Designers of Bergå Rya Rugs

The wool from a sheep is not all of the same quality or usefulness for spinning into yarn that is good for weaving. A 1931 invention by a woman named Ester Teorell —first presented to the Swedish Craft Association in Stockholm—ultimately provided a way to use sheeps’ coarser wool.  About 20 years later, the Bergå Dying and Wool-spinning Company adopted Teorell’s patented invention, and created a new kind of backing for rya rugs.

1d1. ladybug Berga back
Photo of ryabotten backing.  This particular rug is not in the collection I have, but apparently it may be in a Bergå collection of images from another year. Via
1d2. berga tag ladybug
Photo of distinctive Bergå Ullspinneri label attached to ready-made rug backing

An important company behind the production of Swedish rya rugs, Bergå was founded in 1855 in a little town called Stora Skevdi, Arkhyttan, in the province of Dalarna, lying to the west of Stockholm. By the late 1940s, this company was acquired by the national administration of the local County Craft Associations (the Hemslöjdsföreningarnas Riksföreningarnas Riksförbund). This acquisition allowed the County Craft (“hemslöjd”) Association stores around the country to have a reliable source of wool, and to sell a consistent and very high quality of dyed yarn in a huge range of colors.

1d. digitalt museum, photo Jessica Larlsson for Nordiska MuseetNM.0312274
Example of Bergå notebook containing yarn samples. Nordiska Museet via Digitaltmuseum, item #NM.03122274; Jessica Karlsson, photographer.
1e. DigitaltmuseeumNM.0312274
Example of Bergå yarn samples, numbered and identified by color. Digitatltmuseum, item #Nordiska Museet via Digitaltmuseum, item #NM.03122274; Jessica Karlsson, photographer.

In the early 1950s, following Teorell’s invention, Bergå began to use its machines to make a neat and sturdy woven backing material —kind of a dense woven grid—on which long-pile rya rugs could then be constructed at home without the use of a loom. As I discussed in an earlier blog post on Ingrid Skerfe-Nilsson, rya rugs made in this fashion, became a hobby for many during the 1950s and ’60s. Apparently the activity gained further rationale when an American doctor decreed that those suffering from stress would find making rya rugs a therapeutic practice!

To market its rya backing material (called “ryabotten,” in Swedish) as well as its yarns, the Bergå company began in 1952, and for at least 20 years thereafter, to issue small paper portfolios containing a selection of patterns for rya rugs. (In Swedish the plural for these is “ryor”). The connection between manufacturing and marketing was very symbiotic: these patterns were designed by major Swedish textile designers, each of whom worked for (no surprise!) the County Craft Associations (hemslöjden), either full-time or on a free-lance basis, the very associations who in turn sold the Bergå wool and other products.

It is fascinating to look at these little collections for a number of reasons. First, it is clear that the County Craft Associations employed many of Sweden’s strongest designers (and that conversely, nearly all of the strong designers worked for County Craft Associations for some period during their careers). Second, it is useful to see which Craft Association these designers were associated with at a given point in time, since a number of them worked at several different such associations during their careers. Thirdly, these little pamphlets offer information which can correct the lack of attribution for quite a few of these Swedish rya rugs.

1b.Undated Berga Ryor sold on etsy 2011 said to include 50 patterns
Bergå Ryor portfolio, undated but assumed to be from 1950s by photo cover. Both of the designs shown are also in ca. 1965 portfolio, by designers who would have  been in their 30s during the 1950s. Image from eBay
1a. IMG_5566
Bergå Ryor portfolio, undated because pricelist is missing, but assumed to be ca. 1965 based on internal evidence. Includes 33 designers and 39 patterns. This blog post is based on material in this portfolio.
1a.1 IMG_5565
Interior of Bergå Ryor portfolio, undated because pricelist is missing, but assumed to be ca 1965 based on internal evidence. Includes 33 designers and 39 patterns. This blog post is based on material in this portfolio.



1c.1973 version of Berga Ryor =39 p of
Bergå Ryor portfolio from 1972. At least two designs shown above are not included in the  portfolio shown in the previous photograph. This image from Includes 31 designers and 39 patterns.

Over the period of about 20 years— from 1952 through at least 1972— there were number of editions of the Bergå folder with enclosed pattern sheets and pricelist. Some 57 designers were featured over the span of this small ephemeral publication (there was some confusion here– originally this number was counted as 59 designers, but two of the designers were counted twice with both their unmarried and married names, since later editions changed their listings to their new names). Many of the designers’ patterns were available in all of the editions; others came and went. Younger designers continued to be featured in later/subsequent issues. Some patterns had been designed originally for the designer’s home hemslöjd; others were designed for this publication.

