Fabric Manipulation or Hallandssöm Is Not A Place In Sweden

This week I encountered Hallandssöm embroidery. At first I thought Hallandssöm was a quaint village somewhere in Sweden, birthplace of this interesting technique, but google maps didn’t  back me up. So I’m not sure from where it derives its name.

Embroidery manipulates a fabric’s surface. What I did here, using this process, is not true fabric manipulation, which includes twisting, knotting and/or folding, transforming a piece of fabric dramatically.

But when I found this image through pinterest, I wanted to give Hallandssöm a try. Here is my very first attempt which looks wonky and nothing compared to the neat example in the blog:

I usually don’t venture into precise “counting-stitches-territory”, but the possibility of making a complex looking surface with two very simple stitches was tempting:

The procedure is simple. Draw a circle (or square) and make a grid. The above sample uses wool. As there were no instructions available, I simply stitched a star on the alternating squares in diagonal rows. That’s probably not the proper way, but it’s easy enough to do while watching a movie or following a radio show.  Once the sample above was finished it became clear that matching thread colors look far better than contrasting ones.

My favorite experiment is the one below using just one kind of thread.

The grid was made with a double strand of pale green thread, and as for the stars just a single strand of the same color and thickness was used.

It looks a bit like chair caning, which is what I was after.

Of course I didn’t get as far as intended which was covering a whole piece of fabric with this stitch, but the image above shows its potential.

There is not much information on the web regarding Hallandssöm embroidery. Here are a few examples of the classical look with instructions, and here are some more…both are Swedish blogs. If you happen to know any more about the topic, would you please let me know? I’m interested in how this technique has been applied in a more modern setting.

For more fabric manipulations, go visit Lucy, who is collecting this month’s manipulations.

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31 Responses to “Fabric Manipulation or Hallandssöm Is Not A Place In Sweden”

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  1. Sarah says:

    Hallandssöm isn’t a place, but Halland is–a province in western Sweden. Söm means “seam”. I love the idea of making fabric look like chair caning!

  2. frifris says:

    Oooh, this is so beautiful! I’ve never, ever heard of this type of embroidery before. I’ll be sure to let you know if I ever run into this.

    I really like the monochromatic/single thread color look the best. Very nice!

  3. I’ve never heard of this either (altho I did a little “chicken scratch” and “swedish weaving” as a teenager). This would make a really neat pillow design and I just may have to try my hand at making a Christmas pillow doing this. I really like the round design you showed first. I wonder if I can find a thinner wool yarn?

  4. BTW – I love your blog. I used to do a lot of sewing & embroidery and as I’ve gotten older gotten away from it. I have a 7 year old that is dying to learn to sew (she wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up) but my sewing machine isn’t up to a 7 year old learning to sew. So, I started her on plastic canvas instead so she can learn some embroidery techniques.

    I was looking around at the websites you listed and as I’m looking at this one: http://www.365slojd.se/?tag=hallandssom It reminds me more and more of the craft called “chicken scratch” here in the states. It was popular in the 80’s. It was sewn on gingham though which I never liked. I like the “cleanness” of the Hallandssöm technique much more and I love the feel of linen. A great combination!

  5. griselda says:

    Wie unterschiedlich die Materialien bei einem Stickmuster herauskommen.
    Wenn ich dann auch noch das rot-blaue Teil in dem schwedischen Blog (der überhaupt eine echte Entdeckung ist!) anschaue und dann deine Arbeit dazu- verblüffend. Schon leichte Unterschiede bei der Textur des Garnes sind gravierend.
    Du hast recht- das Muster ist grafisch und geht am besten mit glattem oder hochgedrehtem Garn.
    Und man muss sehr genau arbeiten, damit das wirkt.

    Danke für´s Zeigen und die tollen schwedischen Links!

  6. Jo says:

    These are beautiful! I look forward to trying it out!

