Twisting Stitches Knitting through the Back Loop

When stitches are lined up in the ready-to-work position, they have a front and a back. The front of the stitch is the part of the loop on your side of the needle. The back of the stitch is, well, on the side of the needle facing away from you. When you knit in the usual fashion, you work into the front of the loop; you insert your RH needle into the stitch from left to right, lifting and spreading the front of the loop — the side of the loop on your side of the needle — when you insert your needle (see Figure 6-6a).

Figure 6-6:

You can

Front of the loop

Back of the loop

Figure 6-6:

You can

Front of the loop

Back of the loop

By knitting through back of the loop (abbreviated ktbl), you twist the stitch and create a different effect. Stitch patterns that use twisted stitches have an etched, linear quality. On a background of reverse stockinette stitch, a vertical or wavy line of twisted stitches stands out in sharp definition. Frequently, you find twisted stitches combined with cables in traditional Aran patterns.

If your instructions tell you to knit through the back of the loop, they're asking you to change the direction from which your needle enters the stitch. When you work into the back of a stitch, you're deliberately twisting the stitch. You can purl into the front and back of a stitch as well:

I To knit through the back of the loop: Insert your needle from right to left, with the RH needle behind the LH needle, lifting and spreading the back of the loop — the side of the loop on the opposite side of the needle (see Figure 6-6b). Then wrap the yarn around the needle and pull a new loop through.

I To purl through the back of the loop: Insert your needle through the back of the loop from right to left (see Figure 6-7b) and purl as normal.

Figure 6-7:

Purling into the front (a) and the back (b) of stitches.

Front (purl side) of the loop

Back of the loop

Front (purl side) of the loop

Back of the loop

Figure 6-7:

Purling into the front (a) and the back (b) of stitches.

HBEff Abbreviations can vary from pattern to pattern. Some patterns use ktbl to mean "knit through back of loop"; others use k-b to mean the same thing. What can be even more confusing is that many patterns use k-b to mean "knit in the stitch below" (a technique discussed in the later section "Knitting into the stitch below"). Before you start, check your pattern to see what its abbreviations stand for.

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