Kloster Blocks

Ruby Rosette

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Traditional Hardanger embroidery is characterized by satin stitch blocks (kloster blocks) formed into geometric designs. Within the kloster blocks the cutting and withdrawal of threads creates grid(s) of fabric threads which normally are embellished with needle weaving and filling stitches.

In order to be a kloster block:

  • each stitch is a hardanger satin stitch
  • adjoining sides are perpendicular and must share a common corner fabric hole
  • each side has a mirror-image opposite side

Hardanger satin vs straight stitches

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The difference between hardanger satin stitch and an embroidery straight stitch is shown within this photo.One could say the method shown in the orange thread within this photo saves stitching thread and would be ok to use for kloster blocks within a hardanger no cutwork design, but I feel you should always stitch as if cutwork might be applied later. This is because I will often work and finish a non-cutwork hardanger design only to decide, weeks later, to add cutwork.

Below are steps for stitching two styles of kloster blocks. Steps 1, 2 and 3 create a four-sided kloster block.

This is followed by discussing adjoining a twelve-sided kloster area to the four-sided kloster block.

The following four-sided kloster block and twelve-sided kloster area were worked to be used as examples for the below discussion. Viewing these below photos you may notice that the stitching thread seem looser than it should. On a 22 count fabric I would normally use a size 5 stitching thread for kloster blocks but decided to use a size 8 instead. This is so you can view (I think easier) which fabric holes are shared and which are not. Note: When two sides of a kloster block meet to form a corner they share a common fabric hole.

Step 1 - four sided kloster block

Step 1 – four-sided kloster block

Kloster Block Step 2

Step 2 – four-sided kloster block

Kloster Block Step 3

Step 3 – four-sided kloster block

adding a 12-sided kloster block

adding an adjoining 12-sided kloster block to the existing 4-sided kloster block

Adjoining a 12-sided kloster area to the 4-sided kloster block created above.

  • The 4-sided kloster block was worked above and is grey out on this chart
  • The 12-sided kloster area is comprised of four three-sided kloster blocks and is worked clockwise (orange then purple pathway arrows)
  • The top 5-stitch (green stitch lines) is designated as the 1st side of the 12-sided kloster area.  This 1st side shares a fabric hole at the common corner with the adjoining (grey-out) side of the 4-sided kloster block and shares a fabric hole at the common corner with the adjoining 2nd side (orange stitch lines) of the 12-sided kloster area
  • These three sides (grey, green and orange stitch lines) form a three-sided kloster block
  • Working clockwise, the fourth three-sided kloster block is near the purple arrow tip.  It is made up of an (orange stitch lines) side, (green stitch lines) side, and the bottom (grey-out) side of the 4-sided kloster block
Check alignment

Check alignment

As you work check your positional alignment.

  • Two adjoining kloster sides are perpendicular to each other and share a corner fabric hole (see the two neon green arrows on the left photo).
  • Hardanger satin stitches are snug but not overly tight. They are normally worked in a size 5 weight thread.
  • Behind the fabric no stitching thread crosses over an open (unworked) area (such as where the yellow arrow crosses the green arrow are on the right photo). Stitching thread that needs to be carry is weaved through the back-side stitching of previous worked sides.
Carrying thread
At times, as you finish a kloster side you realize the next kloster side to work is a few kloster sides away. To get there run your thread through the back-side of a previously worked kloster side. Like you can see on the back view below.

Make sure your stitching thread does not cross over any fabric area that will be snipped and removed during the cutwork phrase of your design. Now and then flip your work over and check that when moving your stitching thread to another area you slipped the needle behind the back stitching and that way carry your stitching thread to the next work area.

On the below photo the front looks great, but viewing the back-side shows an incorrectly worked hardanger satin stitch that needs to be corrected.

stitching oops

Click this photo to view my Oops when stitching! discussion.

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