I have recently discovered a style of sweater construction called contiguous. It is a very clever method developed by Susie Myers and in my opinion helps obtain a perfect shoulder fit with much less fuss than some other methods. I still do love my raglans but contiguous allows for a whole different approach and most importantly (for me) still means no seaming and the ability to try it on and check the shoulder fit as I go.
How does it work? In a nutshell, the construction is done by casting on for the neckline and continuing to increase every row at the shoulder seams until you’ve achieved shoulder width. If you are used to a raglan construction it can be a bit confusing the first time you try it as it is unusual to see the shoulder seam grow horizontally along your shoulder and not starting the sleeve until later on.
After you’ve knit enough rows so that the sweater is nearly* at the edge of your shoulders you can completely relax about the front and back fitting well and move on to increasing for the sleeve caps. The sleeve caps will have increases at either edge of them on every row for the first section and then slowing down the rate by increasing every other row.
* I say ‘nearly’ to the end of your shoulders because if you do work to the edge of your shoulders you will end up with puffy topped sleeves. Instead if you picture an invisible line running up from your underarm (so the width of your back excluding your arms), this is where you want to stop. If you look at the picture at the top of the post you’ll see where the shoulder seam stops and the sleeve cap begins.
I find this construction gives a lot of confidence in fit before you’ve committed very much time to it. With raglan you increase every other row on front, back and sleeves which makes it more awkward to adjust one or the other without skewing the nice diagonal seam it forms. Again, raglan will always have its place for me but I definitely see a lot more contiguous sweaters in my future!
If this method sounds at all confusing, don’t worry, it will all become clear once you’ve given it a try. If you’re interested in trying this method I’ve recently released Summer Dawn, my first contiguous style pattern and whether it’s your first or fifteenth contiguous sweater be sure to come join us in the knit along on Ravelry!