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Byrdcall Studio, LLC

Rya Rug Revival

and Creative Arts

by Melinda Byrd

Visit Our Shop

Wishing You Peace and a Beautiful 2024

Happy New Year, my Friends!

I hope you found meaningful moments in your holiday experience. Now you can relax and catch up on things you enjjoy!

I received some wonderful feedback from the last newsletter. I now realize that I have more things in common with many of you other than rya--like gardening, enjoying pets, cooking. I appreciate that.

The Studio is very well-stocked now with yarn and backings (with one exception I'll tell you about below). The kits are available in full swing again. Check out the rya dog leisure collars and head band hats below.

Pour yourself a cuppa something and join us for a few minutes to catch up on life in and around the studio.

There is plenty of good news!

~ Melinda


In this Issue:

  • More Vintage rya yarn has arrived
  • Studio is Well-stocked (mostly). There is a shortage of Rauma Sample Cards this winter and certain color yarns.
  • New Idea for headbands and dog "Leisure collars"
  • Carved Linocut Holiday Card--a blast from my past
  • Open Studio Workdays
  • July 7-12th Rya Class at Common Ground on the Hill at McDaniel College
  • Sharing with Others and the cat rya

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Melinda Byrd


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Cat Rya by David McKenrick

See some interesting details David used in his design in the SHARING section of this newsletter.

My newsletter app somehow lost what I wrote in the sharing section of the last newsletter... So I rewrote the whole thing for you. It's worthwhile.

Vintage Yarn Arrives by Mail

What do people do when they discover a box (or two) of vintage rya supplies in the closet of a deceased family member? Or they might have bought supplies years ago, then developed other interests and finally realize they don't need rya supplies anymore. It happens. Sometimes they list it on eBay. Sometimes they haul it to the Goodwill store. Sometimes they find me!

It is so much fun when I get a call or an email from someone who is looking for a forever home for their rya supplies. I always accept their offerings once I have ensured that it is coming from a smoke-free and cat-free environment and it is of a quality I can stand behind for my customers high standards. (100% wool, 2-ply)

Most people are not looking to sell the supplies. I will be selling it at discounted prices. I am very grateful for their shipping me the yarn. I will send them a check to cover the postage and generally add a little more if it is an awesome stash--as a thank you. Many people just thank me for keeping the rya craft going and don't want any reimbursement for shipping. I thank you all.

People who visit the studio (by appointment) have the opportunity to purchase from the "miscellaneous vintage yarn bins" where I sell by weight, not the number of skeins (since there are many partial skeins). I also offer the vintage yarn to the students in my classes. I am happy to respond to your emailed requests for colors you are looking for, but remember most of these colors do not have color numbers we both can refer to. If you have my sample cards, you can ask for what vintage colors I have "close to" known color numbers.

Another way you can take advantage of these discounted amazing yarns is to buy a "Non-Kit" offered in my Etsy Shop. In the Non-Kits, I offer a choice of Finnish or Norwegian rya backing (about 16" x 18" recent size increase) and your selection of "grab bags" of miscellaneous colors which you can choose from the 6-8 pre-bagged color combinations. This has been the most popular item in my shop over the past year! It is not a kit, so what you do with the colors is YOUR inspiration--we just give you way more yarn than you need and you can combine them as you like.

This beautiful array of colors was kept in rya circulation by Judy Hoch from Salida, CO. Many thanks to Judy.

Click to see and read more about the Non-Kits offered in Etsy shop

Supply Update

The photo above shows a recent order coming from Norway!

It's Mostly Good News.

This story was in the last newsletter, but I have updated it to reflect the present situation.

As a re-cap: I have backings of various widths between 10" and 47" wide from two excellent companies in Finland: Taito Pirkanmaa and Wetterhoff. I still have plenty--and now I have written instructions that will help you design and graph with these backings. Click to read write-ups in my Etsy Shop.

Wetterhoff wool and linen backing from Finland.

Taito Pirkanmaa wool and linen backing also from Finland.

Svensk Hemslöjd wool and cotton backing 24" (60 cm) wide.

Rauma from Norway wool and linen backing in various sizes.

I have 35 M of the 24" (60 cm) backing from Svensk Hemslöjd in Sweden. I am ready to hem it in any length you request including very narrow strips which can be used for the headbands and dog collars described later in this newsletter

I have Norway's Rauma Backings especially in the most requested sizes.

I have a bolt of 16" (40 cm) wool and linen backing. I can hem any length.

