Start Knitting for Spring

Category: Featured Projects

Are you already dreaming of Spring? Our new collection will help you weather the transition to warmer days; these pieces are perfect for layering! Brighten your day with a pop of color with your favorite Manos del Uruguay yarn

New knitting patterns by Corrina Ferguson in Manos Yarns

Corrina Ferguson is the featured designer with five designs. Corrina, also known as PicnicKnits, has been designing for 9 years. She has more than 200 patterns to her credit, including previous design for us: Mirto, Ferrico, Trufa, and Sandalo. Each of the 5 pieces features a touch of texture making for a number of enjoyable projects. Shown above, clockwise from the top left: 

Accessory patterns in Manos Yarns

We also have five more simple yet stunning designs for spring by Lisa R. Myers, Cassandra Milani, Melissa Leapman, and Barbara Benson. Knit in lighter weight yarns and wool blends, the fabrics are warm but won’t weigh you down. Continuing clockwise from the top left corner:

All patterns are available on Ravelry for purchase and don’t forget to add them to your favorites, queue, or project pages. Which will you cast on first? Remember Manos del Uruguay yarns do more than just look good in your project: every purchased skein of Manos yarn helps a woman in Uruguay support her family. The Manos Cooperatives are a non-profit group dedicated to developing economic opportunities for women. Thank you for your support!

2017 Uruguay Trip

Category: Travel

Fairmount Fibers visits Manos del Uruguay 

Earlier this month, the Fairmount Fibers team (U.S. distributors of Manos del Uruguay yarns) visited Uruguay and the cooperatives of Dragón and Fraile Muerto. Excursions take so long to plan and prepare – then before you know it, you’re back at home sharing photos with friends. Here are a few of the highlights of the trip!

Montevideo

Fairmount Fibers trip to Montevideo

Top: Manos del Uruguay logo, Montevideo architecture Middle: Shots from the Manos offices, woven goods Bottom: Browsing the Manos photo album

Montevideo is the capital and largest city in Uruguay, and it’s also home to the Manos del Uruguay headquarters. In addition to yarns, Manos del Uruguay creates numerous handmade goods such as woven scarves and shawls. The group enjoyed browsing the photo album that includes photos of Robert Redford and Hillary Clinton sporting Manos goods. 

Uruguayan Countryside

Fairmount Fibers in the Uruguayan countryside

Clockwise from top left: Uruguay’s national tree, the Ceibo; hosts Diego and Ursula; the view waiting out the summer storm; and a sheep in the shade.

The cooperatives are located in the countryside, closer to the home villages of the artisans. The journey from Montevideo takes about seven hours. A stop for lunch at the Posada de Campo El Balcón Del Abra made for a nice break in the travel. 

Dye Workshop at Dragón

The group participated in a dye workshop at Dragón where much of our yarn – especially Alegría and Marina – is dyed. It takes a lot of wood to heat enough water to dye all the yarn. Eucalyptus is grown in Uruguay for fuel and for wood pulp;  no forests were harmed in the making of this yarn! Ana demonstrated taking Alegría, in Locura Fluo, through the dyebaths before hanging it to dry outside. We were given the opportunity to apply the dye to the yarn and then Ana showed us how it’s done. The bottom shows our skeins hanging up to dry. Note how different the colors look here than they did as they were being applied to the yarn. 

Fraile Muerto

Fairmount Fibers at Fraile Muerot

The Fraile Muerto cooperative is about 90 miles from Montevideo. Above, you can see Rosa spinning and Blanca winding newly-spun yarn into a skein for dyeing.  Rosa’s mother worked for the coop too, and Rosa remembers back 40 years, to when they would spin the yarn in the grease and then take it to a stream in the woods to wash afterward. Patricia and Vanessa work on a batch of Maxima from one dyebath to the next. Fans of Manos yarns know that the tag on their skein of yarn is signed by the artisan. On this trip, knitters had the opportunity to meet the artisan in person! In the lower right, Blanca and Suzanne admire each other’s work: Blanca made some of the Silk Blend Suzanne is using in her Grandpa Cardigan project (3029 Steel, for those who like to know). 

The trip was a wonderful success and enjoyed by all.  We will definitely do it again, and we hope you’ll join us next time.  Meanwhile, we’ll continue to share photos from the trip on Facebook, Instagram and Ravelry; enjoy!

 

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