Rya is an ancient method of making rugs and bed covers which is mainly used in Scandinavia. It is either woven or knotted in high quality wool. There is a special rya knot, not the same as used in oriental carpets. The knots are not as dense as on oriental carpets and the loops are longer. The loops are most often cut after knotting. This is a nice technique but very time and yarn-consuming and thus quite expensive. Rya rugs have been alternately very popular and very out of date over the years. I see a potential here of making beautiful designs with elaborate images of landscapes etc. Photos could be used as inspiration. You could also combine rya knotting with needlepoint, quilting or wool embroidery. The cutting of the loops could be developed in order to create a relief effect. Cushions and wall hangings are projects that I want to realize .
One big project I have fulfilled so far, a rug for my daughter’s living room.
The making of a rya rug
The inspiration for this work was first of all the beauty of the coastline of Cornwall, which I have experienced on several trips there. I have walked in different parts of the South West Coast Path and have many photos from there. Another inspiration was from photos that my daughter and her boyfriend brought from their trip to Wales where they had been bird watching. I had selected a photo of a heath with flowers and a puffin bird in the center. I excluded the bird from my image because I didn’t want it to be too cute.
A few of the many photos from the Cornish coastline that worked as a model for my rug.
Blunt needles are used to make the knots. I used three strands which gave an opportunity to vary colour blending. The backing is woven with linen warp and wool weft. It has rows of small holes which makes it easy to knot. I bought it from “Svensk hemslöjd” but it is available on Etsy as well. Rya yarn should be hard-wired and delivered in skeins, not in balls. A skein is easily cut in the right length.
Work in progress:
Rug completed, after many hours of work, in my daughter’s living room.