Portuguese Knitting Guide: All You Need To Know

Have you ever dreamed of a way to knit that’s fast and has minimum hand movement? Enter Portuguese knitting!

Read on to learn about this style, what it is, and how to do it.

Hand dyed yarn in purples and reds. My Guide To Portuguese Knitting

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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.

I reviewed and updated this post on Jun 4, 2022.

Table Of Contents

What Is Portuguese Knitting? 

Portuguese knitting is a style of knitting that didn’t originate in Portugal, despite being a popular knitting style there.

It’s one of the oldest styles of knitting, originating in the Middle East around 10 centuries ago!

Aka Incan knitting, this style is used a lot in South American countries too.

Want to discover something new? See my guide to arm knitting.

One way to spot 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.

YouTube video

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 (what it is commonly known as in South America), Turkish & Peruvian knitting.

Also, around the neck knitting!

It is popular in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Latin American countries.

What yarn do you use for arm knitting? Wonder no more with my review.

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.

Before you dive in, make sure you have one knitting pin, a pair of knitting needles, and yarn.

Don’t have a knitting pin? You can use a safety pin or loop the yarn around the back of your neck. An interesting difference in this method, has been used since ancient times.

This is a wonderful technique to add to your list of fun knitting skills.

How To Tension Yarn In Portuguese Knitting

  1. Pin a safety or knitting pin onto your shirt close to your left shoulder (the right shoulder if you’re left-handed).
  2. Wrap working yarn onto the pin, with the yarn 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.
  3. Wrap the left piece of yarn around your right middle finger.

How To Hold Needles With Portuguese Style Knitting

Right-handed knitters:

In your left hand, hold your work. On the right, hold the empty needle. Now you are ready to work on your next row.

Left-handed knitters:

In your right hand, hold your work. In your left, hold the empty needle.

How To Cast On Portuguese Style

Watch Andrea Wong’s knitting videos for the cast on in Portuguese Knitting that starts at timestamp 2.09

This cast on method is very similar to the long tail cast on. This method creates a very sturdy and elastic cast on.

It is important to have a long enough yarn tail to work with so you create the number of stitches you need to start your project.

YouTube video

Here is another style of Cast On Portuguese style that uses the cable cast on.

YouTube video

Want a great course to practice this technique? Try one by Andrea Wong Knits. I found her friendly teaching style so helpful. Andrea learnt this style from her mother.
She also teaches in person classes at different events in the United States and Canada.

The Knit Stitch

Here you will see at timestamp 2.09 Andrea Wong demonstrating the knit stitch in Portuguese knitting.

  1. Set up to knit by tensioning the yarn. (See above for how to do this.)
  2. Hold your work in your left hand and an empty needle in your right.
  3. Poke the right needle under the working yarn so it is over the top of your right hand needle.
  4. Insert the right needle into the front of the first stitch on your left needle.
  5. With your left thumb, flick the working yarn over the right needle.
  6. Push the tip of the right needle through the loop on the left needle and pull the stitch off.
YouTube video

There is another way that Rosa Pomar does the knit stitch having the yarn held at the back.

YouTube video
The Purl Stitch
  1. Set up to purl by tensioning the yarn (see above for how to achieve good tension).
  2. Keeping the working yarn under the right needle, insert the right needle into the first stitch on your left needle.
  3. Flick the working yarn over the right needle with your left thumb.
  4. Pull the stitch through by pulling the right needle through the loop on the left needle rightward.
  5. Take the stitch off the needle
YouTube video

The video by Ellen from Chilly Dog above demonstrates the purl stitch. It starts at .27 secs into her short tutorial.

Keep your yarn stash tidy with a knitting yarn winder.

How Do You Do Portuguese Knitting In The Round?

  1. Cast on the desired amount of stitches onto circular needles.
  2. 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.
  3. Tension the yarn. (see above)

Joining In The Round Method No. 1

  1. Cast on the desired amount of stitches, plus an extra stitch.
  2. Slip the extra stitch from your right needle to your left needle.
  3. Knit two stitches together.

Joining In The Round Method No. 2

  1. Cast on the desired number of stitches.
  2. Slip a stitch from the right needle to the left.
  3. 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:

  1. 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).
  2. Knit a stitch.

How to yarn over on the purl side:

  1. 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.)
  2. Purl a stitch.

Here is a video tutorial on increasing with this knitting style using an common increase stitch – yarn over.

Increases and decreases are simple to do with practice.

YouTube video

If you want to try your hand at the Portuguese knitting technique, then this book is an excellent choice.

Portuguese Knitting: A guide to traditional Portuguese Methods, with 20 inspirational projects, by Rosa Pomar.

