Uruguay’s not-for-profit artist collective Manos del Uruguay is organized into small cooperatives based in the rural villages where the artisans live and work. Manos, which was founded in 1968, was chosen to be a member of the World Fair Trade Organization in 2009. Founded with the desire to keep women in their homeland, able to support their families, and teach traditional skills and values to new generations, today the organization employs 250 artisans in nineteen Uruguayan localities.
Items are made by hand, one at a time, imbuing them with meaning and individuality. The textiles begin with small dye lots heated by wood fire or gas, and the yarn is dyed up to six times. This process yields a material rich in complexity and artistry. Once the yarn is colored, it is sun-dried in coops in back yards across the cooperatives. The women then hand-spin Manos’ signature Clasica Wool yarn, using pure wool from native Corriedale sheep. This singular process injects character and beauty to the yarn, ensuring each buyer receives a truly unique piece.
All textiles manufactured and distributed by the organization encourage economic and personal growth of its artisans; each piece bears a tag noting the craftswoman who made it, and where the work originated. Manos del Uruguay has worked with high-end brands including Polo by Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacbons, Ulla Johnson, and Stella McCartney, among others. 45 years after its founding, Manos remains committed to honoring its members by providing economical, social, and personal development opportunities.