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Filet crochet makes delicate cardigan

I've always been intrigued by antique filet crochet tablecloths and other pieces made for home decorating, such as curtains and edgings. Each piece I've seen contains amazing motifs that almost seem drawn onto the fabric.

Actually, filet crochet is a very easy technique, using the simplest crochet stitches. By using open squares and filled-in squares you can make any number of interesting motifs, letters and other designs. A good example is the cardigan shown here, which is blanketed with swirls in floral-like motifs. It is worked in a cotton yarn in a simple, flattering shape that makes it ideal for summer-into-fall wearing.

Filet crochet is worked from square-grid charts. These charts are actually quite easy to follow once you have a little practice. Just remember that the chart appears as if you were looking at it from the right side of the piece. Read the first row of the chart from the right to the left. When you turn the piece to begin the second row, read the second row from the left to right.

Sometimes the pattern will give you more specifics on reading the chart, such as spelling out a certain area to work between arrows.

It's a good idea to make several copies of your chart. You can use a marker or some other system to keep track of your place on the chart as you work.

As I mentioned, on the chart there are open squares and filled-in squares. The open square, or the mesh portion of the piece, is worked as 1 double crochet, chain 2 (1dc, ch 2). If you work other filet patterns, the open mesh might be 1 double crochet, chain 1. The filled-in area or shaded portion of the chart is worked as 3 double crochet (3 dc).

Depending on the chart you use, you may find symbols other than open and filled-in squares. These charts should be accompanied by a key that will explain the symbols. If you are using a book or leaflet published in Britain, you will notice that there are some differences in the stitches and terms. For example, the U.S. single crochet is called double crochet in Britain. The U.S. half double crochet is called a treble crochet in Britain, and so on. If you are working from charts, this shouldn't present much of a problem to you. You should just be aware of the difference in the terms.

Our summery, filet-crochet cardigan comes in three sizes: small, medium and large. It is worked in double crochet, using size C (2.5mm) and E (3.5mm) crochet hooks. For pattern only, call (800) 447-5600. The kit is available in a lustrous, mercerized cotton yarn from the Wool Connection in a variety of neutral and bright tones for $52 with free shipping. For kit, call (800) 933-9665.

Nancy welcomes your comments or questions about the column or any needleworking subject. Hints or questions of general interest will be used in the column when possible. Please send them to Nancy in care of the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731-1121.