A few Christmases ago, I wanted to learn how to knit, so naturally I searched YouTube and bought a magazine or two. I also nagged my mum to help me and I gradually got the hang of English knitting, but I constantly struggled with tension. It got to the point that I wasn’t enjoying knitting anything and the fabric I was creating was so uneven; stitches were either too tight or too loose and no matter what I tried, I struggled to find a happy medium.
I think for those of us who learn crochet first, knitting is always more of a challenge – I mean there are so many stitches to keep track of, not just one little loop on a hook! I wanted to sort out my tension problem as there were so many beautiful patterns calling out to me, and, one day when I fell down a deep hole online, I stumbled across Portuguese knitting.
In Portuguese knitting, the yarn is either tensioned around the neck or on a knitting pin and stitches are made by a flick of the thumb. The fabric is knit up on the back side and purling is the easiest stitch to master. Because you are holding the tension from the front of your work, it’s also easier to keep this steady and uniform. After a few rows knitting in this style, I was converted. It does take a bit of getting used to, and making some stitches in the Portuguese style, such as knitting through the back loop takes a bit of concentration, but once you are comfortable with basic knit and purl stitches, it’s a quick way of knitting.
When I am knitting, I have to say that I prefer to use a pin, rather than having the yarn around my neck as I find it feeds through my hands easier. It’s also nice to collect different styles, from simple pins to decorative, beaded hooks and magnetic brooch style pins. If you are wanting to try this style of knitting, this is the only additional piece of kit you will need. There are specific Portuguese knitting needles, which have a hook on one end, but I use my standard needles. Portuguese knitting needles are also quite hard to come by.
I have bought a couple of my pins from Atomic Knitting as they have a nice selection with different types of fasteners. I like the magnetic ones as they don’t leave a pin hole in your top! If you are wearing something that will take a pin and want something plain, you can get this type from Amazon (affiliate link).
If you’d like to have a play around with Portuguese knitting, there is a good YouTube play list just here. If you want something a bit more comprehensive, Bluprint have several classes, including one on Peruvian colourwork, but these are only available as a subscription. I’ve written a post about the Bluprint site here if you want to know more about it.
After you have knit up a few basic items, such as a scarf, hat, mittens and the like, it isn’t a big jump to progress onto lace knitting and fancy multicoloured pieces. The Bluprint course does teach you some more advanced techniques and a search on YouTube will also set you up too. For basic items and getting to grips with your knits and purls, Tincan Knits has this amazing and free bundle which will give you plenty of practice!
Once you’ve had a play around with this technique, I think you’ll agree that it’s quite addictive! It’s my main style of knitting now and I work through whichever pattern I have in this style. I don’t normally change my knits to purls though, unless it is a plain pattern, such as the Tincan ones above as lace patterns tend to purl on the wrong side, which is easy.
Until next time,