To some extent, each of these designers represented a particular Crafts Association, although that relationship is rarely explicit in any of the Bergå printed material. One needs to do some research to determine which Hemslöjd each represented.

Of the designs presented, it is clear that many/most of the patterns could be made in several sizes, and nearly all in multiple colors. Ryas in general were never very large rugs because too much material would make them hard to work with and heavy to maneuver. In this portfolio were both more traditional patterns— i.e. those working with the underlying grid determined by a warp and weft, and others which were more painterly and modernistic, perhaps influenced by the strong Finnish rya culture of this time.

These rugs could be purchased either ready-made or in kit form, offering the County Craft Association stores a valuable new product. Commenting on the 2009 exhibition, the curator of the show at Leksand Culture House, Per-Åke Backman observed, “Kits of finished material for sewing of rya rugs, high grade quality, were prepared, and everything was included; working drawing, ruler, rya ball [I am not sure exactly what this is], ryobot [woven base], yarn mix chart and the actual rya yarns calculated according to the size and pattern of each rya. It was now possible for anyone to order a package of materials from Swedish Hemslöjd for an affordable price, and to create a luxury artwork for the home by themselves.”

I should note that, having done much of the research on this topic, I then discovered that there had been a museum show in Sweden on exactly this topic — matching of some of the woven rugs to the published patterns— in 2009. Since I did not get to that show, I apologize to those of you who saw it, but have decided the story is still worth telling to an English-speaking audience. I know 20 rug designs were shown there, but not which ones; hopefully the rugs I will show below offer some variation.

In the little portfolio I have (the second one shown above), which seems to be from the mid 1960s, although the dated price list from my copy was missing, there are 33 designers featured, and 39 patterns provided. There are patterns by designers in the list that follows, with at least half of these well-known mid-century designers.  A number, like Anna Blom, Hildegard Dinclau, and Anna Hådell  were born early in the 20th-century, and represented the old guard by mid-century, but were still doing active work.  Many of the others, like Kerstin Butler, Ingrid Dessau, Gerda Jansson, Irma Kronlund, Kerstin Mauritzon,  Viveka Nygren, Ulla Percy and Märta Rinde-Ramsbäck, born in the late teens and early ’20s were in their 40s by 1965, already established, and producing important rugs in various types – rya, flat-weave, and pile. Some of the younger designers, born in the 1930s, are unlikely to have been in the original 1952 portfolio, among these Margareta Grandin, Rigmor Grönjord, and Kerstin Åsling.

What is clear, comparing the list (on the left below) of those designers featured in the portfolio I have, with those in previous and later additions, is that the total group of these designers comes close to covering the names of strong designers active during this time period.  Some faded from view fairly quickly, others had more durable and successful careers, but Bergå clearly recruited most of the best of the period for this little publication.

Ingrid af-Klercker                         UPDATE as of 11/10/17 — other designers included
Margit Ahl-Westin                         in other editions (thanks to Per-Åke Backman):
Kerstin Åsling                                 Marika Arleman-Leander
Anna Blom                                     (Kerstin Bergman, later Mauritzson; see opposite)
Kerstin Butler                                 Gunnel Björkman
Britt Marie Cristoffersson            Ingrid Bäckström
Ingrid Dessau                                 Anna-Lisa Elfving
Hildegard Dinclau                         Anne-Marie Elvius
Kerstin Ekengren                         (Inger Emanuelsson, later af Klercker; see opposite)
Monia Ericson                                Gunilla Fleming Bergström
Margareta Grandin                       Ethel Halvar-Andersson
Gerd Goran                                     Bengt Härdelin
Rigmor Grönjord                           Lizzie Härdelin
Anna Håddell                                 Gunilla Lagerbielke
Margareta Harström                    Emma Lundberg-Hörlén
Gerda Jansson                                Maja Lundbäck
Eva Ljungqvist                               Hedvig Maas
Irma Kronlund                               Anita Markelius-Åkesson
Kerstin Mauritzson                       Kaisa Melanton
Viveka Nygren                               Ingrid Mjörne-Michelson
Efa Babetta Öhjne                         Marianne von Münchow
Ulla Percy                                       Helle Månsson
Märta Rinde-Ramsbäck               Barbro Nilsson
Britta Rendahl                               Maj Näsholm

Clara Salander                              Barbro Ramqvist
Birgitta Salenius                           Gun Sandberg
Britta Sanderskog                         Ingregard Silow
Gunilla Schildt Stuart                  Ingrid Skerfe-Nilsson
Lena Sjöberg                                 Tova Vanner-Dahlström
Margareta Sundborn
Carin Virin
Brigit von Platen

I have been able to “match up” rya rugs by 9 of these designers in the portfolio I have, probably ca 1965. If I find more rugs designed by other designers from this edition, or further information from other editions of this portfolio, I will append that to this post. Information about both the individual designers and the rugs I can match to their designs for this edition of the portfolio follows.

