Hardanger embroidery is a geometrical technique traditionally used with a thread colour that matches the fabric colour. Modern designs do tend to use more colours, but it is predominantly a low contrast type of embroidery. We’re using red Perlé cotton, here, to make the stitches obvious against the fabric, so that the tutorial is easier to follow.
A Kloster block is a set of 5 satin stitches, stitched next to each other tightly, to form a block. These blocks are stitched in sets of 4, to outline areas that can be cut out of the design.
1 To create the first Kloster block, stitch 5 satin stitches (straight stitches) next to each other, vertically, to cover 4×4 strands of fabric. It’s best to use a thick Perlé cotton for this stitch, such as #5.
Once you’ve stitched the 5th satin stitch, push the needle back up at the base of the last stitch. This will be the starting point for the next Kloster block. This new one will be stitched with horizontal satin stitches.
You should always stitch from the inside of the inside of the set of Kloster blocks outwards, so that there is no thread crossing over at the back, and the blocks look the same on both sides of the fabric.
2 Keep going to complete all 4 blocks:
3 Now for the scary part – brace yourself for the cut work!!
First things first: make sure that you are equipped with Hardanger scissors. Or (at the very least) with a pair of scissors that fits the bill: you want a thin pointy tip AND a very sharp blade. These common stork scissors are a good alternative to proper Hardanger scissors, if you don’t have any.
I would also recommend a pair of reading glasses! If you don’t normally wear glasses, they’ll act as magnifying glasses, and if you already wear glasses, wear these in front of your regular glasses (I do!). Just make sure there are no witnesses, otherwise they’ll think you’ve completely lost the plot!
Now you’re fully kitted, let’s do the deed! Push the blade under 4 strands of fabric, at the base of one of the Kloster blocks. I find it easier to wriggle the scissors to the left as I push it through, but then make sure you tilt them towards the stitches when you cut, so that you get a clean straight cut along the stitches and you don’t cut into the stitches themselves by accident.
If you’re not sure about cutting all 4 strands of fabric at once, cut them 2 by 2, at first. Cutting all 4 of them in one go ensures that you get a straight cutting line, but if you’re careful, you can take it slower.
4 repeat the cutting process on all 4 sides.
Fancy seeing it stitched in action? Here’s a short video: