TFL and TBL are knitting abbreviations that you will come across in many knitting patterns. As a matter of fact, they mean through front loop (TFL) and through back loop (TBL).
TBL is by far the most common of the two abbreviations and it is often used in conjunction with the abbreviation for knit . Therefore, you will often see this combination: ktbl or k1tbl.
Likewise, you might also see ptbl or p1tbl which means purl through the back loop.
How to Knit Through the Back Loop (KTBL)
Insert your right-hand needle into the stitch from right to left – the needle should be BEHIND the left-hand needle.
Wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle as usual and pull the new loop through the knit stitch.
How to Purl Through the Back Loop (PTBL)
Insert your needle through the back of the loop with your right-hand needle, from right to left.
Wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle as usual and pull the new loop through the purl stitch.
When Should You Use TFL and TBL?
Actually, knitting through the front and back loop can serve several purposes. These include, for example:
- To increase your number of stitches
- In combination knitting
- For decoration purposes
- To neaten edges
- Mounting stitches properly
Using TFL and TBL to Increase Stitches
There are many ways you can increase the number of stitches in you project. However, one involves knitting through both the front and back loop of a stitch.
You can learn more about this method of increasing stitches here: Learn How to Make a KFB or Bar Increase.
Using TFL and TBL in Combination Knitting
Combination knitting is when you combine Western and Eastern styles of knitting. This way of combining stitches is often considered a faster way to knit.
As a matter of fact, the way the stitches are orientated on the needle after they have been worked, is the main difference between Western and Eastern knitting.
Actually, in Western knitting, the stitches on the right-hand needle have the right leg in front of the needle and the left leg behind. On the other hand, in Eastern knitting, the right leg is behind and the left leg in front on the knitting needle.
Typically, combination knitters will wrap the yarn counter-clockwise when they knit. Conversely, they will wrap the yarn clockwise when purling, resulting in the stitches being mounted differently when compared to typical Western knitting.
This means that patterns that uses TFL and TBL can cause confusion for combination knitters when for instance increasing.
If you are a combination knitter, you will find that you probably will need to make some changes to the pattern instructions. For instance, if you come across the abbreviation ktbl, you will need to change it to ktfl.
Furthermore, if you want to do a kfb [link], you will need to knit through the back loop first and then the front loop.
Using TBL for Decoration Purposes
As knitting through the back loop twists a stitch, you can use this for adding some decoration to your project.
In fact, adding one or more KTBL(s) to your knitting can add pretty, little twists and unexpected details to your project.
This unexpected change in stitch works can work really well on, for example, the hem of a stockinette sleeve or a sweater body.
Furthermore, you could also do part of your project in Twisted Stockinette Stitch. To achieve this, you have to twist every stitch in every row. The resulting fabric will be quite a bit firmer than regular Stockinette.
Using TBL to Neaten Edges
There are times when you might want to neaten the edges of your knitting projects. One way of doing this by making a chained edge.
Here is how you can easily do this:
Right side rows: Slip the first and last stitch purl-wise with the yarn in front.
Wrong side rows: Knit the first stitch of the row through the back loop. Knit the last stitch of the row.
Using TBL to Mount Stitches Properly
In Western-style knitting, the knit stitch is mounted on the needle with the right leg positioned at the front and the left leg at the back.
When knitting, it is important that all the stitches are orientated in the same direction. That means that all the right legs should be at the front like in this illustration.
At times, a stitch can become twisted, so the wrong leg is in front as seen in this illustration.
When this happens, it is important that you turn the stitch around, so the twisted leg is facing the right way again.
How to Fix Twisted Stitches
There are usually two main reasons for a stitch being twisted on the knitting needle.
Actually, one common reason is that backwards stitch was created by wrapping the yarn incorrectly on the previous row.
Here is a typical example of how of it will look if you inadvertently twist the stitches by wrapping the yarn the wrong way.
As you can see, the stitches twisted stitches have a cross at the bottom and look almost like a “y”. Conversely, untwisted stitches look more like a “v” (second picture).
Additionally, another common reason for the stitch be twisted is that it was put onto the needle backwards when repairing a dropped stitch.
You can learn more about how to repair dropped stitches correctly in our two, step-by-step tutorials:
- Picking Up a Dropped Purl Stitch: Step-by-Step Tutorial
- Picking Up a Dropped Knit Stitch: Step-by-Step Tutorial
How to Fix Twisted Knit Stitches
Knit to where the twisted or backwards knit stitch is.
Insert the right-hand needle into the knit stitch through the loop behind the left-hand needle.
Pull the working yarn through the stitch as usual.
You can learn more about how to fix twisted knit stitches in this step-by-step tutorial: Learn How to Correct Twisted Knit Stitches
How to Fix Twisted Purl Stitches
Start by purling to where the twisted or backwards purl stitch is.
Insert the right-hand needle into the purl stitch through the loop behind the left-hand needle.
Pull the working yarn through the stitch as usual.
Would you like to learn more about how to fix twisted purl stitches? We have a step-by-step tutorial that you can find here: Learn How to Correct Twisted Purl Stitches