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How to Knit Through Back Loop (KTBL)

In knitting, you will come across different abbreviations and instructions. These are basically steps that will guide your knitting needles for a particular technique and project. KTBL means knitting back through back the loop. It is a knitting technique that has different uses in different knitting patterns. Knitting a stitch through the back loop has the same appearance as the regular knit stitch but the difference is how the resulting loop will sit on your knitting needles and also the stitch will use more yarn. Knitting through the back loop (KTBL) can be done with any of the regular knitting needles. If you are working on flat patterns, you can knit with single-pointed needles or circulars back and forth. If you are knitting in the round, with double points (DPNs) or circular needles, you still can knit through the back loop.

Many knitting patterns instruct KTBL for typically cable patterns, knitting increases, certain rib stitches and some particular techniques. In this blog post, let us walk you through how to knit through the back loop.

Instructions: How to knit through the back loop (KTBL)

Step 1 - Cast on stitches normally. Knit to the point till you’ve been instructed to knit through the back loop.

Step 2 - Make sure that the working yarn is held to the back of the work (if it isn't already there).

Step 3 - Enter the first stitch on the left needle tip from right to left and in the back.

Step 4 - Wrap the working yarn around your left thumb clockwise with your right hand.

Step 5 - Pull the working yarn through the knit loop.

Step 6 - Slip the resulting stitch off the left needle tip to finish.

And that's how you knit through the back loop. It looks like a twisted stitch or a stitch that has changed its direction. If you are a continental knitter or prefer the Continental style of knitting it works the same. Adjust step 2 by throwing the yarn around instead of catching it with your needle. Also for almost other knitting styles you simply follow their steps to make knit stitches through the back loop only. Tensioning the yarn is the most important part of this knitting technique as it will affect the stitch formation and its neatness.

Difference between regular knit stitches and KTBL stitches 

Knit and Knit through back loop stitches look similar but they are also visibly different when you look at your knitted fabric. Every regular knit stitch forms a little “V,” while the knit through the back loop almost looks like an “X.” The whole yarn strand appears to be twisted counterclockwise. It looks like a twisted stockinette pattern but has a denser fabric and is not as complicated.

PTBL purl through the back loop is also a similar knitting technique where you work with the purl stitch. These stitches also have the same uses as KTBL. These are particularly useful for a knitting pattern with purl stitches or when you work with a garter stitch pattern with circular knitting needles. Garter, generally is a pattern or all row stitches but when you are working in the round with circular needles it becomes alternative rounds of knit and purl stitches.

Why KTBL is useful? 

Knitting through the back loop is an easy way to twist a knitting stitch. It needs a bit more yarn than the regular knit stitch and is also tighter. It will create a textured effect on the knitted fabric.

Here are a couple of uses of KTBL:

1. Fixing a Hole caused by a Yarn over 

When you knit a yarn over, for a knitting increase; many times the technique creates a hole in the knitted fabric. When you work on the resulting stitch in the next row or round, you can fix the hole by quite a bit of margin. But when you pick up stitches (for the gusset of socks), the best option is to knit across the picked-up stitches through the back loop. You’ll be able to avoid any pesky holes and have a beautiful textured stitch pattern in its place.

2. Make 1X1 Rib Stitch Pop

Sometimes, when you knit a 1×1 rib stitch for a sock or a sweater or any knitting project, it may look like a regular stockinette stitch pattern (alternate rows or rounds of knit and purl stitches). This is because the single rib stitch contract so much you don’t even see the gap in between or the difference between stitches. In these cases, knitting through the back loop makes the stitch pattern pop and look good. In fact, it will be a bit less stretchy but it will add more structure and stability to the fabric.

3. Untwisting Twisted Stitches 

Unintentional twisted stitches look bad on the knitted fabric. This can happen when you are distracted or working on a complicated pattern or if the yarn is tricky. This also happens when you pick a dropped stitch or don’t know how the stitches mounted on the knitting needle will look. A clever way to fix mistakes is to knit through the back loop. When you knit through the stitches through the back loop, you intentionally twist the stitches fixing the twisted stitch.

4. Knitting Mini Cables

Cable knitting patterns are beautiful ways to bring structure into your knitting. If you want to knit super small mini cables, knit every knit stitch through the back loop. As they pop, they will have a textured cable effect but then you have a limit to the number of cable stitches. One such special technique comes from Bavaria, the biggest state in Germany where the traditional costumes involve incredibly elaborate stockings (knitted with 2.00 mm needles with cables that do not involve special cable needles or techniques). Almost all of these knitting patterns involve KTBL stitches. The knitting techniques beautifully create diamonds or cables and other textured effects.

Anyway, that’s everything about the technique of knitting through the back loop.

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