Byrdcall Studio, LLC

Rya Rug Revival
and Creative Arts
by Melinda Byrd
Newsletter ~Winter 2022
Note: Sometimes newsletters will "abbreviate" at the halfway point. A message will appear to "click to see the remaining message." If you don't notice it, you might miss some pretty cool stuff, so be sure to read (or scroll) to the end.
Supplies! Supplies! Surprise!!!!
Important Information
Supply shortages have been rampant around the world in the past year or two. Now in my little rya world, I must sit tight and wait for crucial supplies which might have bearing on your plans in the upcoming weeks or months.

First, there is lots of GOOD NEWS! I am well-stocked in just about all Rauma Ryegarn colors--all except natural white #501.

I have plenty of every color of the Rauma Prydvevgarn!

I have plenty of the 40+ vintage Lundgren Rya colors. (But purple #53 just ran out last week.)

Rauma Backings have been on order for many months now. I am hoping for good news each day, but I have no inside information about how soon to expect backings. The critical sizes which are the most popular ones are backordered: 60 x 110 cm, 80 x 120 cm, and 80 x 150 cm are not available from my studio now.

I can not assemble kit packages for you, my rya friends, if I don't have the backings, so I have "deactivated" 75% of the kits I offer on Etsy. On my website they are marked as "out of stock."

Good News on the backings is: I still have Rauma backings in 40 x 75 cm @ $60.60. (That is about 16" x 30".) And I have a bolt which I can cut to any length you want. Take a look at the other backings I have in stock on Etsy.

I can still package up a Designer Package with Book for you, or if you already have a book, a Designer Package without the Book. Click on those links.

I have many other backing sizes in varying quantities--especially the bigger ones.

American-Made Acrylic Backings I have BOLTS of it. No worries there. This is my discount rya backing which is soft and white. Read more about it here in my Etsy Shop. And just in case you want a lot of it, the price really drops. Check this out.

I currently have excellent Finnish backings from Taito Pirkanmaa Oy which I buy in bolts and can cut to the length you want. I have plenty in four widths. I do not offer kits with these backings, but use them for your own designs They are heavy wool and linen and knots are made on the surface of the backing. In my book, read about them on pages 64-65. Taito Pirkanmaa was kind enough to give me permission to use their step-by-step instructional page (translated into English) for my book.

If you are familiar with the Wetterhoff Oy wool and linen backings, I'm down to just about 39". Read more about it, and buy it and give it a great home.
Finnish Backings by
Taito Pirkanmaa Oy
Great news on Needles!
Several months ago, I could not get a response from my source for needles. I worried. Two weeks ago I bought a package that weighs as much as a brick. Now I have 5,000 needles!

"Rulers" the Guide Sticks
A few weeks ago, I ran out of my lovely Rauma "rulers" or guide sticks for knotting which go in every Ruama kit! I put out a call for help in our Rya Rugs Friends Facebook group. Several sweethearts jumped at the chance to help me out with their unneeded rulers. (I love you!)

Then I was thrilled to get a small shipment of 14 from The Yarn Guys. But I don't know how soon they will be back in production in Norway. Here's how we can help each other out. If you already have a stick and you are buying a Rauma kit, tell me in advance and I'll leave the stick (and needles if you have excess) out of your kit and reduce your price by $10.

No Shortage of Rya Books!
This would be a perfect time to buy a book if you haven't bought one yet. It truly gives you the keys to understanding rya rugs in the off-loom technique.
Hardbacks are $49.
Softbacks are $39.
If you are just buying the book, media mail postage is still only $5. That is a good deal for a heavy book.

Our January Online Rya Workshop
The American Swedish Historical Museum in Philadelphia hosted a 2-session rya workshop via Zoom with me as the instructor. The workshop filled with 13 students with no rya rug making experience. Before the workshop, they selected from the color groupings to the right. With a 16" x 16" Rauma backing and 4 skeins which I sent to them a week before the first workshop, they learned to mix colors and create their own designs.

