TFL and TBL: Knit Through Front and Back Loops [FREE Knitting Tutorial]

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.

KTBL Tutorial Step 1 : Inserting the right knitting needle to the back of the first loop on the left.

Wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle as usual and pull the new loop through the knit stitch.

KTBL Tutorial Step 2 : Right knitting needle pulling the new loop form the left.

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.

PTBL Tutorial Step 1 : Inserting the right knitting needle to the back of the first loop on the left.

Wrap the yarn around the right-hand needle as usual and pull the new loop through the purl stitch.

PTBL Tutorial Step 2 : Wrapping the working yarn around the right knitting needle.

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.

Untwisted stitches on a knitting project
Western Knitting
Eastern Style Knitting Project
Eastern Knitting

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.

Text area which says "TFL and TBL: Knit Through Front and Back Loops , learnknittingonline.com" followed by a loop in a knitting project being pulled through from the back using the right hand needle

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.

Western-style knitting with arrows pointing to the back loops and bar

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.

Knitted stitches in Standard Orientation

At times, a stitch can become twisted, so the wrong leg is in front as seen in this illustration.

Knitted stitches in Non-standard Orientation

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.

Twisted stitches on a knitting project
Twisted Stitches
Untwisted stitches on a knitting project
Untwisted Stitches

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:

How to Fix Twisted Knit Stitches

Knit to where the twisted or backwards knit stitch is.

Correct Twisted Stitches Step 1: Twisted stitch on the left needle highlighted.

Insert the right-hand needle into the knit stitch through the loop behind the left-hand needle.

Correct Twisted Stitches Step 2: A stitch being knitted by inserting the right needle through the back of the loop.

Pull the working yarn through the stitch as usual.

Correct Twisted Stitches Step 3: The corrected stitch at the right needle highlighted.

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.

Correct Twisted Purl Stitches Step 1: Twisted stitch on the right needle highlighted.

Insert the right-hand needle into the purl stitch through the loop behind the left-hand needle.

Correct Twisted Purl Stitches Step 2: A stitch being purled by inserting the right needle through the back of the loop.

Pull the working yarn through the stitch as usual.

Correct Twisted Purl Stitches Step 3: The corrected stitch at the right needle highlighted.

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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*