Portuguese Knitting – Faster than Continental?

The Ezrela Sweater by Darling Jadore. Pattern available here.

I first stumbled across Portuguese knitting in a  Craftsy class taught by Andrea Wong (who is THE person apparently when it comes to Portuguese knitting). I was trying to knit faster because I am impatient and impulsive and had 10 knitting projects started. I kept getting bored before I finished a single project simply because I was sooo very slow. I’d heard that continental knitting was faster, but I just could not get the hang of it. I love knitting – I really do – but it really tests my patience. Almost as much as my 13 year old.

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty in this post on HOW to Portuguese knit – but leave me a comment if you are interested in something like that. In this post I want to tell you why I LUUHHRRVVE Portuguese knitting and how much I want everyone to try it. Especially all of you impatient, impulsive, ADHD types who have given up knitting or don’t feel successful. I feel you, I am with you – i am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together – TRY THIS.

How do you knit Portuguese?

OK, bear with me here. I am a tactile learner and I have to teach by showing/doing. I’ll try not to confuse…it really isn’t as hard as I’m going to make it sound.

The set up

Cast on with whatever method you like then holding your left needle (with the cast on row) in your left hand take your yarn and put it around the back of your neck (I’ll discuss other options below). Set the ball of yarn on your right side. Side note: I’m right handed so I imagine for left handers you do the opposite of my directions. I can’t quite wrap my brain around it…I am sorry. You will guide the yarn from the ball in your right hand (looped however you like). Your neck keeps the yarn tension even so your work doesn’t look sloppy – a big problem I had with continental.

The knit stitch

With the working yarn coming over the top over the right needle (this will look and feel weird) insert the right needle into the loop on the left needle KNITWISE in FRONT of the left needle. Use your left thumb to “flick” the yarn near your left hand over the right needle, move the right needle up through the loop and then behind the left needle and drop the loop off the left needle. Easy Peasy. But not as easy as the purl stitch!

How do you purl Portuguese style?

This is the BEST PART. The purl stitch is literally a flick of your thumb. With the working yarn coming from underneath of the right needle, insert the right needle into the loop on the left needle PURLWISE in front of the left needle. Flick yarn over the needle with your left thumb, pull it down through the loop and drop off the left needle. That is it.

I have begun transcribing the patterns I’m going to knit to be purl-centric just to utilize this timesaver! If you are knitting in the round and it is stockinette, just purl every round instead of knit then turn it right side out when you are done!

If I have utterly confused you I apologize and offer this video tutorial by VeryPink Knits as a peace offering.

What is a Portuguese knitting pin?

It only took about five minutes of practicing Portuguese knitting to know I needed a knitting pin. The yarn sliding across my neck gave me the heebie jeebies. I have to take the tags off of all my shirts – I just can’t stand scratchy or itchy things on my neck. Or yarn, apparently. Any kind of pin would do – even safety pins – but traditionally knitting pins are decorative and mean something to the wearer. Jill’s Beaded Knit Bits on Etsy has amazing magnetic knitting pins. I like the magnetic ones because:

  • they are super duper strong, they will hold through all your winter layers.
  • they won’t put a hole in your shirt like a traditional pin
  • they are quick to put on and take off

Although more often then not I forget to take it off and go grocery shopping. Which is another reason I like it so much, I don’t look like a crazy person with safety pins stuck on my chest, I just look like a crazy person with a pretty decorative pin.

Is Portuguese knitting faster?

Basic Bralette pattern by Sara Knits Co.

Yes! In my limited, purely anecdotal experience it is supremely faster. No scientific tests have been done, but I FEEL faster, and I’ve finished five whole projects since using Portuguese knitting. Including the pink sweater at the top of this post (my favorite lounging sweater) and this adorable, quick bralette by Sara Knits Co. – pattern here.

The down side of Portuguese knitting…

Alas, you should be aware that Portuguese knitting can be a little cumbersome. Not the actual knitting part, but the part where you are tied to your knitting. For example, you are ready to start your project. You sit down in your comfy chair, get the project situated, put the yarn thru your pin…and your wine glass is sitting on the kitchen counter. You can’t just put the knitting needles down and go grab the wine, you have to undo yourself from everything. On the bright side, if you have someone else around it is a great excuse to be waited on. But honey, I JUST got my knitting on, would you please bring me my wine? If they understand and fetch your wine (phone, snack, water) then you have yourself a keeper.


Have you tried Portuguese knitting or do you want to? Tell me more in the comments!


8 thoughts on “Portuguese Knitting – Faster than Continental?

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  2. I will definitely have to try Portuguese knitting. I still trying to master Continental but my stitches are uneven. I just tried 9″ circulars for socks hoping they would be faster than magic loop but hated them. I will definitely watch the video and give Portuguese a try.


    • My stitches were very uneven with Continental too! It is so much easier to have even tension with Portuguese knitting, I’m so happy you are going to give it a try! Let me know how it goes 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

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