What drew me to be interested in Hardanger and learning how to do it?
I am a red blooded American with Norwegian ancestors. My extended family
migrated to Wisconsin from Norway in the 1800's. I want to carry
on the traditions of my ancestors. My grandma was the person who
taught me how to cross stitch in my early adulthood. My
grandmother taught me many sewing techniques as well as how to
cook. She was a classy lady. She didn't do Hardanger, as far
as I know. I have seen lots of beautiful Hardanger pieces in a few
stores in the little town she lived in, in Wisconsin. It is a favorite
tourist destination in the area because of a little restaurant started
by some of the local woman called the Norse Nook. It is basically a
chain store now, but when I was a child it was very authentic home
cooking by some good Norwegian woman. Uff Dah!
Hardanger is named after a region in Norway called Hardanger, where it
became popular and specialized. In Norway it is called
Hardangersom, or "work from the Hardanger
It is believed to have originated
in the Middle East at some point, but the documentation on this is
scarce. Hardanger embroidery was popular during
the Renaissance Period, during which time it spread. At some point it
made it's way to Italy. Fabric was a mixture of wool and other
fibers like flax. The Norwegians have called it their
own since explorers brought it back to their country.
The Norwegians specialized and proliferated the art of
Hardanger. They used it to adorn many of their traditional pieces
of clothing, towels, aprons, home decorations, bedspreads,
curtains, and wall hangings. Norway is a farming region, so
they are able to grow the textiles needed to make the fabric
necessary for Hardanger. Fibers from the flax plant are used
to make Linen. Linen is one of the oldest woven fabrics in
human history. Today Hardanger is traditionally stitched on
a less expensive, even weave, 100% cotton fabric aptly
named, Hardanger, but they did it on traditional linen fabric in
very small counts. Over twice the 22 count fabric that we
use today. The fabric was generally dyed white or ivory.
On occasion it was left in it's natural grayish color and
the floss use to stitch the Hardanger was generally white.
Hardanger was brought to America by Norwegians, like my great
grandparents, and other European immigrants in the 1800's.
Many of them moved to places like Wisconsin and Minnesota with similar
climates to Norway.
Hardanger is a combination of a few types of stitches.
Embroidery, satin stitch, drawn work, cut work, white
work, needle weaving, etc. and today is combined with many other types of
stitching like cross stitch, to produce beautiful designs and pieces.
Believe it or not, Hardanger is not difficult to do. It can be a
daunting task to take on your first Hardanger piece. Start small,
and work your way up. Hardanger can be as simple as just a few stitches
combined to make a masterpiece, or as challenging as you like by
combining several kinds of stitches to make something amazing! It is very important to be precise
when doing Hardanger embroidery. Count, count, and count again to
be sure you place your stitches correctly. If you don't, your work
can and will easily fall apart when you start cutting. The back of
your work should match the front as closely as possible.
was traditionally done with the same fabric and floss color, white on
white. Today there are a plethora of fabrics, colors of
fabric, floss and colors of floss available to work with to make
gorgeous designs. Pearl cotton is typically used to stitch
size 5 , 8 and 12. Size 5 or 8 is used for the kloster
blocks and outline of the piece, while the
size 8 or 12 is used for the finer details in the center of
Collection Wildflowers can be used in place of the size 8 or 12
pearl cotton floss. Caron Collection Impressions is also a great
floss to use in place of size 8 or 12 pearl floss. Variegated
Silk Waterlilies can also be used in place of
size 12 (two threads of the Waterlilies makes a size 12). The
Impressions, and Waterlilies to make a Hardanger piece can
be quite beautiful with the tremendous range of floss colors available.
The basis of a
Hardanger piece starts with groups of satin stitches called kloster
blocks. The design is built around this most basic stitch.
Kloster blocks are done with the thicker floss, size 5. On finer
counts of fabric, the size 8 or Wildflowers floss may be used for the
heavier stitching like the kloster blocks, and size 12 pearl cotton or
Waterlilies floss (2 strands) can be used for the finer work and detail in the
try at Hardanger did not go well. I found the patterns available to be
confusing and poorly done. They were not done with the beginner in
mind. Having used mostly cross stitch patterns in the past, the
set up of most Hardanger patterns did not make sense to me. Each
line representing two threads of fabric. The patterns are rarely
complete, only showing a portion of the project. They have few if
any directions for the stitches. The supplies needed are hidden on
the patterns. It is quite frustrating for the beginner.
