I purchased a book on filet crochet recently (Stitch Collection Filet Crochet, More than 70 designs with easy-to-follow charts by Betty Barnden) and invite everyone to get creative using filet crochet. I love the concept, because filet crochet allows you to make a graph of any image or repeated images in a grid pattern. Think in terms of a blown up black and white photograph, enlarged enough to see the individual pixels that make up the photo. You can take a photo of any object, reduce it to a 2-dimensional black and white image and get an outline that can then be “filled” with double crochet squares. Open and filled squares form the object you are trying to create. Repeating a pattern can also help you create some unique clothes.
I wanted to dress up a casual black, long-sleeved T-shirt by crocheting a sweater-like front panel on it. I’m glad I spent some time mulling it over, because I saw the concept in several department store blouses recently. They were simple, short-sleeved polyester pullovers with a lacy front covering that looked more hand-made. Wandering around in stores is a great way to help you get creative using filet crochet or any other crochet. The panel is a rectangle with a few increases and decreases to shape the neck. The combination of the open and closed boxes of filet crochet, Barnden’s book with designs I’ve been wanting to try and seeing my idea represented at the stores were just what I needed to get inspired and I am very pleased with the outcome.
What is filet crochet? If you can count, do a chain stitch and a double crochet stitch, you can do filet crochet. Start with some graph paper and mark off 4 inches by 4 inches. Do a simple block letter (your initial) to make a coaster. Fill in the squares on the graph paper with a pencil to make your initial, leaving at least one open square on all sides of the letter for an open border. Size will depend upon the yarn that you are using and the size of your crochet hook.
Count how many squares from left to right that you filled in on your graph paper to make the letter. Add the number of open spaces on either side of the letter. For example, the letter L takes about 4 squares for the base of the letter on your graph. Your total number of filled squares is 4. With one open or empty square on either side of the L that gives you 6 total squares. You will need 3 foundation chains for every square that you make, thus 6 x 3 = 18 chains. Add 5 more chains to create the first open square in the corner of your coaster. That means you will add 5 to 18 for a total of 23 chains to begin your coaster. Your first double crochet will go in the 8th chain from the hook. Those 8 chains form three sides of your first open square, which is why you need to go to the 8th chain from the hook. The first double crochet makes the fourth side of the open square.
Now chain 2 and skip 2 chains on your original chain of 23. In the 3rd chain from your 1st double crochet you will do another double crochet. See how you have formed another box with 2 chains below and 2 chains above? Do that all the way to the end. Chain 5 at the very end to turn and do a double crochet in the double crochet of the previous row. (If the first box in the 2nd row of a pattern is a filled square, chain 2 instead of 5 to turn.)
When you do a filled in box as you follow your graph, do 2 double crochets in the open space created by your chain-2 stitches from the previous row. Now do a double crochet in the double crochet. You have just created a filled box. Do 2 more double crochets in the next open space and a double crochet for the next filled box of the L example. There are little tricks to master, but you have enough knowledge to complete a little coaster with your initial on it. Follow your graph and either fill in or leave open each box. You’re ready to get creative using filet crochet.
I made several “surname” table runners for friends and family several years ago. (See About: Crafted Gifts on the blog menu for a sample of my PEACE runner.) I graphed it all out first. You can see that you can do various letter “fonts” or simple block letters depending on your preference. Now you know why I had to have the Barnden book. It takes a long time to graph the patterns. I appreciated immediately the time saving that I saw in the book’s illustrated designs. My favorite section is the Allover Patterns, which includes zigzags and geometrical elements that I find appealing. I finally chose the Trellis pattern for my sweater panel project and couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.