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:

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  • 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

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Step #1 — Glue magnet to button

Take care not to glue yourself to either!

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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.

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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.