Portuguese Knitting Update Review

It’s now been 2 ½ months since I took the Craftsy class on Portuguese knitting. For those who are interested, I thought I’d give a progress report.
Learning to knit, purl and rib was a bit of a challenge as I kept doing yarn-overs. The swatches looked like those I produced when I was first learning to knit - unintentional lace. It didn’t take long to get the hang of making the stitches with the yarn coming at the needles in a different direction. Making the stitches with my thumb was surprisingly simple and actually gratifying. So far so good. But then came the big challenge.
Tensioning the yarn-feed was the biggest worry and greatest obstacle to overcome. First, I tried feeding the yarn over my neck as well as through the shirt pin and found the latter to be more comfortable and satisfactory. It is totally a matter of personal preference. If you worry about putting holes in your shirt (I don’t own any expensive clothes so I don’t care), you can always purchase a knitting pin which has a strong magnet to hold it in place (readily available on Etsy). I have both but the pin is my preferred tool. The challenge was and remains feeding/tensioning the yarn running through my right hand. I tried a number of different ways of running the yarn strand through the fingers of my right hand and finally settled on putting it over the ring finger (the middle finger is the usual choice). However, although I could achieve the correct gauge of the fabric, tensioning the feed was always difficult. Either I would keep it too tight, resulting in tight stitches on the needle and the work moving right up to my chin, or I’d have it too loose and I couldn’t make the stitches in the first place. I’ve now knitted about a dozen skeins of knitting wool since beginning, mostly on jumpers for 16 – 23” dolls (ending up with a lot of clothes) and I’ve almost got it licked. It doesn’t cause me the grief as it did in the beginning.
A few weeks ago, I thought I’d knit something in one of the other styles so I did the ribbing in English and the body in Combination (which is a great way to knit, too). I hated it and didn’t care much for the look of the stitches so it was ripped and reworked in Portuguese – a far more pleasant knitting experience and a nicer finished project.
I find using the thumb to place the yarn is easier on my hands but don’t be fooled – both hands still make the stitches. This method is faster but speed isn’t everything, except perhaps with ribbing when I am desperate to get that part of the project done (hate doing rib!). I am convinced that my stitches and rows are more even now and I have minimal rowing-out because of the way the purl row is made. And, if you KIP, people are enthralled by the yarn travelling through the pin! As someone recently said to me who’s watched me knit Portuguese from the beginning, “It looks a bit dodgy but you are getting a good result!”
I’ve not yet tried this with stranded colour work but that’s coming as soon as I’m 100% comfortable with the tensioning of the yarn-feed. I’m wondering how easily I’ll give up my old, proven method to try this on.
The two Craftsy classes I found most helpful are "Knit Faster with Portuguese Knitting" by Andrea Wong and "Improve Your Knitting: Alternative Methods & Styles" by Patty Lyons. Andrea is the recognised expert; Patty has a 40 minute section on Portuguese knitting which nicely compliments Andrea's lessons.
Bottom line: I love Portuguese knitting and I would recommend it to anyone for speed, efficiency, and fabric quality. Yes, it does take time and effort to get it right (or at least it did for me) but I am convinced it has been worth it. Interestingly, I tried this method 5 years ago and gave up because I couldn’t master any of it. I was determined not to give up this time. I’m so glad I didn’t.


Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Great progress report, Jesse. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I still haven't mastered this technique but figure it is on my list. However, like books, there are so many techniques and so little time to enjoy them.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Bill's picture

I haven't tried it, but there are two expert men in my knitting group who knit Portuguese.

phew's picture

Don't know what part of New Zealand you live in but trust you are OK what with all of the earthquakes you guys have been having.


kiwiknitter's picture

Hi John, Thanks for enquiring. We lived at the epicentre of the 2011 quake so experienced it first hand. This time, these awful quakes and tsunami are north of us (we moved south post quake) and we didn't feel it. But, it has done major damage to the areas hit, crossed the Straits and hitting the capital. The only effect we've had is the slowing of deliveries of food because of the closure of the major highway. Now, food and the like are coming in from a different route but the prices have escalated. There's no escaping the fallout. Be well. Jesse

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly