The Origins of Filet Crochet

As with many of the crochet techniques, filet crochet was created to mimic lace. The lacemaking art of filet (sometimes called lacis) was worked by creating a mesh of squares before filling in some of the squares with weaving to create a design or picture. With the basic crochet chain and simple double crochet, the lace pictures of filet could be crocheted more quickly and easily, making this technique much more easily accessible. Interestingly, the filet technique is now often used to mimic filet crochet.

Filet Crochet  
Doily made by Elsie Norman using a single chart for the cross-stitch and the filet crochet.  

The term "filet crochet" appeared as early as 1912, but the technique-then known as square crochet- appeared much earlier. In her PieceWork article, A History of Filet Crochet: Creating Pictorial Designs, Nancy Nehring talks about the first filet crochet patterns:

Instructions for filet crochet appeared within the first twenty years of written crochet instructions (it was then known as square crochet). Early patterns might be presented as charts, tables, or written instruction. Needlework books in the 1850s were small, usually measuring about 4 ½ by 7 inches (11 by 18 cm), and this limited patterns to small projects such as little doilies and edgings. (A History of Filet Crochet: Creating Pictorial Designs, PieceWork March/April 2013)

  Historic Filet Crochet
   Briar Rose pattern by Mary Card from the October 1933 Needlecraft Magazine.

I love the adaptability of filet crochet. With a rudimentary understanding of the technique, you can create filet crochet designs from cross-stitch, neeldepoint, or filet charts. You can even easily create your own filet crochet charts with a pencil, graph paper, and a bit of creativity.

I love filet crochet charts for several reasons. They allow you to clearly see how the final design is constructed. A filet crochet chart will generally take up less space than the full written instructions and is easier for many crocheters to read. Plus a chart eliminates the possibility of typographical or pattern errors.

Filet Crochet Pattern  
Charted pattern of birds and flowers from Priscilla Filet Crochet Book No. 1 published in 1925 and undoubtedly copied from Giovanni Ostaus's La Vera Perfezione del Disegno perPunti e Ricami (Rome 1567).  

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Best wishes,

P.S. Have you ever created your own filet crochet chart?

 

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