4 Common Knitting Abbreviations That Cause Confusion

With the variety of knitting magazines around the world, it’s difficult to standardize knitting abbreviations. It’s not uncommon to find slightly different abbreviations for the same term. One of the most common differences occur with “kb, k1b, kb1 and ktbl”. Read your pattern instructions carefully to make sure that you are using the correct one, or you will end up with a very different knit fabric.


kb – this most often means to knit one stitch in the row below, but sometimes it refers to knit through the back loop of the stitch.

k1b – this is the more accurate abbreviation of knit one in the row below. With the yarn at the back, insert needle through centre of the stitch one row below next stitch on the left needle. Knit it in the usual way, slipping the top stitch off the needle at the same time. (The top loop or stitch on the left needle is not worked)

making knit one in row below

finished knit one in row below

kb1 – knit into the back of next stitch, or knit through the back loop. This abbreviation is easily confused with k1b.

ktbl – this is a more correct abbreviation for “knit through the back loop of next stitch”. Insert needle, right to left under the left needle into back of stitch (loop farthest away from you). Knit it in the usual way.

making a knit one through back loop

Patterns Using K1b

Knitting through the stitch in the row below creates some interesting textured patterns. Here are two examples of stitch patterns using k1b.

Fisherman’s Rib

This rib variation makes a deep, fluffy rib that looks the same on both sides, and makes a beautiful allover fabric. It requires more yarn, and takes more rows to work than the same length of stockinette stitch fabric.

Even number of stitches

Cast on the required number of stitches.

Row1: *p1, k1b; rep from *, end p2.

Repeat this row for pattern.

Fisherman's Rib swatch
Beaded Rib

This is a variation of Fisherman’s Rib, where the right side rows are worked in knit stitches only, and the wrong side rows utilize k1b and purl stitches. The right side of this fabric is fluffy like Fisherman’s Rib, but the back side looks like single rib and is more flat. This pattern also makes a lovely allover fabric.

Odd number of stitches

Row 1(RS): k across to end.

Row 2: *p1, k1b; rep from * to last st, p1.

Repeat these two rows for pattern.

right side of beaded rib stitch pattern

wrong side of beaded rib stitch pattern

I would suggest to add an edge stitch on each side with both of these patterns, which allows for easier seaming.

Some knitting abbreviations are slightly different for the same term. Carefully read the instructions so that you use the correct technique. It also helps to develop an eye for reading knit stitches and fabric.