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