I have hemmed-and-ready-to-go 24" x 43" (60 x 110cm) backings and also in bolts to hem any length you request.

I have hemmed-and-ready-to-go 31.5" x 47" (80 x 120 cm) backings

I have hemmed-and-ready-to-go 31.5" x 59" (80 x 150 cm) backings and also the 80 cm backing I can hem to any length you request.

Kits are available. (See note below about black yarn.) All kits not requiring black yarn are still listed on my Etsy page. I do have some black yarn from other rya companies I can substitute, but we'll talk about that first--just so you know. Ask. I can put your Kit orders together now and get them off to you.


Ryegarn from Rauma in Norway. The good news is I have a large amount of yarn available for you. The bad news is: There is a delay in the production of the yarns we use (Ryegarn and Prydvevgarn) in Norway. I have run out of black #536 and it may be "a while" before I get more. Soon, there will be other color shortages, but let's not worry about that yet. I have about 10-15 skeins each of every other color. ($16/skein) Link to Ryegarn on Etsy

Prydvevgarn from Rauma in Norway: No problem. I have about of 10 skeins per color. ($19/skein) Link to Prydvevgarn on Etsy By the way, there are two listings for Prydvevgarn because they all didn't fit on one listing. Here's the other.

Lundgren Rya Yarn limited amounts of some colors, but basically I have plenty. This week I ran out of purple #57--gone forever. ($10/skein, but a few colors are on sale in Etsy shop--check it out.)

Rare vintage (mostly Swedish) rya yarn of miscellaneous colors are still quite full. Ask me about specific colors you are looking for. I sell the vintage for $10/100g skein. If you have my samples cards, you can ask "Do you have any vintage colors similar to Ryegarn #572?" We will both be on the same page.

I'm still making the Lundgren Rya Sample Cards for you. I made them for my grandparents, the Lundgrens, back in the 1970s and early '80s. And I still make them today in the evening as I listen to music or watch TV.

Originally we had 91 colors. Now we are down to about 38 colors. When they are gone, they are gone.

Click on link to Samples Packet on Etsy Shop

Rauma Yarn Sample Cards

I received bad news the other day. Rauma (Norway) is all out of the Ryegarn and Prydvevgarn sample cards. More will be produced once they catch up on their yarn production and have dyed the out-of-stock colors. So it could be a several-month wait--and I am totally guessing. I have always told you how important it is to have real yarn samples in your hands when you are designing, so how do I advise you?

My yarn sample package is still available with 5 backing samples, the Lundgren Rya Yarn, and high quality photos of the ryegarn and the prydvevarn, along with pages of helpful information and a large sheet of customized graph paper. It includes a few random strands of ryegarn and prydvevgarn which is helpful for tactile purposes.

Until the Rauma sample cards come in, I am offering to send you actual yarn snips of the colors you are considering--but not sure of due to photocopies not being quite true. I have 7-8" strands of every color. Send me your list of about 10 or less colors you want actual samples of when you order the samples packet--or afterwards and I will mail you at no cost the snips--with my apologies for not have real sample cards.

Here is what they look like.

Rauma Ryegarn:

Rauma Prydvevgarn

Something New, Fun, Easy, and Inexpensive

Emma is a frequent guest at the Byrd house. She was very comfortable in her festive collar and hoping for a treat for posing for me. Her hopes were answered.

What can YOU do with a narrow strip of rya backing?

Why not make a rya dog collar--a leisure collar? Sew a rya headband for yourself or a friend. You could knot cuffs for a wool coat. I had fun a few weeks before Christmas experimenting. My doggy pals benefitted and I made myself a headband/ earmuff. What might you do with a strip? They start at $13 for a 2-row piece--like all these dogs are wearing. I fold up a 1/2 inch on both cut edges and stitch a hem for you at no additional charge. It's up to you to cut it to the length that fits your need and then secure the cut end. If you have a yarn stash, what a great way to use up some leftovers. I recommend these as fun slip-on collars to wear lounging around the house and yard, but not to have a leash attached to for the security of your dog.

Now that I have plenty of backing in bolts, I can cut and hem strips for you whatever width you like and you can experiment. Email me and I can give you a price for the size you want if you don't see it in my Etsy shop.

Click to see listing in the Etsy Shop.

Chloe with her leisure collar with loop knotting made by her mama, Jo Ann Zaleski. Jo Ann started knotting after dinner one evening last month and completed it before we left the table.

Lu is Kathy Sparks' sweet pup. Kathy says she isn't too thrilled with her collar, but hopefully it will "grow on her."