`+            +            +            +              +

—-Gerd Goran was in her early 40s, and had been associated with the Värmlands County Craft Association when she designed two rya rugs for the Bergå portfolio. The first design is a playful and colorful exploration of a grid which feels almost like a game board. It comes as no surprise to learn that Goran explored collage as a technique in her textile designs, and that she also did designs for printed textiles and wallpapers. Published as a design in red and purple, the alternate colors offered were blue, yellow and brown.

2a IMG_5546
Gerd Goran design, “Rosa” from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. Rug design in two sizes: 121 x 200 cm and 149 x 220 cm, and four colors.
Gerd Goran design, Alternate colors for “Rosa” design.
2b, Grit Gorran "Rosa" Nazmihal
Gerd Goran, “Rosa” Bergå Rya rug, dimensions given as 122 x 206 cm or 4’ x 6’9,” from Nazmiyal Antique Carpets, New York.
Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 6.20.56 PM
Gerd Goran, Detail of “Rosa” Bergå Rya rug, dimensions given as 122 x 206 cm or 4’ x 6’9,” from Nazmiyal Antique Carpets, New York.
2c..Gerd Goran Textiltryck av Gerd Göran, 1940-tal, Rackstadsmuseet, Arvika, Sweden. via pinterest
Gerd Goran, printed textile attributed to 1940s, shown at Rackstads Museum, Arvika. Sweden (via Pinterest).
2d gerd goran
Gerd Goran, photograph from her own website.

The second is of Goran’s designs is a study in black and white called “Timotej”, which has a kind of runic simplicity.

Gerd Goran design, “Timotej” rya rug, from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. Rug design in three sizes: 85 x 140 cm, 107 x 170cm, and 121 x 200 cm, and only this one color combination.


2g. attrib Kaisa Melanton for SH"Gästabudet 171x103 but Gerd Göran Timotej 107x170 sold Buk 1-8-13
Gerd Goran, “Timotej” Bergå Rya rug , dimensions given as 107x 170 cm.; sold at Bukowskis 1/8/13, and attributed to Kaisa Melanin for Svensk Hemslöjd, titled as “Gästabudet” (the Feast).


2g1..Goran timotejScreen Shot 2017-10-27 at 11.19.51 AM
Gerd Goran, Timotej rya rug, back, showing the patented rya backing material.

It is interesting that when this rug was was sold by Bukowskis in 2013, it was attributed not to Goran but to Kaisa Melanton, a designer of almost the same age who later did work for both the Märta Måås Fjetterström atelier and for the Friends of Handicraft (Handarbetets Vänner). This was not a surprising attribution, given the fact that Melanton did design a remarkably similar black and white rya of this name for Svensk Hemslöjd’s own widely published folder of rya pattern pages (mönsterblad), but it is not the same rug, as a comparison of the two designs shows. (Later note as of 11/10/17: Perhaps I should not speak so fast, since Melanton apparently did do a rya for Bergå, and since some of the designs were previously composed, it is possible that her design originally for Svensk Hemslöjd made a second appearance in a different Bergå portfolio.)

2h. IMG_5569
Kaisa Melanton, “Gästabudet” (the Feast), published in Mönsterblad för ryamattorvävda eller knutna på bottnar. Kartong 10 published by Svensk Hemslöjd, 1952.

—-One of Clara Salander’s two designs for the Bergå collection was an abstractly modernist piece with a traditional name. Salander, born in Finland to a Swedish-speaking family, had been an adventurous young woman who, after studying graphic arts in Helsinki, then studied fashion at Pratt Institute in New York City and then painting at the Cranbrook School of Art in Michigan, before settling in Sweden for her weaving career.

3c. Clara Salander25_ar
Clara Salander as a 25-year old. Published in Gaveldraget newspaper interview.

By the time she was in her early 30s, Salander was working for the Västerbotten County Crafts Association. This rug was shown in a single colorway.

