Traditional Crafts: Hardanger

One of the things that I love about getting together and crafting is that everyone has stories to tell about watching their mum or grandma crafting away; or they have treasured possessions of blankets, cushion covers or tablecloths that have been handed down or made for them.

I think these things make us feel nostalgic for our lovely childhood days, but also as we grow up and time moves on they give us a sense of connection to our families and our roots… make us feel a part of a bigger something.

I’ve always been quite fascinated by the everyday social history of individuals lives and how handcrafted objects and skills used in making them connect us to that history…..

A friends mum who heard about the crochet club said to pass on that she’s really pleased that young (ish!) people are learning and sharing traditional crafts that otherwise might be lost… how lovely of her to say!

In the Women’s Group we ran at work, a colleague was telling me about a craft that her mother loved called Hardanger…. I’d never heard of this before but loved the way that she spoke about her mother’s work….. so I thought I’d look into it and share here what I’ve found out…..

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Hardanger is a type of quite beautiful embroidery named after an area of Norway where it has been used in traditional dress and homewares since around the 16th century….

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It’s thought that it probably originally developed out of Persian and eastern styles of embroidery that spread across Europe (which would make sense as many of the designs are similar.)

Traditionally hardanger is stitched on a fabric made from flax that is woven to create an even structure that squares can easily be worked on to….

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a bit like cross stitch fabric…

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I’ve definitely seen similar things before but have known them to be called ‘White work’ or ‘Cut work’…. Hardanger is traditionally white stitched on white and has pieces cut away, but has a very definite style, mostly based on cut away squares…..

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that are worked into the design and are embroidered and embellished.

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So beautiful and intricate…. and it’s no surprise that it’s still quite popular, often using colour…

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Such a beautiful traditional craft, I’d love to give it a go…

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