H, Hardanger

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating Hardanger and motifs starting with the letter 'H'. Part of a 34-part embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007.

Content description

This is a four-sided book worked mostly in Hardanger embroidery, which originated in Norway, and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'H'. The majority of this booklet centres on satin stitched blocks, called Kloster blocks. The first page, on the left, is backed in turquoise silk and has on it four motifs. The motif in the top left corner is a hare's head, worked on an unbleached linen ground in brown and white cotton threads. The hare's head is made out of satin stitches and woven bars. The rabbit's right ear and the area near its eye maintains its complete linen. Below it is another linen rectangle. This panel has a square-centric design that resembles a butterfly, worked in white cotton stitches in four-sided stitch, square eyelets, satin stitch, woven bars, and buttonhole corners. It has two borders of satin stitches on all sides. Next to the hare is a heart made out of square eyelets, woven bars, and buttonhole edging. Taking up the majority of this page is a large horse chestnut motif, worked in cotton threads on a linen ground. The background is made of woven bars in a grid, with an area of buttonhole corners. The leaves of the horse chestnut have an unbleached linen ground upon which is worked a border of green satin stitches and veins of light green satin stitches that make a series of squares. The flowers are worked in satin stitches and square eyelets in white cotton thread.

The second page features at its centre a large 'H' worked in buttonhole corners and satin stitches in white cotton threads. The ground is a white linen on top of a light peach coloured linen. The 'H' is bordered by a grid of wrapped bars, satin stitches, woven bars, and buttonhole corners. Flanking the letter are eight-pointed star designs and diamonds in counted satin stitch. Some of the motifs have at their centres designs made from woven bars.

The back two pages are made of a single piece of grey-green wool. The third page has cutwork and counted satin stitch geometric designs worked in grey cotton threads, with a central almost X shape in the centre of the panel. The final page has an appliquéd panel of bleached linen with a border of zigzagging squares made of square eyelets, satin stitches, counted satin stitches, woven bars, buttonhole edging, and buttonhole corners. Inside the panel are six cutwork designs and many more whitework ones, all worked in white cotton thread. The same stitches are used, as well as wrapped bars, four-sided stitches, Hungarian stitches, and woven wheels.

This booklet is one of 34 parts of an embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007. Elliott embroidered a large box which houses 32 four-sided booklets. Each booklet focuses one on letter of the alphabet and embroidery technique whose first letter matches that letter of the alphabet (A for appliqué, B for blackwork, etc.). Some letters have multiple booklets due to having multiple techniques. This large and impressive group of objects was made by Dr Isabel Margaret Elliott (1931-2016). She received her PhD from Cambridge in 1958 and became a paleobotanist at the Natural History Museum in London. It is clear that her love of science and the natural world influenced her embroidery. When she married her husband, Isabel was made to leave her job (as the Natural History Museum was then part of the civil service and married women were not allowed to be part of the civil service). She began to attend classes at the RSN after meeting a woman embroidering for a class run by that organisation. After the RSN she joined the Embroiderers' Guild. She became a Life Member of the Guild and gained her City & Guilds, which enabled her to teach. She was Mistress of Embroidery at Gloucester Cathedral and was a travelling tutor throughout the UK. Elliott produced an immense amount of embroidery, much of which is available to view at


width: 62cm
height: 23cm





Credit line

Gift of Susan Perkes, 2019.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 2296

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework