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First event at Kiesling House since pandemic began

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Kathy Moe shows an example of the Hardanger embroidery style during a programming event at the Kiesling House.

NEW ULM — The historic Kiesling House held a demonstration and program on Hardanger embroidery Saturday.

This was the first historical programming the Kiesling house has held since the pandemic and was a welcome return. Several curious visitors visited during the program to learn more about the Hardanger.

Kathy Moe led the program explaining the origin of this type of embroidery. Hardanger is a Norwegian tradition and is named after a region of Norway. Hardanger is seen as a decorative pattern on many traditional Norwegian clothes.

This type of embroidery uses counted thread and drawn thread work. The basic pattern begins with five parallel stitches worked over a group of four by four threads to enclose an area of fabric.

“The process is very time-consuming but very beautiful,” Moe said.

It is relatively common to see this embroidery style at Lutheran churches with congregations made of Norwegian descent. The geometric patterns of Hardanger make it relatively easy to design crosses.

The embroidery method calls for exact precision in stitchwork to repeat the pattern. The result is a rigid geometrical form, usually based on squares, rectangles, zig-zags and even hearts.

The Hardanger method has gone in and out of popularity over the years. Moe said in the United States it became popular in the 1980s. For a time, it was even more popular in the United States than it was in Scandinavia.

Over the years, books on Hardanger have been published in every country. Moe even has a Japanese language Hardanger design book. She said the book is still helpful even for those who don’t read Japanese since the patterns and directions can be understood by any language.

Moe said she first learned the style from her sister-in-law who was a home economics teacher. Moe had owned a craft store and after taking a class, she was hooked ever since.

Moe said in addition to being a fun way to pass the time, Hardanger does not require a lot of supplies or space. She can keep an embroidery piece in her purse and work on it whenever there is downtime.

The Kiesling House is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Sept. 4. For the remainder of the season, historical programming will be held on Saturdays. Saturday, Aug. 7, the Kiesling House will host a shoe-making demo.

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