Gypsy, again, is happy to show off her leisure collar and Santa hat. Notice that I added a simple weave on the top hem which was not in the picture at the top of this newsletter.

Here is my first headband experiment.

First I want to say that I am not a whizz with creating clothing or knowing the best way to do things out of my realm of comfort. After I finished my headband, it dawned on me that a more "able" fiberartist might add a strip of Velcro to both ends, or a couple of buttons, or a snap (as Jeanne Jacobson did with hers). I just measured a semi-snug wrap of my head including my ears. It doesn't stretch at all (Hey! You could add an elasticized band!), but for my head, with my hair in a bun or ponytail, it fits great.

Bear in mind that if your creative juices are going wild, I am happy to hem a piece of any backing I have (in bolts) to whatever length you want and charge what it cost per inch. It is best to contact me at my email address byrdcallstudio@gmail.com and describe what you want--rather than trying to figure out how to order that type of thing on Etsy or through my website.

First I hemmed a backing piece with 4 rows to knot. Then I gathered yarn colors that look nice with my two winter coats. I combined the yarn colors on my needle randomly "Hit or Miss." Three or 4 strands to the needle. Relaxing, no pattern. If you have yarn in abundance, use it at will.

Everyone's head is a different size, so you can hold the band to your head and guess how far to knot. I stopped a few knots before finishing the row so I had room to carefully machine zigzag stitch the cut end to the selvage. Then I filled in the knots that were missing.

Since the top hem shows as a half inch of white, I decided to take a strand on my needle and wrap the whole top edge making a vertical stripe. (See the red strand on Gypsy's collar at the top of this letter.) Then I wrapped with a couple of more strands. Just couldn't leave good enough alone, so I took another strand and with my needle wove along the wrapping on the top hem. I really like how if looks now. Is there a name for that process? ;-)

It will be your choice as to whether you wear the top hem up like this picture shows or the reverse. In other words you can wear it with the pile hanging down or, as the other picture shows, the pile reaching upwards. Your choice.

If you decide to wear it with the top hem on your forehead, it might be a smart idea to use a softer yarn than rya yarn as you wrap the top hem. That way your forehead won't have to contend with a coarse rya yarn.

You could even add a soft liner to the inside. Just too many possibilities.

This will truly be your creation and I'd love to share photos of what YOU do.

A Little Instructional Video on Surface Knotting

I shared this in the last newsletter, but am sharing again in case you missed it.

Here is a new short video I made myself to help teach about knotting on the Finnish Taito Pirkanmaa backing. It should take away any fear of the unknown.

Surface Rya Knotting demonstrated on Finnish backing made by Taito Pirkanmaa Oy

I Made Time to Carve a Linocut!

Many of you don't know that carving woodcuts and linocuts was a big part of my personal art world until I jumped into the rya world with both feet as my rya book was nearing completion.

And I am also aware that there are quite a few of you who read this newsletter and are not particularly interested in making rya rugs--but remember my work from 2002 - 2014 or so when I handprinted my art on nice long-and short-sleeved T-shirts and did about a half dozen or more shows every year. Seems so long ago. (Thanks for continuing to follow these newsletters!)

But for some reason this late fall, I felt compelled to design, carve, print, and hand watercolor paint some holiday cards. It felt so good to get back to it. I was quite pleased to find I can still do it!

Who's Interested in Open Studio Days?

Open Studio on Saturday, February 3

from 9 AM - 1 PM

Before the pandemic, I used to offer Open Studio Workdays about every other month. I'd like to resume more frequent Open Studio, but would like your input if you live close enough to attend or plan on being in the Woodbine, MD area and would like to attend. The group is between 3-5 people at a time to ensure enough elbow room and comfort. I may cancel if I have only one or two attendees.

Register via email and tell me what you'd like to do, like catch up on your work and chat with others, start a new rya kit, shop from the discounted vintage yarn bins, get a little help with a work in progress. If more than 5 people express interest, I'll add an afternoon session.

Take a Poll to let me know what days work best for you in the future.

If you might attend an Open Studio Workday, would you prefer a weekday, Saturday, or Sunday?

To register or ask questions, email me at byrdcallstudio@gmail.com.

Rya Classes at

Common Ground on the Hill

July 7 - 14, 2024

(Register online in the Spring.)

If you are interested in a full week of intensive, but basic classroom learning (Monday - Friday mornings), I'll be teaching again at Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster, MD where you can stay in a dorm room or snatch a local hotel room if you prefer. You also can register for a full array of classes in the traditional arts of the world in music, dance, traditional arts and not-so-traditional arts. Pencil it in on your calendar.

