Top Tips for Filet Crochet

With the Filet Fantastic Crochet Along starting next week (yippee!) I thought I’d just take a moment to talk a little bit about ‘filet crochet’ for anyone that might not be so familiar with the technique.

So what is Filet Crochet?

Filet crochet is a technique with which you can create wonderful pictures, words, and intricate patterns using solid blocks of stitches combined with open mesh.

‘Filet’ derives from the word ‘net’ in French, as it’s thought to have its roots in how fishermen mended their nets. Its also one of the oldest and simplest forms of crochet. Commonly filet will call for UK treble crochet (tr) / US double crochet (dc), to create blocks, and a chain stitch, to create the open mesh, but other stitches can be used. You can produce a simple all-over net type fabric or work from a chart to produce a patterned motif.

I do love filet crochet, in fact the first thing I ever purposefully made and that started my whole crochet journey, to what it is now, was this Filet Crochet Bunny Blanket by Red Heart Yarns. I chose this pattern as I was just drawn to how you could use simple stitches to create an image and I loved the results.

© Red Heart Filet Crochet Bunny Blanket

For whatever reason I think filet seems to be a technique that people perhaps consider as a little old fashioned, or something that people are a little scared of to try, or think of it specifically made with teeny tiny hooks (eek!) and proper crochet thread (yikes!).

I think it’s a technique that’s ultimately so satisfying when you’ve finished as it’s so effective to look at – I’m hoping that the Filet Fantastic Crochet Along will help others to love filet crochet too!

Understanding a filet crochet pattern:

Part of the difference about filet crochet is understanding how the instructions are usually laid out. Filet pattern instructions can be written, but they very often just come in the form as a chart. On most filet charts ‘spaces’ are represented by the blank squares and the ‘blocks’ by the filled in squares. Have a look at the filet chart I have created below:

The squares and the blank squares represent stitches, which if written in symbol form would look like this:

The vertical stitches are usually UK treble (tr) / US double crochet (dc) and the horizontal bars a chain space. So each filled block would be 3tr (3dc) and each blank block would be 1tr, ch1,1tr (1dc, ch1, 1dc).

Some patterns use 4 tr/dc to form a block, while other patterns might use a 2ch for a blank block, it’s important to check the pattern instructions to make sure you know what stitches you need to work.  

You’ll usually begin the project with a starting chain (in the instance of the chart above it’s a ch29). In the chart below I’ve added the stitch symbols and the chart together so you can see how they correspond.

Tips to reading a filet crochet pattern chart:

  1. Unless otherwise stated you read odd rows of a chart from right to left, even rows from left to right; though if your pattern is symmetrical it doesn’t make that much difference. So right-handed crocheters should begin on the right side of the chart for row 1 and work from left to right for row 2. If you are left-handed, you would begin the same chart on the left side for row 1.
  2. In an asymmetrical pattern you really need to pay attention to which direction you’re going or wonky images will occur!
  3. You usually read (start) the chart from the bottom, and complete the rows upward.
  4. On rows where you have to work a tr/dc either into the chain space (ch-sp), you can chose to work it either into the ch1 of the ch-sp or into the ch-sp itself – it’s all personal preference. I work mine into the ch-sp as it’s faster!
  5. Keep track of your progress by ticking off the row you’ve just completed, or use a sheet of paper and lay it over your chart and move it up each time you finish a row – there’s nothing worse that realising you’ve just worked the same row twice!
  6. Check your work after you complete a row, (even when you are more familiar with filet crochet patterns) it’s easy to miss a stitch or misalign a block that can throw the end design off – and there’s nothing worse than frogging five rows back or more!

Why not have a go at creating a test swatch from the chart above, it’s a nice symmetrical pattern to start with so it won’t matter which way you read the chart.

In the Filet Fantastic pattern there are both symmetrical and asymmetrical designs that we will create. As well as a helpful chart I have included the written instructions. But learning how to read a filet crochet chart is a useful skill to tuck under your belt!

For those that might prefer the written instructions to the filet chart above I’ll add the text version / pattern on a future post. But a 3mm hook (US size C/2) hook and about 10g / 26m of yarn (I used Scheepjes Riverwashed and Scheepjes Stonewashed for my swatches) you can create a square roughly 13.5cm x 13.5cm.

Tip: If you find that your tr / dc’s are on the short side and you create a rectangle instead of a square you might try replacing your tr/dc’s with an extended treble / double crochet (etr / edc) 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) twice.

My free mini filet afghan square (link to Ravelry) is a good first foray into filet if you are looking to give the technique another try, this time working in the round, or I also have some other designs (links below for different pattern platforms) where I have also incorporated my love of filet into a design:

Flourite Filet CowlFlourite Filet CowlFlourite Filet Cowl
Bordered Heart Filet BlanketBordered Heart Filet Blanket

But there really isn’t long to wait now before we begin our Filet Fantastic CAL journey where you will get plenty of opportunity to hone your new filet skills! I for one can’t wait to see your results.

Until next time; keep calm and crochet on my friends xx


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15 thoughts on “Top Tips for Filet Crochet

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  5. I would like to do a peacock in filet to frame. I have a chart only. What size cotton yarn would be best??
    . In south africa we have 30,20,10,8 and 5. 5 being the thickest. My beginner books seem to think size 20. Thats either DMC or Coates
    Thanks , Pam Clarke

    • Hi Pam, if you want to frame it it would depend on what size the peacock filet chart was and the frame you want it to fit in, but generally the smaller the yarn and hook you use the smaller the final picture will be to fit in frame. I would perhaps look at 3ply or smaller, so that’s something like a DMC Petra 5 which is 3ply or maybe something like Coates Fine Crochet Thread 20 which is for delicate crochet work such as doilies and table runners. Hope that helps.

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