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Byrdcall Studio, LLC

Rya Rug Revival

and Creative Arts

by Melinda Byrd

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Keeping as Cool as Possible!

Greetings, Friend,

I hope your summer is going well despite the sweltering heat most of us are experiencing. Hang in there. Maryland was DRY for weeks late this spring, then super WET for a week. Now it is hot and mostly dry at least here in Woodbine. And now, everything is wet. My garden is confused.

Lots of exciting things are happening here. The first week of July I taught a rya rug designing and knotting class at Common Ground on the Hill--such a wonderful week. Check out the photos below

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

~ Melinda

In this Issue:

  • Classes at Common Ground on the Hill
  • Rya Class in Salida, CO; Sept. 30 - Oct. 1
  • A Graphing Tip from a Student
  • Making Videos with Deana David from Ribbon Candy Hooking
  • A Visit from a Rya Rug Making Friend
  • Where we stand with Rya Supplies
  • SMALL UNISEX Shirt Sale on Etsy--Extended one week until August 7
  • The Passing of Polly Pook
  • Sharing with Others
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Melinda Byrd


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Great Week at Traditions Camp at CGOTH

Common Ground on the Hill was an awesome week for me and hundreds of others. Once again, I can say that to be surrounded by talented people in a traditional arts setting for a full week was freeing and reminded me of how much I love getting out there to (safely) share with--and learn from--others.

I taught 6 fun and creative rya rug making students all morning each day, followed by lunch in the McDaniel College Dining Commons. In the afternoon I took a class in Diné-Style (Navajo) Tapestry Weaving taught by Tyrrell Tapaha. There were art talks and all sorts of traditional music and very nice people everywhere I went. I recommend you check it out for next year if this sounds like fun to you.

Beth from Lees Summit, MO came to Common Ground from Missouri to learn all she could about rya and to be surrounded by all the colors of yarn she could possibly hope for. She had been buying rya supplies and a kit from me on Etsy, when it dawned on her that she could design her own. She actually came to class with a design graphed out on paper! She is doing a color blending study. Beth, send us a photo when you are done!

John from Greensboro, NC

is an active fiber artist who now has one more fiber art in his skillset. He used a photo of Indian Blanket flowers, and zoomed in to create his design. He chose a Finnish backing woven by Taito Pirkanmaa which creates a very dense pile. Stay tuned.

Don't miss the upcoming story below about how John adapted his hand drawn design to become a technically savvy, professional design!

Sarah from Annapolis, MD

carries a sketchbook with her to gather good ideas and designs. Using favorite shapes, she quickly came up with her design and color scheme. She graphed her design, made a threading card, and calculated the yarn quantities needed. She completed her rya in about a week!

Gabby from Glen Allen, VA is showing a rya "newbie" how the rya knots are made during the Student Art Show on Friday evening. She had been a rya student in previous years, but this was her year for mastering color blending. Hers is the biggest project of the class.

Joanne from California, MD arrived at class with definite ideas, photos, and even a graph she created at home. Her goal was to create a rya rug to help teach young students about geological features as seen in a cross section of earth layers.

Penny from Catonsville, MD started her first rya-- a black eyed Susan. She has recenty finished it and it is beautiful. She made an appointment to come to my studio today to get all the supplies needed for her second rya which will be quite a bit larger and featuring a fish! Stay tuned.

Diné Style Tapestry Weaving with Tyrrell Tapaha

As a fiber artist, I wanted to expand my horizons into something other than rya. You are not surprised, are you? In my CGOTH afternoon class I had fun learning to warp a frame loom and how to weave in the Navajo tradition. I have a long way to go, but I want to keep it up. It is relaxing.

A Rya Class in Salida, CO to Consider

Rya Rug Design & Sewing Class

This class will be held Saturday, September 30th 10-4:00 and Sunday, October 1st 9-3:00, and hosted by Jane Levene at Jefferson Farms Natural Fibers in Salida, CO. 

Kirsi Aryan-Edwardson, the instructor for this fun and informal class, grew up appreciating the Rya (Ryijy) tradition in Finland. 


The class registration fee is $200 for the two full days. The supply costs range from $85 to $135 depending on the backing choice and yarn needs. The class size is limited to 12 students. 


For details and registration, please, contact: Jane Levene at jlevene@comcast.net 

or Kirsi Aryan-Edwardson at kirsi.aryanedwardson@gmail.com 

[I am committed to helping to spread the rya/ryijy word through classes. If you are teaching a rya knotting/sewing class with authentic Nordic technique, I will help you by announcing it in my newsletter and I welcome you to announce it in our Rya Rugs Friends Group on Facebook via the Byrdcall Studio page. ~ Melinda]


An Extraordinary Graphing Tip

Shared by John Schoonover

Melinda: I am a luddite. Old school anyway. But many of you are more enlightened. The scope of my computer technology is limited to being pretty good at putting a newsletter together with photographs and words. So I depend on others to come up with better ways to step up the rya designing process. John Schoonover was a student in my Common Ground class. When he described how he was going to transform his graph when he got home, I was intrigued. I asked him to provide for you the basics of using the app, Knit Companion, for rya graphing. Here are his comments:

John's inspiration for his rya project came from the Indian Blanket flowers in his garden.

