Journey to the Birthplace of Malabrigo Yarns

I originally wrote this feature-length article as a submission to Interweave Knits.
Reading time: 10-15 minutes.

Malabrigo yarn color wall closeup

The Elusive Malabrigo Yarn Factory

Decorative Letter Iclimb up the rusted metal stairs again, carefully counting each floor as I pass. Where is this place?! The guy outside said it was on the third floor, but "Careful," he told me, "every other floor doesn't count."

"You got that right," I think, looking at the black, burnt-out holes in the brick wall on floor #3 1/2. I keep going up, and the steep stairs turn to rickety wood with no banister. My heart starts to pound a little. The stairs lead to a flat roof, and I walk out into the pale winter sun and look out at the foggy, industrial skyline. It's definitely not here.

The night before, I had taken the boat from Buenos Aires across the bay to Uruguay. I didn't really know what to expect, but I hoped my trip was going to be wonderful. Even after having pictured doing this interview for at least a year, buying the boat ticket, arranging everything over email with Antonio, changing my money to Uruguayan pesos, staying overnight in a nearby hostel, and even after getting out of the cab in front of this huge, old blue warehouse with the right address, it seemed that my visit to Malabrigo was still just a fantasy of mine. I couldn't find the dang place.

This time I go back to what I'm almost positive is the third floor. I find a deserted hallway and venture down it, determined to find someone to help me. Then, in another room, I see a door with a piece of paper taped to it that says "Nogalina" (the company that makes Malabrigo). Jackpot.

Inside, I find an enormous, quiet warehouse with carpeted floors and tall, nylon-covered shelves stretching along its length. Workers in sweaters and jackets sit at tables along a windowed wall sorting skeins, putting bags on shelves, and quietly talking. Antonio looks up and smiles. He is wearing a bright orange machine-knit cowl and a corduroy jacket. I smile back. I am 30 minutes late, but definitely in the right place.

Tour Through The Factory

"How is it that you speak Spanish so well?" Antonio asks, starting the tour at one end of the warehouse after stashing my bag and telling the workers he'd be back.

"Well, um, er…" I mumble as I pull out my phone to record everything. My Spanish suddenly feels unequal to the task of saying something intelligent as I try to absorb the fact that this is it, this is where they make Malabrigo, and to mesh what it is like with what I had expected. I really want this to be awesome, I think. This is going to be like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, only for yarn – right?

I don't know what I had expected – maybe super-soft sheep wandering the aisles, oversized posters of Malabrigo patterns gracing the walls… or maybe steaming person-sized vats of dye in all different colors with a big crane lowering bundles of yarn into the vats and then pulling them out, all streaming with colored water and smelling of vinegar and sheep. "Isn't that how you kettle-dye?" my mind innocently asks.

As we walk towards a windowless room full of huge white bags, I try to see Malabrigo for whatever it might be, not what I had hoped to see in my imagination. Turns out I am right-- it is awesome, but in a real way, not in a fantasy way.

Yarn Made Of Clouds

"This is the raw yarn room," Antonio says, opening a door and pushing aside huge clear plastic bags, which turn out to be stuffed to the gills with un-dyed Malabrigo yarn. "This is Chunky (he pronounces it "choonky")… this is Worsted… and here's the roving." He tears open a bag and pulls out a piece of cloud. I stroke it and look at him with wide eyes. "It's beautiful," I say. It is so soft that I literally can't believe it, and keep touching it just to make sure. "This is the Merino we get from the sheep farmers," he says.

"It's never like this," he tells me, "this room, I mean," gesturing to the chest-high sea of bags. "Our boiler broke a couple days ago, so we have hardly any hot water. We're dyeing at like ten percent the rate that we normally do – that's why it's so quiet around here today. Normally this room would be completely empty and dyeing rooms would be buzzing. We're always waiting on yarn here.

"Once we get the roving, we send it out to mills here in Uruguay and they spin it according to our specifications, making the different yarns for us. But it's not enough – we use every mill in Uruguay and we still can't get as much as we need. Their machines break, there are delays, and you know what happens next… 'Where is my order?' everyone starts saying. So we decided to go to Peru. We now make some of our yarns in Peru, just to try to keep up with the demand."

Dyeing Yarn With Secrets

We walk into the next huge room and he takes me to an area with bundles of raw yarn hanging up. Worsted, Silky Merino, Twist… maybe ten bundles of ten skeins each are hanging from white nylon cords.

