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Crochet can be fun and relaxing, but it can also become really overwhelming for any beginner, especially if you do not understand the lingo. As there is plenty of abbreviations and symbols for stitches and directions on crochet patterns, it helps to know how to read pattern instructions to achieve the intended results that your pattern was designed for.

Typically, most crochet stitches are worked under both loops of a stitch. Yet, sometimes it is confusing where you’re supposed to insert your crochet hook, as some patterns will tell you to work in the front loop only or into the back loop only. But what do these loops all mean and why is it necessary to learn how to do one side only?

Purpose of Front Loop and Back Loop

The biggest reason why some patterns would require you to work only on the back loop instead of both are the ridges that form as a result. Crocheting in the front loops creates a line of stitches that are flat against the fabric, while crocheting in the back loops creates a ridged line of stitches that stand out from the fabric. Those ridges are formed because when you crochet into the back loop, those front loops have to hang out in the open. This creates a line that resembles a ridge. While some ridges are purely for aesthetic purposes only, others can be really functional.

Yet, the back loop isn’t the only loop that you need to learn how to make. There are also patterns that require you to crochet only the front loop. Like crocheting in the back loop, crocheting in the front loop will give you a different texture to your finished product. However, crocheting into the front loops can also give you a crochet fabric that stretches more than usual. This can come in really handy if you’re making certain garments or accessories that you’d like to add a bit of stretch too. Crocheted sweaters usually are made with a lot of front loops for this specific purpose.

Additionally, certain crochet techniques also make use of back loops or front loops for other purposes aside from changing the texture and the stretch. In making stuffed animals for example, you need to make back loops and front loops in order to turn a sharp corner in either direction, use the unworked loops as attachment points to crochet back into and achieve a visual effect if you’re planning to utilize multiple colors of yarn.

Regardless of the purpose intended by the designer to incorporate front and back loops into the pattern, it’s important to work each stitch as the designer intended if you want to achieve a good result. Working into different loops not only gives your stitches a different appearance, but also changes the overall look and even feel of the piece.

Making the Front Loop and the Back Loop

To begin making a front loop or a back loop, do you even know where to locate them? Simply put, the front loop is the one that is closest to you and the back loop is the one that is furthest from you when you hold your crochet work.

It may all sound confusing to you, but they’re all that hard to make. In fact, to work in the back loop of a stitch, all you have to do is insert your hook underneath the back loop only and make the stitch as instructed. To work in the front loop of a stitch, then you just have to insert your hook underneath the front loop only and make the stitch as detailed in the instructions.

Guidelines of Using Loops

While most patterns tell you exactly when to do a front loop or a back loop, it helps to know some general guidelines to help you decide which loops to use.

Typically, you would want to create both loops if you want traditional look to your crochet. However, if you want to add some stretch to your crochet fabric, then front loops would make much more sense. More so, for maximum texture change and elasticity, you should crochet in back loops only. In fact, crocheting in back loops only of solid single crochet is a popular method for mimicking knitted ribbing.

Final Tips for Looping in Crochet

Crocheting into one loop – whether it is in the front or in the back – definitely changes the characteristics of the fabric formed. Especially if you’re making clothing, knowing when to use front loops and back loops can really help you adjust the draping of the item and allow you to make it more flattering than thick and boxy.

If you’re working on basic crochet stitches such as the single crochet and a half-double crochet, working into the back loops only gives your fabric a uniquely ridged appearance. As a result, the fabric becomes stretchy in the vertical direction. To take best advantage of this stretch, you can crochet various projects in the horizontal direction and then flip them in the vertical direction when you actually use them.

Additionally, you should never confuse a loop in crochet with a loop stitch. This kind of stitch is not a loop in itself, but a textured stitch that you can use to add loops to any crochet work. In fact, the only reason why it is called a loop stitch is because doing it actually leaves long loops behind. Again, it pays to know what the different abbreviations and pattern instructions mean to ensure you don’t make this common mistake.

At the end of the day, crochet is an extremely versatile and popular technique that allows you to create long-lasting garments and accessories for the home. Once you have learnt a few basic stitches, they can be combined to achieve the results that you want. No doubt one of the most important ones you can learn is understand the difference between front loops and back loops and how they can be useful in changing the look, the look and the shape of your crocheted fabric.