A Hardanger Coaster to Stitch

The extensive embroidery collection at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa, has provided me with endless inspiration for my own Hardanger embroidery projects. It amazes me what those pioneer Norwegian women were able to accomplish given all the work they had to do just to get food on the table, clothes on their backs, and provisions put up against the long, hard winters.

When Laurann Gilbertson, Vesterheim’s chief curator, asked if I would create a modern piece based upon a tablecloth in the collection, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to create something for a table setting, and both the shape and the size of the cloth’s strong, square design element suggested a coaster.


Joan Leuenberger’s Hardanger coaster inspired by Anna Sjøthun Anderson’s tablecloth that Anna began embroidering on her passage from Norway to America in 1907. Photo by Joe Coca. Pincushion and scissors courtesy of the Loveland Museum/Gallery.

Zweigart Hardanger, 22 count, 100% cotton fabric, 1 piece for each coaster 5¼ x 5¼ inches (13.3 x 13.3 cm), White
DMC Pearl Cotton, 100% cotton thread, size 8, 87 yards (79.5 m)/ball, and size 5, 27 yards (24.7 m)/skein,
1 ball of size 8 and 1 skein of size 5 #0001 White
John James Needles, tapestry size 24 and sharps size 10
Sewing thread, cotton, light blue and white
Embroidery scissors with fi ne point
Finished size: 4 x 4 inches (10.2 x 10.2 cm)

—Joan Leuenberger

Joan Leuenberger is a native of Decorah, Iowa, a community that maintains strong connections to its Norwegian heritage. She graduated from the College of William & Mary and is now a CPA working at Plantpeddler, a wholesale greenhouse. In her free time she enjoys needlework, reading, and taking long walks with friends.

Download a copy of the November/December 2012 issue of PieceWork to read more about Hardanger in Laurann Gilbertson’s article, “Needlework to Do When Loneliness Comes: Anna Anderson’s Hardanger Tablecloth,” and stitch Joan Leuenberger’s Hardanger coaster. Plus, learn more about embroidery stiches in our blog series “A Stitch in Time.”

Updated August 30, 2018.

Learn more about Hardanger and other types of embroidery in PieceWork!

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