Byrdcall Studio, LLC

Rya Rug Revival
and Creative Arts
by Melinda Byrd
Newsletter ~ Spring 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.
Update on Supplies
Important Information
If you are pressed for time and want this section in a nutshell:
No, I have not received the 3 backing sizes which have been out-of-stock for months. Those size kit orders are still on hold until they arrive. You all have been extremely patient. But many rya supplies await your attention . . . Read on.
Good News!
Remember last month I had very few multi-beveled loop measuring rulers in the studio? Several "Angels" sent me their surplus rulers which made me so happy. Then, out of the blue, one of my "angels" took on the mission to create these sticks in varying widths and wood types. David McKenrick from Cincinnati is an amazing woodworker as well as rya rug designer and creator. A big box arrived full of long and beautiful rulers. My husband, John, also a woodworker cut them into appropriate lengths for you. I have listed them in my Etsy shop with lots of photos. Check them out.

For a designer, the various widths are great so you can choose how long you want your pile to be. When following a kit's directions be aware they might tell you how wide the stick should be.

See the "Technical Tips" at the end of this newsletter for more details.
Some of this is repeat from the last newsletter, but I feel I must share again in case anyone missed it.

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 all Rauma Ryegarn colors--all except beige #514. [Note: I now have plenty of the white #501!]

I have plenty of every color of the Rauma Prydvevgarn!

I have plenty of the 41 vintage Lundgren Rya colors. I am almost out of color #1: light pink, if you care.

New: I recently updated my listing of my Lundgren Rya yarn on Etsy where I selected some of the colors that I have too much of and marked them down to $7/skein. Check it out. Click on a color number, then click on "quantity" and you'll see how many skeins I have left approximately. Send me a message if you have a complicated order, and I'll put it together for you.

Rauma Backings have been on order for many months now. I am hoping for good news each day. The latest word is "this Spring" 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, 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.
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!

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.

Come Work/Play in the Studio
Rya Sewing Circle and
Getting Started with your Rya Design or Kit
Saturdays, May 14 or June 11 (Your Choice)
9:00 - Noon or 1- 4:00 PM
Designer's Workshop: Come in the morning if you are designing a rya and need a little help in making choices and how to get started or have questions that keep you from progressing in your work. This is not a class, but a coaching session for those with ideas in mind. Bring supplies if you have them or buy them here. Having read through my book will help us speak "rya" better.

Rya Sewing Circle in the afternoon for a chance to knot and socialize with other knotters. Ask for opinions and feedback on your work if requested. Additional supplies available. Depending on seating space, morning designers can stay through the afternoon if space permits.
These sessions are free. There is no planned class, but I will help you with any questions you have. If I see similar challenges, I will give mini-presentations and demonstrations as needed. I ask that you email me at to register. Tell me your #1 time slot choice and any others you could attend in case I have to juggle class attendance. Since COVID is still present in our lives, I ask all attendees to be fully vaccinated. Masks are not required (optional). I will accept 4-5 people so you will have a good size table space. If you don't have time to sit for a session, but you want to drop by to pick up supplies, email me and I'll schedule a block of time for you so we don't ever have too many people in the studio. And I would love to see you. Feel free to bring snacks and water bottle.
For those who have been asking when I will be teaching classes again. Stay tuned. I want to be sure I have a steady supply of backings. I did not register to teach at Common Ground on the Hill nor the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival this year because I was COVIDphobic, but I wish I had signed up now. I'm taking a little "Me time" but hope to jump back in with class plans soon. Ask me again.
Rya Show & Tell
Polly Pook from Oakville, Ontario shared this.
Passing Rya to Future Generations
Many of you know Polly from the story in my book about a project we did together. Read pages 132-135 to refresh your memory. Polly wrote,

"We shared a happy Spring Break with our three youngest grandchildren, their parents and two dogs in tow - a full house. I thought you would enjoy this picture of Imogen, age 8. A fast learner! I gave her some yarn and a piece of backing to take home for a pillow. Immy’s very creative so can’t wait to see her first Rya. And she has your book to help her when she gets stuck!"

