Are you looking to add some variety to your crochet repertoire? If so, front loop only (FLO) and back loop only crochet (BLO) stitches are a great way to do it! These two variations on traditional crochet stitches can produce completely different results, simply by working into different loops of the stitch.
In this blog post, I’ll show you how to crochet both FLO and BLO stitches, plus chat about why and where we use them in crochet patterns.
What does FLO and BLO in crochet mean?
Crocheting in either the Front Loop Only or Back Loop Only is a really easy technique that you can use to add texture to your crochet. It is often used in crochet ribbing (for example in my Harris Sweater) as it creates ‘ridges’ that look great on cuffs and bands, but also throughout crochet projects like blankets to give extra interest and texture to the stitches.
In crochet patterns, you’ll generally find it written as:
- BLO – Back Loop Only
- FLO – Front Loop Only
Both the BLO and FLO stitches are worked in exactly the same way as regular crochet stitches, but as the names suggest you only use either the front or back loops to work them.
Front loop vs back loop crochet
If you hold a piece of crochet in front of you (they can be any of the basic stitches) you’ll see that the top of the stitches look like a row of Vs from above. Traditionally when you learn how to crochet you insert your hook through both the front and back loops of a stitch to work.
A great way to add texture and interest to your crochet is to work your stitches through just one of the loops of the V, either the front or the back loop of the stitch. The part of the V closest to you is the front loop. The part of the V farther away from you on the opposite side is the back loop.
In the two images below you can see the needle being inserted into the flo and then the blo.
Regular stitches are worked into the full part of the stitch so they are flatter and create very little texture, whereas the front and back loop stitches create lovely ridges of the unworked loops as you can see in the images in the post.
What is the difference between the Front Loop and Back Loop in Crochet?
As you’ve probably guessed by now, the difference between the FLO and BLO in crochet is that you only use the front loop of the stitch you’re working into for a front loop stitch and only the back loop for a back loop stitch.
The stitches that you crochet into the loops are worked in exactly the same way as you would normally. It is the position of the stitch that makes in either front or back loop.
So for example a single crochet blo would be worked in the regular way that a single crochet would. The only difference is that you use just the back loop of the stitch you are working into.
Let’s have a look at how to crochet the stitches and then find out what we can use them for.
Front Loop Only Crochet Stitches
Front loop crochet stitches are largely underestimated in my opinion! They are just as great for ribbing and texture with a lovely amount of stretch that also makes them great to use in garments for drape.
Reminder – the front loop only crochet is generally abbreviated to FLO or flo.
Which loop is the front loop in crochet?
You can find it as the first loop you come to when looking at the V of a stitch from above:
In this example I am working a single crochet in the front loop only of the stitch but the same principle applies for any stitch you’d like to use in the FLO.
1. Insert hook through the front loop (FLO) of the stitch
Going from the front to back as you would with a regular stitch, insert your hook through the front loop only (as shown in image with needle above). Make sure you have one loop on your hook and that the other loop of the V is behind your hook (the back loop). Yarn over and pull through a loop to begin your single crochet stitch.
2. Complete the FLO single crochet stitch
Now all you need to do is yarn over and pull through both loops on the hook to complete the single crochet in the front loop only.
3. Continue working front loops only crochet
Now you can continue to work the remaining stitches of the row or round in the front loops.
You will see that your stitches look like regular crochet from this working side but you will have a ridge on the other side where the back loops are still visible. The fabric will be looser and more flexible with much more stretch to it.
Back Loop Only Crochet Stitches
As I mentioned, back loop only crochet is predominantly used for ribbing, cuffs and borders because it gives a really great almost knitted look to your crochet along with stretch and texture too.
Reminder – the back loop only crochet is generally abbreviated to BLO or blo.
Which loop is the back loop in crochet?
You can find it as the furthest loop you come to when looking at the V of a stitch from above:
In this example I am working a single crochet in the back loop only of the stitch but just as before, the same principle applies for any stitch you’d like to use in the BLO.
1. Insert hook through the back loop (BLO) of the stitch
Going from the front to back as you would with a regular stitch, insert your hook through the back loop only (as shown in image with needle above). Make sure you have one loop on your hook and that the other loop of the V is in front of your hook (the front loop). Yarn over and pull through a loop to begin your single crochet stitch.
2. Complete the single crochet back loop only stitch
Now all you need to do is yarn over and pull through both loops on the hook to complete the single crochet in the back loop only.
3. Continue working BLO crochet stitches
Now you can continue to work the remaining stitches of the row or round in the back loops.
You will see that you will have a ridge on the side facing you where the front loops are still visible. The opposite side won’t have a ridge. The fabric will be more flexible with much more stretch and drape to it but not as much stretch as a FLO stitch.
Which should I use – BLO or FLO
Now that you know how to crochet in the front and back loops of stitches lets have a think about what they offer to your project and which you should use.
It is often tricky to see a real difference in the look of these two stitches but once you’ve worked a few rows of each you’ll see that there is a subtle difference in texture and the effect that they give.
I find that using the back loop only gives you more texture and so I will always use it for crochet ribbing as it makes the stitches look more defined.
The benefit of using a front loop only in crochet is that I find it gives you a better drape and stretch to your fabric. I love using it for blankets and garments and as a contrast against a back loop.
Where should I use front loop and back loop stitches in crochet?
You can use this technique for pretty much any project you like!
Here are some of my designs that use back loop only stitches (in various places of the pattern):
- Deidra Crop Crochet Sweater
- Mystical Simple Crochet Top
- Herringbone Moss Stitch Sweater
- Spofforth V Neck Sweater
Here are some of my designs that use front loop only stitches (in various places of the pattern):
FLO and BLO FAQs:
Materials used in this tutorial
I used Hue and Me yarn for the tutorial photos which is a lovely, soft bulky weight yarn, 80% acrylic, 20% wool, 125m/125g.
Learn Some More Crochet Stitches With Me
If, like me, you’re eager to learn all the crochet stitches and techniques you possibly can then I’d love you to take a look at my crochet stitch tutorials – here are some of my favourites though:
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I hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to crochet in the front and back loops of stitches with me! I’d love to know if you decide to make any of patterns using it or if you create your own! You can sign up to become a member of HanJan Crochet and I’ll let you know about all the fabulous crochet adventures, offers, lives and more too!
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