Manos del Uruguay is one of my favorite yarn companies. I have used their yarns for many of my designs and have found them to be a great company to work with. Their newest yarn line, Clara is a super soft, single ply, superwash wool yarn dyed up in a wide range of hues with subtle color variations in each hank making it a great yarn for slipped and passed over stitch patterns.
I selected the Esmeralda colorway that shifts from emerald to teal with dashes of mossy greens in between. It was a tough color for me to capture and is far more green and rich than my photos express! I thought a lot about what I wanted to knit in this yarn and landed on a fairly fussy pattern for two reasons. First, I wanted to put this single ply to the test and see if it was going to be particularly "splitty" which is a known issue with many single plys. Second, I wanted to be able to see just how bias the yarn is and how well it blocked, especially because I have found superwash to be a blocking problem child in the past.
Swatching went well as expected and I was knitting to gauge at 24 sts/4" on US 5 needles. I decided to knit the Open Mock Cable Rib Cowl from Joelle Hoverson's book, More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. I had knit this cowl many years ago without a hitch and liked the idea of breaking up the color flow of the yarn with these stitches. Of course, I managed to cast-on and begin knitting in the late hours and was downright exhausted. The next morning, by the light of day, I realized I had worked the slanting stitch portions - very consistently - incorrectly. I was already many inches into the work and thought about my own advice to new knitting students: If you're doing something wrong, but doing it consistently, just go with it for now. I decided to take my own advice and continue on to complete the cowl while knitting those columns incorrectly the rest of the way through. Though the stitch actions are a bit cumbersome to complete I never felt like I had to over-manipulate the yarn to make sure it wasn't splitting or catching. The strands are strong, fuzzy, and hold together nicely.
After binding off, it was clear that there was a fair amount of bias in the yarn. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, bias is the slant of the knitting - caused by single ply yarns because there is only one twist direction. The resulting fabric often shows the energy of that twist. Plied yarns are nicely balanced because multiple strands twisted in the same direction release the energy of the twist when plied because the ply twists the strands in the opposite direction; the resulting fabric is nice and straight. I wasn't concerned about this result because blocking usually resolves this issue however, as I mentioned before, superwash doesn't have the same crisp blocking power of untreated wool.
I was extremely happy with how neatly the cowl blocked. I hand washed the piece in cool water and carefully squeezed the excess. I then placed it flat on a mesh drying rack and shaped it carefully so that the stitch columns were nice and straight, and also so that the bottom (bind-off edge) was slightly wider. I find that a cowl with a slightly larger circumference at the bottom is more comfortable for me to wear. My daughter reluctantly modeled for me (moms, am I right!?) and I must admit the color was stunning with her complexion.
For those of us that do our best to stay up on the knitting trends, we know that single ply is queued up to make a big comeback. Between that single ply trend on the horizon, and the modern, saturated, and enticing colors Clara is available in, I know this is a yarn I need to squeeze into the stash!
Manos del Uruguay was born in 1968 out of a simple question: How can we improve the life of the Uruguayan rural women?
Manos was then founded to give the women jobs that would allow them to provide for their families, be independent and self-develop while staying in their home villages. Since then, Manos has grown to be a very special Yarn Company focused on a product that is sustainable, ethic and beautiful. We are organized in small cooperatives located in remote villages, where the artisans spin and dye our yarns. In 2009 we were certified as a member of the WFTO World Fair Trade Organization. Our yarn is renowned by its wonderful hand-dyed colors and its crafted nature. We aim at knitters that value the natural high end quality of our yarns and the social aim of our company. We are very proud that our yarns are now available worldwide; this has helped us to carry on and expand our social project.
You can learn more about us at www.manosyarns.com
Disclaimer: I received no monetary compensation for this review; I did however receive the product in exchange for posting my honest opinion and review. I am in no way affiliated with the company mentioned in this post. Your experience with the reviewed products may differ from my own.