"These here are ready to be dyed. Some days, depending on what yarn we're dyeing, all the yarns are done up in knots – that's one of the techniques we use to achieve our colors."

"Like what color, for example?" I ask. "Stonechat," he answers.

stonechat yarn malabrigo
Stonechat

Right away I realize my first mistake. I haven't looked at a Malabrigo color-card in more than three years, since I left Stix Yarn in Bozeman.

It was like going backstage to a concert without having listened to the band's latest album. "It's got red and a greenish brown…" he prompts me. “It's a really famous color."

I'm 0 for 1. I ask him for other examples.

Whale's road yarn malabrigo
Whale's Road
"Whale's Road? San Francisco Sky? Odom Forest?" Nothing is ringing a bell. "Odom Forest. Odom. Odom," he repeats patiently. "Otoño."

autumn forest yarn malabrigo
Autumn Forest
"Oh! Autumn! Autumn Forest. I get it now," I say. "Sorry."

"No, it's okay," he says, laughing. "I know my English pronunciation is terrible."

Even though I am failing the color-name-recognition test, my brain is definitely up to the task of mentally translating as he explains the yarn-dyeing process to me in rapid but clear Uruguayan Spanish. I feel happy listening to him explain his work in his own language, knowing that he is able to tell me everything that comes to mind in his own words.

charrua yarn malabrigo
Charrua
Behind the skeins of raw yarn, one solitary worker is sitting on a stool, swiftly making two knots in each skein of a hanging batch of sky-blue yarn, whistling as a blaring radio competes with banging sounds from around the corner. "They're fixing the boiler," explains Antonio. "It's getting there."

"That yarn is going to be 'Charrua,'" Antonio says, pointing. "The knots will preserve the blue for when it's time to add the brown." We walk past some low stainless steel pots. "Smell that? That's the vinegar. We use acidic dyes, so we add a little bit of vinegar to the water. People say they love the smell."

"Like you can see with the Charrua, each color is a process. When I talk about color," he explains, "I don't mean the colors of the dye, but rather the step-by-step process we use to make a Malabrigo color, which could have three, four, or even more steps. It's more like a recipe than a color, and each one requires different ingredients and a different preparation. Here," he says, pointing. "Each color that's in the queue has a little tub with the different dyes in it, all ready to go."

"This is dyeing yarn purely the old-fashioned way," he says. "Hot water, dye, and wool. Each dye requires a different temperature and soaking time. After we're done with all the steps, we centrifuge the yarn and hang it in one of our drying rooms until it's dry. We're actually building another drying room right now – because it's winter, the yarn dries slowly and we tend to run out of space."

Archangel yarn malabrigo factory uruguay

The drying room we go into next is warm, dark, and slightly humid, with skein upon skein of newly-dyed Malabrigo yarn draped over crisscrossing clotheslines, isolating the strangely peaceful room from the echoing clangs outside.

indiecita yarn malabrigo
Indiecita
"Here's a new yarn we're working with," he says, moving towards the far wall and reaching for a dark purple skein of what looks like a single-ply sock yarn. "We're always experimenting here.

This yarn," he says, holding up a skein of Indiecita, which means little Indian girl in Spanish, "is dyed sort of like watercolors. We make it by taking advantage of the transparency of the dye.

"The rest is a secret," he says, proud and cautious at the same time. "Let's go up onto the roof – I want to show you the solar panels.

Using The Sun

"These help heat our water," he explains as we walk up a different, safer set of stairs and emerge onto the roof. "We put them up a couple years ago, and they help get our water nice and hot before it goes to the boiler."

solar panels at Malabrigo yarns uruguay"You know what the hardest color to dye is?" he asks. "Red. For that you need hot, hot water and lots of time."

He looks for a ladder and we climb up to an even higher roof to see the panels. "Having the water already hot saves time, so we can dye the yarn faster, and it also saves gas. But I'm looking into putting a windmill here too," he gestures, "in this corner of the roof. Solar is great but it only works during the day, when the sun is out. Wind works twenty-four seven."

Antonio with ladder on roof of Malabrigo factory uruguayWe pause to look out through the fog over the bay towards the Old City of Montevideo.

"It's not a bad view, is it?" he asks, contented.

"This is a weird old building, I know, but when we started out we didn't have any money, and this place was cheap and… you know how it is. Once you start adding equipment and machines and stuff, it's hard to want to move.

