Guest Post By Mark Rougeux
Knitting through the back loop (ktbl) can be a very frustrating stitch, but it doesn’t have to be. It is designed to twist the stitches and is used to add strength to things like the soles of slippers. The stitch is also called the twisted garter stitch and creates tighter, more well-defined stitches.
There is one inherent problem with ktbl, it’s sometimes not easy to do. The pattern for the slippers I am currently making calls for using two strands of worsted wool. Since the stitches are tighter, manipulating them can be tiring on the hands, as well as making the stitch itself hard to manage.
I found a neat little trick that certainly made the stitch much easier. Instead of going through the back loop and trying to catch the back leg of the stitch, insert your needle as if to purl – through the front leg.
Keeping your needle in the loop, move it up and over the needle that it is crossing. You will have then placed the needle in the correct position to complete the stitch as a ktbl.
Increasing within a ktbl row
When your pattern calls for an increase for shaping, simply knit through the front and the back of the stitch (kfb) as you would normally. This usually happens after the first ktbl stitch and is then followed by ktbl stitches to the end of the row. If additional stitch increases are required, a kfb stitch does the trick again, but is done when there are two or three stitches remaining in the row to add strength. I am using this technique while creating the sole and toe of my slippers simultaneously.
Alternate for double-stranded ktbl
Working with a double strand of worsted wool is not difficult, but some do find it a bit awkward at first. After knitting a few wearable pieces, I tried knitting with a bulky yarn instead. I have found this to be a very good solution. There are lots of different plies of bulky yarn, so doing a swatch becomes a very important step before beginning your project. Keep in mind that while you are knitting with a double strand, you may be more inclined to knit more tightly than with one strand of bulky yarn. Make sure you use the same type of needle that you are planning to use as well. The tension while using a nickel-plated circular needle will be much different from a wooden, bamboo, or acrylic needles.
And there you have it. KTBL is not a difficult stitch, but it can be a bit daunting if you have to struggle with each stitch. Using the little trick in the first paragraph really saves me time and effort. When you have about 1500 stitches for one part of a project, you don’t need to argue with each new loop of yarn.
Are there any other stitch tutorials you would like to see on the blog?