yellow embroidery with title "Kloster blocks hardanger embroidery tutorial".

Hardanger Embroidery Tutorial Part 1 – Kloster Blocks

Hardanger is a beautiful Norwegian embroidery that has counted thread and cutwork.  That means that the stitches are made by counting the threads and making them in regular, even sizes on the fabric, and some of the background fabric is cut away.

It is not too difficult if you take it a step at a time.  This is the first of a four-part tutorial that will step you through a small hardanger project – great for beginners.

You will need:

  • a small pair of scissors with a pointed end
  • a needle with a large eye and blunt tip (like for cross stitch)
  • size 5 Perle cotton
  • size 8 Perle cotton
  • a 6″ square piece of 22 count Aida cloth (sometimes called hardanger fabric)

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Put the fabric in a hoop to keep your tension even.

Stitching Kloster Blocks

Kloster blocks are the foundation of hardanger embroidery.  They are easy to do, but you have to be careful to work your stitches in the right direction.  

Traditionally hardanger is done with white thread on a white background, but I am using different colours to make it easier to see.

Basic Kloster block

Begin with size 5 Perle cotton.  Thread the needle and knot the thread.  Take the needle through the fabric, leaving the knot on the top side, over away from where you will be stitching.  This is called a waste knot, since we’ll get rid of it later.  

Make a straight stitch over four threads.

first stitch of kloster block with waste knot.

Make four more stitches right beside each other for a total of five stitches.  They should all be over four threads of the fabric.  This is a Kloster block.

single kloster block embroidered with yellow thread.

On the back, they should all be parallel stitches.  You work them in the same direction.  You can see the tail going to the waste knot.  The stitches are over the tail.

Adding more blocks

The next Kloster block will be worked perpendicular to the first one.  Bring the thread up four threads to the left of the hole of the last stitch.

first kloster block in hardanger embroidery.

On the back, the stitches should be perpendicular.  There should be no diagonal stitches.

stitching kloster blocks in hardanger embroidery.

Make another Kloster block going in the other direction.  Since the next Kloster block will be vertical, the thread is already in the right spot to begin.  Take a stitch down over four threads.

You can see on the back side that there are still no diagonal lines.

Changing direction

After three vertical and three horizontal Kloster blocks, we will turn and go in the other direction.  Make sure that the Kloster blocks are directly under the ones above them.  If they are not, it will be a big problem later.

row of kloster block embroidery.

When you get near the end of the thread, weave the end of the thread under a few of the blocks.

weaving in the thread end in embroidery.

On the front of the embroidery, cut the waste knot.

cutting the waste knot.

Then put the waste knot thread on the needle and weave it under the blocks to hold it securely.

weaving in thread ends.

The back should look almost as good as the front.  Some of the Kloster blocks will have six stitching lines and some will have four, and they are offset one thread, but they should all be clearly vertical and horizontal with no diagonal stitches.  

If you have diagonal stitch, I’m sorry but you’ll have to take them out and redo them to avoid problems later.

Continue working Kloster blocks until you have a small diamond.

finished diamond of kloster blocks.

This is what it would look like on a stitching chart.

hardanger stitching chart.

The full chart is available as a bonus to my newsletter subscribers. Join the list (bottom of the page) to get access to that and many other great resources.

The next step in hardanger is blanket stitch, which gives a piece a nice clean edge.


Elizabeth DeCroos

Elizabeth DeCroos

designer, teacher, speaker

Elizabeth enjoys doing all types of sewing and needlework and teaching others new techniques. For more information or to have her speak to your group click HERE.

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