I come from a self-taught counted cross stitch background and find free embroidery a real challenge. But the elements of Hardanger embroidery just seem to fit my mindset and I simply love the effect achieved with very few stitches. I was introduced to Hardanger embroidery almost 30 years ago and continue to think it is the best-kept secret in the embroidery world!
Hardanger embroidery is lovely on its own and works very well when combined with other counted stitches, particularly with cross stitch or counted satin stitch, so this is a natural progression if your walls are begging for mercy, and it is time to make a basket of beautiful little things – both to look at and to use.
Hardanger is probably one of the most satisfying counted embroidery techniques I have used because it looks terribly clever but, in fact, is very simple indeed.
Hardanger has its roots in the mountainous area of Norway around the Hardanger Fjord, where distinctive but different patterns denote individual communities. It is an important part of the national costume, which, if anything is more important now than in the past. If you look at the recent history of this beautiful country, it is hardly surprising. On 26th October 1905 Norway became independent after four centuries of foreign influence from both from Sweden and Denmark.
A family will shake out the traditional costume, or Bunad, from the trunk or wardrobe and all members will wear their attractive costumes for national days, festivals, weddings, Christenings and other big events.
During my visits to the Hardanger area of Norway, I have stayed at the Ullensvang Hotel many times. (Probably my favourite place on earth!) This fifth-generation family-run hotel on the banks of the Fjord displays the costumes in a vast glass case as you enter the hotel.
I am on a mission to share the skills of the Hardanger technique, so much so that I wrote my own book! I published this myself as my publisher felt that it was too niche. The Little Book of Hardanger is now in its fifth reprint… I will say no more than I have signed copies now available.