Saturday, March 24, 2012

Exploring the Art of Filet Crochet

by M. J. Joachim
Updated 4/20/16

For some reason, filet crochet has always been a little intimidating to me. It’s the beautiful art of creating pictures and patterns using chain stitches and (usually) double crochet stitches. Chains form open boxes, while double crochet stitches create designs, scenes, words and whatever else the crochet artist desires. These pictures of filet crochet were found on Wiki Commons. They are available for free distribution by others, presenting a wonderful opportunity to share a few of the many types of crochet projects people make using the filet crochet technique.

Rather than give you an exact pattern in today’s post, I’d like to present an opportunity for us to explore filet crochet together. So pull out your yarn and doily thread, as well as the appropriate hook size for this exercise in filet crochet.

Example #1

Make a foundation chain. In this first example, I made my chain divisible by 4 (+3) for the first double crochet. I double crocheted in the 3rd chain from my hook (counting the first chain 3 as my first double crochet stitch. My goal was to have 4 double crochet in each block and 4 chain stitches in each open space.

After making my first block, I chained 4 and skipped 4 chains, before making my second block of 4 double crochet in the following 4 chains. I proceeded to do this all the way to the end, knowing I’d need at least 1 double crochet stitch to make the sides of my pattern. To plan for this, I worked to the end of my row, up to the last 3 chains, chained 3 and worked 1 dc in the last chain of my foundation chain.

To start a new row, I chained 3 (counts as first dc), turned and made 3 dc in the last chain 3 loop I just made. Then I worked 4 chain over the block of dc’s in the previous row, alternating chain stitches and dc’s to make a checkerboard pattern. My beginning and ending rows also needed to alternate, so when I needed 3 chains as the first double crochet in a row, I made 6 chains (3 for my first dc and 3 for my open block). In turn, when I finished the next row, I made my side dc in the 4th chain from the hook (the top of my first dc in the previous row.

Example #2

For this example, I made a foundation chain of 20 (+3, which counts as first dc). Again I made 3 dc in the 3rd, 4th and 5th chain from my hook and chained 4, skipping the next 4 chains. Then I chose to make 5 dc in the next 5 chain stitches, before chaining 4 and making my final 4 dc’s.

My second row started with 6 chains (3 for my first dc, and 3 for my open block). Then I made 4 dc in the open block in the previous row; then I (chained 2, made 1 dc in the 3rd dc, chained 2) over the block of 5 dc’s in the previous row, before making 4 dc’s in the open block and chaining 3, finishing with my final dc to make the edge of my work.

For my 3rd row, I chained 3 (counts as 1st dc) and made 3 dc in the open block. Then I chained 4 over the next block of 4 dc, made 2 dc in the chain 2 space, chained 1 over the single dc, made 2 dc in the next chain 2 space, chained 4 and finished by making 3 dc’s in the open block and 1 in the fourth chain (top of 1st dc) in the turning chain from the previous row.

Row 4 became the center row of my random, abstract pattern, before performing the mirror image for the last 3 rows of my work. Row 4 was made of closed and open filet square blocks, with a chain of 5 over the center where my design using 5 stitches was created.

Example #3

I decided to expand the boundaries of my filet crochet experiments in Example #3. My foundation chain began as a multiple of 5 (+3 which counts as the 1st dc). To change things up a bit, I made a solid foundation row of double crochet stitches. My second row was all open blocks. I started my beginning row with (chain 3 – first dc), chained 5 for an open block, made a double crochet in the 6th stitch, chained 5, made a double crochet in the 6th stitch etc. to the end of the row.

I chose to have 2 open blocks on each end, and 1 solid block in the middle of my pattern for my 3rd row; then I had one open block, 3 solid blocks and one open block for my 4th row, repeating my 3rd row pattern for my 5th row. Then I made a row of open blocks, before making a row of all double crochet stitches. I can now repeat my pattern, making it as long as I want. I can also extend the width of my pattern. I started with a foundation chain of 30 (+3), so I can make my foundation chain 60 or 90 (+3) to double or triple the width of my pattern and design.

Experimenting with the fundamentals of filet crochet is intriguing to say the least. Now it’s your turn. Make a foundation chain. Then make open and solid boxes with chain stitches and double crochets respectively. Allow your creative genius to determine what boxes need to be open and what boxes need to be solid. Make big boxes, little boxes and everything in between. It’s fun to see what you come up with and when you do, you might just realize (like I did) that you’ve known how to filet crochet all along. You just never attached a fancy French word to what you were already doing.

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