Category Archives: Filet Knitting


The long flight overseas was not wasted.  I managed to knit a hat during the trip.  This is Le Bulot (The Whelk) by Kokolat de la Kokolatiere.  I worked it up with some remnants, roughly less than half a skein each of charcoal color Regia Extra Twist Merino, and On-Line Supersocke 100 Harlekin Color for the multi.

Whelk Hat

I’m pleased with the result, but I can say that the pattern isn’t entirely straightforward.  It took some deciphering, plus referring back and forth between the French original, the English translation, and the very informative pix of the finished item, but I got it all together in the end. 

One thing that sped up production and minimized the number of things that could go sliding underneath my airplane seat – instead of using the slip one stitch to a cable needle and knit in front, I used a left twist stitch.   When I got up to the part of the pattern that included decreases made at selected twists, I worked them by inserting the tip of my right hand needle into the backs of the second and third stitch from the end, knitting them together but leaving them on the right hand needle, then shimmying the right hand needle into position to knit the twisted stitch, and finally slipping the entire unit off the left hand needle.  Oh, and while doing that I kept track of which color would follow in the logic of the row, and made sure that the decrease was worked with that one.  Not particularly difficult, but not exactly mindless, either.

On the yarns, I’ve used the Supersocke many times before.  It’s a standard issue self striping sock yarn, with an interesting mix of bright colors in a rather conservative small repeat.  On socks, about four full repeats of the entire color sequence will occur in the foot part.  I was less pleased with the Regia Extra Twist Merino.  It’s nice and soft, and looks good when knit up, but for a sock weight yarn it splits like crazy.  No word yet on durability, but I’ve knit a hat, admittedly not the most torturous use for the stuff.

I’ve finally unpacked my knitting and stitching stash.  Working on my big green sampler right now will be problematic, though.  I don’t have a good light for evening stitching, although I can haul a kitchen chair to the big windows and work on it during the day.  I may ease my stitching withdrawal symptoms by working on a smaller in-hoop project.  I brought some supplies and a kit with me, so I’m armed. 

In the mean time, I’ve embarked on the MMario Knits Dragon Stole, an extended exercise in filet knitting.


I’d played with filet knitting before, but was not satisfied with the methods I had tried.  MMario uses three worked rows per graphed chart line, and while not as teeny, nor as precisely geometric as filet crochet, works quite nicely. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to apply his method to my huge warehouse of Italian Renaissance graphed patterns and have some cross-pollination fun.


Done with the reposts! I hope. Here’s something from String, first appearing on 27 June 2004.


More investigations on filet knitting and filet crochet have convinced me that while filet knitting will be worth doing, provided I use very fine threads and 4/0 (1.25mm) needles or smaller, it’s not going to work out for my dragon panel.

I’m having gauge problems working my design into the desired dimensions, even if I eke out the too-narrow dragon motif band with additional borders top and bottom. For the record, my design is something like 43 units tall by 135 units wide. I’ve got a space to fill that’s 19 inches tall by 30 inches wide (although I can go over a bit on this). That means for the width, I’ve got to hit something like 4.5 rows per inch. Now in filet crochet, looking at a series of filet patterns with gauges found at the Stargazer site, I’m seeing gauges the smallest gauge I see (size 30 crochet cotton) is something like 10 rows = 2.3 inches. That’s about 5 rows = 1.15 inches. My 135 rows at this smallest gauge would be something like 31 inches wide. By contrast, the smallest I’ve been able to do so far in knitting is 3 squares = 1 inch (that’s about 14 or so knitting stitches per inch). At 3 squares per inch, my 135 units turns out to be 45 inches wide. I suppose I could hunt down longer size 5/0 or 6/0 needles (or make them) and finer threads, but I’m not inclined to do that right now. Interim verdict: Filet knitting is certainly worth further experimentation, but it’s not suitable for this project.

I think I’ll have to fall back on filet crochet to do my door curtain. I think I’ll take it and my Crazy Raglan with me as my official vacation projects.

Crochet Dragon Panel Pre-Project Calculations

Using these theoretical base calculation points for two thread sizes, I posit these rough dimensions and yarn consumption factors:

  • Base for Size 20 cotton – 10 squares x 10 rows = 2.2″ x 2.4″; a piece that’s 100×50 squares or 21.3 inches x 12 inches will take 519 yards, using old US size 9 steel crochet hook.
  • Base for Size 30 cotton – 10 squares x 10 rows = 2.1″ x 2.3″; a piece that’s 100×50 squares or 20.4 inches x 11.5 inches will take 485 yards using old US size 11 steel crochet hook.

