Happy Canada Day!
This spring has been another busy one for me. I have left London and have moved to the small city of Chichester, UK which is located on the south coast of England. Chichester is famous for its cathedral spire which towers over the landscape.
Chichester has quite a nice fabric and knitting store that is filled with lovely knitting yarns, sewing fabrics, needles and notions.
C and H Fabrics
There is also another sewing store that specializes in its own unique designs and patterns and is located just down the street from where I live.
On my loom:
My loom is now unpacked and dressed again – this time with a hemp warp for making a Rya tapestry. Hemp Rya Tapestry
I am also busily working away at updating the Allfiberarts website to WordPress. Many links still need to be checked as old pages are being converted to the new format.
If you find one of the pages at All Fiber Arts to be helpful to you, why not give it a vote of approval by clicking the new #1 button that can be found near the top of the page.
I’ve recently moved my weaving studio again – this time to Chichester, UK. The studio is now located in my new home and my loom now has its own lovely garden room, complete with Keri the cat.
The new house is over 3 floors (lots of stairs to climb to keep me in shape) There is a tall wall that is over 10 feet in height as you go up the staircase. I thought that this would be a perfect location for a rya rug.
I am planning the tapestry for this wall to be done in 2 long, narrow panels, each approx. 30 inches in width. One panel will be about 10 feet in length and the second one will be slightly shorter – 9 feet in length.
I have a supply of colourful hemp yarns that would be suitable for making rugs or a hemp tapestry.
Here is an initial sketch of the design that I am thinking of. The inspiration for this is a simple multi-colored warp and weft, intersecting and flowing from one panel to the other. The rya knots will be a mixture of single and 3 ply hemp yarns.The background will be woven using single ply black hemp rya knots.
This design may change once I begin to weave, as my projects tend to do, once I am at the loom.
The warp is a 3 ply natural hemp, sett at 10 epi.
5 rows of tabby are woven between each row of rya knots, using the same natural 3 ply hemp as the warp.
Finnish Textiles – Rya Rugs
Here are a few examples of rya rugs. The pile for a rya rug or tapestry is woven or sewn onto a wool backing. A rya is traditionally hung on a wall as a tapestry and not used on the floor as it is not durable for floor use.
The sett of the warp and number of weft rows and knots per inch can vary in a rya, depending on the level of detail of the design.
A Rya tapestry is similar in nature to a knotted Persian carpet. It is
comprised of woven rows of weft alternating with rows of knotted yarn. The rya knots are similar to a Ghiordes knot in Persian carpets but are spaced farther apart than those in a Persian carpet and are much larger and longer.
In Norway, ryas have been found dating back to the early 1400’s. They were used as bed coverings, the knotted side being closest to the body providing warmth. In the castles in Sweden, they were used as bedding throughout the 16th
century. The ryas at this time were mainly of solid colours, natural white, grey, black and yellow. In the 17th Century, the rya was no longer considered bedding for the upper nobility, though the servants and lower class still used ryas.
In Finland, the rya developed further with the use of colour and pattern. Decorative ryas date back to the 1700’s. When a young couple married, the rya was used as a prayer rug during the wedding ceremony. The bridal couple would kneel on the rya as they exchanged their wedding vows. The colourful tapestry was then displayed in their home as a reminder of their wedding day and became a family heirloom to be passed on to future generations.
The rya in Finland was larger, made of 1 or 2 pieces, sewn together. Not everyone was a rya weaver as it took skill,
strength and a large loom to weave the heavy tapestry. There were rya weavers, who travelled throughout the villages and towns with their looms. As wedding day plans arose, a rya was commissioned to celebrate the coming event.
Rya designs were usually colourful geometric shapes and florals and quite often had images of the boy and girl to be wed. Also a Tree of Life image signifying the family heritage. The Rya was also dated with the year of the marriage. Different regions of Finland had unique designs and colours specific to the area using the local plants for dyes.
Ryas are still made today, using both traditional and more modern designs. In Finland, schools have rya competitions with children designing their own rya. Ryas can also be sewn onto a prewoven backing.
I often get asked: How do you tie a rya knot on the loom? Here’s how.