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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.