How to knit PFB – purl front & back

Step by step photo instructions for the pfb knitting stitch including a detailed video tutorial

Are you looking for a detailed tutorial for the pfb knitting stitch? Then you came exactly to the right place because this article is all about this increase for the wrong side. There’s a video you may watch, and tons of high-resolution pictures on top of that. Even if you are a beginner, I’m pretty sure you will be able to master this technique.

close-up of a swatch decreases with the kfb knitting stitch on the right side
A swatched decreased with kfb on the right side

What does pfb mean in knitting?

It’s the abbreviation for “purl front & back”. It’s a right-leaning knitting increase where you purl into the same stitch twice. First, you purl into the front loop and then you purl one more time into the back loop. It’s the purl equivalent to kfb – knit front & back

Sometimes you will also find P1FB or PF&B in a pattern. They all refer to the same stitch.

the kfb knitting stitch as seen from the right side
This is how the KFB appears on the right side

Let’s knit it together, eh?

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Instructions for knitting pfb knitting increase

a knitted swatch increased with the kfb knitting stitch on the right side

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to purl front and back the continental way. The technique will be exactly the same for English knitters. You insert the needle in the exact same way - you only throw around the yarn differently.

First, you knit a purl stitch, and then a purl tbl into the same stitch. Let's take a look:

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute

Instructions

  1. Bring the yarn to the front, and insert the right needle from right to left into the first stitch on your left needle.

    inserting the needle purlwise (from right to left) into the first stitch to begin the pfb knitting increase
  2. Purl one stitch the regular way BUT keep the loop on the left needle.

    purling one stitch but the left loop stays on the left needle
    So, wrap the yarn around your needle counter-clockwise, and pull the yarn through.
  3. Insert your needle from left to right into the back loop of the stitch remaining on your right needle.

    inserting the right needle into the remaining loop through the back loop

    Keep the yarn in front but bring the needle all the way around and wiggle it through the back loop. This can be a bit tricky, so go slowly.
  4. Purl through the back loop and drop the loop.

    wrapping the yarn around the needle counter-clockwise to finish the pfb knitting increase

Notes

This is a difficult increase if you are tight a knitter. knitting the previous row with a bit more slack will help. You can also loosen up the stitch a bit with your right needle before you knit it.

Make sure to knit a bit further up the taper so you don't run the risk of dropping the stitch. You can also secure the stitch with your index finger a bit to prevent any accidents as you try to insert your needle into the back loop.

Also know, that there are other increases for the wrong side that might be easier to knit for you. M1PL or PLL could be an option as well. Though, they make use of a strand from the row below, so a backward loop increase is probably the better option for a very similar look & feel.

Alternatives: Purl back, Slip front twisted

right side of a swatch decreased with purl backloop slip front loop twisted
Right side of a swatch increased with pbsft

Now, pfb creates a little visible little bar on the right side. That’s the reason why these stitches are typically called “bar increases”. If you want to avoid that, you have to knit this decrease a bit differently.

a swatched decreased with pbsft  on the wrong side
Wrong side of a swatch increased with pbsft

Interestingly enough, it is the only way to create a visible right-slanting decrease line on the purl side I found:

  • Step 1: Purl through the back loop and keep the loop on the left needle.
  • Step 2: Slip the remaining loop to the right needle but twist it as you do (see picture below).
alternative way to knit pfb by twisting the loop and simply slipping it on the right needle
Twisting the loop as you slip it to the right needle

Purling the front and slipping the back loop does not yield any meaningful improvement if you ask me. If you take a closer look at the swatch below you can still see a bar. I thought this was quite interesting as it is a very common method to improve KFB.

A swatched increased with purl front, slip back as seen on the right side.
A swatch decreased by purl front, slip backloop.

Also, one would assume that purling one stitch and then slipping the loop untwisted would create something that would look exactly like a KRL. However, no matter what I tried, I couldn’t do it without creating eyelets.

PFBF – purl front, back, front

a swatch decreased with pfbf - purl front, back, and front again
A swatch increased with pfbf

You can modify the standard pfb-technique and turn it into a double increase. This is a very rare increase but nevertheless, some patterns do feature the pfbf. You knit it in the exact same way. The only difference is that you add another purl stitch through the front loop at the end.

  1. Do a regular purl stitch & keep the loop on the needle.
  2. Purl through the back loop of the same stitch, keep the loop on the needle.
  3. Purl one more time into the front loop & drop the loop.

This is both a fast and somewhat difficult increase. Again, it helps if you are a loose knitter and you are knitting with needles with sharp tips. It will look a bit wonky on both the right and the wrong side, so purl yarnover purl is probably the better option.

And that’s everything you need to know on how to do the pfb knitting stitch. Feel free to comment below in case you have any questions.

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