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What Exactly Is Portuguese Knitting?

Have you ever seen other knitters who string their yarn through a pin on their shirt or around their neck? It may look strange at first, but this technique is part of a specific knitting style called Portuguese knitting.

Portuguese knitting style

What is Portuguese knitting?

Portuguese knitting — sometimes called Andean, Peruvian or Bosnian knitting — is a knitting style that involves more than just attaching a pretty pin to your shirt. It’s a style that also involves movements that are totally different from the usual Continental and English styles we’re so accustomed to seeing.

What makes Portuguese knitting so unique is the tension of the yarn. You’ll be able to spot a Portuguese knitting technique a mile away if you check out where that yarn is coming from. In addition to a pin, the yarn could also be wrapped behind the knitter’s neck.

Portuguese knitting pins

Portuguese knitting with a pin

I love a good knitting notion, and knitting pins are no exception. To use one, you simply pin it to your shirt and run the working yarn through it. The pin creates tension, making each stitch easier.

If you don’t want to invest in a Portuguese knitting pin right away, you could wrap the yarn around your neck or use a safety pin or paper clip as a makeshift solution.

4 reasons you should try Portuguese knitting

Knitting Portuguese style with three strands of yarn

1. It makes stranded colorwork easier

Stranded colorwork can be a real pain when the skeins of yarn get all tangled. With Portuguese knitting, you can run your yarn through two (or more!) knitting pins to keep the strands from tangling while you work.

Another interesting fact: Portuguese style colorwork is worked entirely on the wrong side of the work. That means you purl the entire time! That’s because the purl stitch tends to be faster and more comfortable than the knit stitch in the Portuguese style.

2. It’s great for arthritis and carpal tunnel

Portuguese knitting involves very small movements, including a flicking motion with your thumb. For this reason, it’s a great style for people who have arthritis or carpal tunnel and don’t have a big range of motion. You can knit even with these limitations!

3. It helps give an even tension

Running the yarn through the pin or around your neck combined with the motions of Portuguese-style knitting will help give your knitting an even tension throughout. This is great news for those of us who start out knitting with loose stitches and end up with tiny, tight stitches by the end of the project.

4. It’s fast

While it might take you a while to get the hang of this new knitting technique, once you master it, stitching can be much faster. 

Still not convinced? Here are a few more reasons the Portuguese style is worth a try.

Things to be aware of

While Portuguese knitting has plenty of benefits, it also has a few things you should look out for.

Give it time.

First of all, the yarn might feel funny wrapped around your neck or even attached to a pin on your shirt. You may need a while to adjust to that feeling. That’s OK — just give it time and practice before completely knocking it.

Increases and decreases are different.

Increases and decreases look a bit different when knitted Portuguese style. If you’re really into this style and want to perfect those increases and decreases, check out Andrea Wong’s advanced class, where she covers colorwork, texture and more.

Double and triple check your gauge.

Portuguese-style knitting creates a tight stitch, which is great for those knitters who tend to knit too loosely. However, tight knitters might have issues with gauge when using this technique. Take note, tight knitters! You may need to adjust your needle sizes before trying Portuguese style.

Andrea Wong Craftsy Instructor

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Catia Mendes

20 years knitting like this. But, then again, I’m Portuguese, so I never knew otherwise. I was surprised when I found out about other techniques, that seam so strange to me as Portuguese knitting must seam to you!
Seariously, it’s a great technique.


I love it- just started and have no more knitting wrist pains, yay!


I’ve been using this technique for about a year and a half now. I saw it first in Patty Lyons Craftsy class, and it interested me as I have mirror image twin granddaughters, and wasn’t sure how I was going to teach the lefty. I absolutely love it and while I occasionally return to the English style, the Portuguese style is amazing!


love the ease, but get confuse changing from purl to knit without gaining a stitch…?


It is simple… when changing from purl to knit, take your yarn to the back of your work from under the knitting needle. That does not create na increase stitch.

Regina Mocny

Hi! I am always wondering why I knit with the yarn around my neck (since I am 5…) and I never find any info in the internet using this technique. Now I know. Here in Brazil I believe that almost every knitter use this technique, and of course we have Portuguese colonization. I can assure you that it is most more easy to learn knitting using the yarn aroud the neck. It lets you control the yarn tension from the beginning. And I also think we knit very quickly too.

Kim Torbett

I see where there is a class each for Peruvian and Portuguese knitting. Is there a difference between them? Googling seems to indicate that they’re the same, just different names for the one technique. If that’s the case, then why two classes with different names for one technique?
I ask, because I’m trying to decide which class to buy.


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