The students could do whatever they wanted with the 4 skeins. I told them about the "Hit-or-Miss" design which is not really a design, just random blending of colors. 3 colors blended with three strands on the needle creates 10 combination possibilities. Other completed designs will be shared as they roll in. Some graphed their designs and others drew them on the backing.
Caroline Brady from Baltimore is new to rya and chose the purple grouping. She just completed this piece yesterday! 2/18/22 Notice her unique uncut loop area in the middle. Interesting to see the wide band light purple X which is defined by the darker triangles.
Marie Mayhew from Thurmont, MD is a weaver and decided to take this class to learn a new fiber art skill. She figured out many of her own techniques (quite advanced) and shared step-by-step progress in our Rya Friends Group.
Anita Thompson from Smyrna, DE did "hit-or-miss" in her own style. Totally separating the darker green makes for a striking impact. Notice the lightest greens in the middle helps with the contrast.
As more projects are completed in the coming days, I'll share them in the "Show & Tell" section in future newsletters.
I want to see the other color combinations!
Jacqui Comshaw from Middletown, CT just completed this "hit-or-miss" with hearts. The natural whites and the darkest gray sit side by side for dramatic contrast. I love the random white strands in the top 1/4 which look like sparkly stars.
Rya Show & Tell
We have more than usual in this issue...sit back and enjoy!
Katherine from Ohio
Katherine found me a year ago with quite a project to complete. She wasn't able to get the yarn she needed with the Finnish suppliers who had originally made her kit, so I helped her with the Rauma Prydvevgarn. Here is her story:

"I started working on my rya rug January 1, 2021. With COVID raging, I pulled out of my stash a UFO (unfinished object) that I bought in 1971 from Finland for $37. With the help of Melinda, I customized the rug to my taste by changing the center background color from green to red. 

I wanted the look of an Oriental rug or an antique rya. 53 weeks later, January 7, 2022, I finished the rug, 51 years after I bought the kit. The rug is 4 feet by 5 feet and has more than 18,000 knots.
I bought extra needles from Melinda. I like having lots of needles ready so I don't need to stop to thread up. 
The rug is worked off a chart similar to a counted cross stitch chart. I put safety pins on the left and right edges of the backing every ten rows to correspond with the chart. Similarly I put in vertical rows of white sewing thread every ten knots. If I missed a thread or misread the chart, I found the mistake within ten knots. I enlarged the chart on the library Xerox machine onto 11"x17" paper, making the chart much easier to read. I worked the left border, then the right border and finally up the middle. This allowed the rug to fit on the card table I used because I could fold it just exposing the area I was working on. I used bicycle clips to keep the rolled portion manageable.  
Design: TARE from Rauma by Bi Magnus.
Note: As mentioned above, the backings this size are not available as this newsletter "goes to press." So the links to the Etsy shop won't be active until I reactivate this listing once I receive the backings. Be forewarned! ;-)

The Tare on the left is made in the colors pictured in the old Rauma catalog. Until today, I had never seen it in the other two color choice orange/salmon or green/blues. Who will be the brave soul to go out on a limb and order this design in the blues/greens? Both these ryas were completed in January 2022!
Congratulations to the needle craftsmen!
Becky Halvorson from Minneapolis completed her Tare early this year.

She made a beautiful rendition of Tare. Modern photography brings more beauty to this rya than the old catalog photo could possibly do. Thanks for sharing, Becky!
And Rachel Stien from Ohio just completed this beauty.

It takes a brave and visionary person to look at a photograph of a rya rug in blues, maroons, and browns, then order the design in salmons, beige, and oranges sight unseen. That is exactly what Rachel did. I told her I had never seen a photo of Tare in those colors, but they sure look like great colors in a pile of yarn. Let's give a hand to Rachel whose intuition was spot on!

And the Greens/Blues are yet to be made. How about you?
If you are interested in making any of these color combinations of Tare, I have a nice write-up about them in my Etsy shop.

Check back later if you find the listing removed due to supplies shortfall.

Ellen in New Mexico has made another gorgeous rya with no name: #784-A

Only a few people (since I've been selling the Rauma products) have made this gorgeous kit. The sunlight really brings out the colors in this one. If you want to make it, put it on your to-do list for later. The dominant color off-white #501 is on backorder now. I hope it arrives soon!