Doing the math for Size 20 cotton (and working across the height instead of across the width to preserve sanity), that means my piece of 43 x 138 squares would be 9.16 inches x 33.12. Since my piece is 5934 squares total (138*43), and the original was 5000 squares, mine is roughly 19% bigger. I’ll round up to 20%, and I come up with a new yardage consumption estimate of 519 *1.2 or roughly 623 yards. I’ll add 10% to that for a fudge factor and round up – 686 yards. Repeating the operation for Size 30 cotton, I get an estimated finished dimension of 8.8 inches x 31.74 inches, and an estimated yarn consumption forecast of 641 yards. Remember that these yardage estimates are for the base dragon strip alone. I need to make it taller because the window space I need to cover is taller. With height estimates of 9.16 and 8.8 inches respectively I’ll need to either find or design complementing border strips that roughly double the project’s height. That means I need to double my yardage estimates – 1372 yards or 1282 yards for size 20 and 30 cotton, respectively. These estimates are VERY rough at best, but with luck should be good enough to get me started.

Now on to crochet hook sizes. The circa 1919 instructions on which I’ve based these calculations specify size 9 and 11 steel crochet hooks for sizes 20 and 30 cotton. According to various authorities (very few of whom agree), an 11 can be as large as 1.1mm, and as small as .75mm; a 9 can be as large as 1.4mm or as small as 1.25mm. My modern Susan Bates set goes from 0 to 10 (2.55 to 1.15mm). I’ll have to play and see what I can achieve using those sizes.

I haven’t decided which size thread or hook to use yet. Much will depend on what I can find locally, and on what size hook I can dig up without staging a raid on the storage cubby where all my tools and goodies are stashed.

So apologies. This knitting blog is going to take a side trip into crochet. But since I’ll be doing it during a forced blogging hiatus, I’ll only bore you with a couple large gobs of progress rather than by reporting in inch by inch.


More reposts. Material originally appearing on 17 June 2004.


More reports on the great filet experiment.

First, thank you to Gayle Roehm, Judy Gibson and BJ Knitslikecrazy. Gail and Judy sent me info on a method shown in a Burda Magazine. Burda’s instructions were for a set of curtains in a cyclamen pattern. They offered up the pattern graphed like any standard filet crochet or darned net design, and in prose gave directions on forming both filled and open squares. Gayle sent a photo of her project knit from those directions:


Burda’s method takes four rows to complete a tier from the graphed chart. On the first row, spaces are formed by a YO, K2tog unit. On the second row (the purl side) the K2tog is purled, YO is slipped, and another YO is made. On the third row (knit side again), both YOs are slipped and another is made then the purl is knit. On the fourth row each space starts with a P1, and then the three YOs are purled together. That makes a mesh with heavier verticals than horizontals, but the mesh is more or less square. Not as delicate as filet crochet (which in turn is not as delicate as the darned net or withdrawn thread family of embroidery techniques). Here is Gayle’s note – reprinted with her permission:

A couple of years, I too had a bee in my bonnet about knitting that
looks like filet crochet, and I tried three methods:

a) Burda method. I actually knit the cyclamen panel — a partial scan is
attached. Comments follow.
b) Mary Thomas method.
c) Sandy Terp method.

None were quite satisfactory, though all work but only sort-of. The
problem is that you don’t get the nice squares and open holes that you
get with 3 dc, 3 chain. The solids are okay, but the holes and bars are

The Burda method is stockinette-based. From the scan, you see right away
that (a) the holes are still round, and smaller than the closed squares;
and (b) the vertical “lines” are thicker than the horizontal “lines,”
making the squares even harder to see. I think each square of the chart
accounted for two rows.

The Terp method, which is garter-based, was only a little better. The
holes were marginally squarer, but the vertical lines are still thicker
— perhaps inevitable because you have to do a k2tog or k3tog. And one
square was (as best I recall, but I’m probably wrong) three or four rows
— slow. If you don’t have Sandy Terp’s method at hand, I think she has
it on her website somewhere, or written up in a leaflet. <snip>
The Mary Thomas method was also unsatisfactory for reasons similar to
Terp — the details escape me.

BJ Knitslikecrazy sent in mention of a style of filet knitting in a needlework technique omnibus called Stitch Wise. The description she sent sounds a lot like the Thomas method – with 3 stitch by 4 row units, with two half-height open spaces stacked to balance the solid knitted squares.

