Thursday, 6 October 2011

Where? you ask, why, South America of course!

I buy beautiful Merino wool from several different South American companies, but there is one in particular that I would like to share with you.

If you think of wool in South America, you probably think of Peru. They are known for their beautiful woven garments as you can see in the photo.  Peru gives us hard working sheep wool, but their largest wool export is the amazing Alpaca wool which we will come to soon on our voyage.

Peruvian woman spinning wool

But today we are still talking Merino so we have to travel to the other side of the continent to a tiny country called Uruguay. The climate of Uruguay is perfect for the developpement of beautiful Merino fleece.

The company in question is Manos del Uruguay. This cooperative was founded in 1968 as a way to provide jobs for women. The following statement by Elisabeth Sosa, artisan and former President of Manos board best describes the impact of this cooperative:

“We all were happy to have an income derived of the products we made with our own hands, but there were also important changes.
40 years don’t seem like so much, but it was a really different time then. Women didn’t have their own incomes, the husband was the one working. This job took the women out of their homes and made them function individually. We were learning to group, have meetings, administrate money, make decisions, organize orders, deliveries and stock, take charge of all the coop’s needs and make ourselves responsible for them. We grew up and found aptitudes we hadn’t imagined we had. It was a revolution.”

The cooperative has had and continues to have a huge impact of the economy and society of Uruguay. The first kindergardens were begun by Manos to provide childcare for their workers!

The women spin and hand dye Merino and other gorgeous fibers into wool. They also weave wool into fabric and knit designer garments.

This cowl I made is an exemple of their incredible Merino. It is so soft!
Fabulous Manos del Uruguay!

 The latest exciting news from Manos is that they have been been admitted as a full member of WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization), the global representative body of over 350 organizations committed to 100% Fair Trade. This recognizes Manos’s mission to eradicate poverty through sustainable economic development, pioneering social and environmental policy and practice, and continual reinvestment in marginalized artisans, farmers and producer communities.

This means that by buying wool from Manos del Uruguay, we can create gorgeous garments for ourselves or others while being socially and environementally responsable. It was definitely worth the trip to Uruguay!

To find out more about the cooperative visit their site:


Isobel said...

Well, thanks a lot for that information! Had not realised merino wool came from Uruguay - had always thought of it as an Australian product! One does live and learn.

Laurie said...

You are of course right as you saw! But what is the most surprising is that we can find Merino everywhere. Australia just has the corner on the market.

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