It also comes with black as the background color with HOT color highlights.

Thanks for sharing, Ellen!

This kit will be available again once the white #501 arrives.
This rya says "Marimekko" loud and clear. Ellen, you are inspirational!
Ellen Havdala from Chicago

Ellen is the kind of person who just needs a few guidelines and off she goes. She basically did all the calculations on her own. I am so impressed by her rya skills.

"My rug is finally done!
I learned about Rya rug-making three years ago when I found a video of Melinda at Byrdcall Studio demonstrating her art. As a hobby textile crafter, I immediately wanted to make one, and decided my Marimekko pillows would serve as perfect inspiration. Melinda provided me with terrific guidance and graph paper, from which I painted the design, chose colors and calculated the required materials. While I initially made good progress, work and other time demands distracted me and I lost focus on the project.

This past December I picked it up once again and very much enjoyed working on the rug and watching it evolve. I almost finished it in about three weeks, but found I was a few strands of yarn short. Thankfully, Melinda kindly provided the required yarn to complete it.
It was a great project to work on and I am really pleased with the results. I would encourage anyone thinking of trying Rya rug-making to do so, maybe beginning with one of Melinda’s pillow kits as a beautiful first-time project."
Rita Leydon from Salida, Colorado
Rita is not new to fiber arts. In fact, her mother was deep into fiber and created an all natural gray tapestry which Rita is recreating in rya in her mother's memory. She asked me to send her a large backing--about 140 x 200 cm or 55" x 79", but it was on backorder from Norway. She said, "That's OK, I'll weave my own backing." And she did.
This photo shows the two strips of half-width backing she wove and joined together to make a back about 58" wide. Her knotting is at the halfway point now.
Some weavers have asked why would you weave a backing to knot on later when you could apply the knots as you work along each row that you weave. As Rita knows, it would tie up your loom for a very long period to do the whole thing at once. Plus she would have needed a double wide loom to weave that size.

She has a great set up with good lighting. If she needs to roll it up and set it aside for another project, off-loom works very well.

Notice her needle organizing block in use.
Here is her technique of adapting the photo of her mother's tapestry to the drawing on the backing a few grid blocks at a time.

You can read about this process in my book on page 126 -127. It saves the time you would otherwise be spending making a graph and reading the graph as you go.
If any of you have a dog, you know that the minute you lay your partially made rya on the floor to step back and view the whole thing, the dog claims their territory before you can shoot a photo, Here Cajsa is claiming the most comfortable bed in the house. She looks just like my dog, Gypsy, who does the same thing.
Faith Mason from Eureka, California
Faith was in the middle of a BIG rya project that needed color commitments when she decided to set it aside and take a break with a smaller and very finely designed rya kit from Norway called Vilje. Vilje is 80 x 80 cm (31.5 "x 31.5") She said it needs her undivided attention to get it right, but she is loving it!

Note: I have this backing available, but not the white #501 yarn. Check back in a while to see if the supply issue has improved. Here is a link to a kit the same size that doesn't need the #501.
Both were designed by the same designer: Tuulikki Kosonen.
Cindi from Calgary Alberta Canada!
I can tell that Cindi is hooked on Ryas! She just completed this kit called Bork. It is a gorgeous rya both ways! I just sent her a Rya Rug Designers Package and Starter Kit so she can totally design and make her next rya. Stay tuned.

In Cindi's words, "So many ways to use/display this rug! My goal was a row a day…around 45 minutes per row. I would have finished the rug in about 78 days but I sustained an injury that put everything on pause for an additional year. To me this rug represents healing! A reminder that pain does pass and suffering is only for a moment. I cannot wait for my next project!"
Bork with a few color changes. Natural greens were used in place of some of the grays.
I think Cindi is proud of her first rya rug--and well she should be. Many of us know that urge to dance when we complete our first.
I can't resist selfies with a rya rug and a dog. I must say, that is a very obedient dog, since we all know she would rather be on the rya
Great photo! And who says your rya has to hang on the wall or lay on the floor? Drape over a chair, a sofa, or your bed. Wear it over your shoulders when you go out in the yard with your dog under the stars.
And last but not least--and I'm sure I've left someone out . . .