"A long time ago this was a meat-packing plant. You know… sides of beef come in and steaks go out… the whole deal. It's still a little weird to me, but they're fixing it up, slowly."

We go back to return the ladder and he shyly poses for a portrait with foggy Montevideo in the background.

Secret Dyeing Methods

"We've got three teams of three people each who do the prepping and dyeing, and they rotate through the two stations," Antonio explains as we come in from the room walk into a second dyeing room on the upper floor. "That guy downstairs with the Charrua is also a team – the other two are just out sick today. But seeing as how the boiler is broken anyway, it's not that big of a deal."

"Here's another process we use," he says, pointing to metal tables spread with squirt-bottles filled with dye.

bahia yarn malabrigo
Bahia
"For some of our colors we apply the dye directly to the yarn – 'Cookie,' for example, and here's 'Bahía.' 'Bahía' in Brazil, you know? It's an incredibly colorful city."

Skeins of the freshly-dyed rainbow yarn, just the slightest bit damp, are piled up on the table in shining heaps. I ooh and aah over the colors.

"If you want, I can show you my color wall," he says. "Let's go downstairs.

"These yarns," he says, bringing me to a corner table spread with a mishmash of skeins, "are the leftovers from the experiments I did when I was developing this year's new color line.

Antonio's color table at malabrigo yarns uruguay

"See, look at this purple," he says. "I didn't like how it came out at first. I wanted it to be more muted. This one's better." He pulls out two paint-chip color wheels.

"I'm an architect, and these became good friends of mine when I designed interiors. I use them a lot now to see how to get to a lighter or darker color or to come up with colors that go together. I think that being familiar with these... it helped me, you know, for this world of yarn."

Antonio's Color Wall of Inspiration

"The thing about coming up with new colors of yarn," he explains as we walk towards his color wall, a multicolored mass of skeins hanging by a window in the downstairs dyeing room, "is that once you like it on a skein, you have to see if you can duplicate the process on ten skeins – an entire lot. And you never can," he says, laughing.

Antonio's color wall at malabrigo yarns uruguay"You've got to try and try and try, until you can be sure that the color will work when you scale it up for production.

"These are MY colors," he says, fingering the silky skeins of yarn hanging in groups of blues, greens, reds, and pinks. "You can't only work with a paint-chip palette, it's too much, there are too many possible combinations. When I want to combine colors I come here and move the skeins around and hold them next to each other.

"Here's another experiment. Here's a new color of yarn at the very beginning stages," he says excitedly, showing me a rack of bright yellow and bright magenta skeins hanging to dry.

"This is just the base - I'm going to start adding colors on top. It's not going to be a bright color when it's done," he explains.

Antonio's base colors at malabrigo factory in uruguayAntonio's eyes are smiling as he explains his plan, and I can picture the colors zooming around in his mind, making new combinations. I start to understand that this place is a magical fantasy-land after all.

"Mal Abrigo," The Imaginary Land of Knitters

"Mal Abrigo is an imaginary place, with a little bit of humor in the name," he tells me later as we drive away from the plant in search of something to eat.

malabrigo yarn quote origin of the name"García Marquez has his Macondo, Onetti has his Santa María, Faulkner has Yoknapatawpha… Mal Abrigo is ours.

"It's based on the legend of a real town, back when people used to travel by horseback and stop in different towns to stay the night.

"There was one little village in Uruguay that was windier and colder than all the others -- something about the way it was situated in the mountains. It was so cold that the travelers nicknamed it Mal Abrigo, literally 'bad shelter.'"

“We had thought it would be fitting to name our yarn after a tiny country village in Uruguay, and the words "Mal" and "Abrigo" turned out to also be on a list we found of Spanish words that are easy to pronounce in English. Later we did some more research and found the story of how the town got its name. In our imaginary town of Mal Abrigo, it's always cold, and the people there knit constantly without stopping."

"Do you knit, yourself?" I ask as we wind through a network of cobbled streets and plazas, trying to find a restaurant that would serve us the classic Uruguayan comfort food chivitos at four in the afternoon, a late lunch even by South American standards.

5 - red dress"A little. I don't know how to increase or decrease or anything, but I sometimes make little squares, to see how the yarn is going to look when it's knitted.

"You know what I love?" he asks, almost giggling.