Portuguese Knitting: A historical & practical guide to traditional Portuguese Methods, with 20 inspirational projects, by Rosa PomarCheck Price On Amazon

Containing history and interesting info, it also includes 20 projects to try your hand at this technique of knitting.

Another excellent book is Portuguese Style of Knitting – History, Traditions, and Techniques by Andrea Wong.

Portuguese Style of Knitting - History, Traditions, and Techniques by Andrea Wong.

It talks about the history of Portuguese knitting. Andrea also shares her learning this skill as a child in Brazil.

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.

The knitted fabric created is exactly the same as other knitting styles. Create a clothes such as a sweater.

When you get a chance, practice your Portuguese Knitting basic stitches. Use your device to follow Stacy doing the knit stitch at 2.59 in the video below.

YouTube video

Another excellent teacher who demonstrates different knitting styles is Patty Lyons.

If you are a member of Craftsy, be sure to search for Knit Faster with Portuguese Knitting with Andrea Wong.

Some more advanced techniques such as colorwork is included. Any lesson is well worth your time.

Prior to watching tutorials online you could get a DVD showing you the different tips.

Q&A

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. All tensioned and ready for knitting in the Portuguese style.

The pins include regular pins, magnetic Portuguese knitting pins, and fancy ones with patterns.

How Do You Use A Portuguese Knitting Necklace?

To use a Portuguese Knitting Necklace, just put on the necklace, and loop the yarn over the hook, just like you would do with a regular pin.

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.

Here are some you might like.

Blue Pendant Necklace For Portuguese Knitting

Blue Portuguese Knitting Pendant Necklace for Knitters Beaded with HookCheck Price On Amazon
  • 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’s adjustable from 22-26″. Choose the length that best suits you

Bluebird Portuguese Knitting Pin

Bluebird Portuguese Knitting Pin with Optional Stitch Markers for KnittersCheck Price On Amazon
  • Combine your love of birds with your fiber art.
  • A gorgeous painted bluebird in a silver frame with a silver hook attached
  • A range of attachments – pin, clip or magnetic

How To Make A Portuguese Knitting Pin?

To make a Portuguese knitting pin, use a safety pin and a paper clip. Or tension by looping the working yarn over your neck.

Now you’ve learned about Portuguese knitting, why not try it?

It might make knitting easier, or just something new to experiment with. Try dolls or an article of clothing like a hat.

So many patterns out there to try out in this new style. Happy Portuguese knitting!

Tried it? Tell me in the comment section. Or get in touch with me here, I don’t publish your email address.

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Portuguese Knitting Learn All About This Knitting Style In My Guide

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About Jodie Morgan

Hi. I’m Jodie, creator of Knit Like Granny. (Yes, I’m a real person :) ) Thanks for being here.

I started Knit Like Granny to show 1,000,000 people the joys of knitting & highlight alternatives to fast fashion.

This site has introduced me to so many wonderful knitters. I enjoy sharing the joy of working with yarn. Please say hello!

13 thoughts on “Portuguese Knitting Guide: All You Need To Know”

    • Hi Deb. I’m not an expert regarding Portuguese knitting but have reached out to Andrea Wong who is an expert and will get back to you.

      Reply
      • Here’s the response from Andrea Wong –

        Hi Deb! No, you do not need to “convert” or translate any pattern that you already own.

        You simply follow the instructions, but use Portuguese Style to knit and purl, increase and decrease.

        Sometimes I talk about “translating” a pattern, but that is IF I decide to work reverse stocking stitch and I just purl in the round.

        Is that what you are asking me? I just released a new class on my website Mastering Portuguese Knitting and there is a chapter dedicated to that.

        I hope that helps,

        Thank you,

        Andrea

        Reply
  1. Rosa Pomar’s description of the Alternative Knit Stitch was so helpful. I now understand the use of the hooked knitting needle so that you don’t have to turn the work. Highly recommend.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience of Rosa Pomar’s knowledge. Great to hear you also recommend her. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
    • Hi Gorie. I would highly recommend taking a video class from Andrea Wong who is an expert. Here is the link to her website which shows the courses she has available on Portuguese Knitting. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
  2. Can anyone help me, I knit Portuguese style and want to knit fair isle on the front and back using two needles. I can do the purl side very easily but do not know how to turn and knit on the front side. Any help would be much appreciated., Thanks

    Reply
      • Hi Gwendoline. I heard back from Andrea Wong who is an expert in the Portuguese Knitting Style. She said this What you have to do is to turn the work, make sure the colors cross (intertwine) at the end of the row, and start Knitting Portuguese Style with the yarns running on the back side. I did a review of Andrea’s course – Stranded Knitting Portuguese Style Masterclass I learned so much. I’ve also emailed you. Cheers Jodie

        Reply

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