Marta Nowak is a Brooklyn-based textile artist who recently graduated with a BFA in Textile Design at RISD. Throughout her residency at the Textile Arts Center this year, she has created multiple knitwear pieces and had the chance to focus on creating a knitwear brand of her own. She is most inspired by people’s passion for textile making and is determined to contribute to the efforts of ending fast fashion practices.
Her passion and skill for knitting shine through in our Circular Scrunchie collection. Each scrunchie was made by hand in her bedroom on a manual knitting machine using only deadstock yarns.
Marta talks about knitting and craft, deadstock, and her brand, Novvaks Knits and more in this Q & A.
Tell us about yourself and the magical world of Novvaks Knits.
My name is Marta and I have always been obsessed with color. Before knitting, I used to paint a lot, but felt as though something was missing in my work. Knitting became a great outlet for me because I get to touch and wear the things I make—it goes beyond just seeing the artwork.
How did you learn to knit?
I went to RISD to study textile design, where I was able to learn how to use a knitting machine
How does your craft help you?
I enjoy the technical and mathematical aspects of making, which is why I am so appealed to knitting. I am able to think organically while following a structure.
Tell us about how you work with deadstock materials and why that’s important to you.
I enjoy sourcing deadstock yarn because they feel like precious gems—one of a kind yarns that you have to savor and use wisely. They make any project you knit with them that much more precious.
Why do you think craft is important in today's society?
In light of the effects of global warming, I think people are shifting their focus on finding different ways of preventing more pollution while incorporating it into their lifestyles. Craft has an impact on this, as it is thus far the best way to halt fast fashion. Consumers get to have unique products, support a small business, and help the earth! What’s not to love?
Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.
I am proud to say that I am both a Polish and American citizen! My last name is polish, and pronounced “Novak." When I started my brand, I wanted to celebrate my heritage as it inspired a lot of my work, but also have it pronounced correctly—this was the origin of the name “Novvaks Knits.”
How do you feel wearing a handmade garment as opposed to something mass produced?
It is a wonderful experience, because I feel as though I am wearing a garment and a piece of artwork all at the same time.
How did you develop such a unique knitting and visual style? Where do you get your inspiration from?
My time in school was my chance to learn how to use a knitting machine, however during my residency at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn, I was able to fine tune my knitting techniques. I was able to break all the rules and invent my own techniques and structures. I got to knit things that a few years earlier I didn't think were possible. As for inspiration, I am inspired by color, trips to the MoMa, and other knitters!
Do you have any final tips for any budding female entrepreneurs, or knitters?
Even if your dreams feel impossible, try anyway. There's always multiple paths to achieve your dreams, and it’s better to fail trying than to live in regret. You owe yourself a shot!!
Want to get your hands (and hair) on a one-of-a-kind deadstock scrunchie? Shop The Endery X Novvaks Knits collab!