Karen Garwood-Young, a pioneering hand weaving artist who, ‘paints with wool’, decided to embark on further investigation into the origins of Finnish
‘Ryijy’ textiles, translated as ‘shaggy rugs’. Studying for a textile N D D design at college, she gained the R S A Bursary to study this Ryijy textile in Scandinavia. She has been weaving them since.
History of Ryijy
The origins of this ‘rug’ are clouded in the mists of time. Research, though very scarce, shows ‘rya’ in the oak coffins of the Danish Bronze Age. These, we see saved in museums, are of limited pattern and colour. Yet, thousands of years on, these artefacts are still being made to benefit home comforts in Scandinavia.
Historically a Ryijy is a woollen bed cover woven in similar manner to our tufted carpet, the pile side is placed downward on the bed, or cot, to conserve warmth. The reverse, flat side. uppermost, showing a shadow of the knotted design.
The founder’s take on Ryijy
Therefore, investigating pro’s and con’s of these, would it not be possible for us, in the twenty-first century, to have a dual benefit from one piece of craftsmanship? It is not hard to imagine such a textile developed from the knotting of woolen threads, thus resembling an animal fleece. Able to encase heat within the natural wool structure as well as that of the knotting process.
Thus giving warmth, in winter, without the need to switch on the electrical supply.
Karen’s present day Ryijy are the products of many hours work. Still woven by hand in traditional Finnish manner on foot looms, based on the original measurements of a Scandinavian 15th -16th century double, or single bed.
Even children’s cot size for a family to treasure for the next generation. Developed, for modern living these Ryijy of the twenty-first century, show extraordinary colouring of abstract design which can be physically arranged to intrigue the spectator.
Hence, free dual purpose achieved in this unique piece of practical artwork.
Ethical and Sustainable Thoughts
At the recent 26th United Nations Climate Conference being held in Glasgow, more use of wool was considered to help man in his fight against climate change. However, it is not a cheap or easy task, for the home owner, to
insulate his home, with wool, or any advertised insulation methods.
Consequentially, there becomes a dual use to this textile. On cold nights, no sleepless meanderings into the early hours or worries of the cost of electricity bills for the future.
Karen uses the Romney fleece, whenever possible. The considered use of wool, certainly helps man’s fight regarding climate change. Sheep’s wool is a natural insulator, sustainable, breathable, user-friendly, dampens sound, yearly renewable and is fireproof. That being so, these unique ‘tapestries’ hanging on walls in the warm seasons where it helps to achieve an effective balance of temperature and humidity within our homes.
When summer arrives the upper (pile) side of the Ryijy is then displayed, on a wall. Draught or, tactile disturbance, can change the surface; when you return, each viewing will take one on another journey. Each tells a story; has an essence, a theme.
Should you wish to know more I would be prepared to discuss any personal requests on Ryijys should you
have any questions, contact me on email@example.com.