Nora Meets the Maker: Melissa from With∞Mel
by Kollabora Follow

posted 4 years ago

Living in a place filled with sunshine and nature gives a deciedly beautiful and whimsical feel to Mel's knitting patterns. Driven by a desire to learn and connect, Mel's love of knitting - and the opportunities it's offered her to expand personally and professionally - keep her creative passion alive. 

My name is Mel… my last name is actually 22 letters long so Mel seems to make life easier.  After having the SingleHandedKnits brand, I have begun a new adventure, new blog, new podcast, new brand: “With∞Mel

My DIY weapons of choice are natural fiber yarn & needles, and when I am looking for inspiration I get out from under a roof! I love being outside wandering around the forest, marshlands and mountains…but can never be comfortable straying too far from the ocean. I think I came with “Care For” instructions marked: needs salt water

After a long day of making things I like to listen — either to sit and listen to family, friends, the sound of crashing waves. Listening to people around me share their thoughts, ideas, stories is a treat that fills me up after my creative endeavors have poured me out.

Initially I had knitting thrust upon me by an elderly woman from Sweden that knew I was bed ridden for the duration of a pregnancy. Just 4 weeks in to the pregnancy I was stuck in bed with tubes of all sorts plugged in to me and my morale was gone. She decided I needed knitting as a life raft and began to teach me daily, apart from Sundays, a skill that saved me not only at that time…but would again, 9 years later. It was at this time I was struck by a coconut and lost complete use of my left arm. My morale was the lowest ever in my life. I was plagued by thoughts of all the things I could no longer do with ease—-everything from cooking, playing with my kids, brushing my teeth, to tying my running shoes, to running… The list of Can’t Do Anymore was overwhelming. It was heart breaking.

I determined this stupid accident wouldn’t rob me of my love for knitting. So I began relearning everything… EV-ERY-THING in knitting. I won’t lie or sugar coat it, what happened to me sucked and was hard to work my way through. Knitting became a saving grace that not only built up my self esteem again, but it reminded me of how people all around struggle, and I need to be more mindful of that fact. Now I knit like a ninja. I also avoid walking beneath coconut trees.

The one thing that drives my creativity is the insatiable desire to learn and connect. I see knitting as an opportunity to either learn from someone and connect with their story, to teaching someone and helping them discover their new story!

When I think about starting a new project I get so excited I usually start seven at once. I see connections from idea to idea, so where some people may seem multiple things simultaneous as confusing and distracting, I see it as calming and an organizational tool

The best part about running my own business is introducing myself to others in order to collaborate! I never shy away from the opportunity to tell a fellow crafter that I see loving what they do that they intrigue me. It very often connects us to opportunities to work together.

I started by business because I needed to take ownership of what could have stayed the “worst thing that ever happened to me” and flip it in to “the most incredible opportunity to overcome a challenge”.

When I think about people making/using my supplies, I am humbled. I am so very humbled and stoked beyond words.

My advice to anyone looking to start their own business is take time to dwell in yourself. By that I mean, consider your gifting. You are uniquely created and very valuable. The things you have to share are too! So meet yourself at an honest level and dwell there, get to know your likes, dislikes, interests, special talents. Once you grasp all the amazing bits of yourself that you have to share, the rest is overflow and comes naturally.

If I wasn’t a knitter, mom and wife I would love to be hidden along the shore somewhere in a wee little house with one of my old typewriters writing a book.

The first thing I do when I wake up is offer up thanks that I get another day for another adventure!

The book that can cheer me out of any bad mood is anything by Agatha Christie (I collect her Hercule Poirot books published in French).

My favorite word is: thank you

My least favorite word is: almost

Making makes me feel like I am connecting: with the past, the present, the future, with others, with myself…

I get out of a creative rut by going outside for a walk or dancing in our foyer to a piece from La Bayader one of my favourite ballets

I most relate to people who do not complain. They have a deep determination. They have all the same struggles complainers do, they just have more discipline and incredible determination to overcome.

I love Amy Christoffers of Savory Knitting. Her knitting designs are timeless and her kindness affects everyone she meets. My favourite artist is my daughter, Natalya, she sees colors in ways that surprises and inspires me as a designer and as a mother.

My favorite thing about making is screwing up. When I botch something I am making I have the challenge in front of me to give up, fix it, or recreate it. If I release a pattern and mess up on something in the instructions I feel horrible, but thankful for the opportunity I have to be humbled. Making mistakes is a part of life. Hiding mistakes is missing life. Correcting mistakes is perfecting life.

To me, DIY means an opportunity to learn the value of quality craftsmanship!

The first thing I made was an angel for the Christmas tree out of aluminum foil, toilet paper rolls, paper towels and orange yarn when I was 5. My mum kept it (and used it!) and passed it on to me. My kids laugh their faces off each year when we put it on our tree top.

Three words that describe me: inquisitive. insatiable. polite.

Three words that describe my work: You. Should. Try.

Best creative advice I ever received is always create with the goal of discovery

I never leave the house without my…oh wait where are my keys? Where is my purse? Have you seen my sunglasses? Has anyone seen my knitting bag!!! I never leave the house without my family helping me along…if you see me out and about, please thank my family. My outing was made entirely possible by them.

If I could live in anywhere else it would be anywhere near a Cathedral, the ocean or a bistro frequented by older aunties and uncles with well etched storylines on their faces. Each have such stories behind them that I want to discover.

My DIY secret weapon is grey yarn. Give me grey yarn and I won’t need to eat, drink or sleep for several days. Make it linen and I might not even need to breathe! I can’t tell if it is my kryptonite or my muse…

My next project is going to knock your socks off! Just wait ;) 

Discussion 9

  • Ruth Carapella commented 4 years ago

    Great interview. I love your positive outlook on life. 

  • Pat H. commented 4 years ago

    I love your positive attitude! It is very inspiring! 

  • Judy11 commented 4 years ago

    So nice to 'meet' Mel with your interview here.   Love finding new knitting sites/blogs too!!

  • Linnea commented 4 years ago

    Mel, I love this interview here, the best I've read! It showcases your inner beauty we all love and truly shows the amazing, stellar human being you are.  One thing it fails to capture in exact words specifically is what an incredible friend you are.  It shows between the lines yet I want to tell everyone so they know and don't guess about it: Mel is an incredible friend, always so very positive, encouraging, and compassionate.  <3 

    This site so favorably impressed me I joined after viewing a very few photos and designers! Thanks for sharing it with us all, Mel.  

  • dobsonemily@gmail.com commented 4 years ago

    I have a bit of a girl crush on Mel and love all of her lovelies that she makes. She is quite inspiring to read as well, I'm glad you never gave up making knitted items!

  • Patricia Bishop commented 4 years ago

    I am constantly inspired and uplifted by your posts and despite being a dyer, I too adore grey yarn!

  • Ellen commented 4 years ago

    What a great way to start my day. I love reading your posts. You are so inspiring. Your photos are lovely. Sigh! I long for warmer, brighter days. 

  • Penelope Dubois commented 4 years ago

    I never fail to feel uplifted after reading your posts!  You have such a great outlook on life and it is very infectious!

  • Cheryl commented 4 years ago

    What a great outlook on life. I was in a similar postition in my life when I discovered I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was unable to create for several months and fell into a depression but decided that I wasn't going to spend my life a victim of the disease but was lucky enough to get treatment and get back to my knitting and needlework- a saving grace for my mental and physical health. I'm not back to pre RA condition and probably never will be but I won't sit around and wait for it to happen. I want to live life and not merely exist in this world. I can't wait to see your next project!

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