Dyed and Gone to Heaven – An Online Magazine and Needlework Resource  

The CARON Collection is pleased to feature one of the outstanding shops who so ably provide stitchers with not only supplies but guidance, technical expertise, and inspiration. We hope you'll support your local shops and browse through our extensive SHOP LISTINGS to find a shop near you.

Hardanger House

Stettler, Alberta, Canada

Hardanger House in Stettler, Alberta, Canada, caters to the needs of Hardanger enthusiasts by one of their own kind - Betty Stokoe. Betty (shown on the left) is a native of Stettler and except for working in Calgary and Toronto, has lived there all her life. After a taste of the "big city" Betty never thought she'd yearn to return to her small town roots, but now she firmly asserts otherwise. Of the many amenities Stettler provides, the most prominent is its sense of intimacy and community. Shopping trips can take twice as long as in urban areas, but not because of parking hassles or waiting in lines. Social interactions with merchants and other customers, who tend to be friends, wile away the hours.

Stettler, "The Heart of Alberta" is a bustling town of 5000, halfway between Edmonton and Calgary. It boasts more merchants than one would expect to find, because there are no other major commercial centers nearby. Businesses in Stettler attract shoppers from far and wide; Lou's Fashions, the largest independently owned ladies' store in western Canada lures women by the van load and Morning Sun and Shenandoah, a major Canadian clothing company, has its main distribution center there. Another attraction also draws thousands to the area. Hungering for a taste of the past, folks come to experience a journey back-in-time on the Alberta Prairie Steam Tour Line. And for archeology buffs, south of Stettler in Drumheller is the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology and several excavation sites where dinosaur remains have been found.

Betty became familiar with Hardanger because of her Norwegian ancestry. Her grandmother, Anne, who hailed from Eidsvold near Oslo, was so adept as a seamstress that she employed neither tape measure nor patterns, relying only on her own unerring eye. Anne passed her skills on to Betty's mother, Anna, starting her on a Hardanger project when she was 11. It was a table runner 40 inches long, every bit of it stitched, which Anna did not complete it until she was well into her teens! Betty's childhood home tastefully displayed their handiwork and she recalls exquisite Hardanger embroideries adorning the furniture. Anna worked as a professional seamstress and while raising and supporting Betty and her 2 brothers did not have the time to indulge in her own projects. After her children were grown, she was again able to devote herself to embroidery work and hook Betty on it besides! (Photo on the right shows Betty with other members of the Luft Hus Society at a Scandinavian Christmas Craft sale.)

While in her 20's and saddled with an office job, Betty was motivated to find a creative outlet to counteract her workday tedium. She had always enjoyed sewing and took a course in making dress patterns. For a time knitting afghans was all the rage and Betty became immersed in it along with the other girls in the office. Then she discovered Hardanger. Her mother introduced her to the stitching basics and Betty took to it "like a duck to water." What began simply as a diversion has become her "raison d'etre."

Betty had access to only two books with Hardanger patterns. She augmented these projects by reproducing some of her mother's work. When a favorite niece got married, Betty presented her with a replica of a table linen Anna had made for her own hope chest. Soon Betty began designing her own patterns. (Shown left, a pattern copied from Betty's mom.)

In 1984 Betty launched her business. Initially, she intended to publish her own designs and, though they were favorably received, the scarcity of supplies to complete them impeded sales. Betty recognized a different business opportunity. She searched out suppliers for Hardanger fabrics and threads. Once she had her sources in place, Betty offered everything a Hardanger enthusiast could possibly want, growing her business by instinct.Though her clientele range as far afield as Germany, Belgium and Japan, most of them span Canada from Newfoundland to the east, Vancouver Island to the west and the Yukon to the north. Many think nothing of traveling long distances to obtain these goods.

Hardanger House is a home-based venture with time flexibility built right in.Telephone inquiries can be made almost anytime of day or evening - within reason. By tailoring her business to her schedule, Betty was able to care for her aging mother, when Anna was ailing and unable to care for herself and is currently able to perform this valuable service for another elderly relative. It has also enabled her to be involved in many community activities. She is currently head of the ladies' group at her church and plays the piano regularly at services. Betty is extremely fond of drama and music theater productions, attending whenever that opportunity presents itself.

Betty has dramatically expanded her inventory, but continues to specialize only in Hardanger having built a reputation for expertise in this area. The renaissance of Hardanger has expanded her customer base in recent years. These new Hardanger stitchers tend to be more adventurous and Betty marvels how many other techniques are now commonly combined with Hardanger, making it more complex and less rigid. Gone are the clearly defined rules and parameters which circumscribed this technique historically. Betty, herself, is more traditionally inclined and her biggest criteria for any completed Hardanger embroidery is that it not be framed. She insists: "There's a reason for the holes!"

Because of her specialty, Betty has developed an innovative relationship with a local needlework shop called "Stitch `n Addiction." Kathy Ray, its owner, and Betty collaborate to accommodate their clientele, regardless of the stitchers area of interest. This allows them both to offer an intensely personalized service, geared to each stitcher's particular requirements. Betty has taught classes in Hardanger at Kathy's shop and now keeps it stocked with a basic inventory of Hardanger fabrics, threads and books. This approach has been very successful and offers countless advantages for shopkeepers and customers alike.
 A piece started by Betty's mom when she was only 11 years old.

Hardanger House's in stock items cover even-weave fabrics by Zweigart and Canterbury Cross Fabrics; threads from the Caron Collection, among others and patterns by Nordic Needle, Cross "n Patch, Love `n Stitches, Burda and Hermanson Hardanger, as well as Betty's own. The business is located in a residential area, 2 blocks off the Main Street. Part of Betty's home has been converted into a 400 square foot mini-showroom where she is always eager to offer advice and render assistance. She has had several unique telephone consultations, referred to as "stitching therapy sessions!" These present Betty with a real challenge - to articulate stitch instructions without a visual reference is no easy task. (Shown left, "Floral Trellis" one of Betty's published designs.)

For a small home based business, located in a small town and catering to a niche market to be successful, a personal touch is paramount. Betty is expert at providing it. As Hardanger continues to grow in popularity, Betty is keeping apace with the enthusiasm and increased demand while maintaining the all important personal touch which is her hallmark.

For more information or to be put on Betty's mailing list, please contact her at Hardanger House, P.O. Box 1223, 4708 52nd Street, Stettler, Alberta, Canada T0C 2L0

A new brochure is currently at the press and due out this month.

phone: (403) 742- 2749

hours: Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm (closed for lunch from 12 noon to 1 pm)

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CARON email: mail@caron-net.com