DIY: Magnetic Portuguese Knitting Pins


Have you ever heard of Portuguese-style knitting?  I first heard about it a few years ago, as a “better way to purl.”  At the time, I was facing loooong stretches of purling on a big, slouchy cardigan and they were killing me.  Although I learned to knit “English” as a kid (started out throwing, moved on to my own version of flicking), I had taught myself to knit “Continental” — I’m more of a picker/scooper — no high index-finger flicking for me.  I’m extremely efficient at knitting Continental, but my purling is still coming up to speed today.  When I was working on the Giant Cardigan of Doom, I could barely do a purl or two without struggling, let alone a whole.

Enter Portuguese purling: I learned to tension the yarn around my neck, holding it steady with my right hand, and flicking the yarn around the working needle with my left thumb. It was quick, with small movements — everything I loved about knitting Continental.  If you’ve never seen it before, check out this video from Knitting Daily, all about Portuguese-style knitting.


Now, I knew there were these pins you could use to tension the yarn, instead of throwing it around one’s neck.  But, I wasn’t keen on putting holes in the left front of all my shirts, so I mostly ignored them.  Then I saw an add for a magnetic Portuguese knitting pin.  Eureka, I thought, that’s something I could make for myself! So I did.  Here’s my first go at a button+ magnet+wire = Portuguese knitting pin:

IMG_2995(rev 1)  IMG_2997(rev 1)



  • button or pendant, large enough to cover the magnet
  • big strong magnets, as flat as possible
  • glue of the right sort (pay attention to the materials in your buttons and magnets)
  • bits of wire (I found make-your-own chain mail toggles to be perfect size, plus they already have a loop!)
  • tools to bend wire

IMG_2977(rev 1)



Step #1 — Glue magnet to button

Take care not to glue yourself to either!

IMG_2980(rev 1)



Step #2: Benderize the wire

What you are going for: leave a straight part about 1-2 cm long, and curl the rest into a spiral.

IMG_2982(rev 1)   IMG_2986(rev 1)



Step #3 — Glue wire to button, thusly.

Make sure the spiral is open so that yarn can slip in easily.

IMG_2987(rev 1)   IMG_2991(rev 1)


Step #4 — Let everything set for a day or two.

Seriously, don’t try to use it right away.


25 thoughts on “DIY: Magnetic Portuguese Knitting Pins

  1. Thank you!!! I tried this the other day after reading this post and its genius! I got repetitive strain on in my hand from too much knitting and now I can knit for longer without pain! I’m going to show my Mum this as she can no longer knit because of arthritis and misses it, this will be amazing for her. I’ve tried knit, purl, ribbing, yarn overs and moss/seed stitch Portuguese style and after a while you don’t even notice a difference. It’s more fluid and WAY faster I think this will be my style of knitting from now on. Thank you again :))))

      1. Not sure I quite understand the reason for the magnet. How do you put this on your shirt and do you still drape the yarn around your neck. I am new to this so forgive my ignorance about the pin with the magnet. I have looked high and low in knitting stores for a pin for portugese knitting. TYIA

        1. One magnet goes inside your shirt, and the pin goes on the outside. The yarn goes through your pin if you are using one — only goes around your neck if there’s no pin! 🙂

  2. ok, you definitely have to watch your working yarn strand, and make sure it’s in the right spot. Think about each stitch one step at a time, and get that strand where it needs to be!

    Personally, I find stitches that involve a lot of moves in the “knit” position are harder than those with the yarn in the “purl” position.

  3. I am a continental picker (my index finger won’t cooperate either), and have one way to scoop the thread purling but it’s a pain. I love Portuguese purling but I have discovered a way to not have to reverse the work after each row and that is to mirror or reverse knit. Works like a charm and is fast and efficient.

  4. Oooh, awesome! I started Portuguese knitting a couple years ago, but as I’ve only used one color so far, wrapping the yarn around my neck has been fine. I recently started a beautiful shawl with interlacing colors, and I cannot keep my yarns straight. I thought a pin should be something I could make myself (rather than $25 each on Etsy, gorgeous as they are), but it’s nice to see a clear tutorial. It cuts down on the number of “try again” versions. Thank you so much!

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