Sweaters on Toast

What is it about the knitwear in Toast?

I’ve lost track of the number of people who come by to the shop with a picture of a Toast sweater, asking me to recommend how they can make it themselves. Why don’t we get the same questions about sweaters from COS or Uniqulo? I know folks are spending time online looking at those clothes too wondering about which to add to their baskets, but the thing with Toast knitwear isn’t about that – It’s that knitters want to make the sweaters.

So here’s my theory so far. The difference with knitwear at Toast is that it’s machine-made using a Fully Fashioned approch to production. Each separate piece of a Toast sweater is machine-knitted into shape and then sewn together. This contrasts with the more common approach of factory-made knitwear in which the parts of a sweater are cut out of big pieces of knitted fabric. So whilst it’s a machine that’s doing Toast’s knitting, the machine’s stitches still rely on the same techniques as we use to shape our handknitting – working stitches together to decrease, and creating new stitches between existing stitches to increase. And because the sweaters tend to be knit with a 4ply or worsted weight gauge, the stitches are clear enough to make sense of. Taken together, all of that means that when a knitter looks at a Toast sweater, they’re not just looking at a shape or design they fancy adding to their basket, they are beginning to read the stitches and they see the sweater as a project which they could imagine making themselves.

To my eye it’s also looked for a while like the last years of Toast knitwear collections took shape with a good deal of close attention to the raglan and yoked favourites of our Ravelry listings, which leads us to a kind of meta creative spiral of inspiration where the machine-made designs are trying to immitate the hand knitted ones, with the hand-knitter subsequently wanting to copy the machine. I’ve wrestled a bit with ethics here – should I be looking for ways to help knitters to immitate the work of designers whose real project is machine-made sweaters? But I think I’ve worked my way out of that one: The Toast designers (and if there are any of you out there, Hello and Welcome!) should feel flattered. And beyond that, us hand knitters were here first anwyay – right? So yes, it’s our pleasure and you are very welcome (again) – we are so pleased you like our work! We love yours too!

And so here for all of you are our suggestions for how to get a Toast-y look with your own stitches..

Toast Donegal Easy Sweater followed by The Knit Purl Girl’s Marlow Sweater. Work it in our new Studio Donegal Soft to get the tweedy fabric of the Toast sweater. Edges-wise, you’d need to do 3 or 4 rows of stocking stitch at the end of your cuffs/top of the Marlow neckband to get that lovely curled edge detail of the Easy Sweater.

Toast Striped Donegal Tank followed by Sunde Slipover.
The Sunde seemed to have the best match for the Toast tank in terms of shaping around the neck and armskye. But Toast are plainly working at a tighter gauge with their tank – you could get that look by using the Gauge Transformer tool and the Donegal Darnie (I recommend a 23 stitch gauge on ±3.5mm needles), or if that’s all a bit too off-piste for your liking, then you may prefer to go with Olive’s Vest by Pernille Larson.

Toast Collared Wool Cotton Boxy Cardigan followed by Time Piece Pullover by Aibiona McLochlainn.
We’ve definitely nailed it collar-wise with Ailbiona’s terrifically elegant sweater, but if you want the cardigan format, you’ll need to do a mash-up with her body instructions on the Time Piece Cardigan – same shaping and sizing – so you start with the collar on the sweater and continue with the body of the cardigan. On the yarn front, I recommend something nice and smooth like RP’s Vovó or Mondim, WYS Pure, or DN’s Penelope.

Toast Striped Donegal Sweater followed by Spektakel’s Stripe Overload Polo.
We’ve got the fit, construction and gauge with Spektakel’s pattern. To get the toast neckline, you’ll need to leave out Spektakel’s polo collar and just knit a regular ribbed round collar, keeping your stripes steady. For the rest, that Toasty rolled edge is about less, rather than more. Just bind off without any ribbing and watch the fabric do it’s own stocking stitch curly thing.

Toast Cabled Sweater followed by Orlane Sucche’s Cambys.
Yes the cables are not identical but I think we’re there in spirit. Again, the neck edge will need you to add a few rows of stocking stitch at the end of the ribbing to get that lovely roll. It’s another worsted weight sweater, so choose the Donegal Soft for tweedy, or any of our other favourites toothy worsteds.. Rauwerk Original, DN Gilliat or WD Mota or Dlana.

We’re thinking the Toast Book of Knitting Patterns is what should really come next. Could that be a thing? I don’t know but if the Toast designers out there want to talk – we’re here for you!

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