Well, she certainly looks happy. Keep us posted on her progress. Friends, if you have photos of loved one working on their ryas, send them to me, OK? Sharing skills with them and photos are a great way to keep rya alive and well. ~ MB
Carol Solinger from Odenton, MD
Completed this Beautiful Rya
Carol's extraordinary artistry has been in other newsletters over the years--always exciting and colorful. Can't you just FEEL the energy in this piece?
A Rya Rug Reaches Its Destiny
Ann Nilsson in Sequim, WA
 Almost exactly one year ago, I shared the story of how we lost an active rya rug maker and member of the Rya Rugs Friends Group on Facebook. Ann Nilsson passed away with her Rauma rye kit NJORD at her work stand.

Her husband, Bengt, contacted me asking if there was someone who could finish it. I posted the story here in the newsletter. Soon, Marjorie Nelson from Little Falls, MN contacted me. She wrote, "I have experience at finishing someone's started rya rugs. Has Bengt sold it yet?" No he hadn't. He was in the process of moving. They corresponded and soon the unfinished rya was Marjorie's.

One year later, Njord is completed and beautiful. I know Ann Nilsson is smiling at the outcome of her vision. Thank you, Marjorie.
Rebecca Hargreaves from Frederick, MD
And it all starts with a sketch. Designing comes easily for Rebecca. She has made various needlework rugs for a long time. Lately she has fallen in love with rya. In a recent email, she wrote:

"I am almost finished with my first rya, and I must say I am obsessed!
I've had so much fun working on it!!!
I've got a number of items in my Etsy cart at the moment, a few skeins to finish my first one as well as backing fabric for the second. 

"The second rug is going to be on the acrylic backing fabric and it is to be 27" x 42".
I've attached a photo of a rough sketch of my design. Would you be able to give me an idea on how many skeins of each color I need? I've written my color choices next to the sketch." After a few math calculations, Rebecca was on her way.
Rebecca is enjoying the acrylic backing and drawing right on its surface. This picture makes me smile. I can't wait to see the finished piece. Thanks for sharing.
I Completed my Rya Gift : "Mountain Spirit"
When my niece, Jenna LaConte and her fiancé, Dave Bonaiuto, set their wedding date back in pre-pandemic days (remember then?), I committed to designing and making a special rya rug for them as a gift. Jenna's eyes were the first to see each chapter of the book as I completed them. Her sharp eyes and logic provided me with edits and feedback that I incorporated into the chapter revisions. Everything she suggested, I did--that's how good she was. She is also a sweetheart. I knew that they loved the mountains and she told me of their apartment's color scheme and their "style." So I set out designing.

Being crazy busy in the first year the book was out (filling orders, communicating with people etc.) I didn't get too far... Actually, I did all the designing a graphing for a design I later discarded because it was too similar in style to one I had designed for her sister, Kristin and her husband Asa. That would never do. So this design emerged and the color selections were made, and I was off and knotting!

One year ago I injured my right elbow (pulling hellacious weeds with wire roots) and had little use of my right hand for 6 months. After doctor visits, PT, and finally an acupuncturist, I found myself back in the saddle at the beach in October with nothing to do but relax, paint, cook fish dishes, take long walks with my husband and dog, AND knot the rya.
Soon I made great strides. One stumbling block arose when the supply of Rauma Ryegarn #501 (natural white) ran out on my shelves AND in Norway. It was predominant in my design. So I adapted the design a bit to include more of the bright white #500. Doing that made the shapes in the sky pop.
Before I finished the knotting, I stitched a sleeve of fabric carefully between knotting rows with a sewing machine. After finishing the knotting, I hand-stitched the top of the sleeve to the upper hem. Now it can be easily hung with a rod.

