Have you ever come across a crochet pattern that instructs you to work in the back loop only, and wondered why this is necessary? There are a number of reasons why it is useful to know how to work this stitch variation.
Back Loop Only, Blo Crochet Tutorial
What is Back Loop Only Crochet?
Back loop only crochet is a technique used to create ribbing in crochet projects. Back loop only adds a lovely textural ridge to your crochet surface. It is useful when joining crochet pieces together and if you are working Fair Isle crochet it helps to keep your stitches aligned nicely. It is often used in Amigurumi, to form a crocheted rib, or to form a fold line in the crochet fabric.
This tutorial will show you how to identify the back loop in crochet as well as how to use BLO to form a ribbing. It is an essential skill for making sweaters and beanies where you need a ribbed edge.
Supplies for BLO Crochet
- Type of yarn of your choice.
- Crochet hook to suit the yarn - Use a crochet hook ½ to one size smaller than recommended on the yarn label if working this as a rib.
- Tapestry needle or yarn needle
- Stitch markers if working in the round.
Abbreviation for Back Loop Only
The abbreviation for Back Loop Only is BLO. It can also be written as TBL (through back loop) or just as BL.
- st(s) = stitch(es)
- ch = chain stitch crochet
- hdc = half double crochet
- sc = single crochet stitch
- sl st = slip stitch crochet
- YO = yarn over
I will be using American crochet terms throughout.
Where to Insert the Hook for Back Loop Only
If you work a row of crochet stitches and look at the top of that row, you will see a row of V-shaped stitches at the top.
Usually, you insert your hook through the entire V to work your next row of stitches and have 2 loops over your hook.
If you look carefully at the top of the stitches, the part of the V closest to you is the front loop, and the part farthest away, at the back of the V is the back loop.
You can see here where to insert the hook for front loop only. Learn more about front loop only crochet stitch (flo stitches).
How to Back Loop Only Pattern Step by Step
Here is how to do back loop only for half double crochet. The technique is the same for all types of crochet stitches. You crochet the stitch as you would normally with the only difference being that you insert the hook into the back loop instead of through both loops.
Step 1 - Crochet the First Row
Chain the required length of stitches, turn and crochet the first row with your chosen basic crochet stitch. Chain the correct amount of turning chains and turn your work ready for the first row of back loop stitches.
Step 2 - Insert Hook into the Back Stitch
Now, to work BLO technique, you will skip over the front loop, yarn over, and insert your hook into the center of the V, so that it only goes through the back loop to start your stitch.
You can work any crochet stitch as a BLO stitches but this is showing a half double crochet.
Here is a half double crochet back loop only (hdc blo).
Step 3 - Continue Back Loop for Whole Row
You will see that when you work BLO, all those front loops will stand out in front of your fabric and create a ridge.
These ridges work very effectively if you want to create a crochet rib at the bottom of your piece. The rib section has to be worked sideways. Rib worked in this way is very elastic and reverts back to form nicely.
How to Use SC BLO to Crochet a Rib
When knitting, you usually start with a rib to create a cuff or a hem to pull your fabric in slightly at the bottom of the garment. If you want this effect on a crochet garment, it needs to be worked separately, as it is worked sideways.
Because you want the rib section to be a little tighter than the rest of the fabric, it is best to use a crochet hook ½ to 1 size smaller than that used for the main part of the garment.
My sample swatch below is made in single crochet (sc blo). You could use any basic stitches including a dc blo.
You can also choose to work the rib first, at the beginning of the garment, or last when you have already made the main part of the work.
Step 1 - Crochet The Blo Rib
This is the easier option, in my opinion! Work out how wide you want the rib to be. Remember, you are working this rib sideways.
- Crochet a starting chain of that width. My example is using 8 chains, plus 1 turning chain.
- Single crochet in the 2nd chain from the hook. Single crochet in every stitch to the end. Turn.
- * Chain 1 (turning chain). Single crochet in the first stitch.
- Single crochet in BLO into each stitch along the row, until the last stitch.
- Single crochet into that stitch. In patterns, this may be written as Blsc. (Back loop single crochet.) Turn.
- Repeat from * as many times as you need, until your rib is long enough.
Step 2 - Join the BLO Ribbing to the Main Garment
To join your ribbing onto the main garment: (I have used contrasting colors for clarity.)
If working in the round for a cuff or hem:
- Fold the rib in half and join it into a ring using a slip stitch.
- Using a hook ½ to 1 size larger, chain 1, and work 1 row of single crochet around the ribbing (1 single crochet into each row of rib).
- Slip stitch to 1st sc to close the round.
- Now work your garment upwards from this rib. Continue with the crochet pattern for the main part of your garment, working into the row of sc.
If working flat, and joining pieces together, the rib only needs to be as long as the width of the garment piece, eg the back of the garment.
- Using the larger hook, chain 1, work 1 single crochet into each row of ribbing.
- Turn, chain 1. Continue with the crochet pattern for the main part of your garment, working into the row of single crochet.
Step 3 - If You Want To Work The Back Loop Only Rib Last
You can choose to work the ribbing on afterward, once you have completed the main part of the project. You will join it as you go.
- Change to a smaller hook, ½ to 1 size smaller than what you used for the rest of the project.
- Chain 8. If you want a wider rib, chain more stitches.
- Now, to join the ribbing to the garment: Work 1 single crochet into each chain. Join the edge of the main project by working a slip stitch through the bottom stitch of the main piece.
- Work another slip stitch into the next stitch along. (2 slip stitches for joining.) Chain 1, turn.
- *Start from 3rd stitch from hook, single crochet into next stitch. BLO sc until 1 stitch remains, sc in last stitch. Turn.
- Chain 1, sc in 1st stitch. BLO sc until 1 stitch remains, sc in last stitch. (You will now be back against the edge of your main piece.) Join on again using slip stitch into next stitch along, then another slip stich into following stitch. (As before.) Chain 1, turn.
- Repeat from * until ribbing covers the entire edge of the project.
- If you are working in the round, join the last row to the first using a slip stitch.
- If you are working flat, on separate pieces, work to the outer edge of the ribbing, then end off the yarn, leaving a long tail for joining up later.
Back Loop Crochet For Amigurumi
If creating amigurumi is your crochet passion, you may want to try using BLO, even if your pattern doesn’t ask for it.
Using BLO crochet will make a difference in the texture and appearance of your project. There will, of course, be little ridges along each round. This makes it easier to count rows, add stitch markers, and join all the pieces of your amigurumi together. (you can join them using the easily available front loops.)
Your fabric will also be softer, as you are not creating such thick, firm stitches as you would when working through both loops. The fabric will seem thinner and more elastic. It will also be slightly taller because working into BLO makes taller stitches than conventional stitches.
You can convert any amigurumi pattern into a BLO pattern, simply by working exactly the same stitches, but only into the back loops.
Back Loop Only - In Conclusion
Although all my pictures have been using single or hdc crochet, you can use the back loop only technique for any basic crochet stitch. Simply work the required number of yarn wraps, then when inserting your crochet hook, insert it into the back loop only, and continue forming the stitch as normal.
Next time you are working on a crochet pattern and come across the BLO instruction, you will know exactly what to do. You may even find yourself using ‘Back Loop Only’ even when the pattern doesn’t say you should! It is very easy to learn, and does have quite a few advantages!
- Crochet Hook
- Chain the desired length, and crochet the first row of your basic crochet stitch. Chain the turning chain and turn. Identify the back loops.
- Stitch by inserting the hook into the back loop.
- Complete the stitch.
- Continue across all rows for a crochet ribbing.