Melanie Dorson from San Francisco
Melanie was the first person to order the purple kit for MOLL from me. I had seen it made just once by a weaver named Corwyn Knutson from near Minneapolis who let me use the picture of his weaving to "showcase" what a purple MOLL looks like. Now Melanie has shared her photos--front and back.
It is fun to look at the back of a rya--especially one that has intricate and geometric design. So many of you are now playing with designs on rya graph paper. Looking at the back is almost like looking at the design on graph paper, isn't it? The straight lines are straighter and the balance is clearly seen.

If Melanie made a mistake in knot placement, we would never know from looking at the pile side but an error would jump out to your eye if you studied the back of it. No errors here! (Not that I'm looking for errors!)

Best Delivery for YOU.
USPS, UPS, or FedEx
Generally the US Postal Service has been my primary means of shipping your supplies. Due to some recent "issues," I've been looking at other ways to ensure your packages arrive safely and in a timely manner.

Luckily 95% of the packages I mailed in the past 2 years have gotten to their destination on time and in one piece. But too often lately it seems tracking shows the package sitting in Baltimore for multiple days.

I have started experimenting with UPS when price makes it reasonable to do so. So far, the receiving customers have been pleased with their service. I have been using Federal Express for large packages going to the West Coast or Rocky Mountain states. With each shipment, I will analyze the "best way" to ship--for reliability and price. Most packages will continue to go out via USPS, but be aware, other vehicles may be bringing your delivery.

I mail my books to you via USPS Media Mail. I pack them in sturdy cardboard book-boxes which protect them. It still costs only $5 for a heavy book to be sent across the USA.

To my Canadian friends: Sadly, simply crossing the border does make the postal prices jump beyond my control. I follow the USPS rate system and charge no more.

If you have problems in receiving from UPS or FedEx, let me know and I'll stay with USPS on your orders. These times are challenging. Everyone is doing their best.
Keeping in Touch with Päivi Suomi
Interested in Nordic fiber art? Please make note that our friend, Päivi, has been making changes to her internet connections. She has been helpful on the Facebook Rya Rugs Friends Group, but she is no longer on Facebook--but really wants us to know she is there for us. Her history on the internet regarding rya goes back before my time. She is very helpful.

Paivi is featured in my book on pages 92-93.
Check out her website and subscribe to her newsletter to be kept up to date with her offerings.

Are You Fortunate Enough
to Have Snow?
At this moment, there is no snow to speak of in Woodbine, Maryland. But I know many of you do have snow. Take advantage of its cleaning powers for rya or other wool rugs.

  • Gather your rugs off the floor, off the walls or furniture.
  • Set them outside on your porch for an hour or two so they get very cold.
  • Then one by one lay them facedown in the snow or cover them with snow, brushing them with your mittened hands. (Don't march briskly on them like I did in an early video which could damage a fragile rya.)
  • Shake briskly as the dust and dirt flies, and do it again.

This is the earliest form of dry cleaning. Your rya will appreciate it and sparkle with new life.
A Helpful Tip when Completing a Rya
Here is a tip I never knew about until I started selling the Rauma backings and kits about 8 years ago.

The instructions that I enclose with the kits have a brief description on the topic with an illustration, but I think this technique of finishing is often forgotten.

First let me say, this is not a requirement for finishing a rya. It is a pretty edge to a beautiful hand-knotted piece. The Rauma backing are cut along the sides and stitched very securely--no selvedge. I like selvedge edges better, but they are hard to come by these days. This technique covers the factory-stitched edge.

