Portuguese Knitting

I’ve begun to introduce the Portuguese knitting method at Westport Yarns.  My first group of willing subjects students met in January.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Portuguese Knitting Method, let me explain.
Portuguese knitting, which is also known as Turkish Knitting, Incan Knitting, Andean Knitting and “around the neck knitting”, originated among Arabic knitters. The technique gradually spread north from Africa and the Middle East to the Mediterranean, the Balkans (especially Bulgaria and Greece), the Iberian Peninsula and eventually came to South America via Spanish and Portuguese colonization.

When using the Portuguese Knitting Method the yarn is tensioned around the right hand, and then either strung around the knitter’s neck or through a pin fastened to the knitter’s shirt or sweater. From there it flows to the piece being knitted.

One of the benefits of knitting this way is that it is easier on your joints.

Jill's Beaded Knit Bits
Jill’s Beaded Knit Bits

I prefer using a pin versus stringing the yarn around the neck. Several enthusiastic knitters had already bought the style of knitting pin (really a clip) that I use. The other ladies were able to try my clips.

As is common when learning anything new, the first 30 minutes or so were a bit clumsy.  Learning new things is always awkward in the beginning.  After an hour, they were solidly knitting via the Portuguese method.

For their homework before the second classes, I asked them to knit two swatches.

Portuguese Method on Left

 Both swatches had to have the same components: same yarn, same number of stitches, same number of rows, and same needle.

Portuguese Method on top.

 The difference was that one they would knit with their “go to” method of knitting.  The second swatch they were to knit via the Portuguese method.

Portuguese Method in center.

This was a wonderful exercise.  Everyone had the same AHA! moment. For each knitter, whether their gauge changed significantly or not, they noticed that their stitch definition was better.

Two of the knitters took the class because they want to alleviate pain in their hands (from knitting). Happily for them, they had no discomfort from knitting this way.

By far the best moment was when one of the students, Terri, who is an excellent knitter, brought out a sweater she is knitting in Mykonos (DK: 66% Linen / Flax, 26% Nylon, 8% Cotton, 142 yards). She was having an awful time. She felt that her stitches looked sloppy and irregular.  She was not a happy camper.  We all knew she wasn’t going to knit it if this was going to be the result.

Then she knit up a swatch using the Portuguese method using the same needles.  Needless to say she is ripping out what she has done and is starting over. The difference in her stitches was remarkable.

I know that personally, knitting via the Portuguese method has brought my search for gauge to a close and pretty much cured my crisis of gauge.

Whether this method will become their new go to method, a sometimes method, or not at all.  I think it’s important to learn techniques and increase your knowledge.