"This is totally random, and I had no idea about this because I'm not a knitter, but I love it when you're knitting with a multicolored yarn like Indiecita and you see the yarn suddenly change colors as it passes through your fingers.

"I know it's a silly little thing, but…" he shakes his head and smiles, "I love it."

"Do you know what was the first color we ever made?" he asks as we sit down in the Uruguayan equivalent of a 24-hour diner.

"It was an orange – a horrid, glaring orange.

"We dyed it in the kitchen of my house, in the biggest enamel soup pot we could find. The orange was terrible, but even then, the light, the brilliance it had, told us we were onto something special."

malabrigo-quote--orange

How Malabrigo Got Started In The First Place

"But what made you decide to start dyeing wool?" I ask.

"Well, in some way, my brother-in-law and I – he's an architect, too, although back then he was working in construction – we wanted to do something more than what we were doing. And this country is full of sheep, absolutely full of them. This tiny country is the third largest exporter of wool in the world. So we started to look around at the yarns that were available, and we just didn't really like any of them.

"We felt that the colors didn't do justice to the wonderful wool we have here, especially the Merino. 'So,' we thought, 'we'll just have to do this ourselves.' We went to the sheep farmers and looked at what they had, and we felt that roving that I showed you earlier, and asked, "Can we get this?"

"'Sure, no problem,' they said, 'it's a little more expensive, but we have plenty.'

"'But we would need quite a lot,' we told them.

"'No problem,' they said, 'as much as you want. We won't run out.' And they haven't.

"After we got the wool, we had to learn how to dye it. When we ordered our dyes," he continues, "we asked the manufacturers how to dye yarn. They told us, 'Sure, here's the manual.' But it was all about how to dye yarn commercially, with uniform tones. I wanted it to stain, to have blotches, to be variegated and nuanced. 'Sorry, you're on your own,' they told us. 'We don't know how to do that.' So we went to the internet, but couldn't find much there either.

"So we just started experimenting. We took our enamel pot and started doing trials, and trials, and more trials, until we started getting colors we liked. We sold our first skeins on eBay, and when those customers asked for more, we made our own website and started selling them that way, until we realized that we had outgrown that, too. From day one, it's been 'We want more yarn!' We realized it was time to sell to the yarn stores themselves.

"We decided to send my other brother-in-law, Tobias, to the US, to see how our yarns would be received. He had studied classical guitar there for two years, you know, at the Boston Conservatory, so he spoke English, had friends to stay with, and loved traveling to the US. We sent him to Boston with a couple bags of yarn in his suitcase – maybe ten skeins in different colors – and no color cards. We told him we'd send him the color cards and they would be there when he got to the US." He starts to laugh.

"Have you heard the saying that we have here, about sending someone into battle armed with only a toothpick? Well, that's kind of what we did. When Toby got to the first store, they said, 'What is this? Yes, we'll buy it, how can we get more?' and the orders started coming in. The funny thing was that Toby is a little color-blind, and at that time the colors had no names or numbers. The color cards still hadn't arrived, so he would try to describe the colors to us over the phone. 'No, we don't make a color like that,' we would tell him. 'Go ask someone to tell you what color you're looking at, because we are going to have to start dyeing tons of it.'

"But the trip was an amazing success, and with the orders we got we were able to rent a place – up until then a construction company had been loaning us an empty house that was set to be demolished – and we started to be able to heat more water, hire employees… really get going for real. And from the day that we sold our very first skein of yarn until now, it's been the same refrain: 'We want more yarn!'

Continuously Experimenting

"We've been in business for seven years now, and I'm still always experimenting and trying new things. The machines I buy at auction and rebuild into dyeing and spinning machines, those secret boxes of fiber I was telling you about that we ordered from Peru, the felted blankets and the Merino-wool-growers contests, all of those things are just experiments. You've got to try many new things in order to find something really good."

"Do you do all these experiments because of pressure from your fans because they want more new Malabrigo products? Or is it just something inside you?" I ask over coffee as a spring downpour darkens the windows.

"If you know that there's something missing," he reflects, "something that could be better than what's there, you say to yourself, 'How I can achieve this... thing that doesn't exist?' In some way, you try new things because you can't help it. I don't know... maybe it's something personal. You've already achieved what you do, and it's good, and then you want to do something more.

"So are there any specific dreams that you have for Malabrigo, in your heart of hearts?" I ask. "Or can you rest on your laurels for a while?"

"No, dreams never stop," he says, smiling and serious at the same time. "That's why they're dreams. I don't have something specific in mind that I want to achieve with Malabrigo, although I do like the idea of a misty horizon that begins to clear, where things start becoming visible in the distance. But for that you have to navigate without stopping."

malabrigo-quote--misty-horizon

Antonio's words stay with me as we run back through the rain holding plastic bags over our heads, laughing and getting absolutely drenched on the way to the car.

As I stand at the curb of the boat's departure gate, clutching my bag of carefully chosen purple and turquoise Malabrigo yarns and with my wet bangs plastered to my forehead, I feel sad as we say goodbye. My fantasy world had been replaced with a real, wonderful world, my glimpse into which I will never forget.

Were You Touched? Leave A Comment

What did you think of my journey into Malabrigo yarns? Leave me a comment below and let me know! I will be able to answer the first 25 commenters, but I will read everybody's comments, I promise.

Want More? Watch My Video Tour Of The Factory

165 thoughts on “Journey to the Birthplace of Malabrigo Yarns”

  1. Thanks for the great insight into Malabrigio. I love their yarns. I found it very amusing as a painter that their initial sales rep. was color blind. Color is a huge part of my world and that was hilarious.

  2. Ohhhhh, Liat! Thank you so much for such a fantastic article and peek into the world of Malabrigo. I’ve always loved their yarn, now I love it even more after reading about what goes into it and meeting Antonio! Such a wonderful journey you took me on while I had my morning tea :-)

      1. Liat, I will definitely keep Malabrigo at the top of my shopping list after reading this , I want to buy everything they have! (and have actually bought quite a bit in the past =-) So gorgeous and what a wonderful story. Love love!

  3. YES! I was touched!!! You make me want to visit that factory, too, and then go out and spend money I don’t have on tons of Malabrigo yarn! It sounds positively magical, and I’m afraid I would be dangerously attracted to Antonio (he’s too old for you ;-).

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed this article and video. It is amazing the steps that it takes before these amazing skeins meet our needles! I was in Lima in 2009 and made a special effort to find some yarn shops (all together in one area, seemed odd!) I have a skein of Malabrigo worsted purchased there – my suitcase couldn’t hold everything i wanted to bring home.

  5. Amongst my LYS’ Tosh and other fancy yarns, Malabrigo is always the one I return to. Their worsted is so squishy and lovely to knit with…the colors are amazing…I could go on and in but I think you said it all in your article. Thanks!

  6. Thank you for taking us on this awesome journey…such a sweeeet story…felt like I was right there with you!!! LOVE Malabrigo~

  7. Liat,
    Thank you for this wonderful story about Mal Abrigo. Antonio paints a wonderful picture for the readers and you have transcribed it into a beautiful love story. I enjoyed every part of it.

  8. What a wonderful story! I have just started knitting with wool and can now appreciate the process from sheep to my needles. Would you mind if I put a link to the article on Knitting Paradise?

    1. Nancy, I would love it if you would share this article on Knitting Paradise! I love the knitters on there, they are so involved and share great resources. Thanks very much!

  9. Veronica Von Zwehl

    What a wonderful and informative article. I dye fabric for my art quilts so I could really relate to this topic. Great job! Veronica

  10. Once more I know why I love your work. I admire your teaching skills, your warmth , your ability to make things seem “possible”. Now, I like your writing skills and loved getting a real glimpse into your adventure. Thank you Liat.

  11. Liat!!
    This was just an amazing journey to read about & explore with you! Loved it!!! I am a new knitter, so I am looking forward to getting my hands and fingers running through these yarns! I have so much to learn but I just really love it! Have been in medicine for 30+ yrs…not ready to retire by any means, this may be just MY new medicine!! :)) I certainly will stay tuned to you & your adventures & teachings!! Thanks!! Love the freshness you have brought! Don’t stop!!

  12. What a beautiful story! I felt like I was there, climbing the steps, feeling the incredible yarns, thank you so much for that! (I think you are very brave). I never thought about what an amount of work creating a yarn could entail, it was eye opening! Thank you again, and thank you to Antonio for his work and effort, and love for what he does. I’ve never tried Malabrigo, but as soon as I finish this letter, I’m starting my search!

