Lesson #3 in Designing a Rya Rug (with a little help from Monet)

2014-08-05 12.36.56If you are just discovering this mini-lesson out of the blue, go to my previous blogs to get the background story.  In the last lesson, I had painted the special graph paper with a general idea of the color tones I was going for, then with a pencil I “squared off” all color areas so there was no question about which color zone the square was in.2014-08-05 14.03.49

Rya yarn samples-rauma and Lundgren

These are yarn sample cards. There numbers on these cards refer to the pure color of the dyed yarn, not blendings.

Next I used my yarn sample cards to pick out the colors I am going to mix to make the color combinations.  My grandmother always used to say that making a rya rug was like “painting with a needle.”  She was right.  The yarn colors are like the pure paint squeezed from the paint tube onto the palette.

Pure colors are fine, but the magic of rya comes from blending them with each other.  I mean, why wouldn’t you?  You put three strands on a needle to make the knot, so imagine all the color combinations you can get:  all 3 the same color, 2 of one color and one of another color, and all 3 different colors.  Ideally, when you create a threading, you should be able to squint your eyes and see it as one shade, but there are sometimes exceptions to that rule.  (I’ll explain those details in my book.)

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.

So I created the “palette of mixed paints” which I call the “threading card.”  To make a threading card just use a paper hole puncher, punch a line of holes, then number each hole from 1 – 10 or 20 or what ever.  Then like a paint-by-number kit (but a whole lot cooler!) you can assign color numbers to your graph paper.  It is just a guide and you can always adlib.  So look closely at the yarn combinations threading card.  The #1, 2, 3… represents the number that I can easily write on the graph paper.  The three numbers written above that number tell you the ID number of the pure yarn color.  If it is a Lundgren Rya yarn, it is from #1-91.  If it is Norwegian (Rauma) it is a 3-digit number in the 500’s.

I have given a threading number to each color area.  I'm actually not trying to match my painting so much as I am trying to match the colors of Monet's painting--my painting is just a general guide.

I have given a threading number to each color area. I’m actually not trying to match my painting so much as I am trying to match the colors of Monet’s painting–my painting is just a general guide.


So here is where this lesson ends. Oh yes, these lessons are in real time. Next time we’ll do some calculations. I’ll show you two ways to figure the yarn quantities out.

Next I took on the task of assigning a threading number to every single squared off color area on the entire graph.  OK, I admit, that is a little tedious, but someone has to do it. (You can do it.)  And a design that resembles an abstract Monet is very forgiving and you can’t go wrong…(well, maybe you could, but no one would know–that’s what I mean.)

So what’s left in this lesson series?  How many skeins of all of these colors do I need? Where do we begin this rya?

Stay tuned!





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.

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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.

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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?


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