This method, also called Turkish Knitting, Incan Knitting, Andean Knitting and Around the Neck Knitting, originated among Arabic knitters and spread north from Africa and the Middle East to the Mediterranean, the Balkans (Bulgaria and Greece in particular), the Iberian Peninsula and subsequently to South America through Spanish and Portuguese colonization. It is sometimes seen performed with hooked needles in these countries though this is by no means a necessity as many American knitters have picked up this method of knitting and use standard needles.
Portuguese knitting requires a slightly different set up than English and Continental knitting. Rather than running from the ball directly to your work, the active yarn instead is strung either over the back of the knitter’s neck or through a pin on the front of the of the knitter’s shirt (there are pins made specifically for this purpose but a partially unbent paper clip can work as well). This allows the yarn to be tensioned in a way that the wraps for knitting can be executed with one movement of the left thumb.
Portuguese Purl Stitch:
This is the golden attribute to Portuguese Knitting. Portuguese purling is extremely requires only a small movement of the thumb to wrap the yarn around the needle. Purling is so easy that items worked in the round such as hats are often worked inside out so they consist only of purl stitches.
Portuguese Knit Stitch with Yarn in Front:
Because the yarn comes to the work from the front, Portuguese knit stitches are slightly different than their than their English and Continental counterparts. To knit with the yarn in front, the right hand needle must be inserted into loop on the left hand needle so that the right needle is closer to the front of the work than the left needle. This process is similar to the Norwegian Purl in Continental Knitting.
Portuguese Knit Stitch with Yarn in Back:
A second way to make knit stitches is with the yarn at the back of the work. This can take a little experience to get used to but is no harder than the basic Portuguese knit stitch. If you knit Eastern or Combination Style, it is nearly impossible to knit an eastern style stitch with the yarn out from and you’ll find a modified knit stitch preferable.