Hardanger Hijinks

There’s a new stitch-along in town.

Kathy, at Sewing, Etc., is doing tutorial on how to work hardanger.

Hardanger is a special needlework technique that combines embroidery and drawn thread work. You embroider and cut, embroider and cut, all while hyperventilating and hoping you don’t cut too much or too far.

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From Kathy’s blog–see how she’s cutting those threads? Eek.

I’ve seen a lot of hardanger in my years of selling vintage linens and am fascinated by the technique but I told Kathy I wasn’t going to participate in her stitch-along.

And then, you know, she posted the first instructions in a tutorial.

And I said, what the heck.

I whipped out some pretty blue linen I just happened to have on hand—not too fine cuz I’m new to this—and some white thread and I just took the plunge.

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It went pretty well, don’t you think?

I made two placemats then got bored with the pattern so I made two more with a different pattern.

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Then I thought, well, who wants a set of four placemats when six is within reach and I just dashed off two more in yet another different pattern.

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I’m darn good at this, huh?

And then, since I had more fabric left and I was feeling frisky, I stitched up a cute little apron.

I am the queen of hardanger.

Wait . . . why are you looking at me like that? As if you doubt me? Don’t believe me?

I can see what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Really, Kerry??”

NO!

Not really! Ha.

Of course I didn’t make these pretty things. They were part of a stash of vintage linens I got recently. According to a handwritten tag attached to them, they are Danish.

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But they are a beautiful example of the hardanger techniques. You can see how the white embroidery frames and secures the background cloth so that threads of that blue cloth can be cut and removed to create the classic look.

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So, no. I’m not joining this stitch-along. I have plenty to keep me busy and feeling stressed without adding another deadline to my life. But I’ll follow along, watching the progress made by others, and offer my pretty vintage hardanger as inspiration.

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65 thoughts on “Hardanger Hijinks

  1. Haha! You had me fooled…. and yet. I did think these had an olde-worlde feel to them, and I thought how in touch with tradition you seemed to be. These are lovely, whoever made them.

    • Thanks for so much faith in my abilities! I imagine I could learn hardanger–I hope to someday–but I doubt anyone could work as fast as I was suggesting I did!

  2. Oh, how sneaky. I was completely fooled, even though you clearly stated in your blog title that hijinks were to feature. The vintage hardinger items are very beautiful. Are you flattered that some of us believe you are Superwoman Sanger, capable of such fine work and able to fit it in with all the other things you do?

    • I *am* flattered . . . although I worry about gullibility. 😉 Especially the way I was talking about just speedily whipping through these–I suspect hardanger takes a very slow hand . . .

  3. Add me to the list of those completely fooled! I was so impressed by your newly found skill at hardanger. The word “hijinks” in your title should have clued me in. Do you have any idea where that word ” hardanger” ( hard anger ) came from?

    • I looked it up and what I learned from good ol’ Wikipedia is that for a 200 year period, this sort of work flourished in Hardanger, Norway. I suspect that feelings of “hard anger” are not unknown to people trying to learn the technique!

    • I do love the vintage items–and they came into my possession so serendipitously, right when my blog pal was setting out her tutorial. I could resist having a little fun. Are you ever hoping to get back to your piece?

  4. 😂 you got me for first linen but then I thought you must of tried this before for Kathy hasn’t given all the instructions yet,but when that apron came up I understood the hijinks in the title! 😁 I ,too have to many things going on right now but I’m saving the instructions for a later date. Kathy’s a dear for her detailed instructions!

    • Yes, I thought the sheer amount of what I was claiming to have accomplished should’ve been the give away that I was making it all up! Kathy’s instructions are great–she’s working hard at that!

    • There are SO many textile techniques–laces, cutwork, drawnwork–and I know very little about most. Women did amazing handwork and I like the idea that it’s being kept alive.

  5. You little devil!
    I’m not going down the hardanger route either – I can’t even cope with cross stitch – although I had a little wobble when I saw Kathy’s tutorial come up. It was only a little one though and easily got under control.

    • I think I could do the hardanger but I’m also supposedly doing that hand quilt-along that Kathy is hosting and it’s been about 8 years since I’ve contributed to that. I don’t need more feelings of inadequacy . . .

  6. D > I was prepared to believe you have the talent, but not that you would boast of it, Kerry! It is very good quality workmanship, and I’m envious that you have such beautify work passing through your hands! My mother was a very good seamstress from teenage years (that was indeed her occupation as an adult!) and she made similar items for her trousseau, but it didn’t have that name.

    • I was sort of hoping that boastful, cocky tone would tip people off! The vintage linens that pass through my hands give me such pleasure–I’ve learned a lot over the years. Do you have any of your mother’s work?

  7. I love hardanger work and envy anyone that can do it. But as soon as you started to brag how easy it was, I knew you were pulling us on. You never brag about anything, always so modest. Another art form dying out.

    • That’s nice of you to say, Marlene–I was brought up by a mother who was VERY much against bragging or “showing off” and I do find it hard to boast. I’d like to try doing hardanger someday so I am keeping track of Kathy’s tutorial–she’ll help keep it from dying out!

    • It’s the cutting that would freak me out. I mean, what if you were almost done, having put hours and hours into it, and there was one little slip of the scissors. I’d die.

    • Yes, the sheer speed of the work I was claiming should’ve been the tip off! I’ve never done this but I suspect that doing even one placemat like that would take days.

  8. Oh this bring backs memories. I was taught hardanger by the librarian in my elementary school when I had stay inside for recess because of stitches for a cut above my eye. I enjoyed every minute of it.

    • That’s such a great story! I’m impressed that someone knew enough about hardanger to teach it–it seems a pretty obscure set of skills–and I’m impressed that a little girl would enjoy it while missing recess!

  9. Haha! This is a blast from the past for me because I used to do harbinger embroidery as a young girl – nothing as nice as this though – gorgeous.

  10. These are great examples of hardanger! I loved your build up. I’m going to attempt to join in, but I’m not sure if I’ll fit it in, I may have to just catch up later in time!

  11. Nice post! I did cut hardanger many moons ago and enjoyed it; though some of the cutting made me anxious. I had a lot of perle cotton, which I gave or threw away before we moved to Asia. Now of course, I wish I had it as I am doing wool applique. Oh well!
    Have you sold them yet? They are beautifully done.

  12. You had me too! I was about to ask what type of tea/coffee you drink, along with your vitamin regiment. Then, I just had to laugh! We all need to laugh, especially in the winter, especially now. Back to your post – Hardanger is a name I associate with the Norwegian fiddle with 4 or 5 extra strings that create an amazing drone beneath the melody being played. I love to dance to this amazing sound! Now to learn of the lace, named for the same region – Hardanger and see it’s beauty, I am in love again with another textile. I can imagine creating a pocket with the lace design – a small project possible for the beginner. I think I’ll take that into my winter daydreams!

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