Ask Roz: How do you anchor your thread ends?

How do you anchor your thread ends? I tend to weave the end back and forth in a corner block. I usually go back and forth about three times. Is that enough or am I over doing it? Sometimes, I can tell from the front where I’ve attached a thread. I start with an away knot, then weave it in later.

Sharon Howell

Roz Answers:

In my opinion, going back and forth under one block will definitely create a bump on the front. Rather, on the back of the piece run the end thread beneath 4-5 blocks and then snip off the end. When you come in with the new thread, do the waste knot on the top of the fabric about 2" away from the new stitch, or if you are comfortable, hold the end of the new thread in place on the back of the fabric and stitch over it for 4-5 blocks. Then snip off the end.

If you are doing other stitches like the cable stitch or box stitch, you can anchor the old and new threads beneath satin stitch blocks if they are right by the stitch you are working. Otherwise, anchor them in your closest stitch row.

If you have a Hardanger question, just ask Roz!

Ask Roz: Is there any trick to turning the corners?


First let me say that if there is anything about Hardanger you don’t know, it’s probably not worth knowing. I have always loved the look of Hardanger, but I have the world of trouble turning corners in buttonhole stitches. Outer corners aren’t so bad, but inside corners are my downfall. I get so discouraged. Is there any trick to turning the corners?

Janet in Pennsylvania

Roz Answers:

Thank you for your question, Janet. For most people it is the outside corners that cause the most questions. The inside corners are worked basically the same as the corners of the satin stitch blocks. Two stitches share the same inside corner hole, one going horizontal and one going vertical as you begin the next group of satin stitches. This link will bring you to the stitch instructions on our website in the "stitches" section for the Blanket Stitch, commonly used for the buttonhole edge.

For a few years now I have been using the Tailored Buttonhole Stitch method where the needle comes in from the outside, opposite of the Blanket Stitch. I much prefer this method because it locks the edge fabric threads in place so much better and does not pull out like a Blanket stitch buttonhole can do (personal experience). I also do not need to "stitch in the ditch" (the indentation at the outer edge) with a sewing machine when using the Tailored Buttonhole method. In both methods you MUST end the old thread and start a new thread correctly or this will be a weak point in the edging and will often pull out with use.

If you have a Hardanger question, just ask Roz!

Ask Roz: What threads should you use in Hardanger?

Dear Roz,

I am wondering about the threads used for Hardanger. I’ve made a simple beginner’s heart using Perle #5 and #8. Is this the only two sizes of perle thread that should be used in Hardanger? Also a question about fabric – for the heart it was a 20 count linen used. If I made this on 22 count fabric should I use a Perle #5 and #8? How does this affect the outcome?

Thanks, Karen Crowell

Harpers Ferry, WV

Roz Answers:

Thank you for your question, Karen. For fabric that is 18 count to about 24 or 25 count, use size #5 pearl cotton for the satin stitch blocks, solid motifs, box stitch and buttonhole edge. Use size #8 for the cable stitch, and filling stitches. I like using size #8 for everything when I work on 24 and 25 count fabric and up to 28 count.

When using finer fabric from 25 to 36 count, use size #8 for the satin stitch blocks, buttonhole edge, solid motifs and box stitch and use #12 for the finer stitches. You CAN use size #12 for the filling stitches and cable stitch when working on the smaller count fabrics as well. It gives a much lacier looking piece but it does take longer to do because you need more stitches to fill the bars when weaving.

Thank you,

Roz Watnemo

If you have a Hardanger question, just ask Roz!

Ask Roz: How should you start your thread on a Hardanger piece?

Roz I’ve just come back from time spent with my daughter in Canberra (being thoroughly spoilt) and found several newsletters from you. I have been intrigued with the Hardanger question and answer section. My question is – I’ve been asked by a friend to teach her Hardanger. When I first started I was told that to start off I should knot my thread and then move to the beginning – later threading the beginning thread under my stitches. Then a Dutch friend told me I should make a small back stitch under the first Kloster block and hide it with my stitches. I don’t want to teach the wrong method to my friend. I’ve searched all my books but no where can I find any instructions on “How to start”. Any suggestions?

