WMJ

Sunday 21st July

Who is Kayla Mattes?

It’s crazy to think that it was only really a few years ago that we’d never even heard of Twitter, it could easily have been misconstrued to be some sort of approved celebrity stalker where you might even get a response if you stalked hard enough – and that’s probably still not far off the mark in some situations – but for us, it’s a knitters news desk and has put us in touch with some brilliant and talented people located all around the world.

It was on Twitter that we found knitwear and textiles artist Kayla Mattes. We always take a peek at new followers’ sites and links and we were so excited when we discovered Kayla’s work – the perfect blend of knitting, the ‘90s and cats. What's to argue with?

So who is Kayla Mattes?

Based in Portland, Oregon, Kayla describes herself as a ‘textiles based artist’, it’s easy to see why she needs a broad title, she has a lot going on. We’re huge fans of her Neo 90ies knitwear collection – which led her on to textile based jewellery design, and more recently she’s released a collection of hand dyed and printed cat crop jersey tees.

Kayla studied Textiles at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and developed an interest in machine knitting specifically, “I love how pixels translate perfectly into knit stitches. For such a traditional craft, knitting is actually really modern in terms of the way it ties in with new technologies.” It was here that she developed the Neo 90ies collection – and her favourite piece of knitwear to date – the Furby sweater “I love making really graphic knits that are also three dimensional. The Furby fur on the sweater is made of brushed mohair and pops out against the flat background and the little Furby eyes!”

 Kayla Mattes Neo 90ies

On leaving RISD, Kayla expanded into jewellery design “My jewellery line came about after I finished up at RISD and was living in Los Angeles. For the first time in my textiles practice I didn’t really have access to all the machines and resources of my dreams. This actually inspired me, because I started getting very into the handmade. I had constructed a top for my Neo-90ies knitwear collection (RISD thesis collection) that was made partially by hand woven lanyard attachments. After becoming interested in the structural nature of these combinations, I wanted to continue working with these materials. The Summer Camp jewellery collection was later born.”

Summer Camp was produced by hand with a combination of machine knits and traditional lanyard weavings (with the best names) – boondoggle, gimp and scoubidou. Every piece was entirely textile based apart from the glue used to secure the ends.

So what inspires Kayla? “The kitsch-ness embedded within pop-culture, the early internet and 1990’s nostalgia. I’m not afraid to use lots of color and unusual materials! The things I make are silly, fun and genuine.”

Kayla’s new Linked In jewellery collection will be released in A/W13 and a new collection of ASCII CATZ tees will be available in her online store in a few weeks (which is lucky as current stock is almost sold out). She also has a few surprises in store for us this winter…

You can view Kayla’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter – she also has a Tumblr and Instagram feed worth checking out. Also, if you happen to be anywhere near The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs next weekend, Kayla will be teaching a frame loom weaving workshop. If only we were a few miles closer…

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