Posts Tagged ‘Ravelry’

Manos del Uruguay...I love their logo!

I stumbled across this yarn entirely by accident while I browsing k1 Yarns Knitting Boutique here in Edinburgh. There were three yarns that instantly grabbed my attention that day and this was one of them. I purchased three skeins to make sure I had enough to make something beautiful.

The more I’ve researched and read about this company, the more it has become one of my favorite companies, up there with Lush Cosmetics. Their story is inspiring. First started in Uruguay in 1968, Manos del Uruguay is a collection of cooperatives which employ and provide work for local artisan women. Currently consisting of 13 coops, the women there spin, dye, weave, design and manufacture all of their own yarns and garments. They herald their very own brand of garments, accessories, and handicrafts, but also have been contracted by famous designers such as Chanel and Ralph Lauren to help them design and produce their fashions.

The women who work in the coops also own the coops and this gives them access to things like health insurance and retirement pensions that they otherwise might not have. The cooperative is also credited with starting the first kindergartens in Uruguay leading to improved education in the country. Just recently, Manos del Uruguay received its World Fair Trade Organization certification. This is definitely a product that you can feel good purchasing!

Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, Blue Mountain colorway

They make several different types and weights of yarn, but I purchased 3 skeins of their Silk Blend yarn. This blend is 30% Silk and 70% Merino Extrafine Wool. The mixed in silk fiber gives the yarn a gorgeous sheen that you simply can not help staring at. As all with all of their yarns, this was kettle dyed in a small batch so that it has a beautiful variation of colors that are incredibly rich. There are several different shades of blue in this one skein alone and each shade is stunning. Because it is entirely natural fiber though, that means it cannot be machine washed. This is very important to keep in mind in case you wish to use it for a garment that will get heavy use and abuse.

A sneak peek of the shawl I'm knitting with this!

Ravelry classifies this yarn as a DK, or 8 ply weight. And it does have some heft to it! The shawl I am currently knitting is a tad on the heavy side and I am only a 1.25 skeins into it. I would definitely recommend this yarn for a heavy blanket, shawl or sweater for a cold fall or winter day. The Merino Extrafine Wool makes it really cozy and cuddly as well and I find myself looking forward to cold weather so I can wear it (and I HATE cold weather!). Even though it is heavy, because it is so soft and smooth, it can be knit at several gauges (according to Ravelry). So let your imagination run wild!

Aw, it was handmade just for me!

Another great thing about Manos’ yarn is that each skein comes with a tag on it that (of course) tells you the basics such as composition, gauge, and a little bit about the Cooperative. But also, it is hand signed by the artisan who spun your yarn with the location of the coop it came from! It really is a beautiful handmade touch to remind the consumer that this is truly a hand crafted product. One of my favorite aspects of this yarn is that as you knit, you can feel the slight deviations in the thread. Though mostly spun in an even size, there are spots in the thread that are a little thicker in some places and a little thinner in others. It gives the yarn character and makes it fun to work with. I highly recommend this yarn to everyone!

If you wish to track down some of your own Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend, or any of their amazing yarns, you can check out their home website for a list of international distributors (don’t worry, they have an English version of the page available!). The U.S. distributor is Fairmount Fibers, LTD based out of Philadelphia, PA. and they have a map on their website where you can find a shop near you that sells this yarn. For Canada, check out Manos Canada. For Europe, see Artesano Yarns.

Have you ever used this yarn? Leave a comment and tell me what you think about it!

Fun! So do I. But I haven’t found a specific website or blog that really covers the design process very well. As such, that was one of my goals with this blog: to track my own design process in hopes that other aspiring designers might find some inspiration. I should state, there are of course lots of books on the subject. I’ve been eyeing Shannon Okey’s The Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design myself; its available in hardcopy, PDF, and eReader formats. But as I’m attempting to get started with this craft business venture on a shoe string budget, I’m flying by the seat of my pants for now!

First things first: the basics. If you’re like me, you’ve been knitting for at least a little while now and understand some basic things about knitting, such as the basic stitches, casting on and binding off, and of course, gauging. Hopefully you’ve picked up some basic ideas on how certain garments are constructed.

The easiest way I have found to learn about construction is to simply read through other people’s Ravelry.compatterns. I highly recommend joining Ravelry; this is a community for knitters and crocheters with wonderful tools to organize your yarn stash, your library, as well as a huge pool of premade patterns ready to be cast on! Many you need to purchase, but there are loads of patterns available for free. Knitty is a great webzine that publishes beautiful, free patterns quarterly for all proficiencies of knitters. Looking through these patterns can also give you ideas for your own designs (but please don’t just rip off other people’s patterns!). Another article I have found with some great references on shawl construction is here: Designing Lace Shawls.

I wish my pen was that nice...

Next, I definitely recommend getting your hands on a sketch pad, pencil, and good eraser. Also a measuring tape! If you get an idea for a design, it really helps to draw it out so that you can start to see what kinds of construction details you’re going to need to plan. If you plan on designing any type of close fit clothing, you’ll need to have measurements to make it fit correctly: that’s what the tape measure is for. Having those measurements also helps you get an idea of how many stitches you’ll need to accomplish your effects. Check out this page for more on that concept: eHow: How to Design Knit Patterns.

Something else that will be of immense aid will be a stitch encyclopedia. These are exactly what they sound like: a complication of different types of knitting stitches to achieve different effects. Once again, there are loads of books that you can buy. But for the shoe string budget, the internet always provides! I have been using Knitting on the Net and KnittingFool.com.

Finally, last but most certainly not least, you’ll need some inspiration. Inspiration can come from anywhere! You could be inspired by a certain yarn, another pattern, a certain stitch. You could be inspired by your environment, a poem, a song. Really, the possibilities are endless!

So from here on out, I’ll be tracking each of my own design ideas (what inspired me, how I started designing it, resources I used, etc.) to give other aspiring designers insight into the process. Hopefully, I’ll also be successful with my designs! So stay tuned and follow me down the rabbit hole!

Do you have any recommendations for pages that can help the aspiring designer? Leave a link in the comments!