3a. IMG_5539
Clara Salander, “Vilhemina“ Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. Rug design in two sizes: 107 x 170cm, and 121 x 200 cm.
3b. Klara Salander Vilhelmina rug Berga 170x110 Bukowskis 4-10-14
Clara Salander, “Vilhemina“ Bergå Rya rug, dimensions given as 110x 170 cm; sold at Bukowskis 4/10/14.
3e. SalanderScreen Shot 2017-10-27 at 11.01.46 AM
Clara Salander, detail, “Vilhemina” Rya rug. Note that the pile leans slightly downward. The knots of the rug were tied on the backing starting from the base, and the weaver followed the pattern upwards, tying on knotted yarn pieces which covered those below.

—-Ingrid Dessau, a very well-regarded independent freelance designer who had a relationship with Kristianstad Country Crafts Association (Kristianstad lans hemsöjd) designed three rugs for the Bergå mid-’60s portfolio. One of them was a neutral-toned rya. (See previous posts on Dessau for more on her career). This rug, called Python, had a much more structured and geometric pattern, but like the previous design, was designed in a single colorway.

4. IMG_5536
Ingrid Dessau, “Pyton” (Python) rya rug, from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. Rug design in three sizes: 85 x 140 cm, 107 x 170cm, and 121 x 200 cm, and single color.
4b. Dessau Berga rya 146 x80 6-15-16bukowskis
Ingrid Dessau, “Pyton” Bergå Rya rug, dimensions given as 80 x146 cm; sold at Bukowskis 6/15/16. This rug seems a bit worse for wear, but the pattern is clear.


4b1.Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 10.24.16 PM
Ingrid Dessau, detail, “Pyton rya rug; sold at Bukowskis 6/15/19.


—-Judging from the number of examples of this rug still extant, the rya pattern which seems to have been one of Bergå’s most successful designs was by another Ingrid— this one Ingrid af Klercker. She was probably living in Södermanland, west of Stockholm. This pattern, called Turtle (Sköldpadda), was designed in blue as well as (a very pinkish) red, yellow and brown.

5a. IMG_5531
Ingrid af Klercker, “Sköldpadda” (Turtle) Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. Rug design in two sizes: 107 x 170cm, and 121 x 200 cm, and four colors.
5c. IMG_5532
Ingrid af Klercker, Alternate colors for “Sköldpadda” rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated.

It is curious than none of the examples of this rug found seem to be the the standard sizes for these rugs as shown on the photo pages from my particular edition. In this ca 1965 portfolio, the kits were offered in only two sizes. If the rug was as popular as it seems to have been, it seems very likely that other sizes would have been added in successive editions of the Bergå Ryor portfolio. As we look at other rugs below, we will see that more sizes were offered in rugs by designers recently added to each new edition of the portfolio. It’s likely that new sizes were also offered in subsequent editions of the portfolio for patterns already popular from earlier editions, like this one.

The Turtle rugs I have found, all clearly woven on this kind of base, suggest that this was the case. Two of the three correspond to a size available later, if not in this particular edition.

5b. Ingrid af Klercker blue145 x110 Buk 3_13_13
Ingrid af Klercker, “Sköldpadda” Bergå Rya rug in blue, size given as 110 x 145 cm; sold at Bukowskis 3/13/13


5d Inger af KTradera 123 x 170
Ingrid af Klercker, “Sköldpadda” Bergå Rya rug in red, size given as 123 x 170 cm; on sale on
5f Inger af Klerker rya reverse via etsy
Ingrid af Klercker, back of “Sköldpadda” Rya rug in red, showing patented rug base.
5g .Inger af Klercker Yellow rya 160x120 bukows 11-4-16
Ingrid af Klercker, “Sköldpadda” Bergå Rya rug in yellow, size given as 120 x 160 cm; sold at Bukowskis 11/4/16.
5h. IaKScreen Shot 2017-10-26 at 7.18.16 PM
Ingrid af Klercker, detail of “Sköldpadda” Rya rug in yellow, size given as 120 x 160 cm; sold at Bukowskis 11/4/16. Note variety and mix of yarn colors supplied to provide visual richness.

—-Viveka Nygren designed two ryas for the portfolio, one a pattern called “Gate” with discontinuous vertical bars of tone and color. In the portfolio I have it was offered in the three standard sizes and in two colors, grayish and red. In later editions, it seems to have also been offered in a blue-green version. Nygren worked during the 1950s with both the Kristianstads and Örebo County Crafts Associations, and she might have been representing either of these craft associations by her inclusion in this portfolio.

6a IMG_5538

Viveka Nygren, “Grind” (“Gate”) rya rug, from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. Rug design in three sizes: 85 x 140 cm, 107 x 170cm, and 121 x 200 cm, and two colors.


