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What is the Hardanger Club?

PRINCETON — Next year will be a big one for the ladies of the Hardanger Club.

Still carrying on the tradition after so many years, the Hardanger Club was formed locally in 1912 and has a long and interesting history. This group of ladies meets once a month from September to May of each year, each taking a turn as hostess. This is a regular club with bylaws and annual dues. Inductees have to be invited first as a guest and then voted upon by the entire group before gaining membership.

This club originally started to gather together to work on embroidery projects, but it has evolved into so much more. These days, members are more involved in philanthropic pursuits. Each year, the club sponsors four teens — two boys and two girls for their prom expenses. They also have a Christmas program in which they sponsor two local children from needy families, in addition to the many other pursuits these ladies lend a hand at, including the Princeton Food Pantry.

From where does the word Hardanger come?

Between 1650 and 1850, Hardangersom, a Norwegian form of embroidery, which means “to work from Hardanger area,” flourished in Norway. It was here that flax was grown, carded, spun and woven into white fabric and thread. This form of embroidery is traditionally worked on white even-weave cloth using counted thread and drawn thread work techniques.

The exact origins of Hardanger embroidery are not known, but it is thought to have its beginnings in ancient Persia and Asia. Some motifs of Hardanger show an Assyrian and Egyptian influence, which can be traced back to the Vikings many sea forays far into the Mediterranean Sea.

The eight-pointed star of Hardanger embroidery is also found in the embroidery of India and is a universal symbol. During the Renaissance, this early form of embroidery spread to Italy and evolved into Venetian lacework. By 1700, variations of this type of embroidery had spread to northern Europe where it developed further. The immigration of the Scandinavian people from 1840-1920 saw the introduction of the embroidery to America at that time.

At the last meeting of this year, which was held May 10, President Anita Obenhaus announced next year would be the 100th anniversary of the Hardanger Club. This local club, began by Scandinavian immigrants at the start of their adventure in America, has lasted throughout the years, carrying with it a deep seated sense of not only passing down the ancient craft, but the togetherness and unity of the group as a whole. Marguerite Klett, the longest running member of the club, has been involved with the group for the last 40 years.

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