With regard to your suggestion regarding fray stop – may I emphasize that the fray stop should not go over the stitches. I used it on an early piece and with time the edges of my article have gone “yellow.”

Thanks for making my Mondays so enjoyable with your newsletters.

Regards from Australia – Joan Luck

Roz Answers:

Thank you for your email Joan. I would suggest one of two ways.

  1. The "waste knot" is not a bad idea when first beginning Hardanger. Insert the needle an inch and a half away from your starting point a little bit in from the edge of the fabric. After a few blocks have been stitched, cut off the knot, re-thread the needle with the end, and run it behind the finished blocks on the back of the work.

  2. When a person is more familiar with Hardanger and comfortable with the stitches, what I do is to hold the tail of the thread on the back in the directions your stitches will go and stitch over it for 5-6 blocks. I’ve just eliminated the need to later cut the knot and re-thread it and run it through the back of the stitched blocks.

I hope this helps. Thank you so much for writing.

If you have a Hardanger question, just ask Roz!

Ask Roz: How do you end and start new threads in the middle of a Hardanger piece?

  1. Hello Roz!

    I always enjoy your newsletters, but am especially enjoying the new topic Questions about Hardanger. I have dabbled with Hardanger for many years, making many small pieces, but have never attempted a large piece because I can’t figure out how to stitch them. Here are my questions: How do you plan your path when wrapping many, many rows of threads? And how do you end and start new thread in the middle of a piece if you are not close to a row of Kloster blocks?

    Thanks for all you have done for needlework over the years!

    Carol in Eagan

  2. Roz, I have tried lots of ways to begin and end threads in Hardanger. I would like to know how you do it.

    Thanks Meg

Roz answers:

Thank you for your questions, Carol and Meg. There are different ways of ending old threads and starting up with new threads, depending on what stitch you are working on. For the satin stitch blocks, on the back of the design, run the old thread under 5 or 6 of the stitched blocks. Come in with a new thread the same way, or what I like to do is just hold the end of the new thread in place on the back of the fabric and stitch over them with the new thread, again about 5-6 blocks. Then snip off the ends. I will judge the length of thread I have left on my needle before starting a new satin stitch (kloster) block or solid motif. It is best to NOT change thread in the middle of a block or in the middle of a solid motif section.

For woven bars – If the bars are woven in a smaller area where you end up coming to satin stitch blocks regularly, that is when you would change threads the same way as above. However, if you are in a large area where no satin stitch blocks are available to work with, you will have to improvise. One way would be to end on the back side of the bar and remove the needle from the thread. With the new thread, insert the needle in the next bar, coming up in the center of the 4 fabric threads. Leave a tail of thread on the back and hold it in place along the bar that you are going to weave and weave right around the new thread on one side of the bar. Hold the "old" thread on the other side of the bar and weave around that. When you get to the end of that bar, clip off both of the thread ends and continue on to the next bar as usual.

Another way that Marion Scoular recommends is to park your needle with enough of the old thread to do one more bar and re-thread a new needle for step one. Use a waste knot to secure the new thread in the fabric corner right before the next unwoven bar. Run that new thread on the back of that bar and bring it out in the next bar and then park that needle in the fabric. Take the old thread now and weave the next bar, stitching around and anchoring in the new thread. When you come up in the center of the next bar (there the new thread is), remove the end of the old thread and lay it underneath that bar so it will be woven in with the new thread. Snip off the end of the old thread and continue on with the new thread.

When stitching the buttonhole stitch and tailored buttonhole stitch, begin the next stitch as usual but do not bring it back out in the front. Rather, unthread the old thread on the back but leave a loop of thread on the front. Place new thread into your needle and run it beneath about 3 buttonhole sets on the back and bring it up to the top of the fabric, completing the stitch you started with the old thread. Now insert the new thread up through the loop of old thread. Pull the old thread on the back to make the loop close over the new thread on top. Tighten up the new stitch and proceed to the next stitch with the new thread. Clip off the old thread after you have made several stitches, holding it in place on the back.

The Box Stitch and Cable Stitch would be similar to the satin stitch block. Run the old thread through several stitches on the back and bring the new thread in and stitch over the end for about an inch and then snip off the extra thread of both old and new threads.

