I did not know anything about Hardanger Embroidery till I read about it in a book and fell in love with it. It is a beautiful form of whitework embroidery with a lattice effect created with drawn thread technique with small cutworks made inside blocks of stitches; It is named after a district in Norway, where it is supposed to have originated.
You can find this work in the blouses, shirts, aprons and home decor in many of the costumes of old. I have since seen pictures of intricately worked Hardanger embroidered clothes and they look incredibly beautiful. The work now incorporates many embroidery techniques from Asia and Europe.
It was done white on white at first but later different colors (pastel mostly) have come to be used in this work. Now you will find that Hardanger embroidery is also done with vivid colored thread.
What kind of fabric is best suited for Hardanger embroidery
There is a special fabric called Hardanger fabric with a basket weave (22count); This fabric is woven in double thread form and has open spaces with visible threads ( not as much as Aida, though) – making it very easy for you to count threads and cut the fabric afterwards.
If it is not available at your place, not to worry. Hardanger embroidery can be done in an even weave fabric – like Cotton or Linen – in which the thread is visible. You need a regular weave fabric which you can cut cleanly. The most important thing in this embroidery is to have the sharp small embroidery scissors
How is Hardanger embroidery done
This embroidery features rectangular blocks in satin stitch horizontally or vertically in a regular pattern. These blocks are called kloster blocks. Fabric (Thread) is then carefully cut between these blocks.
Thread 3 strands of embroidery thread on the needle. Decide on the placement of the design. Start stitching. Go over 6 threads (or 4 thread) some 6-7 times to make the block – You can decide the number of stitches you will be doing over the threads (Actually the kloster block consists of 5 stitches done over 4 fabric threads)
If you make the first block horizontal remember to make the next one vertical ie If you make one kloster block over warp thread then the adjacent one will be done over weft thread
Not like this.
Count thread always. It is important; very important. Mirror the pattern on the other side as well.
The blocks are stitched so that an even number of threads ( 4 or 6) is covered throughout with an even number of thread rounds. ie if you are making the first Kloster stitch over 6 threads this is copied for every other kloster block made
In Hardanger embroidery it is important that the kloster stitches are kept constant for all blocks (counting thread and counting the stitches is very important)
Cut the holes. Use very sharp scissors; I use my thread snips.
You should cut close to the stitches but not so close that you cut away the stitches.
Ensure that the holes are facing stitches going outside; as shown in the picture above. Always cut the space of the block where the thread is across; If you cut the hole along the satin stitches (parallel) the whole thing will unravel.
Now using the seam ripper carefully take out the extra thread hanging with cut ends from the middle of the design ( horizontal threads)
Then remove the vertical loose threads.
Go over the middle threads with overcast stitches in the coloured thread or a different one
In the end you get a lattice effect on the fabric
You can add other work like black work, overcasting etc for added effect. Sometimes the cut space is filled with other filling stitches or beads