  13. Malabrigo yarns call to me whether in a yarn shop or online. The colors are magnificent! I loved the article and Antonio. This yarn, when touched, says get me quick!! It feels so wonderful. It is a treat for the hands and the eyes. Thank you for telling their story.

  14. I love the yarn even MORE now. A friend gave me some a few years ago. I made a sweater – loved every single knit stitch slipping through my fingers – the color changes, and how the sweater came out perfect. I’ve tried to find something similar – but cannot!
    Thanks to Antonio for the best yarn ever! ….”NEED MORE YARN”! …. (and thanks for taking us on this trip!)

  15. I loved reading your story and seeing such colors in the different skeins of yarn. What really touched my heart and soul were the words you used to describe Antonio. He seems like such a humble man with such a pure spirit, so willing to share his time and craft because of the love he has for the gifts and talents that he has been given. There are numerous people in the world like Antonio, but to meet or read a story about such a selfless man is a treasure and a real blessing. Thank you for all you do in sharing your talents with the rest of us. You are one of those people we have come to treasure, too!

    1. Linda, I am without words! You really captured how Antonio is, and I am honored that you treasure me, too. I’m hoping many people will share this article so that knitters everywhere can learn about Antonio and his story.

  16. A wonderful story for me to remember as I knit with this beautiful yarn. I walked up those rusty stairs with you to see the factory through your eyes. Thank you.

  17. This whole article/video was amazing! How did you manage to leave? I would work there just to be there every day! I just know Interweave is going to chose you.

  18. Oh My Gosh! I have always loved Malabrigo yarns, but I will certainly look at them with a greater appreciation now! Thanks for the wonderful and informative article. I don’t know if they could have forced me out of the place! I think of all of the colors you showed the Rasta was my favorite with the Archangel as a close second. I will be running out to my local yarn store to see if they have these colors. Thanks again for the information.

  19. I knew there was something special about this yarn! Thank you for your wonderful account of an amazing company. My 12 year old granddaughter is also a fan of Malabrigo, when she goes through my stash she usually selects a skein for a hat or socks! Now to get her to find time knit her own things!

  20. What an awesome adventure! I felt like I was walking along with you. I’m definitely going to check out the Malabrigo yarn next time I’m at my local yarn shop!

  21. What a treat, both the video and article! Malabrigo sock has become my most favorite go-to yarn for my shawls! I hope that they will soon be able to upgrade their working conditions – commensurate with their wonderful yarns. I’d love to meet Antonio at Rhinebeck some year!

  22. Thank you for sharing your story. You are such a good story teller. I felt like I was there with you and Antonio. I love Malabrigo yarn. Every time I knit with it, I am sure I will think of your wonderful story.
    What a beautiful character Antonio is. Such passion and creativity.

    1. Hooray! You know what’s incredible? I had to leave out many, many creative things that he told me about. He buys machines at auction and turns them into spinning and dying machines. He holds contests in Uruguay to see who can raise the flock of sheep with the softest Merino. He is trying and trying to dye a certain type of fiber that shall not be named, which is very difficult. He has knitters experimenting with felting his yarn and creating fabrics. He’s unstoppable!

  23. Liat, I truly enjoyed reading this article. You made me feel as if I had visited Malabrigo myself; which was wonderful since I will never really get there. I will always choose their yarn over others now after having ” visited with Antonio”. Thank you!

  24. This is wonderful. I can imagine, from your descriptions, what you must have seen and felt, and how amazing it would be to do. Thank you for sharing.
    (Too bad that Interweave missed a great addition to their publication)

    1. Thank you Nell! I’m just lucky that even though Interweave turned it down, I have thousands of lovely readers here with whom I share such a special connection. It makes me happy to share the story in a personal way, here, on my blog. So thanks for reading and commenting!

  25. The beauty of this yarn speaks for itself! I also like that you made a point to show the solar water heaters they used to preheat their dye bath water. My husband and I do this at our homestead before the water goes to our propane hot water heater. It saves us a little bundle on propane besides reducing harm to the environment.

    Keep up the good work!

  26. Wow, what a wonderful time you had seeing the process of dyeing the yarn.
    Makes me appreciate going into a yarn shop and being able to pick it up. I love the basic simplicity of the process, from beginning to end.

  27. Love the article! I will find out if my local yarn shop carries this yarn and will purchase if for no other reason than to support these people! Thank you for taking the time to visit and write the article. I felt as though I was right there with you. Can’t seem to get access to the video. Just a black screen. Can I go to another place on your website and access the video?

