Hi Everyone, the time is almost upon us for the Beach Daze MAL!
Two weeks ago, I announced my MAL happening from March 3rd-24th will be hosted in the Scheepjes International and Dutch Facebook groups and we looked at a mini fashion show to see all the garment options you can make, talked about ease and how to choose which size of which Beach Daze garment to make. You can read it here if you missed it.
Now we are on to the nitty gritty of Filet crochet and swatching preparation before we kick of the project next week! Please note my blog is written using UK crochet terminology.
If you haven’t come across Filet Crochet before it’s a lovely vintage technique that is easy to learn. Filet lace is crocheted lace fabric based on a grid mesh of squares where some of the squares are filled in to create a motif or picture. In the Needlework and Piecework books of the 1850s this technique was initially called Square Lace, but I am not sure how it came to known as Filet around 1912. Filet lace was very popular in the 1930s creating many a doily or edging for a cloth item, sometimes gloves and baby clothes, and the designs were often elaborate with botanical images of plants and animals.
A Filet Grid Chart is usually provided, and it could be the only pattern you have to work from. The finished design/image looks like the chart so it can be interpreted in the absence of written instructions once you know the basic rules. If you can draw it on grid paper then you can stitch it in Filet Crochet, and any pixelated design or cross stitch charts can be a great source of inspiration.
How to use the Pattern, Charts and Supplement
All garment versions can be made by following the same Filet Grid Charts for MAXI SUGAR RUSH TUNIC on pgs20-21 of the Pattern to create the Front and Back pieces. The Written Instructions step you through the sequence of shaping around the Neckline, making the Placket and the Assembly of the finished garment.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALL THE GARMENT VERSIONS IS HOW WE MARK THE BOUNDARIES ON THE FILET GRID CHART FOR FINISHED WIDTH AND LENGTH OF FRONT AND BACK PIECES.
(ie. We are all making rectangles with a hole for the Placket to fit into later. The Dress is worked “straight” according to the Filet Grid Chart, and we make the skirt fabric wider by using progressively larger hooks and by adding 1 st per Filet Unit for the lowest skirt rows. The Whirlette/Whirl version of the Dress does have special colour handling considerations though too.)
For each garment version in each yarn option, I have calculated how many Filet Units across the chart and how many Rows down the chart are required for each finished size. My calculations have taken into account both change in garment and yarn where appropriate, so all you need to do is:
Go to the relevant “Measurements/Materials” Table:
Tunic: Pattern pg3
T-Shirt: Supplement pg2
Dress: Supplement pg6
Find the No. Filet Units across and No. rows length in the bottom 2 rows of the table for your chosen size and use them to mark your new boundaries on the Filet Grid Charts on Pattern pgs20-21
(Note: The Whirlette Tunic does have its own set of charts already (Pattern pgs22-23), but I made these by marking new boundaries on the Maxi Tunic charts. Effectively, Whirlette Tunic makers have had Step 1 done for them).
Go to the Summary of modifications page:
Whirlette Tunic: Pattern pg7
Whirlette T-Shirt: Supplement pg5
Whirlette Dress & Whirlette/Whirl Dress: Supplement pg10
MAXI Sugar Rush T-Shirt: Supplement pg4
MAXI Sugar Rush Dress: Supplement pg9
This tells you how to edit the Written Instructions for new numbers of Filet Units, row counts, and new stitch counts for seams and when edging the garment openings.
If you are making the Whirlette/Whirl Dress, pgs 11-13 of the Supplement advise you how to manage the colour gradient of the Whirl during your project.
Read the rest of this blog and let’s get cracking next week!
The Filet Rules
(Theorhetically… as they apply to fine thread work to create a traditional/vintage Filet lace item but not this project. We are going to break these rules but it’s good to know what they are first).
The Filet Lace technique is based on using repeats of 1 treble crochet followed by 2 chain stitches to create a “Space” in the mesh grid, or 3 treble stitches to create a “Block” in the mesh grid. The last mesh square of each row needs another treble stitch to be a bookend.
The tr treble (UK) stitch is 3 chains-tall (this is a dc double crochet in US terms), so the three turning chain that starts each row counts as the first treble stitch of the first mesh square, then you continue with 2 more chain if that square is a Space in the design you are making or continue with 2 treble stitches if it’s a Block. Follow the chart to continue with Blocks or Spaces as indicated, finishing with the extra bookend treble into the third turning chain (inserting hook under 2 loops) that began the previous row.
