Working in the front loop only or back loop only of a crochet stitch is a useful technique to know. With it, you can create different textures, layers, or even turn your work in a new direction. In this tutorial, see how to work in one loop only, and why to choose one loop or the other.
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Finding the front loop and back loop
Almost every crochet stitch has a V shape at the top. That V is made up of 2 loops, a front loop and a back loop. Many people get confused about which is which, because it’s not absolute.
The front loop is always the one closest to you. The back loop is always the one further away from you.
That means it changes depending on which side of the stitch you are looking at. When you’re working in rounds and not turning your work, the front and back loop look different than they do when you’re working in rows and turning your work.
Working into the front loop only or back loop only
Normally, you insert your hook under both the loops that make up that top V shape. But what if the instructions say to work into the front loop only (flo) or back loop only (blo)? To do that, insert your hook under only the specified loop instead.
It really is that simple!
Why work into 1 loop?
Working in one loop instead of both does 2 things. First, it leaves the other loop exposed / unused. Second, it shifts the stitch you’re making slightly to the front or the back.
Exposed loops are useful if you need something to work into later. This could be for seaming, adding another layer of fabric, decorative surface crochet, and more. They also create a pretty and subtle striping effect.
Changing the angle of the stitch can create a ribbed fabric. It can also help to turn your work in a different direction, when creating three dimensional objects. I use this as a ribbing technique often. You can see it in my Pumpkin Post Topper, Sapling Sweater Vest, Ice Scraper Mitt, and Super Stretchy Leg Warmers.
Front or Back?
The choice of which loop to work into depends on the effect you want to create. If you’re looking for exposed loops, which side of the fabric do you want them to be on? Working in the front loop will leave an exposed loop on the back, and working into the back loop will leave an exposed loop on the front.
Similarly, working in the front loop will tilt your stitches forward, while working in the back loop will tilt your stitches backwards. This tilt is not the same for both loops.
When working in rows, because you are turning your work, the top of the stitch leans towards the back. This means the back loop creates more of a tilt than the front loop. If you work every row in the back loop, it will tilt in one direction and then another. This alternating tilt creates a ribbed fabric.
This effect is much less noticeable when working in front loops, because it doesn’t tilt as much.
Working in rounds
If you turn your rounds, the stitches lean backwards just like in rows. If you do not turn your rounds but always work in the same direction, the stitches lean forwards.
In either case, the tilting effect is not as noticeable in rounds. Forming a closed circle, by joining or continuing around, pulls the stitches together so they are straight again. You may notice a bit of puffiness, but it won’t be as dramatic as it was in rows.