When I was little, I would go with my Grandma to her hometown in Bittinger, MD. Her family had a farm out there for many generations, in fact our family name is Bittinger. The Lutheran church there had an amazing filet crochet wall hanging of the Lord's Prayer displayed in the chapel. As a kid, I was mesmerized by the complex stitches. I had seen my grandmother crochet, and she tried and tried to teach me but we would both end up frustrated. I was the kind of kid who wanted to crochet a mural of the last supper, and here she was trying to teach me to do a basic single crochet! I had no time for that.
As I got older, I would collect vintage knitting and crochet books from thrift stores, and I was still completely in awe of the crazy table runners and curtains with intricate looking designs.
I still had no idea how to execute them. By this time I had mastered basic crochet, but this just seemed way too intimidating. Finally, after finding The Filet Crochet Book by Chris Rankin at my library I cracked the code. And, to my delight, the code was painfully simple.
Filet crochet is worked by using only two stitches, the chain and a double crochet. When you are looking at a filet crochet chart, the open squares are done as a chain stitch net and the solid squares are filled in with double crochet.
The yarn most often used is a fine, tightly spun, 100% cotton - perfect for things like pillow trims, curtains, and table runners. The fine yarn, coupled with a very small crochet hook, really helps to highlight the intricate patterning. You really can use yarn that works for you, as long as you are getting good definition.
Enjoy! - CK