Apart from the last bookend treble stitch, when working the trebles in the design they are worked the standard way under 2 loops if the stitch below in the previous row is a treble, and in the chain-2 space if the stitch(es) below in the previous row are chains.
Generally, when making a traditional crochet lace item the stitches are firm, and the chains are tight enough that you can’t see light between the loops. This helps to keep the doily or edging hardwearing, a fixed relatively stiff sort of shape, and create crisp holes in the fabric which is desirable for lace. Crochet lace is usually made with a fine mercerised cotton thread and a tiny, tiny hook (yes I did mean to write that twice). Despite it being a quicker way to make lace than traditional lacemaking, it is still definitely a labour of love!
If you happen upon a vintage Filet Chart, then this would be how to approach it to create the pixelated image within the mesh grid. There are other Filet meshes (such as offset bars and lacets) but they don’t appear in my Beach Daze Tunic design so I will leave them out of our little discussion.
Now let’s break those rules a bit and talk in terms of the garment we are about to swatch for and make.
The Beach Daze Filet Rules
(These are the ones we are going to follow)
Instead of a hardwearing, firmly stitched relatively stiff small edging or doily, we will be creating a large, draped garment that’s designed to move with the body and hang with a bit of swoosh! I had to factor in ways to make Beach Daze a quicker project with much improved drape than it would have been if made following the traditional rules. Nobody wants to produce a full-length dress with a tiny, tiny hook (again I really mean to say “tiny” twice - haha) that is stiff or inflexible and could only be worn three years after you started making it (so many tiny, tiny stitches…), so changes had to be made!
I did this by substituting a taller double treble stitch for the treble, so each mesh “square” (which I call a “Filet Unit” in my PDF) is more of a vertically oriented rectangle and this means fewer rows are needed than if worked following the traditional rules. Consequently, we start with 4 turning chain to account for the taller double treble stitch in the mesh. (If we are talking in US terms it means we are substituting a treble for the double crochet – as a side note, this is why people get confused between UK and US terms!! But the PDFs are available in either UK or US terms so make sure you have downloaded the right one for you – moving on….)
If you are using the MAXI Sugar Rush you will still be using a pretty fine mercerised cotton, but you are using a larger hook than you traditionally would be. If you are using the Whirlette/Whirl yarn, the hook is larger again, and if you are making the dress with either yarn, the hook size you started with for the bodice further increases as we work down the skirt. All this bigger hook size craziness has an impact on how you work your chain stitches.
How much can one possibly say about chain stitches?
Well, quite a bit actually! It’s probably that super easy beginner thing you skimmed over early when you first learnt crochet and probably have not given it much thought since. If you have worked a lot of granny squares in the round instead of rows of crochet, they could be just that thing you covered with taller stitches and never worried about how to do them well.
(Or …maybe you are a master at them, but I want to make sure everyone has the best info I can offer for the MAL so bear with me).
The first thing I want to point out is that the tight stitches of proper lace making will not suit our project as we want a bit of drape. When you look at the Filet Grid Chart in my PDF there will be a LOT of chains made during the project, so how you make them will have a big impact on the finished item.
Not everyone has practiced how to make lengths of chain of a consistent size …and if that’s you, it’s good just to sit somewhere comfy and attempt to make a 2-metre length of even chains using cotton thread and suitable crochet hook. Seriously …it’s a great thing to do and you might find its harder than you thought! Keep going until you can make it consistent.
The second thing I want to mention is that using a larger hook obviously makes a bigger double treble stitch, but what is perhaps less obvious (and harder to achieve in an ongoing steady way) is that it should also produce a larger chain stitch, and this is particularly relevant for the dress option.
Working with the hook you start with (which increases later if you are making the dress) and the working (pre-blocked) yarn, the yarn loops of the chains should sit lightly but consistently together in a side-by-side but not squished together way. You might see a tiny amount of light between the loops when back-lit like in this photo.
