In the photo above, the top magenta cast on is the Portuguese cast-on, while the bottom dark purple one is a traditional long-tail cast-on. Notice how the Portuguese cast on faces you with purl bumps, while the traditional cast on faces you with stitches that look more like knit stitches.
Why use this special cast-on?
You might be wondering why you can’t just use your usual long-tail cast-on for Portuguese knitting. You could, actually, but there are advantages to using the Portuguese cast-on.
You can start on the purl side when working in the round.
If you’re working in the round, you can work this cast-on, join your stitches and immediately start working in the round on the purl side. Many Portuguese-style knitters find the purl stitch easiest to make, so you’ll see many Portuguese knitters working in the round with the wrong side facing out.
You can set up your Portuguese-style knitting right away.
Whether you use a pin or just wrap the yarn around your neck, this cast-on allows you to use your favorite setup right away. When you finish the cast-on, you can start your project without pausing to make any adjustments.
You’ll set up your even tension.
Your tension might be different in Portuguese-style than when you use other styles, like English or Continental. Starting the project off with a Portuguese-style cast-on ensures that your tension remains the same when you start knitting.
Portuguese cast-on tutorial
1. Make a slip knot, leaving a long tail for casting on just like you would with a long-tail cast-on.
2. If you’re using a knitting pin, attach it to your shoulder. (Most knitters attach the pin to their left shoulder, but attach it to whichever side is best for you.) Alternatively, you can wrap the yarn around your neck.
No matter which method you choose, the working yarn tail should be on your left side, with the working yarn skein extending over to your right side.
3. Tension your yarn as you normally would in Portuguese style, running a strand of yarn through a finger on your right hand.
4. Place the slip knot on your knitting needle, then position the yarn tail to the back and the working yarn to the front. Notice how the working yarn forms a little triangle shape as it comes from the needle and is threaded through your fingers.
1. Extend the index finger of your left hand. Wrap the yarn tail around your index finger from back to front, using your finger to make a scooping motion.
2. Insert the knitting needle through the loop on the index finger.
3. Use your left thumb to flick the working yarn around the needle from front to back. If you’re familiar with Portuguese-style purling, this is the same flicking motion. It’s a very small movement, so don’t overthink it.
4. Pull the needle up through the loop that’s still on your left index finger.
Notice that, just like with the traditional long-tail cast-on, your right hand is simply holding the needle. The only added bonus here for Portuguese-style is that your right hand is also helping you to tension the yarn.
Repeat Steps 1-4 until you have cast on the desired number of stitches.
Take a look at your cast-on, and you’ll notice that the purl side is facing you. If you flip the cast on over, as if you’re working in rows, you’ll see that the other side is all ready for knit stitches.
If you were joining this cast-on into the round, you’d be all set to purl — a Portuguese-style knitter’s ideal situation!