How to purl front and back

Step by step photo instructions for the pfb knitting stitch including a detailed video tutorial

Are you looking for a detailed tutorial for the pfb knitting stitch? Then you came exactly to the right place because this article is all about this increase for the wrong side. There’s a video you may watch, and tons of high-resolution pictures on top of that. Even if you are a beginner, I’m pretty sure you will be able to master this technique.

How to purl front and back

What does pfb mean in knitting?

It’s the abbreviation for “purl front & back”. It’s a right-leaning knitting increase where you purl into the same stitch twice. First, you purl into the front loop and then you purl one more time into the back loop. It’s the purl equivalent to kfb – knit front & back

Sometimes you will also find P1FB or PF&B in a pattern. They all refer to the same stitch.

How to purl front and back

Let’s knit it together, eh?

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Instructions for knitting pfb knitting increase

How to purl front and back

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to purl front and back the continental way. The technique will be exactly the same for English knitters. You insert the needle in the exact same way – you only throw around the yarn differently.

First, you knit a purl stitch, and then a purl tbl into the same stitch. Let's take a look:

Materials

Tools

Instructions

  1. Bring the yarn to the front, and insert the right needle from right to left into the first stitch on your left needle.

How to purl front and back

How to purl front and back

How to purl front and back

How to purl front and back

Notes

This is a difficult increase if you are tight a knitter. knitting the previous row with a bit more slack will help. You can also loosen up the stitch a bit with your right needle before you knit it.

Make sure to knit a bit further up the taper so you don’t run the risk of dropping the stitch. You can also secure the stitch with your index finger a bit to prevent any accidents as you try to insert your needle into the back loop.

Also know, that there are other increases for the wrong side that might be easier to knit for you. M1PL or PLL could be an option as well. Though, they make use of a strand from the row below, so a backward loop increase is probably the better option for a very similar look & feel.

How to purl front and back

Alternatives: Purl back, Slip front twisted

How to purl front and back

Now, pfb creates a little visible little bar on the right side. That’s the reason why these stitches are typically called “bar increases”. If you want to avoid that, you have to knit this decrease a bit differently.

How to purl front and back

Interestingly enough, it is the only way to create a visible right-slanting decrease line on the purl side I found:

  • Step 1: Purl through the back loop and keep the loop on the left needle.
  • Step 2: Slip the remaining loop to the right needle but twist it as you do (see picture below).

Purling the front and slipping the back loop does not yield any meaningful improvement if you ask me. If you take a closer look at the swatch below you can still see a bar. I thought this was quite interesting as it is a very common method to improve KFB.

How to purl front and back

Also, one would assume that purling one stitch and then slipping the loop untwisted would create something that would look exactly like a KRL. However, no matter what I tried, I couldn’t do it without creating eyelets.

Tip: Check out the left lifted purl increase for a more invisible version.

PFBF – purl front, back, front

How to purl front and back

You can modify the standard pfb-technique and turn it into a double increase. This is a very rare increase but nevertheless, some patterns do feature the pfbf. You knit it in the exact same way. The only difference is that you add another purl stitch through the front loop at the end.

  1. Do a regular purl stitch & keep the loop on the needle.
  2. Purl through the back loop of the same stitch, keep the loop on the needle.
  3. Purl one more time into the front loop & drop the loop.

This is both a fast and somewhat difficult increase. Again, it helps if you are a loose knitter and you are knitting with needles with sharp tips. It will look a bit wonky on both the right and the wrong side, so purl yarnover purl is probably the better option.

Much like knitting in the front and back (KFB) of a stitch, purling in the front and back (PFB) is a way to easily increase stitches. However, purling on both sides of the loop is not quite as intuitive as knitting in the front and back, though the technique is basically the same.

What happens if you purl every row?

A purl stitch looks just like the back of a knit stitch. If you purl every row, you get a bumpy texture, which is exactly like a knitted garter stitch. Slide the right needle down, and then bring the tip from front to back through the stitch, bringing the yarn with it.

What does F B mean in knitting?

Abbreviation: kfb. Knitting in the front and back of the same stitch is one way to increase the row by one stitch. In this video we will show you how to increase a stitch using the knit front back method. This technique is used in the Freya Fingerless Gloves Knitting Kit and the Bisous Cardigan Knitting Kit.

