Black Fascinator Steampunk Crochet by KAIJ

I discovered KAIJ a little while back when another blog (I think it was Crochet Your Way) mentioned her blog all about fascinators. She makes terrific crochet and feather fascinators (with various other embellishments) and she educates readers all about fascinators on the blog. I’ve kind of fallen in love with fascinators in the past year or so because they’re a great way to make your hair look terrific even if you don’t have a terrific hairstyle that day and they’re also a great way to dress up an outfit. Plus, of course, there are a lot of crochet fascinators and we all know that I’m all about the crochet. So when Kai got in touch with me recently and pointed me to what’s going on at her Etsy store, I was excited and quick to ask her if she’d be willing to do an interview. She was and here it is!

CrochetBlogger: Fascinators have made a definite comeback in recent years and especially since The Royal Wedding caused people around the world to start paying more attention to English fashion events. When did you start getting interested in fascinators and are you more inspired by vintage designs or those made today?

a) In Melbourne (where I live) fascinators are BIG and have been for many, many years. We have the Melbourne Cup, an extravagant horse race held in November each year. So for Melbournians, indeed Victorians (Melbourne is the capital of Victoria) we are well versed with these adornments for your hair. The Gold Coast (situated in Queensland) is fast becoming quite a place for racing and fascinators too.

b) I have to say I am more inspired by vintage designs – I especially love the Victorian period and the Art Deco era. These two periods are my inspiration.

CrochetBlogger: I know that you learned to crochet from an aunt. When did you start really getting into it?

In December last year, another aunt passed away and left me her collection of crochet hooks and some wool. Her legacy inspired me and I crocheted and crocheted, playing around with the stitches. I remembered how to crochet – it was incredible really, as I hadn’t crocheted since I was a child. I do stick to the basic stitches in my work and I must admit that I haven’t ventured beyond single, double and treble crochet.

I am completely enraptured by crochet and must have a little crochet every day. I will say here that prior to making these particular fascinators, I did create my own hand-stitched head pieces for the races and have now combined the two crafts. I will also add that prior to this ‘fascinator’ endeavor I created handbags with lots of hand sewing embellishments. So I guess fascinators are an extension of the handbag craft and perhaps an accumulation of all my prior work.

CrochetBlogger: That makes sense. As an artist and craftsperson, it’s always important to continue to grow!

Do you crochet anything other than the stuff that you sell on Etsy? Do you follow other people’s patterns or always crochet your own designs?

I do crochet scarves and have experimented with different designs, and come up with a crochet one way, then turn the work around and crochet the other way (opposite sides) with both finished edges having a scalloped edge and I thought it looked quite good. Recently (I was asked) to create a pattern for a flower brooch and this do-it-yourself pack is now available in a local shop. I have to confess, I have not followed other people’s patterns.

CrochetBlogger: I really love your very dramatic designs, especially the latest Steampunk inspired ones, like your Black Birdcage Veil. Where do you get your inspiration for some of these pieces?

Black Birdcage Veil Fascinator with Crochet Flower

Thank you so much for the compliment. Sometimes it is a colour or sometimes it is a material or sometimes it is the way the crochet is forming that is my inspiration. I think in pictures and can imagine a design in its entirety; at times I get it down on paper, other times I just work away until I create what I have imagined.

CrochetBlogger: I’m definitely intrigued by that approach because I personally don’t think visually (in pictures) at all. It seems magical to me!

What are some of your very favorite crochet items that you’ve made? Have there been any that you intended for the Etsy store but then just had to keep for yourself?

Every single one I make I want to keep for myself! I put a lot of myself into making each item. However, I tend to make more ‘over the top’ items for myself and then think that perhaps they would be too out-there for Etsy, perhaps not. I did include something a bit more unusual in my latest item at Etsy: Orange Steampunk. It has crochet covering the entire base as well as the essential crochet flowers on top with a huge Ostrich feather in back. This could be the start to more adventurous crochet headwear.

Orange Steampunk

CrochetBlogger: You do seem to incorporate a lot of color in your work. Is the area where you live in Australia very colorful?

Hmmm, Melbourne is half the year hot and half the year cold, so in summer you could say it is colourful and winter like most places, no blue sky, cold etc. so not specifically. I just enjoy colour and textures and am so glad colour is coming back into fashion so that people aren’t afraid to wear colour again. Even when everyone was wearing the grey spectrum last year – I would be wearing colour!

CrochetBlogger: Are most of your customers based in Australia or not necessarily?

I only opened at Etsy in April this year and so far it has been a bit of both. I do supply to two shops in Melbourne so because of this, I guess predominantly my custom is Victorian.

CrochetBlogger: How has your experience on Etsy been so far? What have the biggest ups and downs been?

Etsy is amazing, and the quality of everyone’s work is sensational; I never cease to be in awe from my fellow artisans. I must say, I was feeling lost in a sea of Etsy-ans for a while there, but recently Etsy has changed the search criteria to ‘most relevant’ rather than the ‘recently listed’ and that will help all of us get our products found.

CrochetBlogger: I think there’s a great Etsy community but it takes some time to find your place in it.

I’ve seen your interviews with Crochet Your Way and OverDressed for Life. What other sites have featured your great work?

Oh wow, thank you. I was interviewed at HATalk (online eMagazine about hats). They featured a black hat that I created with lots of crochet (of course), pleated georgette and feathers in sinamay. You can see the hat on my blog Fascinatings.

CrochetBlogger: You mentioned earlier that crochet has become a part of your daily life. What do you think are the biggest benefits of crochet?

It is therapeutic I guess in its method of creation and somewhat addictive at the same time! Every time I sit down, I pick up my crochet – it is automatic for me.

CrochetBlogger: If you could make sure that people know one thing about crochet or about fascinators, what would that thing be?

Crochet is more than another method of intertwining yarn or about just making a garment; it is an incredible adornment of its own. As you can see on my fascinators, crochet is so versatile and stunning for any accessory and/or decoration. What about crochet wallpaper, how amazing would that look?

CrochetBlogger: I definitely agree!

Is there anything else that you want us to know about you?

I have loved crafting of all kinds since I was young and for years I haven’t had the confidence to go out and get my work ‘out in the world’ but after prompting from friends and admiring strangers (thank you all) I finally feel accomplished within myself at having put my work on show!

CrochetBlogger: Well I’m definitely glad that you put yourself out there. You’re doing terrific work. Thanks for dropping by for a visit!

Say hi to Kai over on Twitter @kaijkaij!


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


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