Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hardanger, and thoughts on scissors.

I have several windows in my new house that need cafe curtains for a little more privacy without blocking the light, and I have a grand plan to make them.  At least a couple of them will be hardanger, because I love the look of that type of embroidery.  Hardanger curtains in my bedroom will make me very happy every morning and evening.

I haven't done any hardanger in a while, so to get back in the swing of it I stitched up a little ornament topper last night.  (I also had a lovely hour or so pulling out all my pattern books and browsing through them.  Moving and shifting and unpacking and arranging is like Christmas!  I get to see all my stuff again!)

Anyway, this is just a very basic design with woven bars and dove's eyes as the filling stitches, and it only took about three hours from start to finish.  I had almost forgotten just how much I enjoy hardanger.  It's so relaxing and orderly, and the end result is so pleasing.

I started with a frame of kloster blocks (groups of satin stitches).

Hardanger ornament in progress- Kloster blocks done and eyelets started.

Then I put an eyelet inside each group of blocks:

Hardanger ornament in progress- Eyelets done.

Then I very carefully cut out groups of four threads from the base fabric, leaving a skeleton that will be needlewoven and embellished.

Hardanger ornament in progress- Threads cut and removed.

Then I did the woven bars and dove's eyes. And voila, a finished ornament top, ready to be cut out and stitched to lining and backing fabrics, stuffed, and cording applied around the edge to hang it.  It made for a very pleasant evening.

Hardanger ornament in progress- Needleweaving and dove's eyes done.
When I first taught myself hardanger, the most nerve-wracking part was cutting and removing the threads.  Cutting!  The Threads!  Of the Fabric!

But really it's not that big of a deal, and almost any mistake can be fixed.  You just go slowly and deliberately, and double check before you snip.  And don't cut when you're tired.

What helps immensely is having a really really really really really sharp pair of scissors with skinny points. After using my regular small sewing scissors for my first hardanger piece, I went and bought myself a good pair of fine-tipped embroidery scissors.

I got a pair of Tres Claveles 2.75" scissors, in the silver finish.

Hardanger scissors

It was 1999, Shaun was in his PhD course and I had recently gotten a "real job" that paid enough for us to actually live on, and buying these felt like an enormous splurge.  If I recall correctly, they were $40.

I love these scissors, and have used them for many, many projects.  They are incredibly sharp, and even the very tiniest bit of the tip will cut.  Because the blades are so short, I have fantastic leverage and precise control.  I can cut one thread at a time out of the fabric.  Actually, I could cut half a thread if I wanted to! Plus, they make a very satisfying "snick" when they close.  My only gripe with these is that the finger holes are maybe a smidge too small, but it's not a big deal since they're designed to only use the tips of your fingers.

When I hatched the plan for the hardanger curtains, I ordered some fabric online.  While I was doing that, a pair of scissors somehow jumped into my cart and stayed there through checkout.  This is a pair of Dovo 4", in the black satin finish.  This pair cost me $57, which feels like a splurge as much now as it did in 1999, considering this is a pair of small scissors.  However, I have never minded paying for very high quality, and like the other pair, these will last a lifetime.

Hardanger scissors

I have never seen a pair of scissors with blades this narrow at the tip.  They feel great in my hand, the finger holes are nice and large, they are very sharp and solid, and they also make that great "snick" when they close.  My only gripe with these is that cutting one thread with the very tip of the blades isn't as solid-feeling as with the smaller pair.  This is just a function of having longer blades and therefore less leverage.

What these scissors do very well, though, is slide under the whole group of four threads and then... snick, cut them all at once. My little scissors don't have blades this narrow, and with them it's just easier to cut the threads one at a time.  This is a different sort of precision, and I like it.

Both scissors are very high quality, are useful for different tasks, and I will happily use both.

Hardanger scissors


Rachel said...

This is pretty awesome. No surprise there! I'm trying to picture how this goes into a full curtain...but I'm sure I'll see you work toward it!

Anne said...

I have always loved Hardanger but have been afraid to try, for lack of patience. Your work is amazing, and the scissors are very cool! Can't wait to see the curtains.