Here’s my swatch. The bottom several rows of garter stitch and bars is the Thomas method. The top checkerboard is my method:

As you can see, the Thomas method first few rows is interesting, and can be done following a graphed chart, but it just doesn’t have the filet look.


The upper part is my stab at doing it differently. Some of the vertical bars in the lower part are sloppy because I was experimenting with several methods of making them. I’m not entirely pleased with the later methods, but progress is being made. In the Kim-method, two rows make one tier of the graph.

Solid squares are formed this way on the first pass (knit side):

K3, turn
P3, turn

On the returning purl row, all of these stitches are purled.

Note that groups of solid blocks can be ganged together. If for example, if the chart shows three solid squares in a row, the knitter would do this: K9, turn; p9, turn; K9.

Spaces are formed this way on the knit side pass:

(YO)3x. Retain 3 loops on needle.
Slip one stitch as if to knit. Slip the next stitch as if to knit. Pass the first slipped stitch over the second and off the end of the needle (sort of a no-knit bind-off).
Slip one stitch as if to knit. Pass the previously slipped stitch over this one and off the end of the needle.
(Reinsert the left hand needle tip into the stitch at the end of the right hand needle. K1.)3x – This makes a 3-stitch vertical “chain”

On the returning purl row do this on each space:

P2tog, K1, P1

Problems with my method:

  • I don’t like the way the bind offs in the open spaces pull away from the previous solid space.
  • I don’t like the relative thickness of the horizontals and verticals. My verticals are thinner than ones made by decreases, but they’re still thicker than I’d like.
  • I don’t like way there’s a little vertical slit left when a solid square follows a space.

But I’m getting there… Constructive criticism and idle thoughts graciously accepted!

Technorati :


Hmmm. As I was writing today’s entry, I wanted to refer back to a post I remembered writing back in June of 2004. Apparently not all of the posts for that month imported correctly when we transferred our archives over. So the posts you’ll see today are hand-carried ports of the AWOL material. Apologies for the deja vu. True new content tomorrow. I promise.

Material originally appearing on June 15, 2004.


Excuse this shortened entry. I’m deeply enmeshed in home rehab, and haven’t had much time to do anything else. Yesterday I measured the entire house so I can draft up a set of dimensioned drawings. That will help us figure out where to put things. While I was doing that I attempted to take some snaps of the house’s more nifty features. I’m a lousy photographer, so I’ve only got a couple.

First the house is a stucco bungalow, built in 1912. That style is pretty unusual for this part of Massachusetts. The majority of older homes in this town are Victorians of various configurations, Dutch colonials built in the 1920s, and saltbox Capes built in the 1930s. In between and in pockets are some older houses dating back to the 1700s and early 1800s, and some post WWII neighborhoods of ranches and raised ranches. The place is fairly big – not as huge as a rambling Victorian, but pretty big compared to the tiny 6-room ranch we’re leaving.

The house has had only two prior owners – the family that built it, and the family we bought it from. It’s been largely left alone, with very little tinkering over the years. That means that we’ve gotten some features you rarely find. Like original lighting fixtures in three rooms (this is the biggest one in the living room):


Another amazing bit of preservation is the downstairs bath. Except for the butterfly handles on the sink and an innocuous replacement toilet, it’s untouched, with all tile, fixtures, and stained glass window original and intact (the little sitz tub is especially nifty, it’s an exact match of its big brother on the other side of the room):


And here’s the smaller of the two fireplaces. This one is in the den:


As you can see, all of the woodwork on the first floor of the house has never been overpainted. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the entire house is still using the original electrical wiring – the old bare wire on insulator stuff put in when the house was first built. That means there is one plug per room; nothing grounded anywhere in the place; and anemic service. Over the next month we are having a contractor completely rewire the house. I’ll be putting in sweat equity, too – mostly ripping out improperly installed fiberglass insulation that’s making the roof rot, and encouraging the growth of a truly spectacular mildew farm in the attic. Meaning the insulation is doing the encouraging. I’ll be doing the exterminating.


I did have time to start playing with this last night. The Thomas method is daunting to look at in description, but once you start messing with it it’s pretty straightforward. Solid blocks are composed three knit stitches. Open blocks are done similar to a one-row buttonhole, starting with a double yarn over. Then two stitches are bound off by passing existing loops over and off the end of the needle. The last stitch remaining is then knit to finish out the block of three. Alternate rows are knitted back, with the second YOs purled to make a garter stitch base.