What does M mean in knitting?

A common method of increasing stitches is known as a make-one, abbreviated as M1 or M1L, for make-one-left. The most basic way to increase is knitting in the front and the back of a stitch. The make-one is performed in between two stitches, with the bar between the stitches.

What does Knit 1 Purl 2 mean?

That means that you will knit the first two stitches, then purl the next two stitches; then you will knit 2, then purl 2, again, and repeat the steps following the asterisk all across the row until the last two stitches which you will knit.

Why is my knitting purl on both sides?

You get garter stitch when you knit both sides – at the end of each knitted row, you turn and start knitting again. This happens in garter because purl stitches are bumpier / stick out further than knit stitches. The knit stitches hide. You can see them if you stretch the work vertically (stretch away from the needle).

What is knit a row purl a row called?

Stockinette stitch is a basic knitting stitch. To knit stockinette stitch (abbreviated St st), you alternate a knit row with a purl row. Stockinette stitch (or stocking stitch) is everywhere: scarves, socks, sweaters, blankets, hats — you name it.

What is Knit 1 Purl 1 called?

If you know how to knit and purl, then you can make a textured pattern called single rib, or “ knit one purl one ”. k1p1 single rib. Single rib is a stretchy piece of knitting often used for cuffs and hems. To make single rib you will knit one stitch, then purl the next stitch, and repeat to the end of the row.

What is knit 2 purl 2 called?

Second Common Rib Stitch Pattern This is 2 X 2 ribbing and that means you knit 2 stitches and purl 2 stitches all the way across your needle.

Knit one, Crochet too, then go make something to eat!

How to purl front and back

Knit front and Back (KfB) and Purl front and back (PfB) are the easiest ways (in my opinion) to increase the number of stitches you have when knitting. To make this increase stitch, you simply have to knit or purl the same stitch twice.

How to Knit front and back (KfB)

Knit front and Back (KfB) are increases made on the knitted side of your work. If you’re not sure what I mean by “Knitted side”? take a look at this post here).

To knit front and back, you will knit the same stitch twice. Once through the front loop and once through the back loop.

It’s really simple, the steps you will make are as follows:

How to purl front and back

How to purl front and back

How to purl front and back

You now have one extra stitch. The next time you come to this extra stitch, you will treat is like any other stitch and just knit or purl it as normal!

How to Purl front and back (PfB)

Purl Front and Back (PfB) are increases made on the purl side of your work. As above, if you’re not sure what I mean by “purl-side”, check out this post here. To purl front and back (PfB) you will Purl through the same stitch twice. Once through the front and then once through the back loop. DO’nt panic if the idea that there is a “front loop” and a “back loop” sounds confusing, the pictures below will show you what to do!

The steps to purl front and back are as follows:

How to purl front and back

How to purl front and back

How to purl front and back

How to purl front and back

Oohh, one extra stitch has been made yay!

As for knit front and back, the next time you come to this extra stitch, you will just knit or purl it as normal!

How to purl front and back

If you’ve ever knit through the back loop of a knitting stitch, you probably know that it produces a twisted stitch. Though it is less common to do so, the same thing can be accomplished from the wrong side of a knitting project—or wherever a purl stitch falls—by a move known as purling through the back loop.

In knitting patterns, you'll see this special stitch "p1 tbl" or "Ptbl." The directions may also say "purl into the back of the stitch," and, if you follow knitting expert Barbara G. Walker, you'll see it as "p1-b." No matter what it's called, the stitch is a bit awkward but easy and it will give your stitch the desired twist.

How to Purl Through the Back Loop

Doing a purl through the back loop is a little more fiddly than knitting through the back loop. It is not difficult to perform once you’ve tried it a couple of times.

When purling in the normal way, you work with the front part of the stitch—the part that is facing you and closest to you on the needle. When you purl through the back loop, you do exactly the same steps as regular purling, but you work with the part of the loop that is on the back of the needle.

The key to doing this properly is to make sure you're entering the back of the stitch from left to right when working the stitch to get the right twist.

