How to Crochet in the FLO & BLO (photo tutorial!)

Front loop only and back loop only are techniques that can be used for a plethora of things, some detailed in this tutorial. Beginners may also discover that they’ve been using this technique without realizing it!

When I first started crocheting, I ended up working entirely in FLO for my first few projects. It’s a common mistake, so don’t worry if you realize you’ve been doing it this whole time. It can add a nice texture!

As a general rule when crocheting, make sure you are inserting your hook through both top loops. If it says FLO or BLO, then you’ll work in only one of those loops. Read on for a full photo tutorial!

Front Loop Only (FLO)

You may see Front Loop Only listed differently in patterns, but they will all have some form of FLO. Check the abbreviations at the start of the pattern!

To identify the front loop of your stitch, hold your project like normal with the right side facing you. The front loop will be the loop that is closest to you, in front of the loop behind it (if that helps you remember!).

If you plan to work your project inside out (wrong side out) or flip it (unless the pattern specifically calls for FLO and flipping the project), you will need to work in the Back Loop. It will become the Front Loop once you flip it.

In pretty much every single pattern I have come across, you will not have to worry about crocheting in the front loops until either row or round two or three. You’ll always do FLO after you’ve set up the foundations of your project.

To crochet FLO, it’s quite simple: insert your hook into the loop closest to you and crochet like normal. Any stitch will do!

Ideas and Common Uses for FLO

Add layers, depth, and dimension

When using the FLO, the loops you did not use will create a ridge on the ‘wrong’ side of your work, such as the inside of an amigurumi, the inside of a sweater, or the back of a blanket.

You can use these extra loops to your advantage to add more depth and dimension to your project. You can use the open loops to add layers, hiding extra parts of stitches to create a cleaner 3D appearance.

Taller, stretchier stitches

For me, when I work in FLO, I find that it creates a stretchier fabric than BLO. Depending on your hook size, yarn size, and tension, you may find that it’s less elastic than I do.

FLO will be more elastic than working in both loops, regardless of the stitch or your tension. It creates a lovely drape!

Working in the FLO will cause your project to work up slightly taller. It may not be noticeable if it’s just a single project, but working similar projects side-by-side in one or both loops may show a difference.

It’s not as sturdy, since it only uses one loop, so I wouldn’t recommend using it for an entire amigurumi (especially if you have loose tension). It also leaves bigger gaps between the stitches, which can cause stuffing to poke through.

Inner ridge for sewing

Can you see the loops making up the neck?

While it shouldn’t really be used for an entire amigurumi, it’s great for creating an inner line to sew on, such as creating a collar of a shirt while leaving an area to sew on the head.

An example of this can be found in my red panda pattern. I used FLO to create a bend in the body/shirt, naturally creating a no-sew collar.

The open loops create a ridge inside of the body, which allows me to easily line up and sew the head onto the body without it being crooked. I can use the loops to anchor my sewing and not worry about the sewing yarn poking through the outside of the body.

Cleaner color changes

While you can still see the color changes, they’re much neater!

FLO can also be used for cleaner color changes. You can see it happen in my red panda pattern as well as I work the shirt color into the arms. (It only has to happen on the first different color row, not the whole thing.)

Because it makes the stitch taller and uses only half of the loops, FLO color changes help reduce the jagged look some crocheted stripes get. If you like how that looks, you don’t have to worry about it. There’s a sort of charm with things that clearly look crocheted!

Reduce row slanting

It can help with reducing drastic row slanting while using multiple colors. While I still don’t recommend using it for the whole amigurumi project since it’s less stable, it might be a technique to try if your rows slant too much and you would rather avoid shifting your stitches.

FLO is not as common as BLO, mainly because the ridges and texture it creates are on the wrong side of the work that typically gets hidden in one way or another.

Back Loop Only (BLO)

You may see Back Loop Only listed differently in patterns, but they will all have some form of BLO. Make sure to check the abbreviations at the start of the pattern!