I had to trust UPS with total faith that they would deliver it safely to Jenna and Dave near Boston, and UPS came through for me in 2 days! Jenna and Dave are thrilled. I am thrilled. Mission accomplished!
In the past few weeks I have been redrawing the graph so that others can make this design. My changes and spontaneity is being documented so the next person will have a very similar rya. In the photo above,you can see my watercolor graph which was essentially my working sketch squared off. I just finished drawing it on clean paper. Now I need to make some new threading cards. I tallied the yarn as I went. Aren't I a spoiled brat with all the yarn I could possibly want at my fingertips? HA! But I did keep accurate tally when I snitched another 1/4 skein of this or that. If you want to make this rya, let me know. I'll have kits ready-to-go soon. I do have this horizontal backing available still.
Rya Designer Tip:
What Size is Your Ruler?
Use the ruler (or not) to ensure that your loops are consistently the same length. Many kits come with a ruler included to guide you. It also ensures that you won't run out of yarn so carefully calculated by the designer. I like to package my kits with the instructions that say "Strive to get 15-16 knots per yarn length for a 1 1/4" loop.

When I received David McKenrick's workshop-made rulers, I had to experiment with the various widths and styles so I can best help you pick out the size you want. I was surprised to find that both 1" wide rulers made 16 knots from a yarn length (made by cutting the skein across the big loops of strands). Notice that the fucsia yarn is on a ruler with a rounded top. The light pink yarn is on a pointed top ruler.

Look how wide the salmon yarn ruler is 1 1/4" which makes 13 knots. My grandparents, the Lundgrens, usually recommended 13 knots to the threading. (They never used the rulers nor recommended them.)

And the red yarn is wrapped around the smallest ruler and makes 18 knots. This size ruler was a standard size with some of the mid century modern rya kit companies.

You, as a designer, can choose the length you want your pile to be. Use a ruler, or not, but stay consistent unless you desire inconsistent lengths. You can make a ruler, buy a ruler, or find something that works like a ruler like a paint stirrer.

If you have my book, Chart 2 on page 177 will make more sense to you now that you have seen a variety of ruler widths. Knowing how many knots you get from a threading is the key to figuring out how much yarn your rya will require.

Any questions? Email me. I'll answer for all in the next TIPs section of the newsletter.
Update on New Designs in the Works
Join the Future of Rya Rug Making
Remember in our last newsletter I proposed the idea of YOU, the rya designers sharing your designs with the rya world? Refresh your memory. Scroll to the bottom.

Immediately after that article, Susan Morduch, the designer of this beautiful rya, agreed to step up and help with the information and graph needed to make this an addition to the designs offered through Byrdcall Studio. She sent me her graph and color card with notation of changes she made. The graph still has to be redrawn to be very clear, but "all the parts are there."

I am nearly done with the Mountain Spirit graphed design. Once that is done we'll get working on hers. (And we already have one person waiting in line for the first kit!)

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 with 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!
Would you Believe I Still Offer T-Shirt Art?
It's true. I did a reprinting of the Brookie design on shirts last year, but all the other shirts are ready-to-go as they have been for several years or more. If you are local, stop by The Vine on Main Street in Sykesville, MD by the railroad tracks. They display about 40+ shirt in all sizes including some child size shirts. Tell Ridia that I sent you!

I invite all of you who are not local to check out my listings on Etsy to see if anything in your size and interest is available. It's time for all shirts to find their forever home. Click to see all the listings.
And at Last You have reached the End!
I always love it when you read all the way through. ;-)
When I have completed a newsletter, I get a nervous feeling in my stomach that I have forgotten someone I was going to feature, so if that is YOU, let me know and I'll start working on next month's newsletter. My memory is not what it used to be.

So I will hit "Send" and breathe a deep breath thankful that you are all there and we have some things in common. I thank you for your interest, your support, and kindness. Blessings to the world we live in. Peace.

Time for a walk in the garden.
~ 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