Five Facts About Fair Trade

Category: Fair Trade News & Topics

The Manos Cooperatives are a not-for-profit organization dedicated to upholding the standards of Fair Trade. Every time you buy a skein of Manos yarn, you help a woman in Uruguay support her family. Here are 5 facts to know about Fair Trade. 

Fair Trade is more than just coffee and chocolate!

Manos del Uruguay Felt Ram

We focus on the yarn here but know the artisans of Manos create clothing, home accessories, leather goods, bags, and much more. You can shop the catalog by clicking here

Fair Trade means the value is placed on the lives of the workers.

Artisans of the Manos del Uruguay Cooperatives

The cooperatives are small, and there is no child or forced labor. The yarn is made in the cooperatives of Fraile Muerto, Rio Branco, and Dragón. The artisans do not have to travel to Montevideo, rather they can stay closer to their families in the Uruguayan countryside. 

Fair Trade uses environmentally sustainable methods.

Manos del Uruguay yarn dries outside

At the Fraile Muerte Cooperative, in fair weather, chickens wander around the yard beneath the drying yarn. In the winter, production schedules have to allow for increased drying time, because there are no indoor drying facilities; all the yarns are still line-dried out-of-doors.

Fair Trade means quality goods.

The local sheep graze on the native grasslands, not in a feed lot. Sheep that are treated well produce high-quality wool. Manos yarn is made in small dye lots in pots heated by wood fire or gas. The space-dyed colors are dyed up to six times per skein resulting in a piece of art! Every skein is unique. No two skeins are exactly the same! 

Fair Trade products aim to connect the global community! 

Take a look at the tag on your skein of Manos del Uruguay yarn. Every tag is signed by the artisan. It is a way in which you, the knitter or crocheter, are connected to the artisan!

We appreciate your continued support of Manos del Uruguay yarns! The Fairmount Fibers team (the U.S. distributors of Manos yarns) has organized a trip to Uruguay this month. The visitors will travel to the Dragón Cooperative and participate in a dye workshop with the artisans. We look forward to sharing photos of their adventure here in a future blog post. 

 

How To Block an All-Over Lace Pattern

Category: Tutorial

When you knit a project with an all-over lace design, do you stop and call the project complete just as soon as the last stitch is bound off? No matter how simple or complex the lace is, taking the time to block the project can even out the fabric and spotlight the beauty of those intentional holes! We’ll show you how to block an all-over lace pattern using Fresa as an example. Fresa is a pattern designed by Christine Marie Chen in Manos del Uruguay Maxima

Why should you block?

Manos Maxima yarn knit into a Fresa Cowl

After you’ve selected your favorite Maxima colorway (shown here in Eucalyptus), wound it, knit it, bound off the stitches and woven in the ends, you probably have a project that looks like the one on the right. You can see the eyelet stripe pattern, but the lace is not crisp and the knit fabric is a bit uneven in some places. 

Materials Needed:

  • Your finished project
  • No-rinse wool wash
  • Towels
  • Blocking pins (T-Pins or Knit Blockers)
  • Sink or bowl
  • Water
  • Flat surface that can be left alone, like a table or floor

Before you block, take a bath!

Fresa Cowl soaked before blocking

There are several different methods to block your project. Blocking involves a bit of manipulation of the wool and that is successfully done when the wool is wet. Some knitters prefer to lay damp cloths on their project, others may lightly steam the work first. For the Fresa cowl, we choose to give it a good soak in the sink.

  • Begin by filling the sink with warm (tepid, not hot) water and a few drops of a no-rinse wool wash.
  • Place the cowl in the water, gently pushing down with your hands to submerge it and really get the water to soak into the fibers.
  • Allow the cowl time to sit and rest in the water. After 15 minutes or so, gently squeeze the water out. Do not wring the fabric; you could end up felting it! 

Next, you will need a flat surface to do the blocking. Ideally, this is a space that will not be disturbed while the project is drying: a spare table, a bed, or even the floor of another room all work well. Lay the cowl out on a few towels or blocking mats. Notice that the lace stitches in the cowl already look a bit nicer!

Stick it! Blocking begins…

Do not pin out every eyelet

Good news! Fresa has an all-over lace pattern, but you do NOT have to take a million straight pins and use them to block each eyelet open. You can save yourself a little bit of time using a set of Knit Blockers from Knitter’s Pride to block your project like so: 

Blocking the Fresa Cowl

Lay the cowl flat and even up the top and bottom edges. Place your Knit Blockers through both layers of fabric to align the top edges straight. (You can also use T-pins here, though it will take a little more time to pin the edges straight.)

Here’s a tip to avoid the cowl drying with a crease on each side: take a smaller microfiber or washcloth, roll it up lengthwise and place it inside the cowl at the edge. This will help the side edge dry on a curve, not a crease.

Next, pin the bottom edges as you did the top. That’s it! Leave the cowl to dry naturally, usually overnight or a day is long enough. When it is dry, remove the pins and cloths (if you used them), and snuggle in!

