In February 2017, we had an amazing opportunity to travel to Uruguay to visit our friends at Manos del Uruguay!
Not only did we have the opportunity to visit the headquarters in Montevideo, but we would also take some long bus rides out to rural Uruguay to visit two of the cooperatives where the yarn is produced and dyed!
We’ll spare you the details – 6 hour flight to Miami, a layover, than 9-1/2 hours to Montevideo. But what a beautiful place!
On Monday, we all gathered together and headed to the headquarters of Manos del Uruguay, where we met some of the women that run the organization as well as got a tour of the building. We got to see offices, the testing labs, the warehouse, and where all the products get shipped from! From the street, you’d never guess what is behind that unmarked door.
Yes, they do more than just yarn! They also sell hand woven and hand knitted items, just not in the U.S.
This is the test lab for new colors and yarns.
We also went shopping! This was their main shop in a local mall.
Tuesday morning we were up early for the long (6 hours!) bus ride to the small city of Melo, up by the border of Brazil. Sheep, Cows, and Horses everywhere! We also saw these wind turbines. Uruguay gets 95% of it’s electricity from renewable sources. 45% of which is wind. These are pictures from the bus window as we rode along.
The sheep, as well as the cows, are free range and treated very humanely. They raise Corriedale, which is what Clasica, their original hand spun yarn is made from, as well as Merino. The wool from Manos yarns is all from Uruguay sheep, except for the rare times when their demand outstrips supply, in which case they source some from Argentina. The yarn is spun in Uruguay as well. In the case of the super wash yarns, that is also done in Uruguay, and Uruguay has pretty stringent laws around chemical pollution.
Half way on our trip, we drove down a small dirt road to a ranch for lunch. What a beautiful location! There was also their adopted Iguana, that apparently is very fond of cat food. It’s run as a BnB. We got to see some of the rooms, and it was lovely! Click here for more information, if you’re interested.
After checking into the hotel in Melo, right near the Brazilian border, we had a dinner in town in preparation for another early morning departure to the cooperatives! First up, after a 1 1/2 hour drive, was Dragon! Dragon is in the very small town of Placido Rosas. This is where they dye Alegria, do some weaving, among other things.
One more long bus ride to the town of Punta del Este, a resort community on the coast, where we had the great pleasure of having lunch with Olga, one of the original founders of Manos del Uruguay! She served us a light lunch in her beautiful home right on the water where she told us stories of how the cooperatives were started.
What an amazing trip it was. The pride these women take in their work, the opportunities the cooperatives offer these women all over Uruguay help them continue to live in their traditional small towns and take care of their families. We’re so happy to be a small part of this effort, and we’re grateful for everyone that buys these yarns from us. Thank you all!