Occasionally, patterns will ask you to “knit through the back loop” (ktbl) or “purl through the back loop” (ptbl) of your stitch. This is one way to twist your stitches to add texture to the pattern. Working into the back leg (loop) of the live stitch will cross the legs of the stitch. Unlike slipping stitches knitwise, twisted stitches made by knitting thru the back loop do not alter the row count, since you work into the live stitch.
Incorporating a twisted stitch into your knitting patterns can subtly change the look of your knits. For example, a “Broken Rib Stitch” pattern is made of knits and purls. The “Rice Stitch” is the same pattern, except a twisted stitch replaces one of the knits. While the difference is hard to spot, the Rice Stitch has a bit more texture than the broken rib stitch and it tends to lay flatter.
To accomplish a twisted stitch without changing your row count, you can knit through the back loop. This really means that you will need to work into the back leg of the next live stitch. When looking at a live stitch, you will see that one side is in front of your knitting needle and the other is in back.
The front leg is the side of the knit stitch that is in front of your needle.
The back leg, then, is the side of the stitch at the back of your needle.
Below you will find both video and written guides to help you learn to knit through the back loop to twist stitches.
Video Guide: How to Knit Thru the Back Loop (ktbl)
Written Guide: How to Knit Thru the Back Loop (ktbl)
ktbl, Step 1:
Hold the working yarn behind your left needle. Insert the tip of your right needle into the back loop of the next live stitch on the left needle from front to back.
ktbl, Step 2:
Bring the right needle tip over the working yarn and begin to make a counterclockwise loop around it.
ktbl, Step 3:
Pull the loop on your right needle tip through the stitch on your left needle.
ktbl, Step 4:
Slide the stitch you have just worked into off your left needle, placing the new twisted stitch on your right needle.
Practice With My Knitting Pattern
Ready to try it? You can practice twisting stitches with my free Rice Stitch Blanket pattern.
Let’s learn another way to add texture to your knitting. In the next lesson, I will show you how to slip stitches knitwise to add interesting patterns to your knits.