The conventional wisdom is that, for the most part, hand-crafted items have no clear utility in the modern age. Factories churn out mass-produced goods to serve every purpose and desire. Hand-made things retain a niche only because of aesthetics, tradition, and leisure time.
I say the conventional wisdom is full of it.
I replaced my old toaster recently. It wasn't so much because it wasn't working anymore — it was half-working as well as it ever did — but because it was full of dust and tiny, stuck-on crumbs of toast. It got replaced with an even-cheaper toaster, which at least toasts consistently, and has the current advantage of being new and therefore clean.
I wanted to keep it that way, so I decided to get a toaster cover for it. My kitchen doesn't have the cupboard space to put it away between uses, and I use it nearly every day anyhow.
What I discovered is that when it comes to commercially-produced toaster covers, there are no good options. The prices ran from $10 to $100 CAD, yet all of them were equally awful. Quilting with a plastic, easily-meltable lining (be careful how soon after using the toaster you replace the cover!). A choice between either super-plain, single-pattern colours, or super-cutesy, mock-feminine covers depicting cats, chickens, flowers, and other things that would look ridiculous in my kitchen.
This, friends, is why I'm glad I know how to make my own stuff.
I got the idea for my own design from Pinterest. Sadly, the image I found links to one of those sites which vomit gambling, porn, and malware ads as soon as you navigate there — obviously not the real source of the image! I haven't found a way to credit the original designer, but I'd like to. Their version had a crocheted piece of "toast" coming out of the top as a handle, and a little crocheted tab out the side. The original 1950s-ish "atom" shapes were in shades of grey and green.
My version has "atoms" to match the backsplash tiles in my kitchen, on both sides so that it doesn't matter which way I pull the cover onto the toaster. Because it's custom-made, the fit is loose enough that the cover pulls off easily without a handle.
Everything was made from stash. The body of the cover and the circle appliqués are made from leftover dishcloth cotton, and the black antenna appliqués are from fingering-weight cotton. I used the tails from the black appliqués to embroider the connecting lines and sew the crocheted circles onto the cover.
I wound up enjoying the exercise so much, I decided to make a knitted version too, using the same yarns but in a different design. That way I'll have a spare cover for when the other one is in the wash.
Gotta love the internet: while I was researching patterns, I came across the on-line Toaster Museum. Who knew toasters were so interesting?