How to knit a reverse yarn over

A step-by-step tutorial on knitting the reverse yarn over – a simple right-leaning increase

Your pattern asks for a reverse yarn over and you have no clue how to knit it? You know the regular yarn over but how do you knit it backwards? Well, it’s just as simple and quite a useful technique!

a knitted swatch increased with reverse yarn over on a white table

Unlike the standard technique, a yarn over knit backwards will not create an eyelet. In fact, it will create an increase that is structurally the same as a M1R – only a bit looser. Typically, it is incorporated in other, more complex knitting techniques. Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind-off is probably the most common example.

ⓘ In knitting patterns, this stitch is usually abbreviated with “byo” for “backward yarn over” or – less common – “ryo“.

Anyway, let’s knit it together!

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Instructions: How to knit a reverse yarn over

top view of a swatch increased with the reverse yarn over knitting stitch on a white table

The reverse or backward yarn over is a simple clockwise wrap around the knitting needle you place in between two stitches. It counts as a right-leaning increase.

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute

Instructions

  1. Start in the standard knitting position with yarn held in the back.

    someone holding the working yarn in the back of the project
  2. Wrap the yarn around the needle clockwise. It more or less boils down to pushing the right needle against the working yarn.

    wrapping the working yarn around the needle clockwise to create the reverse yarn over
  3. Secure the yarn with your index finger and insert your needle into the next stitch.

    securing the reverse yarn over with the right index finger and inserting the right needle into the next stitch
  4. Step 4: Knit the next stitch to secure the resulting reverse yarn over.

    the finished reverse yarn over sitting on the right knitting needle

Notes

The next stitch is not part of the reverse yarn over. It's just required to secure it - otherwise, the simple wrap would unravel by itself.

How to handle the return row

knitting the reverse yarn over in the return row - three steps illustrated
Breaking down the process of handling the reverse yarn over in the return row

The reverse yarn over creates a twisted loop around the needle. As a result, you have to take care in the return row or next round. The loop will be mounted on the needle twisted.

Still, you should purl it the regular way. This means you insert your needle from right to left all the same. This will twist the loop around and close the eyelet. If you were to purl the reverse yarn over through the backloop, you would untwist it again, resulting in a standard eyelet.

Which way does a reverse yarn over lean?

a swatch increased with the reverse yarn over on both sides to show its lean
A swatch where I increased with a reverse yarn over on both sides 3 stitches removed from the respective edge.

Although it counts as a knitting increase, it is rarely used as such. Still, advanced knitters may ask themselves which way a reverse yarn over leans. Is it left- or right-slanting? If you take a close look at the swatch above, you can see that it creates a little bit more balanced increase line on the left side.

A reverse yarn over is right-leaning. This is not a big surprise as it’s nothing else but a deconstructed Make one Right (M1R). You can test this out yourself. If you lift the strand between two stitches the way you would for a M1R it will (or rather should) look exactly the same as your reverse yarn over as you knitted one stitch.

The only difference between the two stitches is the knitting order. A reverse yarn over will, however, be a bit looser as you create extra slack through wrapping, while for a M1R you steal yarn from the adjacent stitches.

Either way, that’s how to knit the reverse yarn over. Comment below in case you have any questions.

how to knit the reverse yarn over - a step-by-step tutorial for beginners

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