To understand filet crochet, you need to think of the basic mesh as a grid of lines. You have a tall stitch (usually a treble) to form each of the vertical lines and a string of chain stitches (usually two) to form the horizontal lines. The solid blocks are made by replacing the chain stitches that would run across the top of an open block with the same number of tall stitches, worked into the horizontal line below.
Most filet crochet patterns will start by giving you detailed instructions on how to set up your grid – the basic mesh. This will usually involve setting out the first few rows. At this point, you will know what type of tall stitch you work on and how many chain stitches there are across the top of each open block.
Making Filet Crochet
From here on, you follow a chart. Each square on the chart represents one block of the basic mesh – there will be a tall stitch at either side of the square and chain stitches at the top and bottom. Each row of squares on the chart corresponds to a row of blocks on the crochet. Along with the chart will be instructions as to how to begin and end each row, and details of what to work to form an open or solid block. Once you have this information, you simply follow the chart, working the same basic mesh throughout and placing the open and solid blocks as they are on the chart. Blank squares on the chart represent open blocks, and filled ones represent solid blocks.
Shaping in Filet Crochet
Filet crochet is generally used to form rectangular panels, but sometimes there will be shaping along the side edges. This shaping is usually done by adding or subtracting complete blocks at the beginning or ends of rows. To decrease at the beginning of a row, slip stitch across the top of the last row worked until you reach the first vertical line needed for the next row. Now start this row in the usual way – but at a new point. To decrease at the end of a row, simply omit the required number of blocks and turn the work at this endpoint.
Sometimes the shaping is not quite as simple – you will be decreasing or increasing by forming half a block, either diagonally or width-wise. Take care to follow the pattern to see exactly how this decrease, or increase, worked.
It is easiest and best to increase at the beginning of a row by making a new foundation chain for the new blocks.
Any increase at the ends of rows should be carefully explained in the pattern – the way this is worked will vary according to the type of basic mesh.
Circular Filet Crochet
It is possible to make flat circles using filet crochet. As with most circular crochet work, you will start by working into a base ring. The first few rounds worked into this ring form the basis for the basic mesh. Once the basic mesh is established, the circle is formed by working many identical sections, similar to slices of a cake. Between each ‘slice’, there will be stitches increased as the work progresses outwards.
The chart for circular pieces of filet crochet will show only one of the sections, and the pattern will usually tell you how to work the increases between the sections. This section shown on the chart must be repeated as many times as the pattern says; otherwise, your work will not lie flat.
Edgings of filet crochet are easy to make – they can be worked either lengthwise or widthwise. If worked widthwise, there will be a corner point, and the shaping worked into this corner point will be given in the pattern. Simply treat this type of filet crochet in the same way as you would any edging.
If an edging is worked lengthwise, the corners are usually mitered. To work the mitered corner, decreases of full blocks are made until you reach the outer corner point. For the second part of the corner, the row ends of the first part are used as the basis of the following rows.
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