You'll also sometimes see instructions that indicate going through the stitch from right to left. This will still make a twist, but many knitters find it even more awkward than the other method. As long as you're consistent, it doesn't matter which technique you use.

Stitch Patterns Using P1 TBL

Purling through the back loop produces a twisted stitch and it is commonly used in the twisted stockinette stitch.

There’s also a variation of single ribbing found in Barbara G. Walker’s “A Treasury of Knitting Patterns” that relies on back loop stitches. It involves knitting the knits through the back loop on the right side and purling the purls through the back loop on the wrong side throughout the pattern. You can see a picture of this stitch in action on the Walker Treasury website.

To write that in knitting language (works on an even number of stitches):

  • Row 1: *K1 tbl, p1. Repeat from * across. (This is the right side.)
  • Row 2: *K1, p1 tbl. Repeat from * across.
  • Repeat these 2 rows for pattern.

Another Walker Treasury stitch that uses p1 tbl is called the Twisted Check. This one uses both knit and purl stitches worked in the back loops to make a sort of tweedy textured pattern.

Here's how that one goes (requires an odd number of stitches):

  • Row 1: K every stitch through the back loop.
  • Rows 2 and 4: *K1, p1 tbl. Repeat from *, end k1.
  • Row 3: *P1, k1 tbl. Repeat from *, end p1.
  • Row 5: Repeat row 1.
  • Row 6: *P1 tbl, k1. Repeat from *, end p1 tbl.
  • Row 7: *K1 tbl, p1. Repeat from *, end k1 tbl.
  • Row 8: Repeat row 6.
  • Repeat these 8 rows for the pattern.

Twists Tighten Things up

Using twisted stitches makes the fabric tighter. If you're working a pattern that uses a lot of twisted stitches, your gauge can be quite different from plain stockinette. Make sure you always do a gauge swatch when working such a stitch pattern so you can make adjustments before diving into the project. You can also try working any pattern with twisted stitches on larger than called for needles.

Single & Double Increase Techniques

In order to knit a shape other than just a rectangle, ‘increases’ and ‘decreases’ are vital.

Increases are methods used to increase the total number of stitches on your needles so that what you’re knitting becomes wider.

Decreases are methods used to decrease the total number of stitches on your needles so that what you’re knitting becomes narrower.

On this page I’m going to teach you how to knit the pfb and pfbf increases, which are the purl equivalents of the kfb and kfbf increases respectively. They are usually used part-way through a row of purl stitches.

pfb = purl front and back.

This is a single decrease i.e. it increases the total number of stitches on your needles by 1.

pfbf = purl front, back and front again.

This is a double decrease i.e. it increases the total number of stitches on your needles by 2.

‘Front’ and ‘back’ refers to where you knit into a stitch; through the front of the loop or through the back of the loop (loop = stitch).

You may find that in these methods, the purling through the back of the loop (p tbl) is quite awkward to do. but don’t worry, that’s how it’s supposed to be!

In the demo below, I have added an alternative to the pfb at the end of the video; the pbf.

This means that you purl into the back of the loop before you knit through the front of the loop, which makes it a bit less awkward to do.

So if you’re struggling with the pfb, you can switch to the pbf if you wish. The appearance is slightly different, but it gets the same result. It also more closely mirrors the kfb increase.

Both the pfb and pfbf are ‘left-leaning‘ increases.

All this means is that these increases, like most other increases, lean/slant to one side when you look at them from the front of your knitting.

The pfb and pfbf lean slightly to the left.

They are also sometimes referred to as ‘bar’ increases, because they create a small, raised ‘bar’ of yarn, which is visible on the front of the knitting.

Yes, I know that knitting has taken over my blog. Forgive me, unknitty types, I’ll try to post more for you in the future. Since I get quite a few visitors from Ravelry, I thought I would try (“try” being the key word) to explain something that I could not for the life of me get when I recently made Kelly Maher’s Ribbed Lace Bolero, how to purl into the back of the second YO. I finally had to go to my LYS, (local yarn store for all those not in the know), the Haus of Yarn so they could show me how. Of course, being the autodidact I am (I flatter myself), I tried in vain researching on the web, looking at books, knitting and ripping out, before I finally (after three days, three days, people) admitted that I needed help from a professional. Keep in mind that I am a new knitter, so this is for all the new self-taught knitters who have no freaking clue how to purl into the back of the second yarn over. Let me know if this helps.

