Backward loop increase tutorial (M1Bl)

Step by step tutorial for making 1 stitch with a backward loop – a simple left-leaning knitting increase that can also be used at the end of a row.

There are many ways to increase in knitting. It starts with a simple yarn over and ends with the quite complicated KLL. One technique that is often overlooked is the backward loop increase. I find this strange because it is actually quite a versatile increase.

A swatch with the backward loop increase on both sides
A swatch where I increased with the backward loop increase on both sides

You can use it in the middle of a row/round, but it’s one of the very few increases you can also use at the very end of a row. You can even cast on stitches with it. Then it’s known as the single cast on, though it results in a rather tight edge not suitable for a lot of patterns.

The major difference compared to almost all other knitting increases is the fact that you do not use any strands from the rows below or previous stitches. This puts less stress on the fabric. On the negative side, this may result in little gaps in the fabric – especially if you are a very loose knitter.

The “Make 1 with backward loop” is a directional increase. The standard stitch leans somewhat to the left. If you scroll down a bit, I’ll show you the corresponding right-leaning version of the backward loop increase.

ⓘ In knitting patterns, the backward loop is often abbreviated with M1BL. Sometimes it’s also just M1. Some advanced patterns may differentiate between M1 right loop and M1 left loop. Be careful to not confuse this with M1R and M1R.

How do you do a backward loop in knitting – Step by Step

You knit the M1Bl between to stitches. So, once you reach the point where you want to increase by one stitch, follow these steps.

Step 1: Wrap the working yarn around your left thumb clockwise with your right hand.

Creating a left loop around the thumb by wraping the working yarn around it clockwise

Step 2: Insert your right needle through the loop you created from below.

Inserting the right needle into the loop around the thumb from below for the backward loop increase

Step 3: Remove your thumb and pull tight.

removing the thumb for the left loop increase

Step 4 (optional): To cast on another stitch, especially at the end of the row, wrap the working yarn around your thumb counter-clockwise again, and continue repeating steps 1-3 until you increased the desired amount of stitches.

casting on stitches with the backward loop increase on the left side of a knitting project

This is the standard left-leaning version of the backward loop increase and is ideal for the left side of a garment. Usually, when people say M1BL, then they are thinking of this increase.

Tip: As a continental knitter, you can also try to insert the needle directly into the yarn around your index finger (so, skipping step 1) from below.

Backward loop increase to the right / M1 Right loop

A lesser-known alternative to the standard M1BL is the right-leaning variation. You will knit it almost in the exact same way, the only difference is the way you wrap the working yarn around the thumb.

Step 1: Wrap the working yarn around your thumb counter-clockwise using your right hand.

Creating a right loop around the thumb

Step 2: Insert the right needle into the loop you created from above/behind.

Inserting the needle from behind/above for the right loop increase

Step 3: Remove your thumb and pull tight.

Removing the thumb from the loop for the right loop increase

Repeat as you see fit.

Tip: As a continental knitter, the yarn around your index finger is most probably already wound up correctly for step 2. So, you can also insert the right needle directly from there.

How to keep the two m1 increases appart

For the right-slanted version, the tail of the working yarn should lead towards the front after you finished the increase. For the left-slanted version, the working yarn should lead towards the back.

How to knit the backward loop increase

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