  7. Lucy says:

    Von dieser Stickerei hatte ich auch noch nie gehört! Es gibt eine kleine Ähnlichkeit zu Stickereien auf Karostoff, die hier in den 50er jahren wohl ganz populär waren – das muss ich nochmal recherchieren.
    Ton-in-Ton gefällt mir die Stickerei auch am besten – es sieht aus wie ein unglaublich raffiniertes eingewebtes Muster, also man erkennt gar nicht, dass das nachträglich aufgestickt wurde, wenn man es nicht weiß. Damit müsste man ein ganzes Kissen machen und es dann auf einen Stuhl mit geflochtener Sitzfläche legen.

    viele Grüße!

  8. OOh! Da finde ich einen Entwurf schöner als den Anderen und ich könnte mich gar nicht für eine Technik/Farbzusammenstellung entscheiden. Mich erinnert es ein bisschen an die Schwarz-weiß-Fotos aus dem großen Handarbeitsbuch (früher Beyer Handarbeitsbuch) aus dem Jahr 1966. Auf jeden Fall eine interessante Technik, bei der sich das weitermachen lohnt.
    Viele Grüße,

  9. frifris says:

    Ich hab jetzt mal unter chicken scratch nachgeguckt, weil ich das nicht kannte. Wenn man die Karos selbst stickt… eröffnen sich damit ja ganz neue Optionen.

    Ein link:
    Dieses Spinnenmuster in der Schürze, fantastisch.

    Wenn man die schwedische Vorlage vergrößert und für ein Kissen…ach.
    Danke für die Inspiration.

  10. kathrin says:

    Chicken scratch kannte ich auch noch nicht, und habe sofort mal deinen link angeklickt. Die schwarz weisse Schuerze, ach wie schoen. Die sind allesamt inspirierend. Vielen vielen Dank fuer den tollen Link.

  11. kathrin says:

    Thanks so much Sarah. I would have never known.

  12. kathrin says:

    The yarn really changes the look dramatically. Trying it out with some scraps was really helpful, just like making a swatch before starting a bigger knitting or crochet project can save a lot of time.

  13. suschna says:

    Toll, das erste sieht aus wie Rattan-Geflecht oder ein Keks, das zweite wie ein Kirchenfenster und beim dritten denke ich an geknüpfte Fischernetzte oder Taugeflecht. Das könnte man doch auch toll auf diese schwarzen Ketten-Medaillons sticken, die ich so gern trage.
    Wie schön, dass du inspiriert warst und gleich mehrere Varianten probiert hast. Danke!

  14. Kathrin says:

    Dankeschoen suschna, ich dachte auch an Kettenmedaillons….bestickt mit feinem Seidenfaedchen…

  15. Mirjam says:

    Almost every province in Sweden has its own style of embroidery. Karin Holmberg wrote two books about traditonal embroidery with a modern twist.

    A little tip: when making the grid, be sure to weave the horizontal and the vertical bars, one up/one down. It makes it slighty more sturdy and easier to embroider the crosses afterwards.
    Have fun experimenting!

  16. kathrin says:

    Thanks so much Mirjam, I will check out the books by Karin Holmberg. Thanks also for the tip to weave the cross bars, that was one of the issues, that made me go for only small surfaces.

  17. Mirjam says:

    Hier kannst du Karin’s erster Buch probelesen:
    Das zweite ist nagelneu, habe ich noch nicht gesehen.

  18. Debbie says:

    Here are some links from another blog I read. If you already have these links, I think you will like the blog anyway. I don’t embroider yet, but I admire it and will start soon. http://www.needlenthread.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=421

  19. kathrin says:

    Vielen, vielen Dank! Habe heute morgen schon Karin’s Blog besucht. Das Buch sieht auch sehr vielversprechend aus. Ach, ich wuenschte, ich koennte Schwedisch.

  20. Mirjam says:

    Me again… if you want I could send you some pictures of some modern swedish embroidery you might like. Just send me your e-mail adress.

  21. Jessica says:

    I love this! I’m working on a piece of embroidery at the moment that incorporates a section of lattice, so I might try to adapt this to use there – I think it would look fabulous.

  22. kathrin says:

    Oh, how nice of you! Here’s my email address: kathrin@annekata.com. Thanks so much!

  23. Bibi says:

    waouh it’s very formidable!merci pour le partage!!!

  24. Hi!
    I like your stitching, find your first on pinterest, after that flickr and now your blog. I am from Sweden, and my summerhouse is in Halland, where the halllandssöm begin :-))


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