Have you ever dreamed of a way to knit that’s fast, easy, and has minimum hand movement? Enter Portuguese knitting!
If you get hand pain or have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, learning this new way of knitting might lessen the strain on your fingers and hands.
The best thing about this style is it requires minimal hand movement. You only flick your thumb to wrap the working yarn around the needle.
The strangest thing about it is when you work garter stitch; you purl every row! Working the purl stitch in this style is easier to do compared with the knit stitch.
Read on to learn more about this style, what it is, and how to do it.
Table Of Contents
What Is Portuguese Knitting?
Portuguese knitting is a style of knitting that didn’t originate in Portugal, despite the name, and being a very popular knitting style there.
It’s one of the oldest styles of knitting, originating in the Middle East around 10 centuries ago!
Also commonly known as Incan knitting, this style is used a lot in South American countries too.
One way to easily spot out a Portuguese knitter is to look for the neck wrap or shirt pin. The knitter wraps the working yarn onto a pin attached to their shirt. Alternatively, they may wrap the yarn around their neck.
What are the knitting pins for? They maintain tension. Instead of holding the working yarn in one hand, you feed the thread around your neck or through the pin and down to your needle.
Here’s an excellent video on an Introduction to Portuguese Knitting Pins by Andrea Wong Knits on Youtube.
This handy technique makes it easy to work on the wrong side of your knitting. It’s also great for purling on a flat fair isle pattern!
Other names for this unique type of knitting include Bosnian, Andean, Turkish & Peruvian knitting. Also, around the neck knitting!
How To Do Portuguese Knitting?
This knitting style is entirely different from the other techniques you may be used to. The hand movements and tension are totally unlike English and continental knitting.
Visual learners: Here’s a Portuguese knitting tutorial by VeryPink Knits.
Before you dive in, make sure you have one knitting pin, a pair of knitting needles, and yarn. Don’t have or can’t find a knitting pin? You can use a safety pin in place or your neck.
Here’s how to cast on in the Portuguese style by Andrea Wong Knits.
The Knit Stitch
- Set up to knit by tensioning the yarn. (See below for how to do this.)
- Hold your work in your left hand and an empty needle in your right.
- Poke the right needle under the working yarn.
- Insert the right needle into the front of the first stitch on your left needle.
- With your right thumb, flick the working yarn over the right needle.
- Push the tip of the right needle through the loop on the left needle, and pull the stitch off.
The Purl Stitch
- Set up to purl by tensioning the yarn (see below).
- Keeping the working yarn under the right needle, insert the right needle into the first stitch on your left needle.
- Flick the working yarn over the right needle.
- Pull the stitch through by pulling the right needle through the loop on the left needle rightward.
- Take the stitch off the needle.
How To Tension Yarn In Portuguese Knitting
- Pin a safety or knitting pin onto your shirt close to your left shoulder (the right shoulder if you’re left-handed).
- Wrap working yarn onto the pin, with the ball on the opposite side to the pin. If you don’t have one of these, instead, you can place the yarn over your neck.
- Wrap the left piece of yarn around your right middle finger.
How Do You Do Portuguese Knitting In The Round?
- Cast on the desired amount of stitches onto circular needles.
- Ensure the first stitch you cast on is on the left, and the last stitch you cast on (the stitch with the tail on it) is on the right. Also, check that all the stitches aren’t twisted.
- Tension the yarn. (see above)
Joining In The Round Method No. 1
- Cast on the desired amount of stitches, plus an extra stitch.
- Slip the extra stitch from your right needle to your left needle.
- Knit two stitches together.
Joining In The Round Method No. 2
- Cast on the desired number of stitches.
- Slip a stitch from the right needle to the left.
- Pass the second stitch over the first on the left-hand needle.
Now that you’ve joined in the round, you can continue knitting as your pattern or current project calls for.
How To Yarn Over Portuguese Style Of Knitting
How to yarn over on the knit side:
- Flick the working yarn to the front (the usual position for the working yarn when knitting is in the back) of your knitting (the purl position).
- Knit a stitch.
How to yarn over on the purl side:
- Flick the working yarn from the purl position over to the back of the right needle. (The original purl position is where the working yarn comes from the front of the work.)
- Purl a stitch.
Here is a video tutorial by VeryPink Knits on increasing and decreasing with this knitting style.
How To Hold Needles With Portuguese Style Knitting
In your left hand, hold your work. On the right, hold the empty needle. Now you are ready to work on your next row.
In your right hand, hold your work. In your left, hold the empty needle.
If you want to try your hand at the Portuguese knitting technique, then this book is an excellent choice.
Portuguese Knitting: A historical & practical guide to traditional Portuguese Methods, with 20 inspirational projects, by Rosa Pomar.
Containing history and interesting information in this well-researched manual, it also includes 20 projects to try your hand at this technique of knitting.Click to Learn More / Buy from Amazon
Another excellent book is Portuguese Style of Knitting – History, Traditions, and Techniques by Andrea Wong.
It talks about the history of Portuguese knitting, how it spread from the middle east and into Europe, and the varying methods and techniques.
You will learn all the basics: cast on, knit and purl stitches, and bind off. After mastering a smooth tension, there is guidance to knit lace, cables, double knitting, and two-color knitting.
Your Questions Answered
What Is A Portuguese Knitting Pin?
Portuguese knitting pins are for tensioning yarn and creating even stitches.
First, you fasten the pin onto your shirt. Then you wrap the working yarn from the ball, around the pin, to the needle, and voila, all tensioned and ready to start knitting in the Portuguese style.
The types of pins include regular pins, magnetic Portuguese knitting pins, and more fancy ones with patterns and adornments.
How Do You Use A Portuguese Knitting Necklace?
These necklaces take regular knitting to fancy knitting. They come in different shapes and have one or more hooks for the yarn. You can use it as a beautiful alternative to your neck or pin.
To use them, just put on the necklace, and loop the yarn over the hook, just like you would do with a regular pin.
Blue Pendant Necklace For Portuguese Knitting
- A beautiful pendant necklace that has an open hook for holding your yarn while you knit.
- Look stylish as you knit Portuguese style, no more wrapping yarn around your neck.
- It is adjustable from 22 – 26 inches. You can choose the length that best suits you.
Bluebird Portuguese Knitting Pin
- Combine your love of birds with your fiber art.
- A gorgeous painted image of a bluebird in a silver frame with a silver hook attached.
- A range of choices for attachment, pin, clip or magnetic
How To Make A Portuguese Knitting Pin?
As a substitute for a knitting pin, you can use a safety pin and paper clip. Or you can tension by looping the working yarn over your neck.
Now that you’ve learned about Portuguese knitting, why not try it out? It might make knitting a bit easier, or just something new to try and experiment with.
So many patterns out there to try out in this new style. Happy Portuguese knitting! If you’ve tried it out, please let me know in the comment section below. Or get in touch with me here.