Design and make your own knotted shag rug, a Nordic tradition!
Rya is the word for woven shag rugs and “coverlets” for the bed, sleigh, or boat. They were woven in the Nordic countries during the Viking days. After WWII the craft was made more accessible to non-weavers when Nordic countries started weaving the backings to meet the demand of the Scandinavian design fervor of the midcentury modern period. Our class will “keep alive” this little-known art form by designing and creating our own small ryas. Rya history, design styles, modern designing techniques, how to calculate needed yarn, and how to knot will be taught. Rya has been likened to “painting with a needle.” Over 200 colors will be on hand which can be blended on the needle to create thousands of color combinations.
The instructor has designed and made rya rugs since she was in 6th grade during the midcentury modern era when ryas were widely known among fiber artists. Her grandparents, the Lundgrens, established a well-known rya supply company in Massachusetts in the 1950s. Melinda worked for them in the 1970s and became masterful in the skills of designing and figuring things out.
In March 2020, Melinda published RYA RUGS—Design and Make Your Own which has sold in over a dozen countries. She has started the Rya Rug Revival and connects people with interest in rya through monthly online newsletter and Rya Rug Friends Group on Facebook with over 500 followers. She coordinates with other Rya revivalists in Sweden and Finland to seek and provide support. Students will share in the learning process by learning from each other since designs can be done in various ways. Designs can be reflective of the students’ cultures and experiences, or whatever the student is drawn to.
The majority of the class time is spent in designing, selecting colors, and blending those colors on a “palette”. There is some math involved which can be made simple or challenging (for greater accuracy) depending on the design. The knotting technique is easy to learn. Most students begin knotting on the 3rd or 4th day of class. By the end of the last day, students will be on their way independently and can finish their projects at home.
Melinda provides students with resources and contact information for assistance if needed. Check out the website ByrdcallStudio.com for more information. Read Melinda’s past blogs for descriptions of designing projects. Google “rya rug designs” to see many possibilities for inspiration. Won’t you join Melinda in the Rya Rug Revival?
Limit: 12 students, ages 15 and up
Materials fee starts around $75. Students will select the woven base onto which they will knot their ryas. The size and quality they choose will determine the cost. Generally, expenses start around $75 for a 16” x 16” rya wall-hanging. Larger ryas backings will be available. The yarn provided is from rare heritage breed sheep of Norway as well as discounted high quality vintage Swedish yarns.
Students should bring: