Getting off square one is always the most difficult part of a job. Since I promised in my July Newsletter that I would have progress on the designing of a custom “Monet” rya kit order for Bill, I am happy to say it’s happening before I write the August Newsletter.
Bill wants a horizontal rya for a wall hanging behind his bed: 4 feet tall and 6 feet wide approximately. He wants it to have the general “feel” of Monet’s Bridge over the Water Lily Pond, but not have it look like it’s supposed to BE the painting. So my goal is to design a colorful abstraction of Monet’s bridge on graph paper with a yarn color chart for him to follow. Here is my progress of the day:
I selected the most appropriate backing for the size. It is 34.5″ wide. Two stitched side by side will be almost 6′ wide. Perfect. So I cut it to be 4′ long with an extra several inches to allow for a hem. Both pieces have to have the exact same number of knotting rows so they match up when stitched together. (Notice that my grandmother–founder of Lundgren Rya–is watching over my shoulder.)
Then comes the hemming with my sturdy old Singer. I zigzag the cut edge so it won’t fray as I handle it, then fold two rows over, zigzag them together, then straight stitch twice to be sure the hem is stable and permanently locked closed.For Bill I am making a nice open hem on the top so he can slide a rod for hanging through the tunnel. It will keep the rya wall hanging nice and straight.Now both backings are hemmed and ready. Time to prepare the graph paper. Luckily, this graph paper was designed for this backing. There are 84 squares across the bottom of the paper and 84 knots will be made across the bottom of the rya. (Coincidence?) There are 82 rows (see those stripes?) in a 4′ backing. So watch how I adapt the graph paper…I folded the center margins back so the graph lines match up perfectly. I also cut the top off the graph paper and folded an inch of paper down for a white border…just for the heck of it. Now the graph paper is ready for the design. AND I am ready to jump in for the fun part. Stay tuned. I’m going to be working on this tomorrow. Any questions?
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….
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…
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 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.
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!>>
- 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.
- 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:
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.