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At the same time: using a progress chart

“I hate knitting ‘at-the-same-time’ instructions. I wish designers would just tell me what to do row by row, and I don’t care how long the pattern is.”

Whew. I’ve heard this one a few times in knitting meetups over the years, sometimes with frustration, sometimes with longing.

A bright sweater, in speckled cream, yellow and orange yarn, is in process. Legos,  bow, yarn and a book frame the project.
Scoop Shop Cardi (March '21) has concurrent shaping and includes a progress chart.

What is concurrent shaping?

If your sweater pattern has shaping for the underarm and shaping for the neckline, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter concurrent (at-the-same-time) shaping. Concurrent shaping is particularly common with raglan sweaters because underarm shaping extends the yoke’s entire depth. Deep v-neck sweaters also often have concurrent shaping because the neckline shaping extends far towards the underarm.

In concurrent shaping, the pattern provides a set of instructions to shape one side of your knitting while also providing another set of instructions that will shape the other side. Basically, “do THIS to create the underarms, while also doing THAT to create the neck.” Even when the instructions are well written and clear, it can be overwhelming to manage both, especially if you’re also working a stitch pattern.

the front of a cardigan with a deep v-neck and raglan shaping. There are lines adjacent to the shaping that emphasize the shaping worked concurrently.
Freshly blocked!

Scoop Shop Cardi, my upcoming release, is a raglan cardigan with a v-neck. The concurrent shaping creates the triangular shape of the fronts.

So why don’t designers write out row-by-row instructions?

First, writing row by row instructions for each size means creating a pattern that can be dozens of pages. It’s overwhelming to read, and knitters would find themselves endlessly paging around.

But more importantly, knitters lose transparency and flexibility when the pattern prescribes row-by-row instructions. Here’s an example, abbreviated from Scoop Shop Cardi, in just one size:

To work raglan shaping:

Working a shaping row every right side (RS) row, work in pattern for 10 rows.

Working a shaping row every other RS row, work in pattern for 24 rows.

Working a shaping row every RS row, work in pattern for 12 rows.