6b. Viveca Nygren Grind 130x86 Buk 2:18:16
Viveka Nygren, “Grind” (“Gate”) Bergå Rya rug in green, rug measurements given as 86 x 130 cm; sold at Bukowskis 2/18/16.


—-Kerstin Mauritzson, who designed the next rya pattern, was the chief designer at Malmö County Craft Association when she designed this rug. This rug may have been designed for this particular portfolio, but other flat-weave rugs she designed during this period have a similar interest in abstracted cross shapes made up of small overlapping squares. (See earlier blog posts on Mauritzson, and collection of archived material in Landskrona). Her title for the rug, Bunkeflo, is based on the name for one of the suburbs (or perhaps the beach of that suburb) south of Malmö, Bunkeflostrands.  It is unusual for this portfolio to offer rugs in the smallest size offered here.

7a Mauritzson IMG_5521
Kerstin Mauritzson, Bunkeflo Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. Rug design in three sizes: 63 x120, 85 x 140, and 107 x 170cm, and four colors.
7b.Maurizson 2IMG_5522
Kerstin Mauritzson, Alternate colors for Bunkeflo Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated.
7c. Kerstin Mauritzson Bunkeflo 2'9x4'8" (84 x142)via pinterest but sold at Nazimahl
Kerstin Mauritzson, Bunkeflo Bergå Rya rug in green, dimensions given as 84 x 142 cm; via Pinterest, but sold at Nazmiyal Antique Carpet Gallery, New York.

—-The abstract rya patterns designed by Britt Marie Kristofferson play not just with a change in color, but a change in what is represented by that change in color. She has a rug called Moonlight, and the alternate colors, although not so specified, seem to suggest different states of sun or moon light. And in fact, Kristofferson is represented with a second rug in the portfolio— this one called Solgömma, or Hidden Sun.

Kristofferson would have been in her late 20s when this portfolio was produced, although I don’t know which county craft association she represented at the time. She went on in textiles, though not in weaving. She has however revitalized the Swedish knitting tradition with exuberant and joyful knitting stitches, patterns and books.

9.Britt Marie
Britt Marie Kristofferson, author photo from web article on Kristofferson’s book, Pop Knitting, published 2012.
9. Britt Marie.honeycomb
Britt Marie Kristofferson, photo of “Honeycomb” knitted pattern from her book, Pop Knitting.

To go back to the design for Kristofferson’s rya rug design for Bergå, it seems odd that the way the rug dimensions are presented on her particular page (largest to smallest) are in the reverse order from those on other pages, making me think that she may have been young enough to have been a designer newly added to this edition, and that while other pages were simply reprinted from the earlier edition(s), her pages were reformatted. It is also interesting that the large size of her rug pattern was very large for a rya.

9a1. IMG_5561
Britt Marie, Kristofferson, “Mänljus” (“Moonlight”) Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. In five sizes: 170x 240, 140 x 214, 127 x 200, 107x 170, 85x 140, and in three colors.
9a2. IMG_5562
Britt Marie, Kristofferson, Alternate colors for “Mänljus” (“Moonlight”) Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated.
9b. Britt Marie Christoffersson Solgömma
Britt Marie, Kristofferson, “Mänljus” (“Moonlight”) Bergå Rya rug but in sun-lit white-blue color way. Sold at Bukowskis as Solgömma, date unknown.
9c1. IMG_5534
Britt Marie, Kristofferson, “Solgömma” (“Hidden Sun”) Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. In four sizes: 140 x 214, 127 x 200, 107x 170, 85x 140, and in three colors.

—-I know very little about Britta Sanderskog, other than her design for Bergå, and maybe a Swedish speaker can tell me what, Marlek, the name of her rug means. It’s not in my dictionary! But Sanderskog would also have been a young woman when her design was published, and like Kristofferson, the way the rug sizes were presented (again, largest to smallest) on her page, and the fact that her designs were now offered in five sizes, suggests that she too was a recent addition to the portfolio. All of the young designers must have been rising young talents, and it would have been an honor for each of them to be included with the more established designers.

Britta Sanderskog, “Marlek”Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. In five sizes: 170x 240, 150 x 202, 127 x 200, 121x 160, 107x 170, and in two colors.
Britta Sanderskog, Alternate yellow color for “Marlek”Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated.
10c. Britta Sandersog Marlek rug at 2009 show, photographer Janne Eriksson1200
Britta Sanderskog, “Marlek” Bergå Rya rug at 2009 exhibition of Bergå Ryor at Stora Skedvi and Leksands Kulturhus. Size not given.
10e. Britta Sanderskog, photo from dt newpaper article, photo by Karin Janson1200 copy
Photo of Britta Sanderskog, speaking at 2009 exhibition of Bergå Ryor. I thought that was Gerd Goran’s black and white rug, Timotej, shown in her hand, but now am not so sure.

