Hardanger Basics: Weaving

Bunads are traditional, elaborate, embroidered Norwegian and Swedish costumes that are worn for special events and national holidays. Bunads come in styles for men, women, and children. Sweden’s official National Costume was adopted on June 6, 1983; the day Sweden celebrated its first National Day. Norway has over 200 regional costumes.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:

"a bunad is characterized by double-shuttle woven wool skirts or dresses for women, accompanied by jackets with scarves. Colorful accessories (e.g., purses and shoes) complete the outfit. The bunad for men generally consists of a three-piece suit that also is very colorful and heavily embroidered." (reference link)

According to a 2002 article in the Fillmore County Journal:

"Adding elegance and color to any event, the bunad is officially recognized as having the status of full formal dress. It’s a complete attire from head to toe, thus it includes a head-dress and shoes. An authentic bunad, a lifetime investment, ranges in price from about $1,500 to $5,000." (reference link)

These costumes are a stitched work of art and are well-made and often very expensive. Needlework can be seen on almost every part of the bunad. The types of embroidery varies among regions, so you could see Blackwork, drawn and counted thread, cross-stitching, and whitework. This bunad is in the North Dakota State Historical museum with exquisite beadwork on the vest.

The dress shown behind the bunad is a modern wedding dress heavily accented with Hardanger embroidery. Isn’t it exquisite! One of the most recognizable bunads comes from the Hardanger region. The apron usually has a wide band of Hardanger embroidery on it.

Hardanger: 101 discussed Hardanger basics including kloster blocks and cutting. Now that you have accomplished the cutting process you are ready to move on to the next step.

Needle Weaving

These can be as easy as a simple wrap or as complicated as multi-step spokes. There isn’t a right or wrong one to choose. Some of the diagrams and instructions we are sharing with you today are from the Beginner’s Charted Hardanger Embroidery and Advanced Charted Hardanger Embroidery.

In Hardanger: 101 we left you with a kloster block that had cutwork.

You now have a network of threads, almost always in groups of four. These threads can be wrapped separately to create a bar. In this example you will wrap 2 threads together which will give your finished piece an extra lacy effect. (The example shows the addition of dove’s dyes in each corner.) Bring your needle to the right side of the fabric through the middle of the four threads to be wrapped. With your smallest thread, wrap around two strands of the bar into the center of the motif (7A). Move to the next bar and wrap two strands of the bar to the center point and insert a dove’s eye. (A description of how to do a dove’s eye is a little further in this newsletter.) Finish wrapping to the end (7B) and then wrap the next two strands into the center. Work one side of the center eyelet which consists of three stitches (7C). Bring the needle out in the center of the next bar and wrap two strands of the bar to the center as before to insert the next web (7D). Work the remainder of the bar. Continue in this manner until the entire motif has been completed (7E). Secure the thread into the satin stitch block on the wrong side of the fabric.

The key is to keep your wrapping tight and make sure each wrap lies right next to the previous one. If you want the bar to lie flat, then wrap just enough times to fill the length of the bar. If you over wrap the bar, it will create a natural bow in the bar, which creates a very pretty pattern and is used in some other filling stitches.

It doesn’t matter whether your uncut bars make a cross (like the previous example) or a square. To wrap the bars of a larger Kloster block, secure the end of the thread into the satin stitches on the back of the fabric and bring the needle to the right side of the fabric through the middle of the four threads. Bring the needle around the threads on one side and then back to the middle (3A). Repeat on the opposite side (3B). Continue weaving in a figure eight pattern until the entire bar is filled. When one bar is complete, cross over to the next bar by bringing the needle from the far side of the completed bar up into the center of the next bar (3C). This will leave a small crossover thread on the back of the work.

You can add additional details called webs or lacy filler stitches as you work the weaving. To add a dove’s eye in the center of our example above, you want to weave 3 ½ bars as shown above. To start your web, bring the needle up through the center of the adjacent woven bar (4A). Bring your needle under the first side of the web and then up through the center of the next woven bar (4B). Proceed to the third bar and repeat 4B. Pass the needle under the third side of web and pull the needle through to create the twist. Complete the web by bringing the needle over the first side of the web and up through the center of the unfinished bar (4C). Finish by weaving the last half bar. Finish your thread off through the satin stitching on the back.

In the previous examples, you learned how to fill in a large area including the dove’s eye. You can do a dove’s eye in a single kloster block. These instructions and diagram are courtesy of Carol at her Needlework Tips & Techniques Website. Thanks, Carol!

"The diagram below shows a completed dove’s eye worked inside kloster blocks. It is important to make sure that all four loops in the dove’s eye cross in the same direction to keep things neat. To work the stitch, come up in the centre hole then take the needle under the adjacent bar (you can work clockwise or anticlockwise). Bring the needle back up inside the loop you have just made, pulling the loop into shape until it fits comfortably (not loose and baggy but also not stretched too tight). Repeat this process until you reach the fourth bar.

To complete the stitch take the thread under the first loop you made and back down into the middle. Then finish wrapping the fourth bar. Try to make all your dove’s eyes the same size with the same amount of tension."

Just a note, the stitching is done through the fabric from the underneath of the fabric to the top at the center stitch in the satin stitched block. Because of the graphing software it makes it appear like the stitch is looped around a satin stitch.

While these few stitches may not seem like a lot, they make up the foundation for endless combinations! Even tension on your wrapping and the dove’s eye centers are very important to the overall look of your finished pieces. The key to success is to practice. Carol has a wonderful free piece to give you lots of practice on your wrapping and dove’s eyes. Click here to find out more about this practice project.


We hope this guide makes your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

For those interested in using this article or others published by Nordic Needle, Inc., please use this copy when referencing the information:

“The following article was published by Nordic Needle in their weekly e-mail newsletter. Permission was granted to share this article in (name of your publication). For information on subscribing to their newsletter, visit www.nordicneedle.com.”

2 thoughts on “Hardanger Basics: Weaving

Leave a Comment