Manos del Uruguay: Our values ARE our business

Manos del Uruguay: Our values ARE our business

an interview with Lisa Meyers, distributor of Manos del Uruguay
by Ann Weave

Today’s post showcases Manos del Uruguay, a group of twelve women’s cooperatives in Uruguay
that produce hand-dyed—and some hand-spun—yarns. Five Uruguayan women started Manos in
1968, first to sell handmade wool products, then to produce and sell yarn to fiber artists all over
the world. Manos has been employing and empowering women for over fifty years—FIFTY
YEARS. Women were producing Manos yarn before I was born. This is astonishing! You can
read more about their history here.

Fairmount Fibers is the exclusive distributor of Manos yarns in the United States, so I asked Lisa,
the director, a few questions about the company.

Ann: Please tell us a little about the women who dye your yarn. How large is your dye team?
How long have they worked with Manos?
Lisa: About 25 women work in the coops where our yarn is dyed—some dyeing, some winding,
some spinning. Their tenure with Manos varies, from about 3 years to nearly 40, including at least
one whose mother spun and dyed with Manos.

Ann: Where is Manos located?
Lisa: Manos is actually a cooperative of cooperatives. Because our mission is to reach women
where they are, there are separate workshops (each run by their member artisans) in different
villages throughout the countryside.

Ann: Please tell us a little about the inspirations behind your colors.
Lisa: New color development can be shaped by the Uruguayan
landscape of rolling grassland, but also by runway trends in North America or Europe, because
Manos is not just a yarn company—we also produce handknitted and handwoven goods for
export, which means staying in touch with ready-to-wear trends in those markets.

How do your values impact your business?
Lisa: We started Manos with the same mission we have today: to provide opportunities—
economic, social, personal—for rural women in Uruguay. Manos is a certified member of the
World Fair Trade Organization, which means we’ve been audited for compliance with
these FairTrade principles. We are artisan-owned, self-governing cooperatives. In effect, our values ARE
our business.

Manos has been quietly making history—and amazing yarn in signature colorways—for decades.
I’m more excited than ever to knit with Manos yarns!

While you are waiting for the flowers to bloom, knit your own in the Ligero hat (two skeins of Alegria Grande make two hats, just flip the colors).

Alegria Grande also makes the Meseta Cardigan by Susanna IC.

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