Knit thru back loop (ktbl or even kb) is a great way to add a little decoration or make ribbing look crisper.
What it looks like
Here it is in a single column.
And in multiple columns.
One thing to take note of – it does bias so you want to keep that in mind. It biases more when there are a lot of them in a single row. Take a look at the two pics I shared above to see.
It’s not the speediest of knit stitches
It can take longer to knit through the back loop. Some people feel it’s a slog. It’s not my personal favorite to knit but I do love the look so I persevere.
It’s often represented with this symbol in a chart.
You might also see it in as a “b” (lower case) in a chart. As always, refer to the chart key or chart legend and use that as your primary way to know what the chart is saying.
How to do a KTBL
Working a KTBL is easy. You just insert your needle from right to left (the opposite way you insert the needle for a regular knit stitch). See:
And then you just work it the normal way you’d work a knit stitch.
Knitted Flat – PTBL
You’ll need to ptbl when on the reverse side. A lot of people (me included!) are not so fond of this stitch so it’s good to know.
If you’re knitting in the round, you’ll just ktbl each round.
Knitted Flat – An (easier) alternative
You can also just purl regular on the reverse rows. A few things to know about this alternative:
- It won’t be as decorative
- It will bias less
- Single columns of knit stitches can look wonky (it’ll depend on the yarn so give it a go in a swatch first). You can see the wonkiness I’m talking about below. FYI – I used a 70% Cotton and 30% Linen yarn (Knit Picks Cotlin) in the swatch.
And here’s a sample of several KTBL stitches all together with regular purl stitches done on the WS. As you can see, it *is* biasing less.
Other uses for KTBL
A lot of people use KTBL in ribbing to make it tighter and crisper. You can also PTBL on the RS purl stitches if you’re so inclined. ymmv.
Will it Work for Your Project?
If you’re not sure if KTBL is a good application in your project – swatch it first! It might just become a great alternative to make your knitting look better. And if it isn’t, then you learned that your current project isn’t a good option for KTBL.