From John:

The basic idea is to convert a design concept to a digital format compatible with Knit Companion. To me, calling this iPad app “Knit” Companion hides just how versatile it really is.

My wife, Judy, and I have both used it, of course, for knitting patterns, but I have found that it is also useful for weaving.

For our purposes: Rya Designs

1) Create a pattern that uses squares or rectangles of all the colors, associating a number with each color. My original Indian Blanket Flower design is here to make clear what the previous sentence means.

2) Here's the tedious part. Open a new Excel spreadsheet. Before starting to fill in the colors, you will probably want to adjust the square sizes so that the image you produce is not too distorted. I used column width 1.22 and column height 14.4. For each square in your design, create an equivalent square with both the approximate color - Excel is not real good about colors - and the corresponding number from your design and yarn sample sheet. People familiar with Excel will quickly find copy/paste tricks to speed up this process.

3) Once you are satisfied with the manual conversion to Excel format, print a copy of your design using the "Microsoft print to pdf" option.

4) Use this pdf to create a Knit Companion project. I find it useful to create a chart from the pdf. That way I can maintain pointers to both row and stitch to keep me from getting too lost in the pattern. I also add a note to the chart that contains the color numbers and, for each one, the yarn numbers used to make it up.

Also check Denise Hall's technique for graphing her "Desert Suns"

You may remember this from March this year. She said, "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."

See article in the March 2023 Newsletter

Two New Rya Videos by Ribbon Candy Hooking!

Watch this video for an overall view of Deana's visit to Byrdcall Studio on July 14th. I show her some of the backings I offer. We look closely at a variety of rya rugs in my collection. I show how one design came about from inception to completion. Learn some organizational skills and see knot making on the Taito Pirkanmaa (Finnish) backing I am currently working on.

This video was shot on the same day and delves more into how you as a beginner, might design a rya rug and pick your colors. Deana opens a box of "Rya Designer's Package" from my Etsy shop. And we move forward with Deana's step by step approach to getting started. Lots of fun and good info in this video. Watch them both when you have the time.

What a fun morning I had with Deana David and her husband, Jay. Deana is the founder of Ribbon Candy Hooking, Inc. She has quite a following of fiber artists who hook, braid, and punch their handmade rugs. (I know this because of the surge of book and kit orders I received right after the videos were released.) She is including rya in her educational offerings. She was a rya novice at the beginning of the video, but by the end, she was making excellent designer choices and moving forward in her project. She just published a book Easy, Beautiful Handmade Rag Rugs.

For more helpful videos, go the my website to the

About Us page to see links to them all.

A Visit From a Cincinnati Friend

This small tile was the inspiration this magnificent 30" wide by 90" long rya!

David McKenrick

Rya has become "my life" in the past 13 years or so. While I love the art form and sharing with people, it is the people who make my work/life so enjoyable. David is one of those people. From Cincinnati, he was making rya rugs before I became a supplier again. He has made far more ryas than I have and he designs them all himself--from inspirations and great ideas.

My husband and I were thrilled when he paid us a visit while in Maryland cycling the C&O Canal Towpath in late June. He brought the trees-and-mountain rya he was just starting on in March. See the March newsletter.

If you have a Facebook account, go to Byrdcall Studio page where you'll find our Rya Rug Friends Group. If you click on the search icon (magnifying glass) and type in David, you can see maybe 40 or 50 of his amazing ryas.

Link to David's ryas shared in the Rya Rugs Friends group on Facebook

And here is David standing on a stone wall in front of Byrdcall Studio sharing his completed project with us and all of you!

<-- A friend helped him draw it onto the backing using a projection device.

Where we Stand with Rya Supplies Today


Ryegarn from Rauma in Norway: No problem. I have about of 10 skeins per color.

Prydvevgarn from Rauma in Norway: No problem. I have about of 10 skeins per color.

Lundgren Rya Yarn limited amounts of some colors, but basically I have plenty.

My 4 bins of 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 along with the Lundgren for $10/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 have an abundant supply of Finnish backings in various widths which I can cut to the length you request and I can hem it if you request.

Wetterhoff Backings See the listings in my Etsy shop for two widths available today. widths 13" or 20.5"

Taito Pirkanmaa Backings See the listings in my Etsy shop for four available widths: 16.5", 23" 31.5" and 47"

The Acrylic backing is all gone except for one piece. Here is the Etsy listing.

The Rauma backing . . .*sigh* I wish I could say that I have plenty now, but the shipments are few and far between. The good news is I have been told by my distributors that we can expect to see more backings when the Norwegian summer vacation winds down. The other good news is I still have enough 16" backings so I'm still selling Fireflower kits and the Non-Kit Kits. Keep your fingers crossed for a huge order of backings to arrive in the UPS trucks in late August or September. Until I get more 16" backing, I will only be seling it with the kits in which it is required--otherwise it could be all gone with one backing order.

Wetterhoff (Finland)

This tradition weave for a rya backing has a nice selvedge. It is lightweight and has a softer feel. The knots spaces are close together so you can use a lighter weight yarn. Read about it in the Etsy shop write-up.

