Twisted Stitches – Knitting or Purling Through Back Loop

The appearance of basic stitch patterns can be altered by entering the stitch contrary to the usual way – knitting or purling through the back loop. Working into the back of a stitch twists the loop a half turn at the base so that it does not lie as flat as a regular stitch.

Abbreviations

The abbreviations for working through the back loop may be written as:

  • Kb (knit one stitch through back loop) or Pb (purl one stitch through back loop)
  • Ktbl (knit one stitch through back loop) or Ptbl (purl one stitch through back loop)
  • K2togb (knit two together through back loop) or P2togb (purl two together through back loop)
  • K2togtbl (knit two together through back loop) or P2togtbl (purl two together through back loop)

I prefer the use of “tbl” instead of “b”, because Kb can also mean to knit one stitch in row below, that forms a different stitch pattern. Make sure to check the abbreviations listed in the pattern instructions.

How to work through the back loop?

Ktbl: To form a twisted knit stitch, insert the right needle into back of the first loop on the left needle. Bring the yarn under and over right needle in clockwise direction, as you would for a regular knit stitch, and knit it.

Ptbl: To form a twisted purl stitch, insert the right needle into back of first loop on the left needle. Wrap yarn and work as for a normal purl stitch.

how to knit or purl through back loop

K2togtbl or P2togtbl: Working two stitches together through back loop forms a left slanting decrease on the knit side of the fabric. Apply the same methods as above, but the difference is you are either knitting or purling two stitches together instead of working one.

working two stitches together through back loop
from Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Knitting Book 2018
sample of left slanting decrease - K2togtbl
Left Slanting Decrease K2togtbl

Patterns With Twisted Stitches

There are many pattern stitches that require you to knit or purl through the back loop. These are some of the common patterns: twisted stockinette stitch, single half twist rib, and a single full twist rib.

To make twisted stockinette stitch, work into the back loop of all stitches on a knit row, and work the purl row normally.

sample of twisted stockinette stitch

For a single half rib, on the right side row knit all stitches through the back loop, and work all the purl stitches normally. On the wrong side row, work knit and purl stitches normally.

sample of single half twist rib

For a single full twist rib, on the right side row work all knit stitches through the back loop, and work the purl stitches normally. On the wrong side row, purl all stitches through the back loop and work all the knit stitches normally.

sample of single full twist rib

Note: You’ve probably twisted stitches when returning them to the needle after unravelling rows. To fix this common mistake and return a twisted stitch to a regular knit or purl stitch, simply work into the back loop of the twisted stitch to turn it back to normal.

Swedish Check pattern stitch using Ktbl

This lovely, allover textural pattern, called Swedish Check from Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns incorporates twisted knit stitches. I’m using this stitch pattern for a poncho design I’ve just started working on.