Rya Rug Yarn Calculations

Rya Rug Loops

How much yarn do you need to weave the pile for a rya rug? To answer this question, you will need to know:
1 – How long do you want the pile of the rya rug to be?
2 – How many rya threads are you going to tie per knot?
3 – How wide is your backing? How many knots are tied across each row?
4 – How long is the rya backing? How many rya rows are there?
5 – What is the yardage (or length) per skein or per kilo of the rya wool you will be using?
I will work through a couple of examples to give you an idea of how to calculate the amount of yarn required.

1. Estimate the Length of the Rya Yarn
To figure out how long the pile should be, do a sample test of stitching a few knots to determine what length of pile you would like to use and mearue the length with a ruler.

Rya Rug Pile Length
Rya Rug Pile Length

In this example, the pile length is approx. 1.4 inches or 3.5 cm in length. Double this figure as the pile will be folded as it forms the knot, so the length is double.
1.4 inches x 2 = 2.8 inches
3.5 cm x 2 = 7 cm length
I prefer to work in cm as the math is a bit easier to calculate, and the yarns that I use are calculated in meters rather than yards.

2. Determine How Many Threads per Rya Knot
While you are stitching the small sample, also try using 2, 3 and 4 threads per knot to see which you prefer.
The number of threads that you use will vary, depending on the type and thickness of the yarns you are using, and whether you like the pile to be packed closely together, or you prefer it to lie more flat once it is woven.
In this example, I am using 3 threads per knot.

Example No. 1
16 inch x 30 inch Rya Rug (40 cm x 75 cm)
3 – Backing Width: 16 inches, 40 cm
Warp Sett/EPI 8 warp threads
# Knots per Inch: 8/2 = 4
# Knots per Row: 4 x 16 = 64 Knots

4 – Backing Length: 30 inches, 75 cm
Spacing between rows of rya knots .5 inches, 1.25 cm
Total Rows: 30 inches / .5 = 60
or: 75 cm / 1.25 cm = 60 Rows

Total # Knots
64 knots x 60 rows = 3840 Knots

To calculate the amount of Rya Yarn required:
Length of Cut Pile per knot
Length of Pile x # Threads per Knot
2.75 inches x 3 = 8.25 inches
7 cm x 3 = 21 cm
Total Length of Rya yarn = Length per knot x # Knots
8.25 Inches x 3840 Knots = 31680 Inches
Total Yards: 31680 / 36 = 880 yards
21 cm x 3840 knots = 80640 cm
Total Meters = 80640 /100 = 807 Meters

Add Contingency
Because you are working with short lengths of yarn that can be difficult to estimate accurately as you are working,
I suggest that you add an additional 20% – 25% Contingency to your total calculations.
Total Yards: 880 yards x 1.25 Contingency = 1100 yards
Total Meters: 807 meters x 1.25 Contingency = 1008 meters
If you have extra yarn left over, it isn’t wasted. You can save it for your next project, use it for knitting or in a tapestry weaving project.

Calculate the Total number of Skeins required for your Project.
Now that you know the total length of yarn that you need, it is fairly simple to figure out how many skeins you need to purchase.
Most yarn skeins give a yardage of how much is in each skein, either in yards or meters
If the skein length is 300 meters and you require 1008 meters, simply
divide the total length / length per skein and round up to the next measure
1008 meters / 300 meters = 3.36 ~ 4 skeins
If the skein length is 200 meters per skein
1008 meters / 200 meters = 5 skeins
If the skein length is 75 meters per skein
1008 meters / 75 meters = 13.45 ~ 14 skeins

Example No. 2
32 inch x 60 inch Rya Rug (80 cm x 150 cm)
3 – Backing Width: 32 inches, 80 cm
Warp Sett/EPI warp threads
# Knots per Inch: 8/2 = 4
# Knots per Row: 4 x 32 = 128 Knots