Ok, the right side is k2tog, yo, yo, ssk. On the wrong side, you are supposed to purl 1, purl into 1st yo, purl into back of second yo, purl. The part that got me tripped up is purling into back of 2nd yo.

This is me purling into first yo:

Then, I am left with this, the second yo, how the heck do I purl into the back of this thing.

Well, go up and under kinda like this, see that little stitch going around the back up there right above my thumb nail? Put your right needle in from the back and then. . .

20 comments:

I love the blog. Ours is here: www.rachellillian.blogspot.com

My sister is beginning homeschooling this fall (she has 3 babies w/ one on the way). I’ll send her a link to your site.

Your girls are amazing!

xo,
Shannon Bramblett Burke

Thank you so very much. I could not figure out how to do this anywhere. Another new/self taught knitter.

hey thanx a ton for that. i was going crazy trying to figure out how to purl into the back of the yo. that really helped . especially cz u put in the pictures. keep it coming!!

thank you thank you thank you! I have ripped apart my sweater about 5 times trying to figure this out. I appreciate finding your help so much!
Jenny

I have been looking for help on this shrug, namely the lace pattern. When I get home today I’m going to try it again. Thank you for posting this tutorial!

Thank you! I looked it up and thanks to you, figured out I was doing it right! You rock. Keep on talking about knitting, all you want!

VERY helpful! I totally get it now. Thank you so much for doing this. Maybe you should suggest that the original pattern maker on Rav should put a link to this on the main pattern page. A lot of people have problems w/ that part.

Thanks so much. I am knitting the ribbed lace bolero and was caught on the 2nd repeat of the lace pattern. Will rip those rows and do it again tonight. Thanks !!

I couldn't figure how to do this second row of the bolero. Thanks for your great pictures. Now, I'm confident I can complete my first lace project!

I am making the same shrug. I did not know I would have had a problem finding "purl into the back of the second yarn over" (after all I always found whatever else I needed) so I just googled that exact phrase, and there it was! Thanks to you.

Thank you so much. I just ripped out what i had done so far because when i i got to this row, I really made a mess of the thing trying to figure it out. Hopefully the second time will be more successful.

Thank you SO much for posting this! I've been wanting to knit this particular pattern, but in looking over it, I knew that I had absolutely no idea how to purl into the back of the second YO. Thanks for clearing that up! I know that this post will help me a lot when I begin the project. 🙂

You just saved my project, thank you! 🙂

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I couldn't figure this out either!! I ripped out the same 7 rows of a lace shawl about 25 times before I found your post and finally made it past row 8!!

I was so excited to find your explanation of this stitch. I thought I'd go crazy searching, but when I typed in "purl into back of second YO", your blog popped up. Thank you so much for taking the time to post.

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

Did I say thank you?

Looked all over for this.

Your blog is a hit! I searched how to purl into back of yarn over and easily found your helpful post. I am just starting my lace bolero. Any one who is interested in seeing my bolero (or other knitting projects) on ravelry can add me: amie1985

Thanks again for this awesome how-to!

So outstanding. I cannot thank you enough!

Thank you! I was just about to start the pattern (I'm a relatively new knotter and this will be my second lace project) and your blog was the first thing that popped up when I searched for help!

Sometimes you just want a scarf that won’t roll—EVER.
Or sometimes you need the back of an item to look just like the front. The easiest way to do that is to double knit—and mirror your pattern in reverse.
On this sample, you’ll see the red side facing you with white “flea” stitches. The reverse side of the fabric is EXACTLY the same, but white with red “flea” stitches.

How do you do that?
Double knitting—knitting both sides at once. That means the red stitches will all be knit stitches, followed by it’s partnered white stitch which you will purl. It helps to remember that all stitches are knit side facing out and purl side facing in to the tube you’re creating (genius, no?).
And it makes a LOT more sense actually watching it.

For practice try doing a simple double-knit tube (bookmark?). Start by taking any size yarn and needles—variegated that changes color rapidly is quite helpful.

