Filet Crochet Considerations: Yarn Weight, Hook Size and Stitch Size

(Even if you’re not interested in filet crochet per se, you might find this interesting.)

For the beginning crocheters/knitters out there, I’m sure you’ve noticed (or hope you have) the information that comes on the skein of yarn. For instance, in the photo below you have a lot of information packed into a tiny space. On the left you see “Light” and “3”. This is referring to the yarn weight. Yarn comes in different thicknesses and they’re standardized so you know what you’re getting. This Guide to Yarn Weights is very helpful. “Light” means “light worsted”, a little thinner than “worsted” yarn. This is halfway between regular afghan yarn and baby yarn. The next box is the knitting guide. It suggests using size 6 needles (4mm) and suggests that a typical 4×4 inch square would contain 22 stitches and 30 rows. [You should always test this to be sure as everyone knits a little differently. You might knit more tightly and it would take 25 stitches and 31 rows to make a 4×4 square. For something sized like clothing this makes a big difference over the entire garment.] The third box is the crocheting guide. It simply suggests that you use a size G/6 (4mm) crocheting hook. I’m only going to be discussing crochet in this post.

This yarn is labeled “medium” or “4” and is worsted weight. The higher the number, the thicker the yarn.

It suggests using a size J hook for crocheting and actually gives the approximate number of stitches and rows to make a 4×4 swatch.

From left to right: J, G, E. As the letters go up the hook size goes up.

Filet crochet is simply a pattern of open and filled-in squares. I tested two things for this post: hook size to yarn, and double crochet vs. triple crochet. I crocheted the exact same pattern using the exact same number of stitches for each of the following swatches.

Hook Size to Yarn Weight
The first thing I tested was the light worsted yarn (3). It suggests using a size G hook. I found this to result in a rather floppy square. This might be exactly what you want for some things but it is nicer to have a more tightly made item when using filet.

This is the exact same yarn but I used two hook sizes smaller, an E. Notice that it is smaller (4 3/4 inches vs. 5 1/4 inches) and less “holey”. It is holding the shape better.

I repeated the experiment using the worsted yarn (4). They suggest using a Size J hook. This actually looks floppier than the first swatch.

Same yarn, but using a hook 2 sizes smaller: G. The size has decreased, just like the first two compared, and it is, again, more tightly made.

Here is a comparison of the above four swatches. It’s startling to see that much difference.

Stitch Size
Now, I also tried something else. All of my instructions for filet crochet have said to use double crochet. I have been perpetually annoyed by the “squashed” nature of this stitch. The squares are more rectangular so if you’re trying to produce something symmetrical you have to account for the distortion by altering the pattern. This is very time-consuming and requires multiple tries to get something right.

Here is the exact same pattern as the squares above, but done in double crochet:

Yes, it’s 5 inches wide, but obviously much less than that tall. Compare this with the same square made with the same yarn using the same hook size:

Amazing. You can see that the one on the right, the triple crochet, is much more “square” than the double crocheted square.

All of this came about simply because I was trying to figure out how to make a more square filet. I’m designing another cross blanket and it really, really needs to be symmetrical four ways. I want the pattern to be clear and I don’t want it to be too loose and floppy. In the end, I’ve decided to use the combination on the right of the photo below.

4 thoughts on “Filet Crochet Considerations: Yarn Weight, Hook Size and Stitch Size

  1. Very interesting! I'm an experienced crocheter, but have only very limited experience with filet crochet in particular. I would not have known about the distortion caused by too-short stitches and will file away the triple crochet trick for sure.

    One think I've noticed is that different people have very different stitch tension as well, making it yet another factor to consider. For instance, I get 4st per inch (length only, not height) with a 5.0mm hook and my most-used brand of worsted weight yarn, so when I make an item I always take that into account.

    Like

  2. Crochet filet stitch is a fun way to personalize a crochet piece. I taught myself to crochet 45 years ago and I used the filet stitch on a large number of pieces. If you like to draw you can take graph paper and draw a design and count five stitches per square. I like using double crochet stitch with the filet stitch. As for the square i never had a problem. The tension and the design is where I decide to use the double crochet or a triple crochet stitch. I usually use the double stitch

    Like

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