For the dress the idea is to increase hook size down the skirt to create a wider and taller row of stitches, so the size of the chain loops should also now be bigger to match - or be pretty close to the size of the chain loops at the top of the larger double treble stitches as you keep increasing hook size - and you will definitely see light between the yarn loops of the chain!
The third thing is the turning chain. They should increase with hook size too and the idea is 4 turning chain will equal the height of your double treble stitch. If the turning chain are always a bit smaller than the dtr sts then the side seams of the garment will scoop up a bit at the sides when its complete. The turning chains are less stretchy than the dtr sts and if they aren’t the same height as the dtr sts the difference accumulates with the more rows you do so the effect will be more pronounced in the Dress than the T-shirt, but worth keeping track of for everyone.
Okay, that’s enough about chains – or is it!? Their influence pops up again when we talk about everyone’s favourite part…
Swatching for Gauge
First, we swatch and then we talk about gauge. If you are not on the swatching for gauge bandwagon then maybe check out this post I wrote last year about how to swatch and block AND why you want to, then come back and keep reading...
Here is the Gauge Filet Grid Chart from the Pattern PDF without the written instructions:
Given the Filet Beach Daze Rules about turning chains, Blocks, Spaces and the bookend st at the end of the row, all the information you need is in this diagram (although I have of course provided written instructions as well if you are unsure of anything). Here is how to read the Beach Daze swatch Filet Chart so you can apply the same principles and logic to any Filet chart:
The diagram says 19 x 19 Filet Units, and the "rules" we talked about above said that each Filet Unit is 3 sts, with a bookend st at the end of the row. So the actual number of ch along the bottom is (19 x 3) + 1 = 58 ch.
The diagram shows the very first unit worked at the bottom right is a Block, so we need 4 turning chain (if it was a Space it would be 6 ch) and that 4 ch will act of the first dtr of the row.
The number of ch you start with is therefore 58 + 4 = 62 chain.
Because that first grid unit is a Block we need 2 more dtr to complete the first Filet Unit. The first of these 2 dtr is worked into the 6thch from the hook because the first 4 ch are the 1st dtr of the row and the 5th ch is the ch at the bottom of that “dtr” so it’s considered already used. The second of these 2 dtr is worked into the next ch.
When working into the chains on this first row, insert the hook under the 2 top of the 3 loops that make up each chain.
Then we have 2 Spaces so we work 2 repeats of (1dtr, ch2) – and so on until the end, then after the last Filet Unit is worked (in this case it’s a Block) work the last dtr “bookend” stitch to frame out the other side of the last Grid square.
For subsequent rows, when you need to work dtr sts into where chs are in the row below, insert hook into the chain-space rather than the chain stitch.
Anyone who is a bit unsure about how to work the Filet Units or begin their swatch can head over to my You Tube site to watch a video demonstration by clicking here.
Before and after Blocking: Measuring your Gauge
For this project I have described gauge before and after blocking in the Pattern PDF so you can check that you are close to gauge before blocking, though I want to be clear that blocked gauge is your ultimate guide before you make a final decision on which hook size for your project. In both situations stretch the swatch out generally, then lay it flat and stroke/stretch the fabric vertically to mimic hanging gauge (when it hangs on your body stretched out by its own weight) before measuring gauge.
Checking your pre-blocked gauge is to see if you are in the right ballpark to continue with the swatch, or that your gauge is way-off in which case you would start again. It also helps to understand how the fabric changes (or not) during blocking so you can better judge your fit as you try it on as a work-in-progress. Working a second swatch rather than frogging and reworking the first can be a good tip though – it allows you to really see your individual effect of changing your hook size.
Blocking your Swatch
Swatching instructions and a Filet grid chart are included in the pattern – it doesn’t take too long to hook one or two of them. Wet block allowing a good 20min minimum soak before rinsing, press out excess water in a towel and lay out flat to dry – Pinning it to a blocking board with a bit of stretch on it to mimic hanging conditions is a good idea for this project because its cotton and will sag under its own weight – you may as well stretch it first. When its dry, remove any pins that are actively placing tension on the swatch, lay it out again, stroke it vertically and then get your ruler/measureing tape out and find an area in the middle somewhere that has a good mix of Spaces and Blocks as discussed above to measure your official post-blocked gauge. If you are unsure how to block your swatch, this post has all the details: The Dreaded Swatch. (Note: I didn’t pin swatches out in the Dreaded Swatch post because I was blocking a merino blend which is springy).
