Portuguese Knitting - What do you think?

Hello All,

Jonathan (DC Potter) has been telling me about his experiences with Portuguese knitting (PK) and how it saved his aching joints. At times I have RSI from knitting and so I was interested to learn more. I ordered both DVD's and the book which arrived today. I just finished watching the 2 DVD's by Andrea Wong on PK. Naturally, I was most interested in the 2-colour technique. The DVD's have a lot of good basic knitting information which could be helpful to any new knitter. I've yet to read her book; that's for later tonight.

As you know, I knit almost exclusively fairisle jumpers. I knit contintental with both strands held in my left hand. I
can work this well and fairly quickly.

I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts or experience with the PK style. My questions are around how well it works for stranded knitting and most importantly if it really is any quicker and ergonomically better than either
continental or English methods. One point she makes which certainly makes sense is that since purling PK is easier than in any other method (and easier than thePK knit stitch) she recommends that all fairisle style knitting be done i n the purl stitch. This gives longer floats because they are on the outside of the work and so are naturally going to be longer. I also imagine that it would be easier to control their length if they are facing you.

So, all comments are welcome. I don't think I'm too old to learn a few new tricks and I have to say that she makes it took so easy. If you are not familiar with PK, there are good YouTube videos. Here is a link to an interview with Andrea:


Thanks for your comments!


Stan Stansbury's picture

I now knit almost exclusively Portuguese style with the yarn around my neck, purling into the wrong side of the knitting.
The needles are held further away from my body, and lower which is more comfortable for me.
Picking the strand with my left thumb is both more comfortable and faster for me than continental style knitting is.
I think the length of the floats would depend on how you are holding your work, and where you are working.
Let me see if I can write clearly about this. While knitting continental I work with the right side out, knitting into the stitch on the circular needle that is closet to my body. While purling Portuguese, it's the opposite. I still work with the right side out, purling into the stitch that is farthest away from my body. Make sense?
I find that I make fewer mistakes, and that my stitches are a little more even this way, because I can the actual point where the yarn is being looped.
Hope this helps.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

I've dabbled with PK [as I have most knitting techniques] and know that having the floats on the right side is supposed to make for more even tension for fair isle type knitting. I guess it all comes down to the technique that works best for you and feels the most comfortable. I want to explore PK more thoroughly but just haven't committed the time to it. Lots of luck. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

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

bobinthebul's picture

I love it for stranded work - which I admit I haven't done lots and lots of - but it just makes lots of sense. The dominant color comes in from the right, the non-dominant from the left. Rather than fiddle with two different colors over your fingers, you just have them ready there to use.

Check out ixtabknits' videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mTyi2PXMug

She helped me a lot!

Tom Hart's picture

PK is the way I work too. For two-color work I think it’s superb. Don’t quite understand the ins and outs of the float issue. I thought longer floats were undesirable because things like fingers and rings and what-not-all tend to get caught in them but then I thought they might be desirable from the standpoint of added elasticity. There is a PK method of “trapping” the yarn on the wrong side which makes for shorter floats if that’s what’s desired. You can see it on YouTube in the videos that Bob recommended by ixtabknits.

For my own purposes, I’ve never really liked floats and have abandoned single-layer stranded work altogether in favor of double knitting. So far I haven’t found a stranded project that I can’t double knit. Double knitted fabric is float-free, has no wrong side (it’s reversible!) and is very elastic.

In any event, please check out PK. If you’re looking for an easy way of wrangling two yarns at the same time, I honestly and sincerely do not believe it can be beat.

kiwiknitter's picture

Thanks for the comments. I probably didn't express myself well about the longer floats. What I meant was that the floats are more "supple" meaning that they aren't tense and thereby pucker the fabric or distort the stitches at each end of the float. I never carry a float longer than 5 stitches and urusally no more than 3 stitches.

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

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

rc_in_sd's picture

I've been a thrower for a long time and I keep dabbling with continental knitting. I get it conceptually, but I haven't put in the hours required for it become an effective alternative for me. I know that wasn't your question, but I say that to contrast it with my experience with PK. Inspired by some of Tom Hart's posts, I looked up some videos a few months ago, and I took to the technique in what seemed like just a few minutes. It really felt natural and clicked with me very quickly. At least for purling. I use it for purl rows and for ribbing rows. For knit rows, I fall back to my old throwing habits. I don't do much stranded work and I haven't tried PK for that.

As you explore, please post what your experiences are!

kiwiknitter's picture

I appreciate all the comments. As soon as I finish the scarf (gift) I'm knitting from eyelash yarn (yarn designed by a complete sadist who hates knitters) which is today, I'm going to play around with PK. I'm not convinced that it is going to be any ergonomically better than continental but it might be quicker. From what I can see on the DVDs it is definitely going to be an improvement on purling and especially ribbing. I'm always up for improvement and open to new ways to do things. Discussing PK now reminds me of 7 years ago when we were discussing contintental knitting. Our world just keeps getting smaller.

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

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

kiwiknitter's picture

An update: I can recommend the book and DVDs by Andrea Wong on PK. I think the DVDs are sufficient but the book is very nicely done. But, that having been said, I found the technique impossible to do (my hat's off to those who have mastered it!). I could not properly tension the strand, no matter if it was in a pin or around my neck nor however I held it. I found the purl stitch near to impossible to make. I tried and tried again and again but without any success. Since I first investigated this technique to lessen strain on my hands from the purl stitch, I tried the combination knitting (eastern uncrossed) and found that to be much more satisfactory. My thanks to those who gave me advice and instruction.

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

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

Tom Hart's picture

Sorry to hear that PK didn’t work out for you, Jesse. Glad to hear that something did though. You’re a magnificent knitter. Your work is artistry. Even your “wrong sides” are a thing of beauty. All the best with the combination method.