But here’s the kicker. To make the solid areas appear square, each block on the chart corresponds to FOUR rows of knitting. That’s two right side rows and two wrong side rows. This means that there’s an extra horizontal bar (aka bride) in the center of each block compared to filet crochet or darned net That makes the open areas far less open, and rather compromises the look – especially for very complex charts. Clearly, more work on this will need to be done as I don’t think this particular technique, even were I to work with tatting cotton on 000s, would look good for my chart.

I’m not giving up though. Tonight’s round of experimentation will include adding height to the solid blocks by Yoda-knitting them back and forth. Working each block as a tiny 3-stitch short-row should square off the units. More news tomorrow…

PS: If you see spurious question marks in these entries, please ignore them. It’s not that I’m more puzzled than normal. For some reason, as of this morning every double space in every has morphed into a question mark. I’ll investigate.

Technorati :


Hmmm. As I was writing today’s entry, I wanted to refer back to a post I remembered writing back in June of 2004. Apparently not all of the posts for that month imported correctly when we transferred our archives over. So the posts you’ll see today are hand-carried ports of the AWOL material. Apologies for the deja vu. True new content tomorrow. I promise.

Material originally appearing on June 14, 2004. For the record, the pattern for the Spring Lightning Lacy scarf is now in the main wiseNeedle pattern collection.


My lacy scarf is done!


As planned, the ribbed center section pulls in a little bit, making the two diamond panel ends flare out. Stretched and blocked, across the widest point of the edgings it measures 14 inches at the end and 12 inches at the center. It’s about 80 inches long. That’s big for a scarf and narrow for a stole, but I like the size. I really enjoyed this project. It was just the right combo of super-easy and super-exacting. The Greenwood Hill Farm 2-ply laceweight yarn was wonderful. I Can t say enough about it. It’s the softest, most buttery Merino I’ve ever worked with. It’s hand-spun look is unique. You can see the slightly whiter areas in the photo – those are spots where one of the plies of the two-ply yarn gets a bit fluffy. There’s a lot of variation skien to skein in the amount of the fluffy bits, so if you order it or buy it at a sheep and wool show, you may want to try to pick skeins that are similar (or not, as your taste and project needs dictate).

I’m not sure whether I’ll keep this scarf or give it as a gift. On one hand I really like it. On the other hand, while it would be an interesting contrast with my guy-style brown leather aviator jacket, I know several people who might appreciate it as much as I do. Plus I’m not tired of my Kombu Scarf yet. Good thing I have the summer to think about it before scarf season resumes.


Here’s an obscure style. Mary Thomas in her Knitting Pattern Book mentions Filet Lace Knitting. It’s a style of knitting more or less equivalent to filet crochet, which is itself an adaptation of earlier lacis and other filled net or withdrawn thread style darned embroidery. In this set of styles, the needleworker follows a graphed pattern, working solid or “empty” squares. The pattern is built line by line by these blocks of squares. This butterfly insertion is a good example of filet crochet:

(Pix from – attributed there to Star Needlework Journal, 1917)

On page 263 of her book, Thomas describes a way to do something like this using knitting. Solid blocks are formed by units of three stitches x four rows. Spaces look to be formed by a combo of yarn overs and bind-offs. I haven’t quite figured them out yet, but Thomas gives several illustrations and a couple of easy practice pieces.

I’m asking if anyone has ever actually tried this because I have never seen any lacy knitting that was done this way – not as a piece of actual knitting, nor in a photo either on the web or in any other book. I have never seen a lace pattern for a project done in this style either. So I’m asking. Have you done this? Do you know of any pix or other sources for the style?

The reason why I’m asking? I’m in the middle of one of those panting-and-eyes-wide moments of gotta-do-it-but-how? inspiration. Yesterday we closed on the new house. I am now the proud owner of a massive Arts and Crafts style front door, with a glass window that’s 30 inches wide by 18 inches tall. There’s mounting hardware there for a lace curtain panel, currently holding a dingy scrap of Woolworth’s best. The door cries out for a better curtain.

But not just any lace panel will do. I’ve **got** to make one, and not only do I want to make one, I want to make one from THIS panel from my book of embroidery patterns:


The ultimate source is a book published in Nuremberg Germany around 1597 by one of the more prolific and well-known makers of embroidery pattern books. Not only did Johan Siebmacher put out several (this pattern was in his Schon Neues Modelbuch vol allerly listigen Modeln naczunehen Zugurcken un Zusticke”), his books traveled all over Europe so they’re very well represented in museum collections. Many plates from them were copied and re-issued during the counted pattern “Renaissance” of the mid 1800s. This particular panel has cropped up several times over the years – often simplified or truncated. The most recent adaptation from it of which I know is a pattern for an cross stitched kitchen tablecloth and curtains set in an Anna magazine from the mid 1960s.