I hope this helps. Maybe you have come up with your own way of doing this and I would love to hear from you. We are always looking for more efficient and better ways of doing this and we’d love to share what you have discovered. Thank you.

If you have a Hardanger question, just ask Roz!

Ask Roz: How do you repair an accidental cut in Hardanger?

Hi Roz…

I accept the fact that you may not have had every single experience possible when it comes to Hardanger but I bet you come pretty close! I am working on one of the pieces in ‘Gems of Hardanger Embroidery’ by Mildred Torgerson and made the worst possible mistake….I broke rule number one: Don’t cut when you are too tired or not concentrated. And, you guessed it, BIG cutting error. I didn’t think there was going to be a solution, I have to admit. But for a few days, I just thought about it and thought ‘What would Roz do’. Well, that thinking led me to a solution. I am hoping it works. It looks like it worked if no one would ever touch it but I don’t know if it is all so stable So…here is my question: After weaving a repair, does it make any sense to maybe weave in some invisible thread to add some sturdiness?? (is that a word?) Is there every a time when the error is just too great to repair and the entire piece is ruined? Could you maybe go over some repair techniques? I looked and looked but I found very little on the actual repairing process. Mostly what I found is: Don’t make the mistake in the first place!! Well….believe me, I sure wish I hadn’t!!!


Roz Answers:

This is an area where I had to seek the wisdom of others. I turned to Carol Pedersen, as I consider her the queen of fixing errors. She has repaired a few for me over the years! Here is Carol’s reply:

"Being a bit of a klutz, I have a lot of experience with Hardanger cutting errors. I’ve learned that the most efficient and strongest repair in the withdrawn area is to replace the cut thread. First, remove the cut thread back to the Klosters on each end and cut each end away there, as shown in diagram 1a. Then pull a thread from the edge of the fabric, thread it onto a large needle (large because it frays easily), carefully anchor it under the Kloster at one end, weave it through the perpendicular fabric threads to the other end Kloster and anchor it under that Kloster (You don’t need much of an anchor, as the woven or wrapped bars will thoroughly secure the thread.) You can then weave or wrap the bars exactly as if the fabric thread had never been cut.

One caveat: Tension is important; the tendency is to make the replaced thread too taut. So before anchoring it at the other end, grasp the beginning Kloster between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, place the open threads between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand and gently pass that hand to the other Kloster. This should provide the new thread with the same tension as the other three fabric threads. Then carefully anchor it under the second Kloster so as not to disturb the tension.

There is another method for this repair if you have already woven bars to the point where the thread has been cut. Unweaving bars is very tedious and damages the fabric threads, weakening and stretching them.

In this case, unweave bars to expose the fabric threads of one bar prior to the one having the cut thread. Again, place a fabric thread from the edge under the bars to be woven (shown with the red thread in diagrams 2). You can either hold this thread in place as you weave, or can thread it onto a needle and pass it from front to back of the 4×4 fabric square that intersects the woven bars prior to the bar to be rewoven and back to the front of the 4×4 fabric square three bars away (The diagrams illustrate this.)

Now reweave the first bar. You will weave over 5 threads – the four original threads and the one new thread. When done with this course, turn to the back. Pull the new thread out and cut it off where it enters the newly woven bar (shown in diagram 2a with the red arrow). Then at the other end of the bar, pull the cut thread to the woven bar and cut it free (shown with the black arrow). If you are weaving your bars tightly enough, these two threads are securely anchored in place. Check the other end of the cut thread; if it is long, cut it close to the 4×4 fabric square at the end of the next woven bar (shown with the blue arrow). You don’t want to try to weave or wrap a cut thread as it’s likely to pop to the front and you cannot trim it closely enough that it won’t show.

Weave the second course. This bar will be woven over 4 threads – three original threads and the one new thread.

Finally weave the third course. This bar will be woven over 5 threads – the four original threads and the one new thread. When done, trim the same as you did with course 1 – the old thread close to the bar at one end and the new thread close to the bar at the other end (shown in diagram 2c with the black and red arrows).

Thank you SO MUCH, Carol. Your experience and wisdom are very valuable to us stitchers.

Carol has published several Hardanger designs and these two very informative books which would be valuable for any stitcher’s library of reference.

If you have a Hardanger question, just ask Roz!