ByrdCall Studio
It is winter in Maryland.  There should be snow on the ground.  It's a little disorienting to go outside without a coat.  Reorient yourself by relaxing for a few minutes with my Newsletter.

This has been a wild month in and about the studio.  Yes, there has been progress with the book which is so important (but not really wild), but there has also been a flurry of visitors from around the country and new people starting out on their first rya kits.  We had a full house for the Rya Sewing Circle Day!  

I had a very pleasant surprise of being included in VE Magazine's 7-page article on the Ryas of the Midcentury period...don't miss that story.

 Another HUGE thing for me, but not a big whoop for you, is I have totally revamped my office space giving myself elbow room and logical space for running Byrdcall office business as it should be.  That makes me very happy... and the office is where I "write the book."

I n this issue: (lots of photos!)
  • International VE Magazine Coverage on Rya & Me
  • Rya Sewing Circle and Studio Help-day
  • Byrdcall Studio sponsors film at Arts Center     (Free Tickets for first to request from me)
  • New Value discovered for Acrylic Rya Rug Backing
  • Donations Tally from my Unity design shirt sales
  • What have YOU been up to?
  • Frequently asked Questions
  • Rya Class at Common Ground on the Hill
  • and Other Things...


 VE Magazine shines the spotlight on the famous Mid-Century Modern Rya Rugs and their 
Phenomenal Advertisements...
Also a nice page on what 
Byrdcall Studio has been doing to Keep Rya ALIVE

If you read last month's newsletter, you might have sensed that I was pretty excited to have been contacted by VE Magazine (VintagExplorer) based in the UK. Imagine the thrill I felt when I saw the seven-page article called SHAGTASTIC!  Take a look. 

And for you rya enthusiasts, note the excellent history page.  I was so happy to read the history because it confirmed my research for the history chapter in my book; even some obscure little-known facts are shared in this article.

The editor, Karyn Sparks, created a challenge for her readers to create their own rya rugs.  She herself is contemplating what kind of rya to make.  Both she and I would like to share more of your rya art.  If you are inclined to share on social media, please use the hashtag names below and post your hand-made rya photos--or your Ege photos! 
Pinterest  ---  #vemagazine  #byrdcallstudio
Instagram --- #vintagexplorermag   #byrdcallstudio
Twitter      --- #vintagexplorer



Fun at February 
Rya Sewing Circle

Heather stopped by two weeks before Studio Day and picked up some additional yarn.  Look how far she has come from this shot to the picture at the bottom with the dark streaks emerging.
The studio is usually pretty darned quiet. Just me and my music and my dog.  

But on the Open Studio Days, we rock!  This month we had four rya knotters and 2 studio assistants making for quite a party.

Heather has made a lot of progress on her abstract floral design.   

Denis, who has made two freeform ryas just started on his first kit from Norway with a detailed graph to follow.  JoAnn has been designing a large rya to be a mix of a traditional Scandinavian design and a healthy pinch of her own personality mixed in.

 Louise has completed her first couple of rows while making discoveries about how easy and fun it is to ad-lib along the way.

We listened to Irma Thomas, Keb Mo', and Buena Vista Social Club.

Karen and JoAnn helped my to complete a long list of studio chores and sample card so much more fun to do with friends.

Karen and JoAnn helped my to complete a long list of studio chores and sample card so much more fun to do with friends.  

Interested in coming to a rya sewing circle?  You'll fit right in.  Tell me what days and times fit your schedule and I'll schedule one to accommodate as many as possible. 

Due to a hectic month coming in March, no Open Studio or workday will be held in March--sorry!


Byrdcall Studio Sponsors 
Carroll County Arts Center's Showing of the film:  Queen of Katwe on Friday, March 10 
at both 1:00 and 7:30 PM 

Because my local art center offers so much to the community in many forms of art, I like to help in a small way each year by sponsoring an excellent film.  Click on the poster for more details. 

The Arts Center provide me with free tickets which I pass on to you, my friends and readers of my newsletter.  

If you would like a free ticket, just send me an email asking for one, and I will email you back with confirmation, and I will save you a ticket.  I'll be going to the 7:30 viewing and will meet you in the lobby with your free ticket at 7:15.   If you want to go to the 1 PM show, I'll leave your ticket at "will call."  Don't be shy about asking because that is what the free tickets are for.   Email me at One per household please.


A New Respect for the Acrylic woven rya backing

Gray wool and linen backing is made by Rauma in Norway.  
The beige wool and linen backing is woven in Finland.
  The white is the Acrylic and cotton/linen backing woven in New York.

In 2013, when I bought back my grandparents' rya business, accepting a large amount of acrylic backing (which was not my grandparents') was part of the deal.  At first I looked at the acrylic as being too light weight to be taken seriously by the hard-core rya rug makers.  I am starting to realize that the acrylic backing has values that I did not immediately recognize.  Now I am giving it more respect.

Ok, true, you can't compare a hefty wool backing woven on a heavy linen warp with a soft white backing on a cotton/linen blend warp.  The wool is hardy, smells of the earth and is ...well, sexy.  The acrylic is soft, has no detectable odor, and has a bit of fiber-fluff to it.  I have been selling the acrylic hemmed to order at a less expensive price.  Some people prefer the softer feel in their hands.

This past week, Vivian from California who had just purchased my Rauma rya supplies for a kit realized that the muscle strength she had lost due to her double mastectomy made it very difficult, and maybe impossible, for her to pull three strands of Rauma ryegarn through the gap in the weft of the wool-and-linen Rauma backing. 

She was quite upset because her heart was set on making her first rya rug (being a woman of Swedish descent).  When she shared her predicament with me I suggested trying the acrylic backing.  I hemmed a similarly sized piece, made a simple suggestion for adapting the pattern, and send the soft white backing to her.  The day she received it, she emailed me saying she was able to do this knot-work with her oncologist's approval!  

"Well, I just completed my 1st row.!!!!!...Hah.!!!
Yes, there still is a slight tug on each stitch....but doable....I feel it in my right shoulder and arm...but it's becoming addictive so will learn to live with it.!!!
This backing is much more comfortable...I'm glad you had it..People with breast cancer, shoulder disabilities, etc. should be made aware of this...."

Now I know that there is a very good reason this backing came to me as part of my rya supplies inventory.  I can recommend the acrylic backing whole-heartedly as a great backing for a light-weight wall-hanging, for people who have strength issues due to to age (young or old), injury, or allergy (though non-rya yarn would need to be substituted as well if it was a wool allergy).  Also since I have many yards in bolts, I can hem to your exact specification.  It is about 27" wide and costs $10/linear foot which I can hem with a hollow top hem so you can slide a rod through for easy hanging.

So while I still love the wool and linen for the true Scandinavian rya experience, it is nice to know that if your needs can be met with a softer, less expensive backing for a wall-hanging, why not give the acrylic a try?


This Design on Shirts has Generated over $870 in Contributions to Nonprofits
In case you are following this people-helping-people story, I printed about 230 long-sleeve and short-sleeve shirts with this image.  Over 87 have sold and the buyers have chosen a nonprofit to receive $10 of each shirt sale. 

To date (2/24/17) a total of $870 has been sent to these selected nonprofits:  Mary's Center, Common Ground on the Hill, and the Social Justice committee of Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalist.  The promise of the $10 contribution will continue until the shirts are gone.  See details in  my Etsy shop.  

These shirts will continue to be sold while they last on etsy and by the art shop, Eclecticity, on Main Street in Westminster (across the street from the Library).


What have YOU 
Been Up to Lately?
You all know Marsha from Arizona by now.  She makes a rya rug every month.  She just completed her largest rya to date called SOMBREROS from the Norwegian Rauma line of designs.  Now she is working on a design of her very own and will be spinning her own yarn to do most of it.  I can't wait to see her next photos!  Here is SOMBREROS.

A new rya friend has emerged from Spain this past month, Jenny.  First she bought a small kit for her daughter in England, then she ordered a nice rya kit for herself which is so close to arriving, but customs in Spain is pretty tough we are learning...I hope she has received it by now.  She shared with me her rya rugs from decades past which I had not seen before.  Anyone familiar with these beauties?

If you want to pick out a Rauma Rya kit to make yourself, here is the link that takes you to the best site to see all the designs.  I can have you kit ready to go for you in about 6 weeks.  Tell me what you like and the size, and I can give you the price.

Please share your rya projects so others can be inspired by what has gone before them.  Thanks.


Frequently Asked Questions...

I don't know why I didn't think of this before, but I am going to update this "link section" of the newsletter every month.  So often people lose or delete a newsletter, then want some vital piece of information from it. So starting today, I will included this section in every newsletter to make it easy to locate sources of whatever.

The most commonly asked question is:  

Q:  Where are you located and what are your hours?

Ans:  I work out of my studio located in my backyard in Woodbine, MD.  I do not have regular business hours, but I am more than happy to make appointments at the studio with anyone interested in what I have to offer. Give me a call at 410-549-4889.
Please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible.  I also usually offer a Studio Drop in day each month.  Please take advantage of those days when you do not need an appointment.

Finding my Work
at 15 E. Main St., Westminster, MD now carries my Unity shirts, Today I Will Create shirts, and now May the Road Rise to Meet You, and May the Wind Always be at Your Back shirts.

Off Track Art in Westminster   Art Notecards and various Shirts:  Long-sleeved Unisex shirts in S, M, L, XL, and XXL.  I just delivered some of my original block prints mounted on wood for a ready-to-hang piece of art--no framing required.  

The Market Tavern in Sykesville  (They are moving a few doors up the road, but soon reopen)  Art Notecards
My Etsy Shop has just about everything for online buying.


Stitches United  Hartford, Connecticut; April 27-30, 2017

Common Ground on the Hill, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD.  My class is July 3-7. Click on the poster below to go to the web site.


That's all for now, my friends.

Wow.  That was a lot of info to share.  Mostly pictures though.  I've got my calendar programmed to keep on top of finishing the book on schedule.  (Schedule, what schedule...asap schedule.)
T hanks for sharing this time with me.

See you next month!



Melinda Byrd

Byrdcall Studio
Woodbine, MD


Save the Dates!

April 27 - 30, 2017
100's of classes including my 
Rya Rug Making
Register Now.
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