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.
|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)
|| 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.
|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).
Subscribe to PieceWork
today to discover more about the history of crochet, needlepoint, knitting, and
more historical handwork.
P.S. Have you ever created your own filet crochet chart?