—-The final designer for whom I have been able to match design to rug is Margareta Grandin. As a young woman, Grandin worked at Gävleborgs County Craft Association with Anna-Maria Hoke. Her tenure there —from 1960 to 1968—helps give us a definite time frame for this edition of the Bergå Ryor portfolio which I have. She was an active designer of rugs, embroidery, and church weavings for Gävleborgs. Her work is not visible in Sweden much beyond that date, because she subsequently moved to the United States, married, and had a very successful career on Nantucket Island as a weaver of large pieces for wealthy clients. She designed two rugs for this portfolio, one a pattern called Flora.

Margareta Grandin, “Flora” Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated. In two sizes: 121x 160 and 149 x 202, and two colors.
Margareta Grandin, Alternate blue color, “Flora” Rya rug from Bergå Ryor folder, undated.

The design which Bergå published, which has a kind of fireworks-like visual excitement, seems to have been very popular, again, based on the number of copies of this rug which turn up at auctions. We can see— as we have not been able to do with any of the other patterns we have looked at— how different sizes of the rug vary the pattern slightly. (It is also interesting to note that Bergå seems to have inverted the original pattern of this rug.  If one compares the photograph of her below with the rug as Bergå presented it in their portfolio, the element with the heaviest color is located in the lower right quadrant, whereas the original seems to have had the most-colored element in the upper left.)

8b. Margareta Grandin Flora171 x120 Bukow 1-1 -?
Margareta Grandin, “Flora” Bergå Rya rug, dimensions given as 120 x170; Sold at Bukowskis 1/1/ unknown year.
8c. Margareta Grandin larger206 x147 Bukow6:21:?
Margareta Grandin, Larger version of “Flora” Bergå Rya rug, dimensions gien as 206 x 147; Sold at Bukowskis 6/21/ unknown year.
8g,MARGARETA GRANDIN-NETTLES. Tillskriven. MATTA, Rya, Gävleborgs läns hemslöjd, "Blå Flora", 145 x 212 cm, 6-18-17 1960 Gastriklands Auktionkammare
Margareta Grandin, “Bla Flora” Bergå Rya, dimensions given as 145 x 212 cm, woven at Gävleborgs lans hemslöjd, signed (unclear whether this means MG or GLH or both) and knotted by Karin Wennberg. Sold at Gastriklands Auktionskammare in Gavle (accessed by me via auctionet), 6/18/17.

Grandin seems to have designed this rug as her final project in the County Craft Association Women’s Craft school in Uppsala in 1964. Sweden’s digital archives has a newspaper photo of a very pleased-looking, but unnamed young woman, whom I take to be Grandin, with this rug. The original caption reads, “The weaving school in Uppsala has its end-of-the-year events, June 1964. County Craft Association’s Women’s Craft School, Uppsala County.” Grandin would have been 31 years old in 1964. If anyone know the identity of the older woman, who may have taught at the school, or been a judge, please help identify her!

8h. Margareta Grandin from Digigalt museum unidentified. UB008061
Digitalt museum UB008061 Caption: “Vävskolan i Uppsala har avslutning, juni 1964 Hemslöjdsförenings Kvinnliga Slöjdskola, Uppsala Läns.” Photograph from Uppsala-Bild.

If Grandin was originally as thrilled as she looks in this newspaper photo with her rug, one has to assume that as a young designer, she was equally pleased to be included in this portfolio of rya rugs by important county craft association designers from around Sweden.



Per-Åke Backman, Leksand Kulturhuset, email correspondance, November 2017.

Bergå Ryor portfolios; one with loose-leaf color photographs, most printed front and back, undated and missing price list was the basis for this blog posting.

Bukowskis auction house, Stockholm

Claesson, Anna Maria, editor, Frostroser och Tulpaner — Jonköpings läns hemslöjdsförenings samling 1909-1986, Småländska kulturbilder, 2003

http://www.digitaltmuseet for image of Bergå Ryor folder with a different cover. (Not consulted, simply seen in photos)

Gastriklands Auktionskammare, Gavle, Sweden — photos from newspaper articles on Clara Salander

Janson, Karin, “Ett kulturarv på modet”, dt newspaper, Säter, 23 Feb, 2009

Johansson, Linnea, “På hembygdsgården i Stora Skedvi visas en utställning med Ryamattor,”  Dala Demokraten, Säter, 11 Jul 2009.–Via-Dolorosa/

Lundahl, Gunilla, Karaktär och känsla om Svensk Hemslöjd, Ett sekel med Svensk Hemslöjd, Raster Förlag, 2001.