Longtime rya knotter, Marge Nelson from Little Falls, MN contacted me yesterday and enclosed this photo of Anemone.
She said "I can't believe I didn't know this sooner about Whip-stitching the side edges. It's in your book on page 236.
I took my completed 'Anemone' rya rug off the wall and stitched it. What a beautiful finishing touch!"
I agree!
  • Use one strand on the needle.
  • Wrap the border one yarn width per stitch.
  • Just slowly make stitched side by side not overlapping or getting too tight. Better too loose than too tight.
  • I find I can use one strand of cut length of yarn to move up 5 inches of border.
  • You can use the same color all around or use the color that matches the pile next to the edge.
  • Just "hide" the two ends of your yarn in the pile as an extra shagativity.
Give this Some Thought:
Offering Your Designs to Others with my Help
The Future of Rya Rug Making
Here is a conversation that occasionally pops up in the Facebook Rya Rug Friends Group--and elsewhere.

Someone shares a photo of a beautiful rya they have made. Questions follow.
"So beautiful...did you design that or is it a kit?"

If it is a kit, the admirer can easily order one if I have the kit to offer them. Easy. (At this moment, I know of no others who sell kits in this country.)

But if the person designed it themselves, well, an interesting conversation could occur. And maybe now is a good time to flesh out the ideas.

Would you (the designer) want to share your hard-earned design? Or keep it as a one-and-only original? Would you be able to come up with a list of all the yarn quantities in the colors needed--maybe with my help with my sales records if I do a good job of keeping track. Would you be willing to redraw the graph so it looks clean and new? Or maybe you made a photocopy of it before
you marked it up and scribbled notes in the margins.
Click through the archives of your newsletters (at the top of this newsletter) to see the genesis of this amazing rya designed and made by Susan Morduch from Ardsley, NY in the past 4 months. She bought my book in July, came to the studio to buy supplies in November 2021, and look at the final piece!

Susan, I am in no way pressuring you to make this design available to others, but I noticed you were willing to share your graph with other Rya Friends. I'd like to make it a possibility for you and others! Thank you.
I could provide the backing (hopefully!) the yarn in the specified amounts, I could print a few copies of your graph and make the threading card to go with the graph. If the designer gives me a great photo of the rug (nice and clear) I could share it on Etsy and on my website with their name on it. A designers fee would be added to the kit price and paid to the designer--maybe every 6 months if there are multiple sales.... You see, I have been thinking about this for a long time. I just need some teammates to expand the offerings of our ryas!

I could help make this happen, and I would love to. Some of the designs our rya friends come up with are every bit as professional and gorgeous as the ones in the catalogs. What if no new catalogs of designs are being made? How would the rya world grow?

Think about keeping good records of the yarn you use, and make a photocopy of your graph. This conversation must continue and I'm just putting the bug in your ear to think about it. What if you designed 3-4 ryas and provided the data so I could fill the orders for you. A line of designs in YOUR name!

Or... what if... you started you own rya rug teaching and outreach business? Whoa, did she really say that? Yes, it has always been my goal to keep rya rug making alive. What a way to keep it going!

Think about it.
And at Last You have reached the End!
I always love it when you read all the way through. ;-)
I am looking forward to a productive and more socially fun Spring heading our way. I'm here for you. Pray for the supply line to catch up with our voracious appetites for creating art with wool.

Stay happy and well.
~ Melinda
Many thanks for your valuable time with me .
Knot on!

A Couple of Links You Might Enjoy
A couple of links here that I know are enjoyed by many of you. Special "Shout out" to the Rya Rugs Friends on Facebook. The Group always welcomes new members.

Direct Link for Book Purchase
Whether you have been waiting for this book for years or if you are just discovering at this moment that it exists, no reason to hold off on treating yourself! The reviews have been excellent. It is now available in either hardbound or soft bound cover. Click on the cover image to learn more.
Price: $ 49 Hardbound
Price: $ 39 Softbound
S & H: $ 5.00
6% MD State tax for instate purchases only

Do you know anyone who would enjoy this book? I would so appreciate your support of sharing my book with anyone who might enjoy it. If you know a shop that might like to carry a few books, I sell wholesale. If you know someone who is bored due to not going out during the pandemic, they could design their own rya or get a kit. Share with anyone who might appreciate the boost. Thank you.
c/o Melinda Purcell Byrd, Owner
P.O. Box 162
Woodbine, MD 21797