Unique Visitors
Total Page Views
View Teri Hjelmstad's profile on LinkedIn


Learning the Culture

Over the years I have spent a great deal of time digging into my roots in what my family referred to as the “old country”—Finland and Norway. As I researched the lives of these ancestors, I became curious about how they lived and what they did for entertainment. Maybe they engaged in artistic pursuits. My curiosity led me to learn a little about Finnish and Norwegian folk art forms.

Eventually I felt the urge to try these art forms myself. At some point I acquired a Finnish kantele, a plucked string instrument that resembles a zither. I still have not found the time to learn to play it.

I had more success when I discovered Norwegian Hardanger embroidery, a counted and drawn type of whitework worked on even weave fabric. I already had learned some basic embroidery skills from my mother, and I found it enjoyable.

As an adult, I took a class on Hardanger embroidery, and I finished my first piece. Then I did another one, and yet another until I found myself stitching an entire window valance. It took me two years to complete, and it hangs in my office today.

When my husband/tech advisor and I joined our local Sons of Norway lodge ( earlier this year, we learned that they place a great emphasis on learning Norwegian cultural skills. One is genealogy and another is Hardanger embroidery. Right up my alley!

A new friend of mine in the Lodge has created many beautiful Hardanger pieces. She wins first or second place every time she enters her stitchery in a Sons of Norway ( competition. I am thrilled she has offered to coach me in earning my Hardanger profiency pins from the organization. As I work through the skills hierarchy, perhaps I too can create something good enough to enter in competition.

I hope I am continuing a family tradition. My Norwegian great-grandmother Sofie Bentsen purportedly was adept at Hardanger. Although I never met her, I can picture her now as she stitched away in a little fishing village on a Norwegian fjord. I hope she is proud that I am trying to preserve this beautiful art form.

Leave a Reply