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Hardanger Patterns & Instructional Media

A Different Kind of Embroidery: Hardanger Patterns

Hardanger embroidery is an unusual and intricate embroidery form that came from Norway. It became a popular pastime in the US and Britain just over 100 years ago. You can still find reproductions of Hardanger patterns from vanished publishers. Some newer Hardanger patterns have been influenced by Scandinavian modern and contemporary design. Many new Hardanger designs use color for this traditionally white-on-white embroidery.

What kinds of Hardanger patterns are there?

Historically, Hardanger was used on Norwegian folk costumes and church linen. As its use became more widespread, it was adapted to household use. Hardanger patterns often feature tray cloths, table runners, and table cloths. There are also Hardanger designs for smaller items like coasters, sachets, and needle cases. Hardanger ornaments look enchanting on a Christmas tree. There are even patterns for making a Hardanger angel to sit on top. Many Hardanger patterns were produced by small companies that disappeared years ago.

What’s the best way to learn the techniques needed for Hardanger embroidery patterns?

Some Hardanger books are set up like courses, teaching you one Hardanger technique at a time and finishing with a small project. Many of these books are now out of print but they are worth looking for because they will also teach you how to read a Hardanger pattern. Hardanger designs are shown on charts, with long, parallel lines representing Kloster blocks (satin stitch shapes). Cutting lines are often shown in red, and drawn thread work in a third color. Internet videos make learning Hardanger embroidery much easier since you will see close-up videos showing Hardanger techniques such as how to cut and pull threads and embroider difficult filling stitches like the Branched Spoke.

What materials do you need to work Hardanger patterns?

Hardanger embroidery is done on special Hardanger cloth with two thicknesses of pearl cotton. Most Hardanger patterns call for 22 count fabric but can be adapted to 28- and 32-count fabric. You will also need two sizes of pearl cotton, small, sharp scissors, embroidery hoops, and tweezers for removing cut threads.What’s different about contemporary Hardanger patterns?

Contemporary designs introduce colors, often in pastel shades. Some newer designs go even further, using colored thread on colored cloth. One of the latest developments is Hardanger done on home embroidery machines. While these aren’t as intricate as hand-embroidered designs, they can be accomplished more quickly and thus lend themselves to larger projects and bolder Hardanger designs.