4 – Backing Length: 60 inches, 150 cm
Spacing between rows of rya knots .5 inches, 1.25 cm
Total Rows: 60 inches / .5 = 120
or: 150 cm / 1.25 cm = 120 Rows

Total # Knots
128 knots x 120 rows = 15360 Knots

To calculate the amount of Rya Yarn required:
Length of Cut Pile per knot
Length of Pile x # Threads per Knot
2.75 inches x 3 = 8.25 inches
7 cm x 3 = 21 cm
Total Length of Rya yarn = Length per knot x # Knots
8.25 Inches x 15360 Knots = 126720 Inches
Total Yards: 126720 / 36 = 3520 yards
21 cm x 15360 knots = 322560 cm
Total Meters = 322560 /100 = 3225 Meters

Add Contingency
Because you are working with short lengths of yarn that can be difficult to estimate accurately as you are working,
I suggest that you add an additional 20% – 25% Contingency to your total calculations.
Total Yards: 3520 yards x 1.25 Contingency = 4400 yards
Total Meters: 3225 meters x 1.25 Contingency = 4031 meters

Calculate # Skeins required
Skein length = 300 meters
Total length required = 4031
4030 meters / 300 meters = 13.4 skeins ~ 14 skeins
Skein length = 200 meters
4030 meters / 200 meters = 20 skeins
Skein length = 75 meters
4030 / 75 = 53.70 skeins ~ 54 skeins

The above calculations give you an estimate of the total amount of Rya yarn you will need to stitch your project.
Of course, this figure will also vary depending on the number of colours that you are using.
In a later article I will provide more information on how to estimate this.

P.S. – If you happen to notice any errors in my calculations, could you please send me a message?
I normally do this using an excel spreadsheet. I have checked my figures, but I may have missed something.

Excel Rya Calculator
I have added an Excel Spreadsheet that I use when calculating how much Rya wool is needed.
To use it enter your figures into the Red cells. The spreadsheet should do the rest.
At the bottom of the worksheet (in Blue) are estimates of standard yarn sizes.
Download the Rya Calculator here:
Rya Rug Calculator

Please Note:
In the sample photos shown, I used a finer weight of linen yarn as I was out of the thicker weight of linen yarn. I used 2 ends of linen thread instead of one and threaded both ends through 1 heddle. Then threaded both ends though 1 dent, skip a dent etc. I find that making the backing cloth, you can have some flexibility in the yarns that you use. The important thing is the spacing of the warp/weft, so that there is space allowance for stitching the rya knots.

More about How to Weave a Rya Rug
How to Stitch a Rya Rug
How to Weave Rya Rug Backing

Rya Rugs
History of the Rya Rug
Finnish Rya Rugs
Rya Rug Repair
Hemp Rya Tapestry
Rya Rug Video
How to Clean a Rya Rug – Craft Museum Finland

Rya Rug Yarn Kits
Although I am not currently able to weave the Rya rug backings, I am now able to supply some lovely quality rya rug backings that have been woven in Finland. I will be developing some traditional Finnish style Rya Kit designs and naturally plant dyed yarns, so that you can weave or stitch your own rya rug.
I will be selling these via my website at Paivatar Yarns or Contact me for more information.

Rya Rug Tapestry Books
The Ryijy-Rug Lives On Finnish Ryijy-Rugs 1778 – 2008. Book by Tuomas Sopanen, Leena Willberg

Hand-made C.U.M. Rya Rugs
Techniques of Rya Knotting
Hooked rugs & ryas;: Designing patterns and applying techniques
Handgenoopte C.U.M. Rya Tapijten
Rya Rugs – Design and Make Your Own by Melinda Byrd Byrdcall Studio

Author: Paivi Suomi

I've had an interest in weaving, looms, yarns and textiles since I was a small child. I learned to knit, crochet, sew, do needlepoint at my mother's knee. My grandmother was a Saami from northern Norway. I am very interested in studying more about traditional Saami and Finnish style weaving and handicrafts. Paivi Suomi