Filet crochet is a technique with which you can create wonderful pictures, words, and intricate patterns using solid blocks of crochet in combination with open mesh. It is often achieved by reading a filet crochet chart that shows you which blocks to fill in and which blocks to leave open. Open blocks are made using chain stitches, and solid blocks are filled in with double crochet or extended double crochet stitches. Although filet crochet is relatively easy to do, I wasn’t all that enamored with it until I discovered a few tips and tricks for creating balanced designs. What a revelation! It was magical and so simple. These tricks made all the difference for me.
1 STITCH HEIGHT
You definitely want the open and solid blocks to be truly square, which means making them as tall as they are wide. This will make your work proportional both vertically and horizontally. You can achieve square proportions by manipulating the height of your stitches.
Most people tend to have rather short double crochet stitches, which produce rectangular filet crochet pieces instead of square. If you make a taller double crochet, smile, pat yourself on the back, and crochet on with your double crochets. If, however, your double crochets are on the short side, mastering the extended double crochet (edc) stitch is essential for creating square and proportional filet crochet. Making an edc is easy because it’s basically a double crochet with a chain on the bottom. It’s worked as follows:
Yarn over, insert your hook in the indicated stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop, yarn over, and draw through 1 loop on your hook (yarn over, draw through 2 loops) 2 times.
The difference between the light and dark spaces is what makes a filet design pop. To create the necessary contrast, you need to have fairly firm tension. If your tension is too tight, your meshes will become smaller and harder to see, and consequently, the design won’t stand out. If this seems to be your problem, try a larger hook. If your tension is too loose, there won’t be enough definition between your meshes and your blocks; try dropping your hook size to get tighter stitches. Whatever size hook you end up using, pay attention to your stitch height and to the squareness of your blocks.
Knowing how to properly count the stitches for your blocks and meshes is critical to making the design work correctly. Each square, whether it is a block or mesh, will consist of three parts: a block will have three stitches, and an open mesh will have a stitch and two chains. At the end of a row, you will add one more stitch, so your ending block will have four stitches and your ending mesh will have a stitch, two chains, and a stitch.
4 READING A CHART
If a chart has a symmetrical image, you can read it from right to left or left to right—it won’t make a difference. If your chart is asymmetrical, it’s imperative that you work it in a certain direction to ensure the design will face the correct way when you’re finished. If you are right-handed, you will begin on the right side of the chart for row 1 and work from left to right for row 2. All rows will be worked with the odd rows beginning on the right and the even rows beginning on the left. If you are left-handed, you would begin the same chart on the left side for row 1. All rows will be worked with the odd rows beginning on the left and the even rows beginning on the right.
5 KEEPING TRACK
Filet can be confusing if you lose track of where you are on your chart. I have a simple way of keeping track of my progress: I use a long envelope or piece of cardstock as a marker. Lay it on your chart so it is just above the row you are working on (you can use a paperweight to hold it in place), then move the marker up each time you finish a row. This allows you to focus on the row you are working and keeps you from being distracted by the next row.
6 WORKING INTO STITCHES VERSUS WORKING INTO SPACES
I am often asked which is correct: to work into the chains or to work into the chain spaces. I work into the chain spaces and into each stitch (edc or dc). Either way is correct, and the way you do it boils down to personal preference. Working into the chain spaces is faster than trying to work into the chains.
Now that you have crocheted your masterpiece, you will want to show it off in its best light. You should always block your piece when it is finished; this opens up the meshes and helps the design stand out. The method of blocking is up to you. You are now ready to go create something special using these simple stitches and chains. It is so much fun and so easy to do!
KATHRYN WHITE says that every stitch she makes brings her joy, peace, and harmony of the soul. To create something beautiful from so little is a challenge she embraces willingly. Once she takes up a hook and some thread, her spirit soars.