, he didn’t feel productive if he wasn’t inventing something.

Here are a couple of the needle organizers he made for the business and probably made some for customers, too.  I was just a kid back then.

But now that I have chosen to pick up the rya ball and run with it, I am reviving the needle organizer. I’ve been selling them on Etsy for a couple of years with very high acclaims from people who buy them.  As I was getting low on my tulip poplar blocks, I asked my husband if he would be willing to prepare 50 more for me.  He loves working with wood and chose to buy some gorgeous cherry wood for this edition of the needle organizers.  So every evening for the past week or two he’s been cutting, planing, sanding, drilling, and apply multiple coats of finish to the cherry block.  They are ready to go, and I am thankful.

The tulip poplar wood is on top and the cherry below. Both are very beautiful wood. The cherry weighs about 3 oz. more than the poplar.

We branded them with the wood branding tool I used back in one of my past lives as a sign carver.  I say if you have a wood brander, use it whenever possible.

So who needs a needle organizer?  Well if you use lots of needle in your work–rya or whatever–you would always have your needles at hand safely and in full view at all times. I can’t tell you have many needles I find between the cushions of my couches on the rare days when I lift the cushions. 

But you can make your own.  There is nothing magical about my wood blocks.  One woman, Arlene Desmarais, (in the class I just finished teaching at Integrace/Fairhaven this month) asked her husband to use the facility’s woodshop to make a block for all the students in my class, and he did!  Everyone received a free block.

Click on image to see current listing on Etsy to learn more or to buy a block.

One Way to Design a Rya Rug

Here is Carol Solinger with her rya almost complete (11/1/18)

Everyone tackles rya designing in their own way. In July this year, a long-time customer (and now friend), Carol Solinger, made an appointment to come to my studio to pick out the backing and yarn for her next rya project. She had recently moved to Maryland from Connecticut making it much easier to drop by for supplies.

First, Carol selected a backing.  4 1/2′ x 6 1/2′ or so.  It is a fairly large backing which will be used on the floor.  She brought along a printed fabric sample explaining to me that it was not the design, but the colors in this fabric she wanted to match with the yarn on hand.  We did a little calculations to figure that this backing would require about 70 skeins since Carol is using three strands of Rauma ryegarn to the needle and likes a fairly long pile of about 2″.  But there was no need to get all the yarn at once.  So for the most part, she picked out 2 skeins of every color she wanted.  We laid them out on the table.  They were very pleasing to look at. She had an abstract design in mind which was in black and white. (See photo.) She wasn’t done planning out what she was going to do with the design, but that was not a worry.  Carol has plenty of experience in designing her own ryas.

A month or two later, Carol ordered another pile of yarn …

She left knowing full well she would need more yarn as the project unfurled and her design developed.

What I had not expected to see, nor have I ever seen anyone do before, is Carol decided to work upwards on her backing rather than straight across the rows!  To all of my rya students, you may recall me saying “Never work upwards, but always across the rows.”  But then I would always add, “But if you do move upwards, just do not make knots over a blank area.”  Carol, moved straight up making the creative color blended side margin without knotting over a blank area. (You go, girl!)  She also drew out the design on the backing (which many people do) but she continued to work the full length (rather than width) as the pattern dictated.

She has sent the following photos I could share her progress with you.  I am mesmerized by it and thrilled to realize that after so many decades doing rya, I can still learn from others and grow.  I’ll add updates to this blog post as Carol shares more pictures with me.

Thank you, Carol, for documenting this process.

Notice how Carol is working vertically, though the knotting rows go left to right. Also note how she fills little plastic bags with her three-strand threadings so they are ready to grab and knot.

Early September and she appears to be half way done.

I asked Carol to send me a photo for the book showing how she knots with the design drawn on the backing. Notice she is using two strands of Ryegarn and one (thinner) strand of Prydvevgarn on her needle.)  Thought you might enjoy this photo, too.  Some people can’t imagine drawing on the backing.  The pile will totally cover your markings as you knot.

Her friend, Leon, pitching in.  Stay tuned for additions to this photo-series… As the Rya Turns . . .

And here it is complete and in place next to the couch of the fabric which originally inspired the color selection. Now you can rest, Carol.

“Look What I Did!”

Remember being a little child and every time you did something you were proud of, you would run around and show everyone saying, “Look what I made!” or “Look what I did all by myself!” I think artists are the same way.  We make something and must show people. It validates who we are as  unique artists. If an artist creates and doesn’t share, are they really an artist? Is sharing intrinsic to being an artist?  I don’t know.  But let’s share just the same.

Scarlet Macaw on martini glass

Flash back to my first decade after I left my job of gainful employ. I tried many different art forms just for the thrill of seeing if I could do it. My friend, Nancy, asked me if I could paint wine glasses for the reunion of her college buddies.  I had never painted on glass before, but gave it a shot. Her feedback propelled me into being a unique and proficient glass painter for many years. I shared in newsletters before turning the glasses over to the new owners.

I went through the same process with floorcloth making… hand-carved signs … woodcuts and linocuts–yes, the T-Shirt printing was mighty hot for a while.  I still have a hard time holding back in creating new images in wood.  But as many of you know, I have totally immersed into helping to bring back rya rug making.  It was a hobby when I was a child, a job when my grandparents needed assistance in their rya rug supply shop, then pretty much forgotten for 30 years as I moved through life, but now I feel like my efforts are making a difference. I have committed to carrying this mission on.

Why am I telling you all this?  Because last month as I was upgrading my web site to be a more secure site (for your benefit), I mentioned to my computer guru, Jeannine, that I needed to do a major update of my web site to reflect what I am actually doing now.  She kindly hinted that she was wondering when I was going to take that step.

So, that clinched it … time to get rid of all the images of what I no longer do.  But not without a last hurrah and a little fun for you.

I am still an ARTIST! I am still a show-off! So take a last look at the wicked cool stuff I did from about 2000 to 2016 in the non-rya world.  I made a little game for you to ensure you don’t miss anything. If you search my artwork-of-the-past and answer the following questions, your name will be added to a hat from which the winner will be drawn on September 1, 2018.  The winner can select any shirt from the many still remaining in my possession–hand-printed or silkscreened.  (You weren’t expecting a free rya rug, were you?) To see what shirts are available, click here to go to the shirts in my etsy shop.

I will mail the the shirt to the winner, or you can arrange a time to stop by the studio to pick out your favorite.  OK, here are the challenges.  To find the answers, go to Byrdcall Studio.

Hint:  Click on the title on the right called Gallery.  Happy Hunting!

  1. What is the name of the Farm on the mailbox with two German shepherds on it?
  2. How many Oysters are on the platter?
  3. What store has a sign with a big blue map of Maryland on it?
  4. What kind of bird is carved on the Adventure sign?
  5. What is H. D. Thoreau’s message?
  6. What color gems does Josephine have in her tiara?
  7. What color shirt is the middle drummer wearing?
  8. What sea creature is painted on the hat visor?
  9. What insect is painted all over Paige’s wall?
  10. What is the vehicle clearance height on the Twin Arch Bridge painting?
  11. Bonus Question:  What kind of duck has a blue bill? (See the pint glass)

BLOG UPDATE!  9/1/18 And the WINNER is Nicole Agostino of Eldersburg, MD!!!

Winner will be announced on Byrdcall Studio Facebook page, contacted by email, and mentioned in the next newsletter.  This would be a good “blog” to share with others.  These images will disappear soon after my book is complete.  You can comment below if you like. After all, a “show-off” thrives on feedback, but don’t share your answers below.  duh.  Send your list of answers to me at byrdcallstudio@gmail.com.

Thank you.  Now I feel like you have sufficiently witnessed my varied “arts” of the past.  Now I can let them go.  Thank you for helping me work through this process.

 

Note:  As of 3:45 PM on Wednesday, the hat has just one name of a person who answered all 10 plus the bonus question correctly!  You gotta play to win!