Melissa, the proprietor of Partea Knits, has always been creative. She studied visual arts in college … and realized that she preferred to make art that was both tactile and functional. Think ceramics, bookbinding, woodworking…and, of course, fibre arts.
…knitting and yarn dyeing really held my attention because of the combination of creativity and functionality. I can express myself through colour and then the yarn can become countless things after that. In short, I guess I love the potential yarn has.
Like many of the dyers in the Darn Yarn family, Melissa grew up around fibre arts.
My grandmothers and great-grandma were knitters and crocheters, my auntie is an avid crocheter, my papa used to do beautiful needlepoints and I have a lot of quilt-makers in my family!
But the habit didn’t stick right away. She dabbled in crochet but quickly moved on to other things. It wasn’t until a friend gave her a beautiful hand-knit scarf that she fell in love.
I hadn’t known she knit, and I couldn't get over how much time she put into it just for me. From then it really stuck in my head that knitting was something I would learn to do, so I could pass those warm fuzzy feelings on to others if I gifted them something I made.
In 2018, Melissa’s family moved to Northern BC and she started knitting blankets and sweaters to help everyone handle the cold winters. She also began to explore natural dyeing—just playing around like she had with so many other crafts.
Then, in 2020, Melissa found the indie dyeing scene, and she was fascinated.
My artsy dabbling tendencies kicked in again, I thought "I want to try that!" I started with some basic supplies and was just playing around at first.
Her husband Brendan posted some of her creations online to gauge interest and then set up a website for her. And Partea Knits was born! Melissa does the dyeing and creative brainstorming, and Brendan takes care of the administrative and web-based sides of the business.
Melissa loves drawing inspiration from all kinds of places: images she finds, whatever leftover dye she has in her workshop, or just random ideas that pop into her head. Everything is fair game for colourways, from a chance encounter with a photograph to a TV show reference.
I like the spontaneity of the one-of-a-kind skeins; there’s no pressure and I can just play.
Melissa’s favourite thing about the fibre arts is their intentionality. Everything is pieced together bit by bit and thought goes into every stitch. And if something snags or rips, it’s easier to mend than you’d think.
Making my own clothes has made me more conscious of my consumer habits in every aspect of my life, and I'm grateful for that.
For Melissa, Partea Knits means freedom: being able to work at her own pace, honouring on her own energy levels, and being able to maintain her own values when it comes to her work as well as the rest of her life.
I'm not interested in growth at the expense of my physical and mental well-being, which I had experienced a lot in previous retail-based jobs. … My focus from the beginning was to just be able to make enough to help support my family, pay the bills etc. and I don’t want to lose sight of that.
Melissa is looking into attending some fibre festivals next summer, but she’ll continue to focus on balancing growth and energy management. It’s a great reminder for all of us, especially when we’re setting resolutions for the new year.
We’re absolutely delighted to have Partea Knits in the Darn Yarn family and we can’t wait to see the magic she creates in the future.