I haven’t a clue as to how I’d go about making my George and Dragon panel, but I’ve got the will, the how-to book, the cotton yarn (Crystal Palace Baby Georgia), and the blissful confidence born of total ignorance.

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It’s the last day of the year, and like everyone else I should be looking back over the year past, and ahead to the year future.

Lessons Learned for 2004

First and foremost – blogging is fun and (I hope) less of an imposition on people than is?writing interminable posts to the knitting-related mailing lists. At least the audience here is self-selected. Plus I’ve never kept a knitting-specific journal before. I find myself going back and looking up what I’ve written before to see how or why I did something in a specific way. Who knew?

I learned a lot this year about the periodicity and use of variegated or hand/dyed yarns. Although the projects on which I employed them aren’t completed yet (Crazy Raglan, Entre deux Lacs Tee, and Birds Eye Shawl), I did spend lots of time figuring out how to get the color effects I wanted given the color cycle repeat lengths. This remains a fascinating topic for me, and as each skein of hand-dyed offers up new challenges, won’t be an area that becomes boring any time soon.

Filet crochet. I’ve done piddly little things in crochet before. Even blankets count as "piddly little" because they are generally very simple in motif and technique. Snowflake ornaments, a table-topper round cloth of simple design, several blouse yokes in the ’70s, a couple of ill-conceived faux Aran style kids’ sweaters, but nothing as complex as the filet dragon curtain. It turned out to be an even bigger project than I thought, and consumed the better part of five months. Lessons learned include the fact that no two companies’ crochet hooks are the same size (even if so marked); the effect that near imperceptible differences in hook size can make on gauge; how to do a near-invisible join on adjacent strips of filet crochet; and how well the old graphed patterns for Lacis and other Renaissance needle arts can look in filet.

Along the way to the filet crochet project I learned that none of the methods of filet knitting I tried worked particularly well, nor were they fine enough in gauge to handle the complexity of the dragon graph. I’m not through with this subject yet. I did do some experiments in alternate techniques that were less cumbersome than the methods I had read about. I’ll probably revisit this in the future.

Entrelac is much faster if you can force your fingers to knit backwards. I’m still no speed demon at left-to-right knitting, but I’m faster at it than I am at knitting and flipping at the end of each mini-row. Especially when those rows are only six stitches across.

I also learned (via my Suede Tee) that novelty yarns can bring a world of interest to a simple, well-drafted pattern, but at the same time can be a *(#@ to knit. Side note:? I am also not that pleased on how the Suede is wearing. The microfibers do tend to be grabby, and catch on even the slightest roughness.

I learned several methods of knitting a lace edging directly onto a piece, rather than making it as a strip and sewing it on later. The most fiddly but most satisfying came via the Forest Path Stole. I used it again on my Spring Lightning Scarf:

Under "miscellaneous," I learned a nifty I-cord trick that applies a band of cord to both sides of a strip of knitting (apologies for the blurry photo):

I also used?a highly trendy but extremely boring to knit kiddie poncho to experiment with double width I-cord treatments to help tame edge curl in large stockinette pieces.

And finally, I learned an important lesson about something to avoid in the future. If any of you have ever looked at a loosely plied yarn like the Paternayan’s normally sold for needlepoint, and thought about how nice only one or two of those plies might be for lace knitting – take heed. Spare yourself. The yarn for the Larger Kid’s simple drop-stitch rectangle poncho took longer to de-ply than it did to knit up. For this one, I still bear the scars…

Next year?

Who knows. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll have noted that I’m more of a whimsy knitter than a planner. Projects leap up and seize my interest. Sometimes that interest wanders before I finish, but I (almost always) go back and work to completion. Eventually.

I’m finishing up a couple more unanticipated last minute gifts right now – more socks, and a pair of quickie Coronet hats from Knitty (one hat = one evening). Then it’s back to the Birds Eye shawl and the Crazy Raglan. While I don’t as a rule knit to deadline, the Raglan is for The Small One, and the one thing certain about 6-year olds is that they’re a moving target growthwise. The shawl is a present that I really should finish by the summer. Unless another killer project like the dragon curtain ambushes and drags me off first…

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