How to knit two together through the back loop (k2tog tbl)

A step by step tutorial for beginners on how to knit two stitches together through the back loop. An easy left-slanting knitting decrease.

The easiest way to decrease knitting stitches is probably K2tog. But this will create a right-leaning decrease. If you want to achieve the corresponding left-leaning decrease, you have to knit two together through the back loop.

Normally, most patterns will pick an SSK (slip, slip, stitch) for a left-leaning decrease. Most knitters agree it will look a bit neater in stockinette stitch as it rearranges the loops so the Vs of the resulting knit stitch doesn’t appear twisted. But there are quite a lot of occasions when you would actually want a twisted stitch or it doesn’t matter.

A swatch decreased with k2tog tbl

A standard I-Cord bind off would be a nice example, decreasing a twisted rib stitch or traditional bavarian sock designs that make use of a lot of twisted cables, just to name a view.

So, let’s show you how it’s done, eh?

ⓘ In knitting patterns, this stitch is usually indicated by “K2tog tbl” for “knit 2 together through back loop”, sometimes also capitalized. If your pattern says K2tog tbl (3 times) it means you have to repeat this stitch that many times in a row. You’ll typically use it on the right side of a garment. The corresponding right-leaning decrease would be k2tog twisted or a traveling twisted decrease to the right.


If you already know how to knit k2tog and how to knit through the back loop, this will be super easy.

Step 1: Insert your right needle into the back of the first two stitches on your left needle from right to left.

inserting needle through the back loop of the first two stitches

Step 2: Wrap the yarn around the needle counter-clockwise.

wrapping the yarn counterclockwise around the needle

Step 3: Pull through.

Pulling the yarn through to finish the k2tog tbl

And that’s already it.

Reading tip: Here’s how to decrease knitting stitches for beginners

Alternative ways to knit K2tog tbl

I actually believe this increase is a lot easier to knit than a standard k2tog. But if you are still finding it hard to knit, you can also do it like this.

Step 1: Slip one stitch.

do one lifted stitch

Step 2: Knit one stitch through the back loop.

Knit one stitch through the back loop

Step 3: Lift the slipped stitch over the one you just ktbl.

pass the lifted stitch over the knitted stitch

This method is a good option if you have to knit a k3tog tbl, because knitting it the standard way CAN be quite tricky!

Differences between Ktog TBL and SSK

A swatch where I decreased with SSK (bottom) and K2tog tbl (top) on both sides

Both are left-slanted knitting decreases. But the SSK lays a bit flatter and neater than knitting two stitches together through the back loop. That’s the reason why the former is a favored decrease for the neck of a raglan sweater or the gusset of a sock (check out my basic men’s sock knitting pattern for reference).

The K2tog tbl has a lot more structure to it and I’d recommend it for patterns where you are working with twisted knit stitches, to begin with. As you don’t have to slip stitches, it doesn’t run the risk of making the stitches too loose, though. So, if you just can’t get your SSKs to look good, then it certainly is an option. You can also try k2tog left for a super neat left-leaning decrease.

Reading tip: The ultimate list of knitting decreases – centered, right-, and left-leaning alternatives for every project.

Anyways, That’s how you knit two stitches together through the back loop. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below!

how to knit two stitches together through the back loop

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