Where you measure your gauge on the swatch matters:
Measuring number of Filet Units across the row: if you are measuring across lots of Blocks --> gauge will appear loose, and if you are measuring across lots of Spaces --> gauge will appear tight. This is because chains take up less space (particularly if you haven’t matched their size to the chain loops at the top of the dtr sts) and have less flex (always the case) than the top of a tall st.
Given the geometric pattern over the whole grid chart is generally more Spaces than Blocks, its best to measure gauge around the centre of your swatch, across where there is at least a 50/50 split or slightly more Spaces then Blocks. You generally also want to measure gauge in the centre of any swatch, and I designed the Swatch Filet Grid chart such that a 50/50 split was near the centre anyway.
You can see the irregular edges of the swatch – that’s because any st taller than a chain will spread apart a bit more than a chain. Chains are just not flexible, even if the 2 loops are very close in size to the 2 loops at the top of a stitch!
Adjusting your Gauge
If you have fewer Units & rows per 10cm/4in than required, reduce hook size and re-swatch as each grid Filet Unit is too big and the resulting garment will be bigger than the schematic measurements.
If you have more Units & rows per 10cm/4in than required, increase hook size and re-swatch as each grid Filet Unit will be too small and the resulting garment will be smaller than the schematic measurements.
Adjust stitch gauge first, then row gauge. Swatch with appropriate hook size to achieve gauge across Filet Units first (stitch gauge – bear in mind how you are making your chains as discussed above), then you can use the golden loop principle: yanking, riding or lifting as necessary for each post segment to achieve row gauge.
More info about manipulating your gauge is covered in these tutorials on my blog:
Stitch Anatomy Part 1 – How your hooking action affects gauge
Stitch Anatomy Part 2 – How hook size affects gauge
Stitch Anatomy Part 3 - Tall post Stitches & Gauge
Stitch gauge is your primary goal. If you find you cannot match stitch and row gauge, then stitch gauge is the most important as this influences the size around the body. You could add or omit rows to account for your requirement in length if your row gauge doesn’t quite match mine.
Question: Is my gauge close enough?
Answer: How critical it is to achieve perfect gauge depends on the amount of desired ease you are looking for in your individual project, the size of garment you are making and the yarn you are using.
If you super hate math, then this is the overall take home message:
If you are going for zero or negative ease to hug your curves, then you really want to be bang on with perfect gauge with either Maxi or Whirlette(/Whirl) yarns. Full stop.
If you want 5cm or more of (positive) ease, make sure your stitch gauge is within half a Filet Unit per 10cm/4in of stated gauge for either yarn.
If you are going for 15-30cm positive ease then you could be 1 Filet Unit out and probably not care so much with what might be 10cm-ish change in finished Actual garment size, but it will still be significant, and its best to be within half a Filet Unit of stitch gauge.
Don’t mind the math?
Let’s look at the difference half a Filet Unit in stitch gauge makes to see the reason why:
Gauge is 13 Filet Units to 10cm/4in. Therefore, one half of 1 Filet Unit is 1/26th of that 10cm span.
1 divided by 26 = 0.0385, or 3.85%. If your stitch gauge was 12.5 or 13.5 Filet Units to 10cm/4in instead, that means that your finished project’s Actual bust circumference would be approx. 3.85% too big or too small compared to that shown in the measurements table and schematic. Doesn’t sound like a heap but let’s take a look at some examples:
Example 1. An XL Tunic in MAXI Sugar Rush is supposed to end up with a 134cm Actual bust circ.
0.0385 x 134cm = 5.2cm
This means the XL Tunic would end up approx. 5.2cm bigger or smaller than if you were on gauge.
Not a significant issue if you are going for an oversized fit (15-30cm of ease), but if your desired ease is 0-5cm and it ends up 5cm smaller than expected then it’s going to affect your comfort when you wear it and for some may be a deal breaker. If we double it to 1 Filet Unit out from stitch gauge though, we are now talking 10.4cm difference and your 5cm desired ease has been completely blown out of the water!
Example 2. An XS T-shirt in MAXI Sugar Rush is supposed to end up with an 82cm Actual bust circ.
