"Beginning Hardanger"

Beginning Hardanger

The Elements of Hardanger are the Klosters and the Grid made with Bars and Spaces.

The Klosters are four or five Satin stitches over four fabric threads.

Chart of Satin stitches that form Klosters

Following the numbered steps as shown on the chart is a good way to make Satin stitches so that no sewing threads cross between Klosters. If I have the working thread running from the outside corner of one Kloster to another Kloster's outside corner I may eventually cut that thread, so I try to get in the habit of doing the Satin stitches as shown above.

The fabric threads in the center of a design/shape are a number that can be divided by four, four threads can be cut and removed to make a space or left in place to be wrapped or woven into bars of the grid.

Bars and Spaces

I count bars and spaces whenever I am stitching. The Klosters can be confusing because they can either be five Satin stitches or four. If the bars are side by side the first Kloster is five Satin stitches, then the next Klosters are four Satin stitches because they share the task of enclosing the fabric threads. By looking at the design chart and counting the first row of bars and spaces I know how many fabric threads are needed in the grid.

Shared Fabric Threads

If you examine the chart below you will see that the top Kloster will be on the same vertical fabric threads as the bottom Kloster, and that all the Klosters face each other across the fabric and they share the same threads as they are sewn.

Each line on this chart represents a fabric thread.

This chart is the one used to make the picture above. It has the cutting lines shown in gray, and I have sewn a buttonhole border around the klosters in the design.

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The Grid

The grid of bars is in the center of a Kloster design. Groups of fabric threads are called bars. It does not matter if the bars are wrapped or unwrapped, woven or unwoven, whenever you say bars you are referring to a set of fabric threads, usually four, that can be wrapped or unwrapped.

The grid of bars is the essential design element of Hardanger. It is composed of spaces and bars. There are two ways to prepare bars for further embellishment, weaving or wrapping them. I do the weaving or wrapping in a hoop or a frame that has side straps so I do not create any distortions in the embroidery fabric. This is technique that can be done in hand just as well.

Weaving the Bars

Some of the bars in this photo have been woven.


To explain weaving I am using a pink thread in the photo above so that you can more easily see what I am doing. I begin by weaving the tail of the thread under a few Klosters on the back of the embroidery then on the front of the fabric I bring the threaded needle up between the four fabric threads of the bar so that I will have two fabric threads on each side of the needle. I will go over the two threads on the left of the needle, then under them, and come back up between the four fabric threads, and then I will go over the two fabric threads to the right of the needle, then under them.

Now I bring the needle up in the middle of the bar again as shown in the photo above and repeat the steps above to finish weaving the bar. Finally I count the number of weaves I did to fill the bar and do approximately that number of weaves for each bar. This will prevent the fabric from being distorted and make the bars appear very even.


When I weave or wrap the bars I find that doing them in diagonal lines will improve the final appearance of my work. It is better to follow a diagonal lines as I work because I always move forward with the working thread. I do not have to pass the thread through overly tight spots to get the working thread into the correct place to continue sewing. If I have a problem I know how I sewed the spot so I can go back and undo only what is necessary to correct the mistake. An example of working on the diagonal can be seen by looking at the Cutwork Heart.

Diagonal Weaving of Bars

Usually I start to weave up from the lowest bar on the right side of the design. Then weave up to the upper left bar.

When I reach the top of the grid, I weave back down from the upper left to the lower right bar. At this point I will have to take the working thread under some Klosters on the back of the embroidery to get to the next diagonal.

Diagonal Wrapping of Bar

To wrap the bars and achieve what is pictured below I need a balanced tension among all the wraps of the bars.

By using the diagonal method and counting the number of wraps on each bar I will get balanced tension and not have bars that look like the ones below.

Oops! Bars with Diagonal Wraps don't look like they were wrapped while I was watching "The Wizard of Oz".

How to Wrap Bars on the Diagonal

To wrap the bars, I start on the right side of the bar, then I bring the threaded needle up behind the bar to its top, and then I will go down in front of the bar. These two steps are one wrap. Then I continue to wrap left across the bar to finish it. I try to remember not to overlap any wraps, they need to lay next to each other with no space in between them and not cross over each other. Then I wrap the bar by going across (over or under) the front of it.

What I want you to see is that the wraps at the start of the bar will eventually leave the working needle in the correct position for the start of the next bar.

Take the working thread diagonally under the intersection at 5 o'clock to 11 o'clock (or 11 o'clock to 5 o'clock,) then wrap over (or under) the bar. Again thinking ahead I need to decide the best position to start wrapping the bar so the needle can cross the next intersection and begin the next bar.

Backside of Wrapped Bars

Do you see the diagonals? They look like two back slashes over the intersection on the back side of the embroidery.

I would also mention that on the backside of the embroidery, I like to bring the working thread out of the back of the work between the Satin stitches of a Kloster. I bring the working thread up between the second and third fabric thread of the bar. I don't split the perle threads of the Kloster, and I have the thread positioned between the second and third fabric thread of the bar I will be wrapping. Then from that position I start wrapping the bar just above or below where I have positioned the working thread. This is really a good position for the working thread to prevent a loose wrap at the start or end of the diagonal row. That has always been a problem for me, but the tension on the thread running through the back of the Kloster prevents the loose wrap. You can see this where there are threads emerging from the bar at the top of the photo

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