Lundahl, Gunilla,  Varp och Väft —Textil konstnärerna och hemslöjden, catalog of exhibition at Waldemarsudde, 26 December 1994 – 5 Mars 1995 .

Mönsterblad, Utgivna av föreningen för svensk hemslöjd — Mönsterblad för ryamattorvävda eller knutna på bottnar. Kartong 10. Lantbruksförbundets tidskrifts AB Stockholm, 1952.

Nazmiyal Antique Carpet Gallery, New York

Norberg, Berndt, “Bergås ryamattor ställs ut i Stora Skedvi”, dt newspaper, 16 June 2009.

Stiftelsen Skånsk Hemslöjd Archives, Landskrona, with thanks to Åsa Stentoft, Director

Stockholms Auktionsverk, Stockholm for image of 1973 Bergå Ryor wth same cover as one above but showing different patterns, and dated by inclusion of price list (not consulted, simply seen in photos).



14 thoughts

  1. Thank you very much for your very interesting articles.
    Years ago, maybe in the eighties I made something similar like rya rugs. It was a kit – a net, a special hook and prepared cut wool. And also pattern that we followed. It was quite boring for me to do it. So I made only a few rugs. Now I’m currently processing my own woll and looking for ways how to use it. I’m interesting in scandinavian weaving. It is so beautiful, so elegant and stylish. It inspires me a lot. I’m very glade I have found your blog. I can see all that beauty and read something interesting about it
    Greetings from the Czech republic!.


    1. Dear Vladka, I’m thrilled that you have found my blog and find it useful and interesting! I see from your own blog how wide your textile interests are. Please feel free to correct any mistakes I make about the wool/spinning/weaving aspects of these rugs- I’m sure you know a great deal more about these than I do! Dėkuji a vítejte! Anne

      Sent from my iPhone


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Anne,
    I found your blog a few days ago and reading them took my breath away. I’m surprised I haven’t found you sooner. My grandparents were Angie and Bill Lundgren of Northboro, Massachusetts. They began selling the Bergå off-loom rya rug kits the year I was born. The were the sole distributors for Bergå for about 15 years. I grew up with all the designs you posted in your Nov. 3rd blogpost! I worked closely with them as a designer and assistant as they were getting quite elderly in the mid-70’s. I learned all the tips and tricks for helping people design and make their own ryas from the kits as well as designing their own. When my grandparents passed away, my parents sold all the rya supplies and designs. Since there was no internet in those days, the new owner soon gave up trying to sell rya supplies since there was no market. It all sat in storage for 30+ years.

    I did a video on Youtube on the dying art of off loom rya rug making about 6 years ago and received an overwhelming rush of comments and emails from people who wanted more. Long story short…I bought back my grandparents business, discovered Rauma rya supplies in Norway, and now sell their products for rya work. I have been teaching classes and selling supplies to a small degree. I nearly flipped when I saw your blog because I have all of those catalogs, photos, hundreds of the Bergå rya graphs …a folder for each design …but no Bergå rya supplies that correspond to the graphs.

    I feel like my life is now focused on bringing rya back to public awareness and appreciation. I get the feeling that you are somewhat on the same path. I am writing a book (4 years in progress) on how to design and make your own off-loom rya which I hope to complete this winter. I just “followed” your blog so I can learn more from you to share with others. I am so happy to know more about the designers of the ryas I have come to love so much. They are scattered all through my home made by my grandparents, my mother and myself. I have so seldom come across anyone else who has any idea who Bergå is and was. I hope to be in contact with you on the future towards helping move towards reviving the rya. Thank you so very much.
    Melinda Byrd, Woodbine, Maryland


