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.
Here’s a sample of a single column of KTBL with regular purl stitches on the WS:
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.
Re: ‘back loop’
I’ve always thought of it as ‘back OF loop’
Either way works. Whichever helps you understand it.
I am curious about why this stitch refers to a back “loop”. Isn’t there only one loop in a regular knit stitch, unlike with crochet, and is this any different than the B stitch in a KFB? It looks identical. I have never tried creating a pattern by knitting through the back of a stitch though because of the way I purl, my knit stitches in the next row are knitted that way.. Are there patterns that have figured out how to stagger stitches to avoid the bias?
I think the “back” loop is referring to the traditional mount. But you’re right that it’s actually just a single loop though. It’s more like the front-part and the back-part of that loop (but that doesn’t flow as easily as “back loop”.
The back loop is actually the “B” in KFB.
And I don’t know of any patterns that are designed to avoid the bias. If anyone reading this knows of one, please let us know 🙂
You use the word bias in knitting. What does that mean?
It angles. It doesn’t go completely straight. You can see it in the pic too.