Celebrating Manos del Uruguay Yarns

Category: Fair Trade News & Topics

The knitting and crochet community often feels small and intimate yet it spans the globe. Fair Trade products, like Manos del Uruguay yarn, aim to connect the global community! This year is especially meaningful to us as we celebrate half a century of making yarn.

50 Years of Manos Yarns 

  

Did you know that Manos del Uruguay began making yarn in 1968? That means this year is the 50th Anniversary! That’s certainly a milestone worth celebrating, and we’ve been looking back through our scrapbooks of collaborations and knitting and crochet publications over the years. Styles may change, especially the hair!, and we are proud of our role in providing quality yarns that also give back. 

Manos del Uruguay yarns are spun from local wool with dyes made in small lots heated by bamboo or gas. It is a sustainable process and allows the artisans to provide for their families without having to relocate from the countryside to the larger cities. From the beginning, the goal has always been to give economic, social and personal development opportunities to the women in Uruguay’s countryside.

The next time you reach for a skein of Manos from the shelf of your local yarn shop or in your stash, take a moment to look at the tag. Among the printing on the label is something truly unique, the signature of the artisan. Put a face to the name! Click here to see the artisans who create your exquisite yarn.

Do you have a favorite Manos del Uruguay yarn or pattern from years past? We’d love to see your vintage stash or perhaps that Manos wool sweater knit so many years ago! Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Ravelry!

Caring for Your Manos del Uruguay Projects

Category: Uncategorized

Have you ever accidentally felted or shrunk one of your knits? It is such a terrible feeling. We know that you spend time carefully selecting just the right skein, finding the perfect pattern, and devoting hours to crafting that perfect project. We often get questions on how best to care for your creations in Manos yarns, and we thought we’d take a little time today to share with you our tried and true methods of caring for your knits.

Knits in Alegria, Alegria Grande, Clara, Franca, and Gloria will all be fine in cold water on a machine’s Gentle cycle, then laid flat to dry.  You can also wash them as you would our other yarns.  

First, let’s talk about what superwash means. Just like human hair, animal fibers (wool) have scales. These scales are what make many fibers sticky and sometimes when heated and agitated, these scales can bind together which results in felting. That’s what happens when you accidentally put that sweater you worked so hard on in the washer and dryer and it comes out smaller and denser.  

Superwash wools are chemically treated to either remove or coat these scales so that they cannot bind together. Theoretically, superwash wools can be machine washed and dried without danger of felting or shrinkage. However, any time you add heat (especially with hot water) and agitation, you can change the appearance or performance of your fibers in unintended ways.

  

To illustrate this, we have knit up a sample in our newest yarn, Serpentina, and then machine washed and dried it. While the before and after photos don’t appear too different to the eye, there are differences in the fabric before and after. In this particular example, the row gauge has become slightly larger which could affect the overall size of a garment after washing. The other thing that you can’t see clearly in the photo is that the yarn is starting to fray and pill a little; this will only increase over the lifetime of the garment.

So how can you keep your projects looking beautiful and fresh over time? We’ve outlined a few steps below that you can apply to all your projects, whether you used superwash or non-superwash Manos del Uruguay yarns.

Step 1: Fill a clean sink (or bucket, or basin) with lukewarm water. We like to add just a smidge of heat to the water to loosen any oils or dirt that might be lurking in a knit, but prefer not to go too much beyond lukewarm.  

Step 2: Add some of your favorite wool wash. We like to use either Eucalan or Soak, but there are many wool washes out there to choose from.

Step 3: Gently add your project to the water. We like to press the project into the water softly and make sure it is entirely submerged. Don’t add too much agitation, just enough to get your project good and wet. Let your project soak for about 20 minutes in the water/wool wash solution.

Step 4: Check the label of your wool wash. Some suggest a cool water rinse on your project to remove remaining wool wash from the project; others such as Eucalan and Soak don’t require a rinse. No-rinse detergents can not only be time-savers, they also remove an extra opportunity to accidentally felt your project during the rinsing process.

Step 5: Remove your project from the water and squeeze gently to remove excess water. The key here is being gentle; don’t wring or twist your knit. If you have a clean towel nearby, you can roll your project into the towel and squeeze gently again to remove more excess water.

Step 6: Lay your project out to dry. If your project needs to be blocked, you can use blocking wires; if you don’t need a severe blocking you can just lay your project out on a mat and press gently into shape with your hands.

Give your project enough time to dry and then enjoy wearing or using it again!

If you have more questions or want to share photos of your beautiful projects, you can find us here on the blog or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Ravelry!