Check out their website for more info.

Show & Tell ~ Sharing with Others

In the last newsletter, several articles disappeared after I spent a lot of time composing them with photos. Some I rewrote in time to send and others I didn't realize were missing until after the newsletter went out.

This Cat Rya article below somehow vaporized after I spent over a half an hour writing it... So I am writing it again because there is valuable information here.

David McKenrick from Cincinnati has made LOTS of ryas. Maybe 40? 45? He kindly shares his works with us.

His granddaughter, Juniper, requested a cat rya. David searched online for a suitable design and found this Charley Harper design through the Motawi Tile website. In tile production, simplification is required--the same in designing a rya rug where minute details would be lost. (Since this design is made not-for-profit or sale, Charley would certainly be thrilled to share his design.)

David is very good at figuring things out. If you've designed your own rya, you have probably experienced the challenge of making a solid "dot" rather than a fluffy splayed area. Look at the cat's freckles. My guess is that David made a fully white muzzle than went in with a needle of grays and made some knots on the surface of the white muzzle. Brilliant.

Another creative technique to add to your rya skill set is the way David made the whiskers. Since rya knots are quite large your pixelation effect would be a problem in making a diagonal line in a small area. So who says you can't make knots in the weft (the white area) of the backing? He was able to make a tight diagonal whisker using this technique. It's called thinking out-of-the box and breaking a few "rules." We don't need more rules in our lives. ;-)

Beth Novick

from Silver Spring, MD was a regular Open Studio knotter before 2020. Some of her self-designed projects from that period are proudly displayed in her den/office/2nd bedroom (the couch folds out). It came together nicely, as there's deep blue, red, and orange throughout the room in the furniture and throw rug. The ryas on the walls make it complete.

Arne Solbak

from Lititz, Pennsylvania

Arne has been sharing his many ryas with us for years. I've lost track of how many he's made. Suffice it to say, every member of his extended family has a rya made by him. This one is called Fiskelykke or "Happy Fishing."

Link to Etsy listing for this Fish design

Kathy Sparks

from Unionville, Indiana is a fiber artist extraordinaire who goes by the name The Hand Maiden on Facebook. Check her out. She made this stylish iPhone carrier on her loom. She will be teaching a class on weaving ryas this year, but no date is set yet. If you are interested, follow her on Facebook. She also posts rya-related sharings in our Rya Rugs Friends Group on Facebook.

Kathy says: "Here are a couple of photos which will be used for my workshop class descriptions I'm teaching this year. Rya phone case. Rya knots done as I wove. And then the strap I wove on an inkle loom."

David McKenrick

from Cincinnati headed to Topsail, NC for the family beach vacation this fall. He brought his rya supplies and took advantage of quiet time to do as he pleased. "I know I did a similar blue one about a year ago but I liked the colors so much I wanted to do another."

"I started this Rya on 9/11/2023. This is the amount completed when we arrived at Topsail Island. We will be staying for two weeks. I’ll take another picture before we leave. I am standing on my work surface which is on the deck of the house we rented."

This is what the rug looks like on the day they left the beach.

I have to say, "That is a lot of knotting for anyone to do in two weeks in addition to all the beachy fun you must have been having as well.

This one also includes Faro 6/1 yarn and Mobelatta 8/2 yarn. Those are my continuous loops, knotted vertically to keep from cutting until the end of the bundle. The uncut Cyan is Asborya.

I started on 9/22/2023 and was finished by 11/22/2023 except for a about a half skein of yarn which I had to order from Vavstuga. Probably my quickest ever.

Here is the finished rya rug!

A work of art, David.

Another work of art!

Have You Heard about my Book?

(A shameless promotion)

I still have lots of books to send out. I self-published so no one else is pushing them for me. Unless you do. And I thank you.

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 boost. Thank you. Click here.

And a Few Closing Words

Farewell to 2023--a very interesting year for Byrdcall Studio. 2024 is already opening on a brighter note. Keep in touch and let me know if I can send you any supplies for anything. Come to my Feb. 3rd Open Studio if you can. Let me know! Think about joining my class at Common Ground.

But most importantly, enjoy your winter doing whaever you are doing.

Thanks for being such lovely people to spend time working with.

~ Melinda

This week-end I was praying for lots of snow. 6 inches would have been perfect. But this is all we got, and now it is gone.

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PO Box 162

Woodbine, MD 21797