0.0385 x 82 = 3.2cm
…meaning it would end up approx. 3.2cm bigger or smaller. Maybe you can still work with that, particularly if its 3.2cm larger than planned as opposed to smaller. Your theoretical 5cm of positive ease has now become 8.2cm of positive ease or 1.8cm of positive ease. If you are off gauge by 1 Filet Unit though, then we are now talking 6.4cm. This is a big deal within the context of 5cm ease. If the 82cm Actual garment bust circ. was going to give you 5cm of positive ease and you end up with a T-shirt that is 6.4cm smaller than 82cm then we have now entered negative ease. Oopsie!
Gauge is 10 Filet Units to 10cm. Therefore, one half of 1 Filet Unit is 1/20th of that 10cm span.
1 divided by 20 = 0.05, or 5%
Using the same garments examples as before but this time in Whirlette/Whirl:
The XL Tunic in Whirlette/Whirl of a theoretical 134cm Actual bust circ. would be 134cm x 0.05 = 6.7cm bigger or smaller if stitch gauge is half a Filet Unit out, and 13.4cm bigger or smaller if 1 Filet Unit out. Ouch!
The XS T-shirt in Whirlette/Whirl of 82cm would be 82cm x 0.05 = 4.1cm bigger or smaller if stitch gauge is half a Filet Unit out and 8.2cm bigger or smaller if 1 Filet Unit out. You will definitely notice the difference.
The more fitted the garment and the bigger the Filet Units/Yarn weight, the more critical the gauge.
A final word about chains…
I imagine a fair few people reading this blog might be thinking “OMG Really!? All this chain stuff is freaking me out! Is it really that important!? It’s beginning to seem all too complicated…”
The answer is that if you are going for generous ease of more than 12 cm or so then... No, it’s not going to affect your comfort in wearing your finished garment too much to fret over, I am just trying to add the value of technical crochet engineering to the MAL.
If you are going for 0-5cm of ease (and particularly if you are making the Dress), then...
Yes it will matter because it will mess with your stitch gauge and restrict how much the finished fabric can stretch and move with and hang from your body.
Make your Filet Grid Chart easier to Read
The last thing to do is devise a way to make following your personalised Filet Grid chart easier so your eyes don’t glaze over in a blur of tiny squares. I recommend printing off the appropriate grid chart(s) from the pattern PDF, then enlarging it on a photocopier and carefully cutting out the boundary of your chosen size and garment version (consult the Supplement PDF for the number of Filet Units across and Rows down the grid chart if making the T-shirt or Dress).
There are actually more Filet Units across the front of a Medium Sugar Rush T-shirt than there are across that of an XL Dress in Whirlette. This may seem a bit weird at first, but it’s because of the significant difference in yarn weight between Maxi and Whirlette and therefore gauge like we talked about above. Its why you can’t make a pattern you like in a slightly thicker yarn than the pattern calls for and expect it to come out the same!
But I digress….
Tape your cut-out to a plain white piece of paper to clearly see the edges and the geometric pattern as it applies to your specific garment. Add any notes that are relevant – for example the XL Dress in Whirlette needs another 5 rows beyond what the Maxi Sugar Rush Tunic Filet Grid chart shows (refer to your Supplement instructions). You can mark off the rows as you go, or move a coloured sticky note up the page. These are just a couple of ideas for how to tackle it of course until you get a handle on the pattern repeat, I am sure there are plenty of awesome ways to keep on top of where you are!
The Scheepjes International and Dutch Facebook groups and the moderators can help out with information about sourcing yarn and you can find Scheepjes retailers worldwide here, or consider purchasing via these two affiliate links*
Wool Warehouse (in the UK, ships worldwide including the US)
Caros Atelier (in The Netherlands)
...and Perth Aussies who like to support a local family business can source their yarn from my local Scheepjes Retailers
Leanne at Yarns For All
& Anna and Mike at Stitchcraft & Wizardry
The Pattern and Supplement PDFs come as a set from my Ravelry and Etsy Stores, and the discounted price will run until March 24th!
Happy Swatching and Blocking!
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Thank you to Scheepjes for yarn support for my designs!
* This post contains affiliate links – it doesn’t cost you any extra to purchase via these links and I receive a small percentage of the sale that helps to support my design work. Thank you for your consideration :)