Working in the front loop only when crocheting is a handy technique to know. It is an easy technique, probably actually easier than conventional crochet! I say this because when I was a child learning to crochet, I actually didn’t realize that I was supposed to insert the hook through both loops at the top of the row and found it easier to work through one loop only! There was no Internet in those days, my gran lived too far away, and my mum didn’t crochet at all!
Crochet Front Loop Only (FLO Crochet) Tutorial
It gives your work a little extra stretch and adds texture to your fabric. It can be used with any crochet stitch you choose. When working in the front loop only, your crochet fabric will be lighter and less dense than with regular crochet.
Supplies for Flo Crochet
Any yarn and a hook suitable for that yarn.
Abbreviations for Front Loop Only
The abbreviation for front loop only is flo. Some patterns write it in upper case- FLO.
All terminology used in this tutorial is in US crochet terms.
How to Find The Front Loop in Crohet
When working in any crochet stitch, you will see how the top of the row forms little v-shapes. The V is made up of a front loop and a back loop with a little space in between. The front loop is always the one closest to you, and the back loop is the one further away from you.
To work front loop only (flo), you only insert your hook through that front loop, and then through the middle space, rather than through the whole V shape, ie. both loops, as you normally would.
When you work into one loop only, it leaves the other loop unworked and exposed. If you are working front loop only, the back loops are left unworked.
This leaves a ridge, which can then be used for seaming, decorative work, adding another layer of crochet, or creating a textural stripe.
How To Front Loop Only (FLO) In Single Crochet
To work single crochet front loop only:
- Work your foundation chain, +1 extra, and turn.
- Work 1 single crochet into each chain, chain1, and turn.
- Insert hook into front loop only (flo) of the first single crochet stitch.
- YO, pull up a loop. (2 loops on hook)
- YO, pull through both loops. (1 loop on hook) This makes 1 front loop only single crochet stitch.
- Continue to work front loop only single crochets (flo sc) in each stitch across the row.
- Chain 1, turn. When you turn, you will see a neat row of back loops horizontally across the row.
- Chain1, turn.
- Work a front loop only into each single crochet again, across the row.
This will make the textured line of back loops show up in every alternate row. Working like this creates a lovely texture on both sides of your fabric.
For a different texture, you can alternate a row of front loop only with a row of conventional single crochet.
How To Front Loop Only into Half Double Crochet (hdc)
How to half double crochet front loop only:
- Work the foundation chain, +2 extra, turn.
- Work 1 half double crochet into 2nd chain from hook, then into each chain across.
- Chain 2, turn.
- YO, insert hook into front loop only of the second half double crochet.
- YO, pull through all loops. This makes 1 front loop only half double crochet.
- Continue working flo hdc across the row.
- Keep going until your work is the required length.
You can see that this is just the same as the front loop only single crochet, but using a slightly taller stitch. You can work front loop only into any crochet stitch at all; each time, you will get the subtle stripes of the unworked back loops at the top of your stitches.
How To Front Loop Only In The Round
Working front loop only in the round gives a slightly different effect because you are working flo into every single row, rather than alternate rows.
When you are working back and forth in rows, you turn your work every row, so your front loop only effect only shows up in every second row, but on both sides of the fabric.
When you are working in rounds, the right side of the work is facing you all the time. This means that the front of the round will be smooth, while the back of the round will show the ridges.
The ridges are much more prominent when front loop only is worked in the round. You can always use the ‘back’ as your right side if you want that ridged effect!
The method of working does not change; you will simply work in rounds, increasing as necessary, but only into front loops every time.
When increasing crochet in the round (ie. working 2 stitches into 1), you must work twice into the front loop only. Every single time you insert your hook to make a new stitch, it must be into the front loop.
Front Loop Only For Invisible Decreasing
When decreasing in crochet, you will crochet two stitches together to make them into one stitch, thus reducing your stitch count. If you work the stitches together as normal, each decrease creates a slight bump.
If you want to decrease invisibly, at the start of a row, you will proceed as follows: (Single Crochet)
- Work the first stitch, then insert the hook into the front loop of the next stitch.
- Do not continue with that stitch! Insert the hook into the front loop only (flo) of the next stitch.
- YO, then draw through the first 2 loops. (2 loops left)
- YO, then draw through both loops.
- One loop remains on the hook, and your decrease is complete.
This explanation is for single crochet, but it can be worked with any stitch. Just insert the hook through the front loop only (flo) of the next 2 stitches, then work the stitch accordingly.
FLO For Amigurumi
If you are crocheting amigurumi, you must create ball shapes for the parts of your creature’s body and head. Amigurumi are generally created using single crochet. If you use front loop only single crochet, the right side will be suitably smooth and if you use the invisible decrease explained above, you will have no gaps or bumps where the stuffing will show through!
The inside of your ball shape will have ridges, but they won't be visible at all.
Front Loop Only vs Back Loop Only (FLO vs BLO)
Blo is the abbreviation for back loop only. It is created similarly but works only into the back loop of your v-shaped stitches at the top of the row. You would expect them to look the same, but surprisingly, they don’t!
When you work into front loop only, the rows get an elongated effect as the work stretches out slightly more. It has a slight ridged effect from the back loops being exposed and unworked.
When you work into the back loop only (blo), you get more obvious ridges, which are often used to create a rib effect in crochet. This ‘rib’ has to be worked sideways. If you are not aiming for a rib, the back loop only gives a horizontal pleat effect.
Front Loop Only - In Conclusion
You can convert any pattern into front loop only (flo), just be sure to check your gauge, as this may change slightly from conventional basic crochet stitches, because of the slight elongation of the stitches as well as the less dense fabric it creates.
As mentioned, you can work flo in any stitch, just by inserting the hook into the flo, rather than through the entire v- shape before working the rest of the stitch.
The beauty of front loop only crochet is that it creates stitch variations without any extra work! You don’t need to memorize any new stitches to create this texture! Also, flo creates a stretchier fabric than conventional crochet, so when you want your project to have extra stretch, this is the go-to choice.
Try experimenting with variations of these stitches. Try alternating flo and ordinary crochet, or flo and blo, or blo and ordinary crochet. Or what about 2 rows flo, 1 row ordinary crochet? You will surprise yourself with the different textures you can create using this technique!
Front Loop Only Crochet
- Crochet Hook
- Work the foundation chain + 1 extra, turn. 1 single crochet into each chain, chain 1 and turn. Insert the hook into the front loop only of the first single crochet.
- To work front loop only, insert the hook into the front loop of the stitch below. Normally you would insert the hook under both loops.
- Yarn over, pull through a loop. Yarn over and pull through both loops. This makes one single crochet front loop only stitch.
- Continue single crocheting into the front loops across the row.
- Continue for the rest of the row.