When you began crocheting the first techniques you probably learned were to chain and work a single crochet. Knowing only these two stitches can take you further than you may think. A simple alteration to the single crochet allows us to create beautiful textural work without having to master a whole new skill set. This magical little alteration is working through the back or front loops only of a given stitch. Don’t panic, it’s actually easier than it sounds.
Since the best way to learn something new is to try it, I suggest that instead of just reading this article you take a moment to gather supplies and follow along with my directions. To do this you will need a smooth light colored yarn (I recommend a DK or worsted weight) and a hook in a size to comfortably work your yarn (size E/3.75mm to H/5mm is a good place to start).
Once you have gathered your materials, make a chain of at least 10 stitches. Turn your work and single crochet a row or two as a foundation. Hold your sample piece as if you are ready to work another row. Observe the shape of the stitches and how they are seated on top of one another. The last row you worked should be angled away from you toward the back of the piece. Notice how the top of each stitch consists of two loops that resemble a “V.” Insert your hook into the first stitch as you normally would through both loops of this “V,” but do not pull the yarn through. (For now we are just observing to understand the stitch structure.) You should now have the two loops of the stitch you went through resting on your hook (See photo A). The loop closer to you is the front loop and the one further from you is the back loop. Pretty simple, right? Remove your hook from the stitch leaving it unworked. (We went through both loops only so you could form a visual of what you would be doing next.)
Now that you have observed the structure of a single crochet you are ready to work one through the back loop (See photo B). Insert your hook through the back loop (remember that this is the loop that rested furthest from you) and work a single crochet through this loop. When a pattern calls for this stitch it will be abbreviated as “sc in bl” or “sc tbl.” Continue to work sc tbl across your sample piece. Turn your work at the end of the row.
You can probably guess now what working “through the front loop only” entails. Insert your hook through the front loop only of the first stitch (this is the loop sitting closest to you) and work a single crochet (See photo C). Within a pattern this stitch will be written as “sc in fl” or “sc tfl.” Try it out for a row and see how it changes the look of your fabric. Experiment by working several rows of back loop only single crochet and then front loop only single crochet. Once you have mastered this technique switch it up for a pebble effect by working 1 sc tbl and then 1 sc tfl across an entire row.
For a simple project using this technique try the Sunset Pebbles Crocheted Wrist Warmers.