Knitting Blog

Wanna Knit Faster? Try the Portuguese-Style Knit & Purl

Portuguese-style knitting is a little different than Continental and English, which most of us in the U.S. are used to. While the technique is slightly different, it’s worth learning how to knit and purl in the Portuguese style.

Portuguese Knitting

Andrea Wong demonstrates Portuguese knitting in her class Master Portuguese Knitting: Advanced Techniques in the Portuguese Style

What makes Portuguese knitting different?

  • The Portuguese style changes the way you hold the yarn
  • It changes the way you insert your needle for the knit stitch
  • It changes how you move the working yarn for both knit and purl stitches

Portuguese-style uses small movements that are great for knitters experiencing pain from throwing or picking in other styles. Portuguese-style knitters are also famous for preferring the purl stitch over the knit stitch. Give this style a try and you might see why!

Let’s take a look at how the knit and purl stitches are made in Portuguese style.

We hope you’ll be inspired to change up your go-to style — even if it’s just for a project or two!

Holding the yarn

In Portuguese-style knitting, the yarn doesn’t go straight from the ball or skein to the project. Instead, wrap your yarn one of these ways:

1. Around your neck

Craftsy instructor Andrea Wong

Craftsy instructor Andrea Wong

Wrap the yarn around your left shoulder. The working yarn and your project should be on your left, and the ball of yarn should be on your right.

2. Through a pin

Yarn through a pin

Sometimes yarn doesn’t feel so great sliding against our necks, so you can try a pin instead. Simply place the pin on the left side of your shirt, then thread the yarn through so that the ball of yarn is on your right side and your work is on the left.

Craftsy instructor Andrea Wong sells some really beautiful pins, so check out her collection here if you’re interested.

Portuguese Knitting Class

Up-Close Portuguese Knitting Instructions

Knit faster and with less hand strain than you can with English or Continental knitting. Breeze through purling, ribbing, shaping, lace, colorwork, cables and more! Get the Class

Portuguese-style knit stitch

This stitch is pretty different from Continental or English style because you’ll change the way the needle is inserted into the stitch, as well as the way you make the loop around that needle. Let’s take a look.

Step 1: Insert the needle

Portuguese-style knit stitch

1. Insert the right needle into the stitch, staying in the front of the work. Do not insert it front to back like you would with a Continental or English-style knit stitch.

The needle should look like it’s running perpendicular to the left needle, going straight up and down.

The work yarn is still coming from the back, so keep that in mind.

Step 2: Wrap the yarn

Portuguese-style knit stitch

Wrap the working yarn around the needle with a simple flick of the thumb. The idea is to move the yarn with as little movement as possible until it’s between the two needles.

Step 3: Form the knit stitch

Portuguese-style knit stitch

Pivot the right needle just a bit so that the loop goes through the stitch on the left needle and forms the knit stitch.

Step 4: Drop the stitch from the left

Before you drop the needle, pay attention to how you formed the stitch. A stitch that’s too loose or too tight will mess up the gauge, so take the time to really form your stitch here.

Drop the stitch from the left needle. That’s the knit stitch!

Portuguese-style purl stitch

Many Continental- and English-style knitters loathe the purl stitch, but the majority of Portuguese knitters actually prefer the purl stitch. That’s because the way the stitch is made only requires a little flick of the thumb, and it can actually move quite fast.

Step 1: Insert the needle

Portuguese-style purl stitch

 Insert the needle into the front of the stitch, just like you would for the purl stitch in other styles.

Step 2: Wrap the yarn

Portuguese-style purl stitch

 Use your left thumb to simply flick the yarn around the needle.

Step 3: Form the purl stitch

Portuguese-style purl stitch

Then push the right needle through to create the stitch.

Step 4: Drop the stitch from the left

Just as you did with the knit stitch, before you drop the stitch from the left needle, take time to form your stitch before you move on. We don’t want stitches that are too loose or too tight.

Drop the stitch from the left needle. That’s a purl!

Have you ever tried Portuguese-style knitting? Tell us what you like and don’t like about it.

Portuguese Knitting Class

Up-Close Portuguese Knitting Instructions

Knit faster and with less hand strain than you can with English or Continental knitting. Breeze through purling, ribbing, shaping, lace, colorwork, cables and more! Get the Class

4 Comments

Brigid de Jong

I learned Portuguese knitting to help with the arthritis pain in my hands. It has been very helpful. Instead of using a pin, I bought a package of small hair clips (some call them claw clips) which are cheap and can easily fasten to clothing. They are also easy to UN clip, which makes it easier to put the knitting project down if you need to set your work aside for a moment.

Reply
jane meuler

I have taught myself to hold the yarn in my left hand and ‘pick’ my stitches with my right hand needle for both knit and purl. It is much faster and I get better tension and gauge with doing it that way. My right hand needle does all the work. I would not be comfortable putting pins in my clothes or having anything around my neck!

Reply
Gemma

I love knitting the Portuguese way. It’s my go-to method.

Reply
Karen Tremblay

I have severe tendinitis in my right thumb and learning Portuguese style saved my knitting life as you can grip the needles with hardly any pressure at all in this style. I couldn’t stand the yarn around my neck and I didn’t like putting holes in my clothing with pins so I use binder clips and just thread the yarn through one of the “arms”. The yarn slides through easily, you can put it down quickly and you have the added advantage of being able to clamp the binder clip on the needle so that no stitches slide off the needle when you put down your knitting.

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