Knitting Blog

Portuguese Knitting Pins: What They’re For & How to Choose One

We’re kind of obsessed with Portuguese knitting — it’s comfortable, it looks cool and it’s fast. Sometimes I wonder if another reason Portuguese knitting is so irresistible is because it gives us a reason to buy a neat new knitting accessory: the Portuguese knitting pin.

Andrea Wong using a Portuguese knitting pin

What are Portuguese knitting pins?

Portuguese knitting pins are used to manage the tension in your knitting so that all the stitches are even.

It works kind of like a pulley system to keep everything even as you knit. The pin itself is shaped kind of like a hook so that the yarn securely stays in place.

If you’re right handed, you’d pin it to your clothing near your left shoulder. If you’re left handed, it’ll work better attached on your right side instead.

According to Craftsy instructor Andrea Wong, knitting pins have been around for about 120 years. In her travels, Andrea says she’s seen all kinds of different pins, even ones that are shaped like chairs and shoes!

What are Portuguese knitting pins for?

While Portuguese knitting pins are used for this particular style of knitting, they’re certainly not required.

If you don’t have a knitting pin on hand, an alternative is to wrap the yarn around your neck. To do this, wrap the working yarn from left to right around your neck, then run the working yarn through a finger on your right hand. Your knitting will be on the left, while your ball of yarn will be on the right. (Or the opposite if you’re left handed.)

Portuguese knitting pin

Things to consider when buying (or making!) a Portuguese knitting pin

Try the neck wrap first.

Are you new to Portuguese knitting? If so, you might consider wrapping the yarn around your neck first. You can try the technique out without investing any money in the pin. Then, if you love the technique, you can buy yourself a lovely pin.

Consider your closet.

What clothing do you wear when you knit? I find that if I wrap the yarn around my neck, it can get really annoying with collared shirts. If that’s the case for you, a pin would be a better option than wrapping the yarn around your neck.

Add to your knitting collection.

Are you thrilled by pretty new knitting accessories? If you’ve already collected every cable needle, stitch marker and needle point protector that exists, go ahead and buy yourself a knitting pin, too!

Choose the right closure.

Are you worried about the knitting pin creating holes in your clothing? If so, consider either the neck method or a pin that has a magnetic backing like this one.

Go for a DIY option!

Want to use a knitting pin but don’t have any room in your budget? Many Portuguese knitters use a binder clip or paper clip and safety pin to make their own DIY Portuguese knitting pin. It can be a permanent accessory or just a stand-in until you can buy that pin you have your eye on.

Add it to your wish list.

Do you have a friend who is a Portuguese knitter? Craftsy instructor Andrea Wong says Portuguese knitting pins are rumored to be good luck when given as a gift. If you’re buying one for yourself, go ahead and grab one for a friend, too. Who knows? Maybe that good luck will rub off on you!

Have you ever tried Portuguese knitting? Did you use a pin the first time, or did you just try the neck method? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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3 Comments

bdejong

I bought a package of little alligator clips that are used as hair accessories to use as a knitting clip. It’s so much easier to clip on and off, and they are inexpensive. Just put the yarn inside the clip and attach it to your neckline or collar. I like it MUCH better than the knitting pins.

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Jaden

I made knitting pins by attaching a small snap hook to the coil of a safety pin.

What I like about that is that the yarn can not slip off but can still relatively easy be removed from the pin – and it was for free since I had both parts at home.

I would not mind having one of those pretty knitting pins, though. 😉

Reply
Diane Howard

When I first started Portuguese style knitting, I used a badge clip from the office supply store. After more than a year, I bought a pendant. Now if I forget to take it off, people just think it’s a fashion accessory.

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