Our trip to Uruguay

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 started with a train ride on Amtrak to LA, where after an excited nights sleep (we wish!) we head to the airport!LAX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Montevideo Montevideo Montevideo

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.

Manos Manos Manos Manos Manos Manos Manos Manos

Yes, they do more than just yarn! They also sell hand woven and hand knitted items. What do you think, should we bring in some of their finished goods?

Manos Manos

This is the test lab for new colors and yarns.

We also went shopping! This was their main shop in a local mall.

Manos del Uruguay

The main store at the 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.

Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay

 

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.

Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay

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.

Uruguay

10 skeins at a time, by hand, in 4 kettles. Amazing how much yarn comes out of this little building.

 

Uruguay

Alegria being dyed!

Uruguay Uruguay

Uruguay

This is the most Uruguayan photo we took. A skein of Manos yarn, a bottle of water (Con Gas), and Mate! Mate is the national drink of Uruguay. Made from Yerba Mate tea, it is far stronger than how we drink it in the US. The mug is filled with the Mate, then hot water is added to one side, and it is sipped through the ‘straw’, which acts as a filter. You see people all over Uruguay with Mate in the hand and a thermos under their arm. We did get to taste it. It was very good, but yes, very strong!

Uruguay Uruguay

Uruguay

We got to try our hand at dying! No one offered us a job.

Uruguay

Uruguay

The front of the cooperative

Uruguay

We say good bye to two of the artisans, who were so kind to us.

 

 

Uruguay

A ride back to Melo for lunch. These little mounds are ant hills!

Uruguay

Off to Fraile Muerto – the first Cooperative

Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay Uruguay

Uruguay

Maxima being dyed

Uruguay

Uruguay

One of the Artisans, whose name was on the skein of Alegria Kris was knitting with!

Uruguay

We take some photos amongst the yarn, drying in the sun.

Uruguay

Some of the artisans. One woman told us how she came here with her mother as a little girl. Before they had running water in the building, they took the yarns down to the river to wash them.

Uruguay

Getting a spinning lesson from one of the master spinners

Uruguay Uruguay

Uruguay

At the end of the day, we were all outside, taking pictures and enjoying being surrounded by the incredible work of these talented and dedicated women.

Uruguay

After a long, emotional day, we head back for one more night in Melo

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.

Uruguay

 

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!

 

Comments are closed.