Finished Fresa

Taking the time to block your finished project will yield something you can wear with pride! If you follow these simple instructions, there is no need to be intimidated by this final step to finish your lacy knits with polish. You can do it! 

Like this post? Pin it!

How to Block an All-Over Lace pattern

Ravelry Inspiration

Category: Featured Projects

We love to work with yarn and share our ideas on patterns and techniques. Our last post included several projects to take your skills to the next level. Each time we take a look at the projects on Ravelry in Manos del Uruguay yarns, our own queue grows! Here are a few fitting the techniques we suggested.

Colorwork

Color work with Manos yarns

SusanMacL’s Dragon Striped Poncho in Wool Clasica combines the Drachenfels shawl pattern and Cowl Neck Stripe Poncho. The result is a stash-busting project that is warm and on trend! Fibermania’s Diamond Panel Jacket highlights the variegated colorway of Silk Blend. Have you tried a modular design yet?

Lace

Lace stitches in Manos yarns

Two Ravelry users recently knit the Silverleaf shawl pattern. Nvlad used Clara, and this was her first lace project! Robbieatteaforewe used Clara and Silk Blend for a color-blocked version. Lusciousluka brought the Florido cowl lattice lace stitch pattern into a Florido Hat in Silk Blend

Cables and Crochet

Cable and crochet in manos yarns

Mdbatten knit up the Winter Sweater project with Gloria held double. Her project notes say it took 18 hours, over 4 days! The cable design on the front adds a fun twist to a straightforward design. Sylviameadows’ My Blue Jeans Shawl using Marina is her second attempt at crochet. Would you have guessed that? 

We love the opportunity to cheer you on as you work on your projects. Let us know what you’re working on in the Ravelry group, on Facebook, or Instagram

Challenge Accepted

Category: Featured Projects

What new projects will you bring to your needles and hooks this year? A must-make project is often the push needed to take the plunge into mastering a new technique. The Fairmount Fibers team made a list of techniques that could be considered challenging, then looked for projects and patterns in Manos del Uruguay yarns that would give you the chance to try the technique at two different difficulty levels. 

Colorwork

Cinnamon Stars Persian Dreams pattern

Cinnamon Stars, in two colors of Manos Fino, features a traditional star motif worked in the round so there is no wrong side! The pattern provides tips for swatching in the round so you can practice with your color combination and the stranded color changes. We noticed a new KAL for 2017 from the Eat.Sleep.Knit shop – the Persian Dreams blanket. They have put together a kit with Manos del Uruguay Alegria, that would be a seriously dreamy project! 

Cables

Dream Big Cable Sweater Centeno cable turtleneck

Dream Big (of cables and texture!) in this quick-to-knit sweater, using Manos Franca. A sweater like this is pretty darn close to instant gratification! Knit it now with plenty of time to wear it before summer returns. Centeno features all-over cables and is knit in Manos Gloria. This sweater may take a bit longer to work up, depending on your skill level. The end result is a show-stopper! 

Lace & Crochet

Whisper Knot Wrap in Manos Marina Shattered Quartz Shawl in Manos Serena

The Whisper Knot Wrap is a free pattern and uses just one skein of Manos Marina. The resulting shawl is generously sized, lightweight and warm. The Shattered Quartz Shawl, from Interweave Crochet Winter 2017, includes the note in the directions that extreme focus is required! Working with Manos Serena and Tunisian lace stitches that bend and turn the linear lace pattern will result in a masterpiece you will enjoy wearing to showcase your work. 

These projects are just a few examples that caught our eye. Your choice of what makes a project a challenge is completely up to you and that’s okay. Remember, every project proceeds one stitch at a time and can be conquered! Let us know how it is going by posting to our Facebook page, posting in the Ravelry group, or tagging us on Instagram

Handmade Ornaments and Decorations

Category: Featured Projects

It’s really getting down to the wire! Our last blog post, Fast with Franca, shared several project ideas you could complete before the holidays. Yes, really! In this post, we want to spotlight a few ways in which you can use Manos del Uruguay yarns in your handmade ornaments and decorations.

Handmade Yarn Decorations

Take inspiration from these Ravelry projects that use less than a full skein (except the wreath) and work up in a little amount of time! Nbagnall’s Woolly Wreath in the top left was knit with 3 skeins of Wool Clasica, but know that others who have made this all note it is a fast project. Continuing clockwise are katylynn06’s Fall Wind snowflake in Fino, tornangel012’s Bunny Snowball Buddy in Gloria, and MsChris’s set of coasters woven on a Weave Easy loom in Maxima

 

Manos Yarns Festive Holiday Pinterest Board

We have a curated Pinterest board, Festive Holidays, for projects of all sizes for inspiration. We have pinned a few free gift tags you can download and print, along with ideas on using yarn to wrap your presents! Keep sharing your photos of Manos del Uruguay yarns & projects with us, we do enjoy seeing and sharing them. Have a wonderful holiday & we wish you a creative new year!