However, with a little digging on the internet for some directions that
made sense and perseverance, I have found Hardanger to be quite easy and
enjoyable, like cross stitch. As my tips section grows, I hope to
eliminate some of the frustration for other people attempting to do
Hardanger for the first time.
Another type of embroidery
popular in the 1930's and 40's in America that is similar to Hardanger
is Swedish Weaving or Huck Weaving.
Weaving or Huck Weaving, Huck Embroidery. Swedish weaving is
stitched on ONE side of the fabric only. This is accomplished by
inserting the needle just under the float or vertical threads in the
cloth you are working with. The needle never penetrates the cloth.
This type of embroidery was very popular in the 1930's and 1040's. I
recently found a towel that my Grandmother stitched many years
ago. Swedish weaving can be done on any even weave fabric, but Huck
fabric, Stockholom, and Monks cloth are preferred by stitchers because they lend
themselves well to the technique. The type of floss or yarn you use
will depend on the size and type of fabric you use for your design.
Pearl cotton thread or yarn is typically used to stitch Swedish Weaving.
Tools you will need to
I will discuss the
different kinds of fabric available for Hardanger in length in the
Fabric Tips section for Hardanger. The most basic fabric and
widely used is a 100% cotton fabric made specifically for doing
Hardanger work called Hardanger. There are several other fabrics
you can use as well....
You will generally
needles when doing a Hardanger piece. One for the thicker
thread and one for the thinner. Here is a guide given to me by a
friend who does a lot of Hardanger that is very helpful when deciding on
what needle size to use for each thread size.
20 and 22
No. 3 and No. 5
22 and 24
No. 5 and No. 8
22 and 24
No. 5 and No. 8
24 and 26*
No. 8 and No. 12
24 and 26*
No. 8 and No. 12
24 and 26*
No. 8 and No. 12
There are several types of floss available for Hardanger Embroidery.
We carry many of them.
cotton floss is used for projects like Hardanger embroidery,
embroidery, and needlepoint. Pearl cotton floss comes in all the same
colors as the DMC Mouline 6 stranded floss. Pearl cotton comes in
different sizes. Pearl cotton floss comes in a few different sizes in
skeins and balls. The typical sizes are 5, 8 and 12.
A highly mercerized, non-divisible, lustrous 100%
cotton thread on a twisted skein. DMC Pearl Cotton skeins are available
in two sizes - 3 and 5 (the higher the thread size, the finer/thinner
the thread). Size 5 (Art. 115/5) is available in 27 yard skeins in 292
solid and 20 variegated colors. It is ideal to use for cross-stitch,
embroidery, needlepoint, hardanger, blackwork, redwork, pulled thread,
smocking, applique and many types of creative stitchery.
Pearl Cotton Variations (Art. 415)
Variations, DMC's new specialty thread. Pearl Cotton Variations is a
lustrous multi-color, highly mercerized, non-divisible thread with an
over-dyed look. Available in 36 beautiful shades with 27 yards per
twisted skein. Each skein of Pearl Cotton Variations is a combination
of current DMC colors, allowing stitchers to coordinate Pearl Cotton
Variations with DMC Pearl Cotton to create beautiful designs with colors
that compliment one another perfectly. Pearl Cotton Variations is 100%
Colorfast, Fade Resistant, and offers guaranteed Color Consistency from
one skein to another. It is ideal to use for cross-stitch, embroidery,
needlepoint, hardanger, blackwork, redwork, pulled thread, smocking,
applique and many other types of creative stitchery.
Collection Wildflowers. A single strand hand-dyed cotton in
variegated colors. It has more of a matte finish when stitched. Use one
or more strands as required by the ground fabric. One strand is
approximately the same weight as flower thread or Medicis wool. It is
between a #8 and #12 pearl cotton in weight. It is available in all the
same colors as Watercolours and the two threads can be used very
successfully together for Hardanger embroidery. Can be used for bobbin
work on quilts.
You will need a very
pointy, narrow, sharp pair of scissors for the delicate cutting
necessary to achieve the cut work in Hardanger. I prefer the
pointy 3.5 inch stork scissors. There are angled scissors that
work nicely as well for Hardanger.