How to Do Back Loop Crochet
Change the look of basic crochet stitches when you crochet through the back loop only. By inserting your hook though only one of the stitch loops, you can create ribbing and ridged crochet work that stretches but remains solid.
There's nothing too mysterious about back loop (or front loop!) crochet. Once you know how to work simple crochet stitches—even just single crochet—you can do this.
Some patterns that use back loop crochet have different names or abbreviations for this variation of basic stitches. You might see it as back loop only (blo), through the back loop (tbl), or simply back loop (bl). The same goes for crocheting through the front loop with similar abbreviations.
The first step is to get yourself familiar with the loops of the crochet stitches, so grab some DK or worsted weight yarn and a crochet hook in a size that matches your yarn, and give it a try.
Note: This tutorial uses US crochet terms, but the process is the same for UK terms.
Look at the Row of Stitches
To keep this practice swatch simple, start with a chain of 10 to 20 stitches, then work a row of single crochet.
Normally as you crochet, you tend to look at the side the faces you. To see how back loop crochet works, look at the row from the top.
Each stitch looks like a V with the top of the V pointing in the direction of the hook and the bottom of the V pointing away from the hook. Each side of the V is one of the loops.
Where to Insert the Hook for Normal Crochet
First, it helps to look at how to insert the hook for standard crochet stitches. When you form regular stitches, you insert the hook through both loops as you see above.
With the hook in loops of the stitch, you can see one loop closer to you (the front loop) and one loop farther from you (the back loop).
Now that you see the difference, it's time to remove the hook and start crocheting through the back loop.
Where to Insert the Hook for Back Loop Crochet
For back loop crochet, insert your hook through the back loop only and complete the stitch as you normally would.
When you work half double, double, and treble crochet, wrap the yarn over as usual and work into the back loop, then finish the stitch.
Continue Crocheting in the Back Loop Only
When you reach the end of the row, make your turning chain and turn your work.
To work the next row, once again, work in the back loop. Even after you turn it, the back loop is always the one that's farther away from you.
As you make a few rows, you'll start to see the ridges or ribbing start to appear.
Ways to Use This Technique
The ridges that back loop crochet creates can be helpful for adding ribbing to sweater cuffs and hems. This technique frequently shows up in amigurumi too.
For a different look, but with almost the same method, work your stitches through the front loop only. This version has less prominent ridges and creates a more open crocheted fabric. FLO stitches show up in this Slip Stitch Men's Scarf.
You can even alternate between the front and back loop with each stitch for a very textured style.
Make a few swatches to try out this technique and you'll be ready for the next time a pattern works through just one loop.