Saturday, December 20, 2008

A useful increase: knit into the front, knit into the back of the same stitch

A review of the TECHknitting indexes shows that there are some techniques not yet illustrated, techniques which will be handy on the road ahead.

Here is one such technique. It is called "knit into the front, and then the back of the same stitch," and is sometimes abbreviated
  • k 1 f, b (knit 1 front, back) or
  • k f/b (knit front/back) or simply
  • kfb (knit front back)

As you can guess, knitting twice into the same foundation stitch causes this one foundation stitch give birth to two new daughter stitches, which is how this trick comes to be an increase.

Here is the how-to:

1. (below) This is the "before" picture of the foundation stitch into which you will kfb. In the illustration, the front of the foundation stitch (the right arm, which lays forward on the needle) is blue, while the back of the foundation stitch (the left arm, which lays behind the needle) is green. The running yarn--which will become the first part of the kfb--is pink.

2. (below) The pink running yarn has been knitted in the regular knitting way, and now lays as a loop on the right needle. Note that the foundation stitch (half green and half blue) has not been slid off the left needle. In other words, even though you have already knitted into the foundation stitch, you have only done the first half of the operation (the knitting into the front of the stitch) and therefore, the kfb stitch must remain on the left needle for the second half of the operation.

3. (below) The next step will be to knit into the back arm (the green arm) of the foundation stitch. The red arrow shows the path the needle must take. Specifically, you must swing the needle around to the back of the work, then down through the left arm of the foundation stitch, as shown by the arrow.

4. (below) As you see, swinging the right needle down and through the back (green) arm of the foundation stitch has twisted the foundation stitch into a figure "8," with the right needle through the TOP part of the stitch. Note that the bottom part of the foundation stitch is not twisted, only the top part of the stitch.

Once you have the needle through the top of the foundation loop, the next step is to pull through the running yarn (now colored purple).

5. (below) Here is the finished kfb with the purple running yarn drawn as a loop though the back (green) arm of the foundation stitch.

As you can see, the (pink) stitch through the front (blue) of the foundation stitch is drawn though the untwisted bottom part of the foundation stitch, while the (purple) stitch drawn though the back (green) arm of the foundation stitch is drawn through the twisted top portion of the foundation stitch--the twist having been made back in steps 3 and 4 when the right needle was inserted for the second time into the foundation stitch.

6 and 7. (below) Kfb has a reputation as an amateurish sort of an increase, but this reputation is undeserved. A regular series of kfb's looks very well, as the two final illustrations show.

You have been reading TECHknitting on "knit into the front, knit into the back, abbreviated k1 fb or k f/b or kfb"


Mary said...

The swatch at the end is very intriguing, but I can't tell exactly what I am looking at - is it an increase every row in the same place?
Thanks for all the work you do!

Calypso said...

Thanks for the tutorial on this - I'm relieved to know that I've been doing this correctly.

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Mary: It is, indeed, a swatch where the increases are made in the same spot on every round. This swatch was cast on in the middle and increased with 4 kfb's every round. Thanks for asking this important, clarifying question.

Dawn said...

Would you say kfb is a lean right or a lean left increase?

And would you mirror it with kbf? (Knit into the back first, then knit into the front?)

(I adore this blog, by the way. You are a knitting godsend.)

--TECHknitter said...

Hi Dawn: My original response to you took up 6 paragraphs, which is absurd. Boiled down, the essence of my reply is that kfb isn't a "leaning" increase in the same sense as, say, the increases featured in the TECHknitting post of March 21 2007, and the kbf is a hard trick to do.

For matching increase situations (a top-down raglan, for example) you're better off using one of the increases talked about in the paragraph above.

However, we shall soon put the kfb to good use in certain upcoming TECHknitting posts about binding off.

Stay tuned, and thanks for writing

Marjorie said...

That is interesting. I've only increased back and front when working in combined style, and I don't twist the stitch. I'm going to have to try your technique to see if the result looks different (since my stitch mount is different, it may not--but I don't have needles handy now). I sometimes do a get a little hole, and generally prefer a make-one to avoid it.

Have a nice holiday.

Anonymous said...

Genius! Thank you!! I am stuck at home awaiting an op and have started knitting in all my new spare time, but this instruction had me baffled until I saw your explanation.

I too think the swatch at the bottom looks lovely - beyond my current capabilities I think but inspiring none the less. Thanks again!

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Your diagrams and instructions are really nice to find for a beginner like me....thanks...Kerry

houndtooth said...

You are absolutely amazing! I love this site.

Question: I knit top down a sweater with a set in sleeve, designed sort of like a cardigan in that it is going to have a big deep scoop neck. I increased at each end of every other row 1 stitch in with a kfb. Duh! now that I am picking up around the neck to do a cowl I see that the 2 sides don't match. How would you have done this better? Is there a good matching increase? Should I not have done it 1 stitch in or wouldn't it really matter since they don't match no matter what?!

Deanne, Obl. S.B. said...

I have inwardly groaned when I saw this kfb in a pattern. I've been doing this wrong for years... with results that reflected my error.
Now I can enjoy using the stitch and seeing the finished project.
Thank you!

learner said...

I have found your web site last night and have to say a huge thank you, for you taking time out to help people to enjoy and learn new techniques of how you knit, I have only just took this up and have made some wonderful disasters, but you can always take it apart and try again until you learn the task, I have learnt so much from your site just browsing through it, thank you again and again

TECHknitter said...

Hi Learner--you are welcome!



anna said...

hi :) what do you think is the best knitting chart symbol for Kfb?

TECHknitter said...

Hi Anna-I don't know what the *best* symbol would be, but useful would be something which visually indicates one stitch becoming two, something with arms like a "Y" or a "V," perhaps.

Anonymous said...


My instructions say k1-b/f. Does this mean knit one back and front? I haven't seen this abbreviation anywhere else...

This site is a great resource, thank you so much.


TECHknitter said...

Hi Catey--yes, I would think that k1-b/f means knit 1 back, front.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much, I'm new to knitting and grateful for the assistance.


Alanna Baker said...

I love your site. You've shown me how to do-- and pick up-- kfbs, and how to fix a stitch at the beginning of a row.

But now I need to take it to the next level. I'm doing kfbs on the first stitch, and I missed one three or four rows down. Is there a way to fix it, or should I start crying now?

TECHknitter said...

It's pretty hard to fix a missed increase because on all the rows AFTER the increase, there's a stitch's-worth of yarn missing. In other words, you could drop down and add the kfb, but as you latch back up, you'd have to drag yarn from the stitches alongside to create the new column. It CAN be done, but it takes a lot of picking at the surrounding fabric. Here is a post about it...

(Cut and paste the linky into your browser)

Good luck--TK