    1. Dear Melinda, I can’t believe I found you. I bought many Rya rug kits in the 60’s from about 1962-1965 when my husband and I lived in Somerville, MA. I recently looked up the name Lundgren in Nortboro, MA thinking that maybe I would make a Rya again by finding a relative of the Lundgrens who might still have the business. I used to buy the kits and simply picked out a design of a fug that I liked. They were all over my house including a beautiful one I made to go under our all glass dining room table. I couldn’t find the name Lundgren but I found you. I had the kits where you cut your own length of the yarns so it was shaggy and of uneven lengths and insert it into the pattern with a special kind of needle or hook.. I took up making these rugs because my husband was a surgical resident at Tufts New Center Hospital and because he was never home and I wanted to do something while I watched TV when I got home from work, I really enjoyed them. I would not want to make big rugs anymore but something smaller to maybe hang on a wall or maybe use as a runner. My husband died 2 months ago and I am so lonely and feel that I need to do something creative with my hands though I am not creative. Those rug kits were wonderful and helped through many lonely hours. I am lonely now for a different reason but maybe they will help me bring back happy memories of our young marriage. We were married almost 57 years. If you sell the kits, do you have a catalog? I’m sure much has changed.We have been living in Longmeadow, MA (near Springfield) for 45 years. We moved around to several different practices before coming back to MA. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing if you sell the kits. We picked the kits up at your grandparents house since it was not too far from Somerville (Cambridge where I’m from originally ) and I met your grandparents many times. I look forward to hearing from you to see if anything is possible. Carol L. Sachs, 28 Revere Road, Longmeadow, MA


      1. Dear Carol, I’m glad these rugs hold such happy memories for you. I will definitely connect you with Melissa Byrd– her business is called Byrdcall studios now in Maryland. You seem to have picked up her earlier note to me, Anne, about this blog post. But I’ll give her your email and let the two of you be in touch. I hope you do find some sayisfying projects and suspect Melissa will help with some ideas. It may be that some of the images on this blog might provide a little inspiration too!

        Best, Anne

        Sent from my iPhone



      2. Thank you.  I’m not so great with the computer and probably shouldn’t have responded on that web site.  I did look up Melissa on line when I saw her full name and town and state where she lives and got her studio email and I then emailed her.  I do see an email from her.  Thanks for your help.  Carol Sachs


      3. Anne, thanks for forwarding Carol’s nice note. It sure makes my day to reconnect with former customers of my grandparents, the Lundgrens. I know I can help her get started on a new project! I have all of the old designs you have shown in this blog, plus many more now from Norway and the ones I’ve design since I worked with my grandparents.
        I will give Carol a call right now.
        Melinda Byrd


  3. Dear Melinda,
    I’m so glad you found my blog too! Yours is quite an extraordinary story. It sounds like we do in fact have similar missions– yours reviving the rya, mine, making better known– and more accurately known–the designers and rugs of mid-century Sweden. For me that includes flat-weaves, rya, flossa, half flossa, and tapestries. When I started I was really focused on the flat-weave (rölakan) rugs by these designers, but it quickly became clear that nearly all of these designers designed all of these kinds of rug forms, not just one, and that it was a richer way of understanding the designers themselves to see their work in all of these different woven forms. Not to mention liturgical garments, needlework projects, and other small wall hangings which many of them designed.
    I wish you the best success in your revival project and will be interested in looking at the other ryas in the complete Bergå portfolio of designers. Growing up with these as you did, and making many of them yourself, seems to make you uniquely equipped to help others appreciate these. I look forward to being in touch with you further.
    Best, Anne


  4. Dear Anne,
    Greetings from Vancouver, Canada. Wow what a fascinating journey into these beautiful rugs! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog : ) thanks. I became interested because – besides always loving Scandanavian design – I recently bought a second-hand thick shag rug with a bold abstract design that, without a Rya label, was sold as a “Rya-type” rug. Would you know of a site or a way to confirm whether it is or is not?
    In any case, thanks again for helping make the world that much more interesting and beautiful!!


    1. Hi Alfredo — and thanks for telling me you are enjoying the blog! That always makes me feel good! About Rya– I have been thinking I should do a short post just on how to tell what Rya are by how they are constructed. Stay tuned. There is clearly a range of lengths of pile to the Rya. So I suspect if yours has some length, it probably is a Rya. But if when I get this post up, it doesn’t answer your questions, let me know. Thanks!


  5. I was a “praktikant” working at berga for a little over a year in the sixties. I re-sized a number of the Rya Mats that the firm produced the kits form for customers to make. I made many friends there.Doing the various greys tones for the plans they could use to make the designs. I went through all the process in the factory too. Stayed with Josef the Managing director and his wife for a while till a small apartment became available. I spoke Swedish then but it was a long time ago and I’m an old man now.I was English and have since lived in SWFrance for many years and recently retired to Portugal on the Algarve. I had a long career as an international designer of textiles both printed and woven. I was “Special elev” at Konstfackskolan with Edna Martin in the same year as H.K.H Prinssesan Desiree. I was introduced to the company by Lars Walsedt where I was also a praktikant I think he sat on the board of directors for Hemslojd. Happy youthful days!!!!!!!!


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