In-Person - Weaving Rya on a Warp-Weighted Loom

Folk Art School

Vesterheim Folk Art School

In-Person - Weaving Rya on a Warp-Weighted Loom

Wednesday, March 23 - Sunday, March 27 with Melba Granlund

Level of Instruction
Some weaving experience is helpful but not required.
$350.00 Members
$400.00 Non-members
Materials Fee
$20 payable to the instructor (cash only) for reference materials and warp yarn.

Rya weaving is one of the oldest forms of weaving in Norway and dates to the Iron Age. A rya was a prized possession because the insulating qualities of its shaggy pile were an essential part of staying warm. Woven with thick yarn or fleece locks, interspersed between rows of plain weave or tabby that hold the knots in place, ryas were used as bed coverings with the pile side down or as cloaks worn with the fleece locks face side up allowing them to repel rain or snow. Today, rya weaving is popular for contemporary rugs and wall hangings, sometimes incorporating fabric strips, linen threads, and woolen and novelty yarns to create the rya knots.

Ryas were traditionally woven on an upright warp-weighted loom, which uses weights to create tension on the warp threads allowing a shed to be made. This type of loom dates to the Stone Age (7,000 B.C.) and was used in Norway from the fourth to the mid-nineteenth centuries when the floor loom became available. In this class, students will share the experience had by ancient weavers while learning not only the techniques for weaving a rya but also how to set up and weave on a smaller version of the traditional warp-weighted loom. Students may alternate between sitting and standing at the loom while exploring the different methods of making rya knots using yarns, threads, fleece, and fabric strips. The finished piece will be approximately 14-inch square and can be made into a shoulder bag, seat cushion, pillow top, or wall hanging. Finishing techniques will also be discussed.

Written reference materials along with selected pieces woven by the instructor and from the Vesterheim collection will be available for inspiration. The Instructor will provide written instructions, all warp yarn, and other materials needed to set up the loom for weaving. Looms will be provided. Students are responsible for supplying all weft yarn, sheep fleece locks, threads, and/or fabric. It is best to use only one type of yarn throughout for weaving tabby between the rows of rya knots. At the beginning of class, students will have an opportunity to shop for Norwegian yarns at Blue Heron Knittery in Decorah (two blocks from the classroom). Norwegian Rauma åklegarn and/or ryegarn is recommended for weft. The cost of yarn is dependent upon the number of colors used (approximately $18 per skein plus tax). One skein for tabby weave and one skein of each color for rya knots is sufficient. Harrisville Highland or other thick worsted weight yarn is also an option. As an alternative, making rya knots with thrums from previous projects is a great way to use up leftover yarns. Students should contact the instructor ( with any questions about materials or yarn selection.

Students should also bring:

  • - Sharp scissors
  • - Measuring tape and a ruler (both)
  • - Darning needle (with blunt end)
  • - Tapestry beater, beating sword, or sturdy stick shuttle (for beating the weft)
  • - Stick shuttles
  • - Note-taking materials

Optional Materials:

  • - Fleece locks, novelty yarns, or fabric

Weaving hours are from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. Unfortunately, due to Covid, no evening studio hours are available. All weaving must be taken off the looms before 5:00 pm on the final day of class.

***This class is an in-person class at the Vesterheim Folk Art School in Decorah, Iowa***

Please read our COVID-19 Policies here.

The Folk Art greatly values the health and safety of its learners, teachers, and staff and is continuously monitoring local and national COVID-19 statistics, government recommendations, and peer institution guidelines. As with any activity in a public place, there is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to COVID-19 infection, please stay home. By registering for a class, attending a program, or visiting the Folk Art School, you voluntarily assume all risks related to COVID-19 exposure and assume them willingly and you agree to follow Vesterheim's COVID-19 policies. Thank you for your continued patience, understanding, and respect for the safety of our community as we navigate these difficult times. If you have additional questions, please contact Josh Torkelson, On-Site Program Coordinator, at or call 563-382-9681.


Enrollment Deadline: March 9, 2022

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About the Instructor

Melba Granlund

Melba Granlund is a Swedish folk artist and educator with a concentration in weaving, felting, and nålbinding. Melba enjoys traveling and studying the historical aspects of Scandinavian textiles and handcrafts. As a life-long student herself, she has received instruction from masters of these handcrafts in the U.S. as well as in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark. Melba strives to keep Scandinavian folk-art traditions alive for future generations by teaching and sharing what she has learned with others through various fiber art classes at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, the Textile Center, American Swedish Institute, and other venues.