Irene Méndez Guerra has been with Manos since 1978. She was introduced to Cecelia, an artisan in the production group, by her brother. It was her first job, which she pursued because of her family’s economic situation. At the time, work was done in the artisan’s home, with the delivery of materials and finished garments arranged by the artisan in charge.
Irene began work in the hand-knitting group, creating elaborate garments. In 1980, the artisans had an assembly and began working in a shared workshop space. Inititially, the co-ops did everything under one roof – spinning, dyeing, knitting and weaving. At times, Irene would also spin or teach others her skills.
More recently, the co-ops have become more specialized, with each one focusing on one or two aspects of production. Irene is now the cooperative task-leader and has helped to pioneer a new skill for the artisans: felting.
Irene comes from a large family. Her father worked for the National Railway Company for many years and her mother was a housewife. She has 19 brothers and sisters, 47 nieces and nephews, and is a grand-aunt as well. Many of her family members have also worked with the co-op: her older sister made pillows with a group that formed and worked in the Carlos Reyles High School; her youngest sister wove ruanas (a poncho-like garment) and scarves, and four of her nieces have worked as hand-knitters – one is even still knitting with the co-op today!
Irene loves everything about her job, and notes that it has given her strength to develop herself as a person, enduring good times and bad. Working at the co-op enables her to stay in Molles with her family. Molles is a small village of approximately 1200 people in central Uruguay. It was formerly known as Carlos Reyles, so named for the novelist and wealthy horse-breeder who owned land in the area. Its main attractions are the Caves Reyles, the rose garden and historic railway station.
Click here to read more profiles of Manos del Uruguay artisans!
We received some really creative submissions to our Wool Clasica design contest – and while they didn’t number many, they were in such high quality that it was impossible for us to choose a favorite – so we didn’t! All of these talented designers will be receiving prizes (read: free yarn!), and we’ll be publishing their patterns soon for your knitting pleasure.
Tweedledee & Tweedledum by QuiteCool: This simple, quick knit is perfect for semisolids or space-dyed colors alike!
Affinity by NEEDdesigns: This cozy slouchy hat uses twisted stitches and cables – no cable needle required! It’s knit from the bottom up and topped with a cute pompom.
Poco Rojo “Little Red” by MrsCollinHobbs: An adorable children’s hat with a lovely cabled pattern. It is secured with a buttoned chin strap and covers the ears for maximum warmth!
Turban(d) by AmberMay: This ribbed headband will keep your ears warm! The twist in the front is a great detail on this quick-knitting fashionable accessory.
#77 Dream Hat by Ckknit: A simple earflap hat with a lace pattern that won’t distract from space-dyed yarns! Tassels and a pompom add a touch of fun to this quick-knitting hat.
Onda Cowl by Seni: This lacy scalloped cowl is quick-knitting and only takes 1 skein of Wool Clasica!
Stellar Cowl by Sharoneedlehands: This two-skein cowl can also be work as a hood for maximum warmth!
Manos Wool Clasica Boot Tops by Nickersr: These elegant cabled boot toppers will keep you warm this winter!
While we had a hard time deciding on a favorite design, the results were clear in our People’s Choice category – Ckknit’s #77 Dream hat won with 29 votes!
Thanks to everyone who took the time to create and submit these amazing patterns using Wool Clasica yarn! We can’t wait to share them with you so that you have plenty of quick knits to keep you and your loved ones warm this winter. We’ll be sure to let you know when these patterns become available in our Ravelry Group and on our Facebook fan page!