Kloster Blocks

Ruby Rosette

Click to enlarge photo

Traditional hardanger embroidery is characterized by hardanger 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

In order to be a kloster block for open work:
– each side has a mirror-image opposite side

Hardanger satin vs straight stitches

The difference between hardanger satin stitches and embroidery straight stitches is shown within this photo.

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 a four-sided kloster block area.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.
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.
  • Behind the fabric (right photo) no stitching thread crosses over an open (unworked) area (such as where the yellow arrow crosses the green arrow
  • ). 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 area to work is a few kloster sides away. 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. Slipped the needle behind the back stitching and that way carry your stitching thread to the next work area.

Also, now and then as you work, flip your stitching over and view the back-side. 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.