For the tube:

  • Cast on 20 stitches.
  • Turn.
  • Knit 1, purl 1 across.
  • Turn.
  • Now, *knit the knit stitches you see and slip (slip and ignore) the purl stitches you see, all the way across.
  • Turn.
  • Now, knit the knit stitches and slip the purl stitches across.*
  • Now you have knit one complete row each side!

Keep going * to * for an inch or so, then pinch each side of the fabric and pull apart.
Neat, no?!
You can pull the sides away from each other because you formed a tube.

(If you CAN’T pull the sides apart that most likely means that somewhere you accidentally purled a stitch that should have been slipped.)

Now, pat yourself on the back and show this to everyone you meet today.
Someone will be impressed.

If you want to get really crazy, try the two colors in the video. Use a long tail cast on with one color going over your thumb and the other color over your finger. You’ll have a lovely little braided cast-on. Then start double knitting. At first you would want to keep one side one color and the other side the other color, as it’s easier to get the rhythm of the knitting/purling that way. But if you wanted to create a simple star pattern, you could easily use a pattern like this

The hardest thing to wrap your mind around is that you see five stitches on the chart, but you’ll really be knitting/purling ten.

Let’s break that down. Imagine you’re knitting with red and white. Start by deciding (this is arbitrary) that the blank squares in our little star pattern will be for the white facing you and the dots will be for the red facing you—those will be your knit stitches.
To mirror that pattern on the other side you need to purl it in the reverse colors—dominant red with a white star. That is what you will be purling.
So your first row will go like this:

  1. (white-dominant side facing) knit white, purl red, knit white, purl red, knit red, purl white, knit white, purl red, knit white, purl red (10 pattern stitches total, bold indicates the lower point of the star)
  2. turn
  3. (red-dominant side facing) knit red, purl white, knit white, purl red, knit white, purl red, knit white, purl red, knit red, purl white (bold indicates the middle row of the star)
  4. etc

I promise you this makes much more sense if you try it. I still have my first little tube bookmark and I’m still pretty impressed with myself every time I do this. Once you master this it’s easy to do other nifty things like knitting a sock inside a sock.

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More Increases Videos

Knit Left Loop

This increase is mirror reverse of KRL. See.

Make 1 Away

This is the easiest increase. It makes a.

Make 1 Left

This creates the exact same stitch as Make.

Moss Increase

An increase that creates a decorative dash. Very.

Make 1 Right

Matches M1F perfectly (mirror reverse of that increase).

Make 1 Right

Matches M1F perfectly (mirror reverse of that increase).

Bar Increase

A very easy increase, great for beginners, this.

Make 1 Towards

This matches M1A perfectly, and is just as.

Invisible Purl Increase

This is M1L done from the purl side.

M1L on the Purl side

Patterns rarely call for this, but here it.

Make 1 Left

This creates the exact same stitch as Make.

Knit Right Loop

This increase, paired with KLL, is ideal if.

Afterthought Yarn Over

Rarely called for, this increase creates a hole.

Knit Left Loop

This increase is mirror reverse of KRL. See.

Yarn Over

The essential increase to all lace patterns! This.

M1R on the Purl side

Patterns rarely call for this, but here it.

Make 1 Towards

This matches M1A perfectly, and is just as.

Knit Right Loop

This increase, paired with KLL, is ideal if.

Purl Front & Back

Rarely called for, but here it is. This.

Afterthought Yarn Over (Purl version)

The afterthought yarn over, executed on the wrong.

Yarn Over

The essential increase to all lace patterns! This.

Afterthought Yarn Over (Purl version)

The afterthought yarn over, executed on the wrong.

Afterthought Yarn Over

Rarely called for, this increase creates a hole.

Make 1 Away

This is the easiest increase. It makes a.

M1L on the Purl side

Patterns rarely call for this, but here it.

Invisible Purl Increase

This is M1L done from the purl side.

Moss Increase

An increase that creates a decorative dash. Very.

M1R on the Purl side

Patterns rarely call for this, but here it.

Bar Increase

A very easy increase, great for beginners, this.

Rarely called for, but here it is. This is the Bar increase executed on the “wrong side” of the knitting.