Taito Pirkanmaa


This is the surface knotting backing. It has a nice heavy feel.

As with the Wetterhoff, you can use lighter weight yarn such as Finnish yarn if you happen to have it, or order the Prydvevgarn yarn. You can use a strand or two of ryegarn as well as a couple of prydvevgarn strands.

Rauma (Norway) I still have plenty of this backing in large sizes. I am running very low on the 16" width and the 24" width, and have no 31.5" width. Let me know if you want larger backings and I can probably help you right now.

Size SMALL Unisex shirt SALE Continues

until Monday August 7th

Just to Give you a Last Chance

for a $10 Silkscreened T-Shirt

I think I announced this rare sale after the last newsletter went out early this summer. To be fair to all newsletter subscribers, you can still get this great price for another week. They are usually $20-25.00.I always made too many "smalls." There is nothing wrong with them. I do not sell shirts at art shows any more so they wait for you to find them on Etsy... or here!

Click to go to Etsy Listing

The Passing of a Special Friend

Sad to learn that Polly Pook has passed away

Polly has been in past newsletters, but if you have my book, you know her work from the chapter called The Pook Project. Her husband, Peter, made the painting I am holding. I used it as an example in the book. pp.132-135. Polly made it into a rya! She lived in Oakville, Ontario. She was a fun cohort in the book prep process. She was very creative and loved all the fiber arts she worked in. She even took on the challenge of accepting an old unfinished rya kit from about 1945 (we guessed) which needed lots of TLC. She thrived on challenges.

I will miss her.

Polly and I started the wheels turning on this project in Fall 2015.

I drew the design on the backing for her documenting the techniques with pictures for the book.

Together with Peter, she selected all the yarn colors she wanted to use.

She had never made a rya rug before.

She completed it in October 2017.

She named it Georgian Bay Sunset.

Show & Tell ~ Sharing with Others

It seems I so seldom find time to create a new rya design. As I prepared for teaching my class at Common Ground on the Hill, I realized that I needed a rug-in-progress so students could see where they were headed.

You know how I always end my newsletter with photo taken in my garden? Well I say they might inspire people to design from what is in their gardens. This time I actually did just that. Here are some steps I took to get going on my new rya made on Taito Pirkanmaa backing.

First, I took a photo of the magical purple coneflower (Echinacea) just because I love them and have them growing all around my yard.

Then a drew it--oh, I'll be honest--I traced it onto rya graph paper and gave a little watercolor wash to help me visualize it.

I added more color with watercolor paint and started to "square off" color areas" as I gathered snips of yarn to make a threading card.

Here is what the work area looked like the next day.

And below is what it looks like right now.

Corwyn Knutson

If you are in the Minneapolis area, try to get to the Minnesota State Fair this year. Dates: Aug. 24 to Labor Day, Sept. 4

Be sure to check out the fiber arts works so you don't miss this floor loom woven rendition of "Vinter."

Rita Leydon ~ Salida, Colorado

In August 2019 she put the linen warp for this backing on her loom. She wove two backings that she would join together side by side to make this piece. Today, almost four years later she has finished. I sent her the last skein she needed about two weeks ago! The size is 57” by 75 1/4” and it is very heavy. It is destined to be wall-hung.

This design is a re-creation of a tapestry woven by her mother. Rita used the undyed natural gray Ryegarn and Prydvevgarn spun by Rauma in Norway. I've had the pleasure of gradually watching this rya grow as Rita has shared photos along the way. Several have been shared in this newsletter over the years.

Now Rita is cleaning up the studio from being all-rya. I can't help but wonder what is next for her. Thank you for sharing over the years!

Note: This morning, Rita posted several great photos of her process with more details as to how she made this piece on the Facebook Rya Rugs Friends Group page. Check them out.

Genny James ~ Westminster, Colorado

This is one of the largest ryas I have seen in progress. It is 6 feet wide and 9 1/2 feet long. Genny has very carefully laid out her color plan. It has the feel of a quilt to me.

It has twelve 12.5" x 19" "shooting stars" with only three more to go. She has made a science of her color blending and sometimes changes out colors if she doesn't like the way they play off each other. I can't wait to see this beauty in place. She will be putting it on a pad on her hardwood floor. Stay tuned.

Brenda Barton ~ Van, Texas

I am so impressed by this rya work area set up, I just have to share it with you all. Brenda has made quite a few Rauma rye kits. But she is working on a very different project now where she needs yarn at her fingertips to mix like paint. Her rya is a re-creation of a stained glass window. See the paper on her backing. She is making it up as she goes to best highlight the feel of the stained glass. This work area is perfect for that style of project--or any style actually. Thanks Brenda!

And a few Closing Words

Well, that was quite an extensive newsletter. I hope you found parts of it very interesting. Hopefully a little something for everyone. And you know I like to close with garden shots. . . The gardens help me to unwind.

And once again,

Thanks for reading all the way to the end.

Thank you for your kind correspondence and friendship. We are united by rya.

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

You're the BEST!


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PO Box 162

Woodbine, MD 21797