Byrdcall Studio, LLC

Rya Rug Revival
and Creative Arts
by Melinda Byrd
Heading Towards Spring 2023!
Note: Sometimes newsletters will "abbreviate" at the half-way point and a message will appear to "click to see the remaining message." If you don't notice it, you might miss half the newsletter so be sure to read (or scroll) to the end.
Open Studio Days coming
and a Week-Long Rya Class in July
Open Studio Days
Check your calendars. If you are local or don't mind traveling to Byrdcall Studio in Woodbine, MD to enjoy the company of others while you work on your project or pick up supplies, read on.

Saturday, March 25 and/or

Sunday, April 16

Choose 9 AM - Noon
or Noon - 4 PM

These Open Studio Days are also called Rya Sewing Circle or Drop-in Days. This is not a class, but a great opportunity to bring your projects in the works or your ideas sketched out and continue onto the next step. It is fun, social, and self-directed. If you need supplies, I have them. You can bring snacks and beverages if you like. The studio is casual and welcoming. Please email me at [email protected] to say when you would like to come. I will hold a seat for you. Spaces are limited.
Week-Long Rya Class at
Common Ground on the Hill McDaniel College
Westminster, MD
July 3 - 7 from 9 - 11:30 AM

Make your plans for a vacation in Maryland the first week of July. Not only will you be able to have a full week of mornings with me and rya, but you could fill your afternoons and evenings with various cultural arts in dozens of forms--dance, music, weaving, painting ... Suffice it to say I've been attending the Traditions Weeks at Common Ground on the Hill since 1999--first as a student, then as a volunteer and student , and now as a teacher and student. It has changed my life in meaningful ways.

The organizers are finishing the catalog this month. Soon you can see all the offerings and register for your selections. You can live in the college dorms and eat with the most interesting people in the dining hall, or you can get a local hotel room if you need your beauty sleep. There are concerts and lectures every night and jam sessions tend to break out spontaneously. Good good people. Trust me.

You can also just register for individual classes, but it is more fun to jump in with both feet.

Check out their website for details and for registration for my class or any classes. The website will be updated very soon, so just mark your calendar for July 3-7 so you remember. I'll remind you in the next newsletter.
Student Progress Update
Evelina Giobbe was in the November Rya rug designer's class at Byrdcall Studio. She had her design well-sketched on paper and transferred her sketch to the backing she chose. She created a palette of colors (mostly natural grays). Since then as time permits she has been inching her way up the backing knotting her vision.
I love this part of the process, and it is very important for you to see if you are thinking of designing someday. Not all designs are graphed and calculated. Sometimes, like a visual artist who paints, you sketch (or stitch) your idea on the canvas then start painting in the shades. Evelina is about 1/4 done, but I wanted you to see the process rather than just ooh and ahh at the end product and wonder how she did it. Stay tuned.
Your copy should address 3 key questions: Who am I writing for? (Audience) Why should
A New Design is Born!
Desert Suns ~
Design Prepared by Denise Hall
Snohomish, WA
This design, Desert Suns, was recreated by an active fellow rya rug enthusiast, Denise Hall. (Read about her in my book on p. 120-121.)

She re-made a rya that her talented mother-in-law had made years ago, but this time Denise developed the graph using a spreadsheet software program. I am so impressed. I have seen some Rauma designs made this way, but very few. Denise also kept track of all the yarn she used to make it--exact quantities of both Rauma and Lundgren yarns. She even figured quantities of Rauma yarn to substitute in case I run out of the Lundgren color--which is a possibility over the coming years.
Denise pointed something out to me the other day. Even though we don't have the 120 x 120 cm backing that this rya was designed for, we do have the 60 cm backing from Sweden. If two halves the same length were knotted separately (which makes them easier to work with, they could be stitched together when complete. That is how this design was originally made! See picture below. I personally have done that and it works great.
As Denise was working on the documentation of this gorgeous piece, she explained,

"I was able to trick my spreadsheet software (Quattro pro) into giving me a graph pattern and into labeling and coloring the cells. I fill it as I go and the software allows me to save the results in PDF format. I should be able to produce an accurate report of what I am doing."

Looking at her graphs, I must say I would trust her work. I'll bet there are readers among us who understand this process and may want to give it a try.
This page shows how the graph is prepared. You would have a threading card in hand to guide you through the color blending. Would YOU like to be the first to make this rya? No point in waiting until the Norwegian weavers catch up on making the larger backings when we have Swedish backing in hand!
The original Desert Suns was knotted on two seperate backings and stitched together as seen here.
All "new" designs get a "test run" meaning if you want to be the first to recreate Denise's Desert Suns, we are very interested to help you be the first. I haven't calculated the price yet for the 120x120 cm size rya--that is about 47" square. But it will be less than it would be if all the yarn was Rauma. I will also add a 10% discount to the kit price in thanks to you for providing feedback and photos regarding how it goes.

