The Manos cooperatives began making yarn in 1968, fifty years ago! The Fairmount Fibers team is thrilled to be a part of the story that brings Manos del Uruguay yarns to fiber fans in the United States. This magnificent milestone deserves recognition!
Women’s empowerment is a common subject these days, but it is a topic that has been at the core of the company from the very beginning. More than 5,000 women in Uruguay’s countryside have enjoyed jobs, security, economic independence, personal and professional development at Manos. While the Cooperatives, collectively, are a large and well-organized business, each individual coop is still very much a small local business. In a mass-produced world, we have stood up for the value of an artisanal product which is made using natural fibers and sustainable methods.
In 2009, the Manos cooperatives joined the World Fair Trade Organization after a rigorous certification process. Read more about what it means to be Fair Trade Certified. When you choose Manos del Uruguay yarn, you’re choosing a yarn with a purpose! Each purchased skein helps a woman to support her family. We hope you take a closer look at each skein of yarn to read the signature of the artisan and location of the cooperative village.
As the next chapter begins, we invite you to join us in this handmade story. In the coming weeks, we’ll have free patterns, a celebratory colorway (available on most bases!), a new pattern collection, and more. We will be sharing the news as each is launched across social media.
On behalf of the Manos del Uruguay cooperatives, we are happy to share this 50th Anniversary video. It includes testimony from the artisans, speaking about what it means to them to be a part of Manos. Thank you again and cheers to the next 50 years!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
FairTrade 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.
If you are a knitter, crocheter, or weaver, you are going to need materials. While you first may be drawn to the fabulous Manos del Uruguay yarns for the color and feel, the yarn does more than just look good in your project! Fairmount Fibers would like to remind you that since its foundation in 1968, Manos del Uruguay has been deeply committed towards the social and economic development of the rural women.
Fair Trade is better for the environment. All the Manos del Uruguay yarns are line-dried outside! In the winter, production schedules have to allow for increased drying time, because there are no indoor drying facilities.
Fair Trade means fair pay and working conditions and empowers women. The Manos Cooperatives provide health insurance, retirement pensions, paid vacations and paid maternity leave for their members.
Fair Trade means quality goods. Manos del Uruguay Wool Clasica is hand spun in the cooperatives using pure wool from the local Corriedale sheep. The artisanal spin makes not-perfectly-even stitches part of the richness of the finished product rather than a flaw.
Fair Trade connects you with other cultures. Each and every skein of yarn is signed, so you will know who made your yarn, and from which village it came.
Over the last few days we have introduced you to the artisans that create Wool Clasica, the people that bring the yarn to your yarn shops, and today you can meet the knitter and see the finished object!
This is Julie.
Julie is wearing the hat she made in her Beginners Knitting class, from the yarn Nicole had skeined and shelved. (Pretty great for a beginner, huh?)
How do we know this is a skein that Lides spun and Ana dyed?
Because Lides signed it.
This is what Manos del Uruguay stands for: artisanal yarn, cooperatively produced and fairly traded. When you choose Manos del Uruguay yarn, you’re choosing yarn with a purpose! Thank you for your continued support. We hope you continue to work with and support Fair Trade products, like Manos del Uruguay yarns, throughout the year!