To figure out what is the back loop, just like when you are crocheting FLO, you will hold your project like normal with the right side facing you. The back loop will be the loop behind the Front Loop, or the loop that is facing away from you, also known as the inner loop.

I find that BLO tends to be more commonly found in amigurumi patterns, as it leaves open loops for you to work in later.

If you plan to work your project inside out (wrong side out) or flip it (unless the pattern specifically calls for BLO and flipping the project), you will need to work in the Front Loop. It will become the Back Loop once you flip it.

Similar to its sister, you will insert your hook into the loop facing away from you and crochet your stitch like normal. You also won’t need to worry about working in BLO until you get beyond row/round one.

Ideas and Common Uses for BLO

Outer loops for exact sewing

By leaving an open ridge of front loops available, you can pin and sew your extra pieces on that exact spot without any sort of guesswork. BLO is great for sewing on outer pieces in the exact spot you want them to be!

Creating no-sew options

Getting ready to sew the skirt onto Julie the Bear Girl

It’s also a great no-sew option to add on extra pieces! Instead of working on an item separately then sewing it on, you can use the open front loops to work the item directly onto the piece.

For example, in my Julie the Bear Girl pattern, you will work one of the body rounds completely in the back loop. It may seem weird at first, but further along in the pattern, they come back into play.

You will insert your hook into those unworked front loops to crochet the skirt. Instead of working the skirt, slipping it on, then sewing it, I have you working the skirt directly onto the doll without any of that sewing fuss.

It helps you see how long or short you want to make the skirt, and there’s no guesswork involved. The skirt won’t be too tight or too loose, and it will be the length you’ll want it to be.

Textured doll hair

If you look closely, you can tell these strands of hair were done BLO by the ridges

Doll hair can come in all kinds of styles, such as Jacqueline the Cellist with her multiple one-row strands or a tidy head piece and bun styled on Lingling the Lunar New Year Girl. Neither one of them uses any BLO in their hair, which gives their hair straight locks (as much as the natural curve of crocheting allows).

In Angelica’s pattern, along with the planned increases, I use the BLO technique to give her textured hair. It gives her bouncy curls as well as mimicking braids on top of her head.

If you ever get stuck on a hair piece that looks a bit bland, give the BLO technique a try! The texture might be just what you’re looking for.

Taller, elastic fabric

Just like with FLO, it will make your stitches taller and more flexible. This is a great technique for creating stretchy ribbing.

With BLO ribbing, you won’t have to add in any elastic bands (unless you want or need that extra support). It has a natural elasticity due to the nature of the stitches.

Different stitches will lead to different types of ribbing, which can change how they look and behave. Keep that in mind whenever you need to do some ribbing.

Decorative ridges

Not every technique needs to be functional. Since BLO leaves unworked front loops, those are typically on the ‘right’ side of the work. They’re not hidden, which can be to your advantage.

I once crocheted an entire blanket in BLO during my beginnings as a crocheter, and the ridges it created are quite nice! The unworked front loops give the blanket a nice texture that we would have missed out on if I hadn’t made the mistake in the first place.

Keeps fluffy yarn fluffy

If you’ve ever crocheted with fuzzy, fluffy, or faux fur yarn, you may have experienced a decrease in the fluffiness of the yarn. The stitches twist and tighten around each other, flattening the fluff.

While it doesn’t cause enough problems to the point where your project isn’t fluffy, you may be disappointed that your fluffy yarn isn’t, well, as fluffy as it was in the skein. If you crochet in BLO, you may find out that it’s a bit fluffier than working in both loops!

The unworked front loops will be open and free, not flattening or twisted into stitches, and keep your fluffy yarn fluffy. This way, it can keep some of that fluffiness you may desire from that unworked skein.

Please note: if you take a pattern that is worked in both loops and try to make it all in BLO, it may change your final project. I would only recommend switching up stitches in patterns if you’re an experienced crocheter (or know what you’re getting into!).