Knit through the back loop (ktbl) is similar to a regular knit stitch, but upon close inspection you will notice that the “legs” of the stitch are crossed.
Ktbl is a twisted stitch that adds a decorative effect to your work. It also creates a slightly tighter stitch than a regular knit stitch, though it’s not usually used over a wide area because it tends to bias (slant the fabric).
The back of a ktbl looks just like a purl through the back loop (ptbl), and vice versa.
The term “knit through the back loop” is a bit of a misnomer. It would be more correctly stated as “knit through the back of the loop”.
Watch this video to learn how to ktbl in both the Continental style and English style.
How to Knit Through the Back Loop
- Insert your left needle through the back of the 1st stitch purlwise
- Wrap the yarn counter clockwise around the right needle and pull it through the stitch. This is very much like doing a regular knit stitch.
- Slide the stitch off your left needle
Now look at your ktbl. If you stretch your work from side to side, the stitches you knit through the back loop shrink. The “regular” knit stitches expand. This is because knitting a stitch through the back loop twists it, making the left and right “legs” of the stitch cross. The arrows in the photo below point to the columns of ktbl & ptbl stitches.
Want to Practice Ktbl?
The beautiful Idril sweater uses Ktbl and ptbl to help accentuate and tighten the neckline edge. The lessons in our Idril Knit Along guide you step-by-step through the pattern. Check it out at https://knitalongclub.com/course/idril/.