Updated: Oct 9, 2017
I was tired of knitting painfully slow, dropping stitches, fighting to keep tension, and being terrorized by knit/purl stitch combinations. So, I took action!
The Beginning - Traditional/English Style Knitting
I started knitting about 43 years ago. At six-years-old, my Mom taught me Traditional/English style knitting. For many, it is a great technique; but for me, not so much.
I was slow at it especially compared to crocheting at which I was lightning fast. It seemed to take forever to knit a basic scarf. I also had problems tensioning the yarn and I would often drop stitches. Purling was a nightmare! After years of knitting that way, I started looking for a different method.
Continental Style Knitting - Better, but Not Quite There
After some research, I taught myself Continental style knitting. This was before the days of YouTube, but I managed to figure out the technique because the way the yarn is held is similar to the way I crochet. While the Continental method was faster than Traditional, when it came to purling stitches, it still proved to be a challenge for me. As a result, I would shy away from knit/purl combinations such as ribbing and moss/seed. Boo!!! No fun. The search continued.
The Final Frontier - Portuguese Style Knitting!
I researched further inputting the term "easier way to purl" in the Google search bar and that lead me to Andrea Wong and the Portuguese style of knitting. This technique is used in many parts of the world including the Middle East where it is said to have started. This style of knitting is also referred to as "around the neck knitting", "Turkish knitting", "Incan knitting", and "Andean knitting" to name a few.
What the Heck is a Knitting Pin and Why do I Need it?
I learned more about the Portuguese Knitting technique and was immediately intrigued. The technique involves tensioning the yarn around your neck, around a knitting pin (or pins if using multiple strands of yarn), or around a necklace with a hook attached. The Portuguese are credited for pioneering the knitting pin and thus the current name for the technique. I quickly discovered that I prefer the knitting pin as it is more comfortable and provides the best results for me.
The knitting pin is attached on the left shoulder of your garment and then the yarn is hooked onto the pin. The knitting pin is responsible for keeping tension and does a great job of it. Think of it as your own mini pulley system for knitting.
Yay!!! My Hands are Happy!!! :-)
Since tensioning is done by way of the knitting pin, the hands can relax which makes the whole process easier on the hands. Keeping even tension this way is a cinch. Switching between the knit and purl stitch is accomplished by a slight flick of the thumb. With the English and Continental methods, purling was always awkward for me and so I avoided it. With the Portuguese method, executing the purl stitch is even easier than working the knit stitch.
Color knitting is faster and easier to manage because each yarn strand is controlled with its own pin thus preventing tangles. The method of knitting is speed knitting at its best because it gives you better control over the yarn. No more fumbling with tension! Needless to say, I immediately converted to this style of knitting and I have never looked back. I now have happy knitting hands!
Where You Can Learn This Technique
Fortunately, Craftsy.com now offers Andrea Wong's classes online. You can watch classes when and where you like, AND you can ask the Ms. Wong questions while you work along with her on techniques and projects. You can also post photos and get input from your classmates.
Where to Buy Your Knitting Pins
In A Nutshell
Thanks to Portuguese Knitting, I knit much faster, have better tension control, rarely drop stitches, and now I love to do knit/purl combinations. More importantly, this technique is much easier on my hands.
As with everything new, there is a learning curve, but I say give it a try. I hope you love it as much as I do.