Since I'm anxious to get the newsletter out today, this will be a priority once someone steps forward and says, "Yes, I want to be your guinea pig." I'll personally prepare the kit and threading card, package and send it to you.
Contact me at [email protected]
Update on the Rya Backing Situation
If you are just joining us, there has been a shortage of rya backing from Norway for well over a year now. Finland is still producing excellent backings and Jenny Berge from the Svensk Hemslojd in Sweden was instrumental in having a mill in Sweden start to weave backings for our "habits."

I happily received this roll of 16" (40cm) Norwegian backing in December. As of last week it is gone. More is on order, but I don't know when it will arrive. Wider backing is also on order. Dozens of you are patiently waiting for the 80 cm backing kits which I have not forgotten. I've been told they are stepping up production for spring 2023. Keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime, I am cutting and hemming my 40 x 180cm backings to the size needed.
Swedish Backing: 60 cm (24") wide
Svensk Hemslöjd in Sweden bailed us out of having no 24" backing last summer. I ran out a few weeks ago, but happily just received another bolt. This process is working great.

The Finnish backings made by Taito Pirkanmaa Oy--these are the ones that are knotted on the surface of the backing. They have been very popular. I think people were hesitant to try something new, but once they started knotting on these backings, they fell in love with them. And you can use lighter weight yarn, like prydvevgarn or less rya yarn for savings.

Some of my customer/friends have recently realized that this 16" wide backing is great for pillows and wall hangings. My supply is getting low, but I will be ordering more soon.
USA Backing -- is now gone.
And finally the Lundgren backings woven in the USA of acrylic and cotton linen. When I bought back my grandparents' rya business from the woman who had purchased it in the 80's, I found that she had 27" wide acrylic backing woven in NY. I bought all four very heavy bolts. I thought it would last forever. I sold the last of the bolt to a rya rug maker in Canada a few weeks ago.

I do still have small hemmed pieces which are still listed in my Etsy shop. Great for wall-hangings. Well, its last days are numbered.
Future USA-woven Wool and Linen backings:
In the Fall Newsletter, you may have noticed a "call for weavers" who were interested in weaving rya rug backings for sale or for the learning experience. There are many of you here who expressed interest. I forwarded weaving patterns, and instructions to the ten or so people who contacted me. The instructions and patterns were sent to me by weavers who had already figured it out or had good books on Nordic weaving techniques.

The challenge would be whether or not an individual weaver could weave and sell a backing at a price that the buyer would be happy to pay. The backings I sell now were woven in mills where the cost is reduced due to the mechanization of the process. Is there a weaver among us who would like to be the "point person" to gather and share info with other weavers at least to keep the backing weaving skill alive if not for retail sales? Maybe a weavers' cooperative could pool orders and coordinate weavers. I would love one of our weaving rya friends to step forward and say, "Put me down as the contact person." I'm afraid if no one is interested in coordinating it will fall by the wayside if left to me alone. I am realizing that I am one tired woman who better not take on any more challenges.

If anyone is weaving a backing and wants to share it with our readership, send me a photo, the details, and a price, and I can share in the newsletter. The buyer can contact you directly.

As a different line of approach, does anyone have contacts with small mills that might be able to create quality wool and linen backings?

Support Retailers who Sell my Work
Rudolph Girls: Independent Bookstore in Westminster, MD
Last month Rudolph Girls started carrying my rya book. If you are in the area and have been thinking of buying my book, go there and buy it. Then I'll bring them a couple more! I told them I was pretty sure they'd sell and I don't want to be proven wrong. They are located at 15 E. Main Street, Suite 112, in Westminster MD. If you haven't been there, take the time to check them out. Tell them I sent you. Click to learn more about them
The Vine on Main is a Sykesville, MD landmark. It is located by the railroad tracks on Main St. They sell carefully selected wines, beers, fair trade clothing and gifts, and support local artists like me. The Vine has about 70 of my art T-shirts for sale. They are my top sellers of t-shirts all year long. Check them out. Tell them I sent you!

For my hand printed T-shirt fans, I caved into pressure and found the time to hand print more shirts for The Vine. Most are size small because that was what I had on hand, but there are other sizes in Blues, Today I Will Create, and Bee! Stop by and see. They also carry Raven in Flight, Unity, Thoreau, the Brookie, and more.
Vavstuga Weaving School is located in Shelburne, Massachusetts. They are a resource you should know about if you don't already. I often refer my weaving customers to them for supplies I don't carry. Tell them I sent you. Go to their website to see all the helpful items they offer for a fiber artist.
Iltamaa ~ Finland
I am thrilled to have shipped 52 softbound Rya Rug Books to Jenni Vanhanen in Finland in February. She sold out of the first 3 cases of books I sent her. Now she is well stocked. To my friends in Europe, hopefully it will cost a lot less for shipping from Finland to you than it costs to have it come across the Atlantic. Jenni is super busy this month, so it may take a couple of weeks for the books to be listed in her shop for sale, so be patient, and check it out!
Rya Classes Now being offered on Cape Cod
It really excites me to see others around the country and world taking steps to bring rya back into everyday conversation and skills.

Gretchen Romey-Tanzer of Tanzer's Fiberworks in Brewster, Massachusetts is now weaving small backings to help non-weaving students learn the off-loom rya technique. She is offering a class on Wed., March 8 which I highly recommend if you are nearby. It is only two hours long and priced very reasonably for all you will receive.

(Sorry the newsletter is going out very close to this date, but read about it anyway.) If Brewster is nearby to you, she has regular open hours where you can drop in. You can see what classes are on the schedule. Maybe she'll teach you how to weave a rya!
And a Class in Finland:

If you live in Finland and follow Wetterhoff Oy ryijy traditional rug making. They are offering a class March 11. See below from their Facebook page. Note their Facebook name has changed to Wetterhoff käsityökauppa from Wetterhoff Oy. Click on the link to see and "like."

Ryijy sewing course on Saturday 11.3. 10am - 2pm, at the Wetterhoff house.
Come and learn the different stages of rye preparation for a short course.
The course is free for those who have ordered the Wetterhoff rye package, but you can join with a small material fee if you just want to try and learn the sewing technique.
Read more: wetterhoff. fi
Rya Show & Tell
(Thank you for sharing your photos!)
David McKenrick
Cincinnati, OH

It must be the Season of the Tree. David used a Motawi tile as his inspiration for his new very long rya project. 30" x 90" An artist friend helped by projecting the image onto the backing and tracing the outline on the backing (see p. 130-131 in my book).

Now David is seeking the blues and browns he will need for this extensive project. He observed from experience that blues and browns are not in huge abundance in rya yarns. I've been aware that blues are often rare colors in rya yarn.

David is a very active man. He made me laugh when he quipped,
"Ahhhh. Springtime is upon us! How’s a person to choose, woodworking, Rya, time with the grandkids, cycling, running. All these competing whispers in my ear."

The amazing thing is, he will probably have this rug completed by fall.
This shot is taken of the bottom half of the image.
This shot is taken of the top half of the 90" length.
David completed this beautiful blue rya just this week! He clearly did some work in creating this design on graph paper.
Corwyn Knutson
Roseville, MN
Corwyn likes to spend his cold snowed-in days in Minnesota weaving his rya rugs on his floor loom. This one is a Rauma design called "Tre" (Tree in English).

The design is by Elin Steffner
I have a graph of Tre and can prepare a kit for you if you ask. It is 60 x 110cm or 24" x 43". I haven't gotten around to listing it on Etsy. Seeing Corwyn's photo reminded me that I do have this kit available. It costs $350 plus postage. Just email me if you would like to make this kit on a Swedish backing.
Hetty Dirriwachter Estes
Colorado Springs, CO
This posting on the Rya Rugs Friends Group on Facebook is an example of sharing at its best. It shows how organic and changing a rya process can be. She will be sharing the end result when complete. I love the playfulness and experimentation!

Hetty said,

"Reworking this 1970’s Rya rug, it was 1/3 finished. I’ve removed piles of knots and have been integrating and blending color. It is cheerful work during the recent snow storm.
Carol Solinger
Odenton, MD
Carol is a visionary. Every rya she makes takes me to another world!

This is a vintage backing (from the estate of David Swanson in Brunswick, ME). It is LARGE. I'm guessing 5' wide and 7' tall, but sometimes I exaggerate.

Carol was inspired by a photograph of looking skyward in a slot canyon of Arizona.

She uses colors and blendings that are unusual and gives me goosebumps when I see them.

Carol, I thank you for keeping me up-to-date on your progress
over the past few months.

Stay tuned, friends.

Faith Mason
Eureka, CA
Faith has had a vision with this design for a couple of years. Basically she has made a beautiful frame for this large rya rug and is now deciding on what to put in the middle. She has used the wisdom of the Rya Rugs Friends Group to ask advice for various aspects of its progress. Now she has a graceful sketch of the middle. I think you are almost there. Graph it? Sketch it on the backing? Still more choices for you, Faith. We are rooting for you.
Hi Melinda, 
Current state. Being so long unclear about the middle, I have worked up both sides, want to mark off the top, and now find I miscalculated about the diamonds and the top can't be the same as the bottom. I think I can accept that it will be different, certainly don't want to start all over.
I am pleased with the colors. 
Many thanks for your support and
encouragement !
New Needle Organizing Blocks being made!
Maple Wood Needle Organizers
My husband, John, is a woodworker and very helpful when it comes to recreating the nifty needle organizers that my grandfather, Bill Lundgren, designed and used to make for Lundgren Rya.

Last week we ran out of the Western Red Cedar blocks. We still have the Black Walnut and Tulip poplar blocks available and the "Character blocks" with personality. See the listing.

Closing Comments
And once again,
Thanks for reading all the way to the end.
Thank you for your kind correspondence and friendship. We are all united by rya. It is the "river that runs through us."

As always, stay happy and well, and seeing the beauty around you.

I'm really going to try to get the next newsletter out in early April!
I wish you all a wonderful 2023 and a joyous spring !
Knot on!
A Couple of Links that Might Come in Handy
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. We are over 500 Friends now! If you wish I wrote newsletter more often, I recommend you join the Friends Group so you can be inspired almost every day.

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. Share with anyone who might appreciate the fun. Thank you.
c/o Melinda Purcell Byrd, Owner
P.O. Box 162
Woodbine, MD 21797