  28. Loved your visit to Malagrigo yarn. I have always loved their yarn, now I have an understanding of why it is so wonderful and shipments take time. thanks you for your visit.

  29. I have a skein of beautiful variegated pink/red waiting to be knit up. It was so soft and beautiful I just had to buy it. Now that I have read your article it means so much more and I will definitely order more! Thank you Lia!!!

  30. Liat – A knitter, knitting teacher AND a writer. Wow. I am impressed. I wanted to read on and would gladly read more. Please keep writing when you are not knitting, teaching, making videos, taking care of the web site, traveling, marketing, (whew) and all that you do. You are a writer. Love,Donna

  31. Thank you so much for this article! It was my “first cup of coffee” read and I was engrossed. I dabble in many things from art dolls to oils and loved his description of his color processes. Lovely article, thank you!

  32. Thank you so much Liat for taking us on such a wonderful journey!!! I think I was with you every step of the way, as I’m sure all readers were. What a wonderful man Antonio must be. All success to Malabrigo and long may they continue.

  33. I enjoyed your article as well, and a big part of it was thinking how wonderful for him to be in a place where there is unlimited fleece of just the sort he needs! That’s a great part of his “dream”!

    I love that he had an instant market for all he could produce! Wonderful stuff!

  34. From the rickety stairs to the drying wall, you had me. I was right there with you, and what a what a wonderful place to be. Thank you so much for the trip and the education on what it takes to make such a beautiful yarn.

  35. Liat, What a wonderful story. I now REALLY appreciate how those beautiful Malabrigo yarns are produced. Love to knit with them and they are always amazingly stunning, no matter what the project. Bravo to you for writing this story.

  36. Now when I knit with Malabrigo, I will truly be holding and feeling a story in my hands! Thanks so much for sharing your trip!

  37. Wonderful, articulate article. I felt as if I was on the tour with you as your enthusiasm and excitement was brilliantly conveyed. Malabrigo yarns are delightful to work with (I have a lovely shawl in progress ). The colors are over the top, magnificent ! Thank you for sharing, yes, I did get the feeling that this was a company from humble beginnings with a big heart! Best wishes to all at Malabrigo and to you Liat for bringing us one step closer to the process

  38. Oh my stars – what a fabulous story! You made me feel like I was right there with you, touching and feeling and smelling all the wonderfulness. I love Antonio’s quote: “I do like the idea of a misty horizon that begins to clear, where things start becoming visible in the distance. But for that you have to navigate without stopping.” I will carry that with me! Thank you Liat for memorializing your adventure for us!

  39. Thank you for this wonderful story. I love, loved it. What I want to know is where do we shop on the internet for these very beautiful yarns? I live in a little village in Central Minnesota and the closest big yarn shop is 100 miles away.

  40. I feel as though I’ve just had a wonderful trip to a place that had all the beautiful colors and textures of my dreams… You’ve a gift for story telling,,Now I must make myself something from this beautiful yarn…:)

  41. Liat, I wish I’d been able to visit Antonio when we were in Buenos Aires last year. What a great story!
    And now, I wish I could just say, let me know when you’re going again so I can come along! But I have offered before, if you come to the St. Louis area, be sure to let me know; I’ll be excited to meet you!
    Blessings!

  42. Eleonora Iggulden

    Hi Liat, What a wonderful trip and story. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us and showing us the world of Malabrigo. I will look into purchasing some in the future.

  43. What a trip! When you’re in a yarn shop, looking at the different yarns, you rarely think of the actual process of making it. If you give it any thought at all, you think of a huge factory with state-of-the-art machines doing the work. Whoever would have thought this well-loved and respected product came from such humble beginnings? It’s very much a hands-on artistic endeavor. I will never look at Malabrigo yarn again without a smile, remembering Antonio and his team working with such love. Thank you!

  44. Next time you take an adventure in the world of fiber – I wanna come too!

    In my 8 years of traveling throughout Latin America I’ve discovered that folks (wool dyers, cotton/wool spinners, ceramics potters, weavers, etc.) are so incredibly humble. They are astounded that I go to great lengths just to find them and interact with them. I know that most don’t really know how special their skills and creative talents are in this world of mass production.
    Terry – Guatemala

  45. Liat, this article and video were simply wonderful! I adore Malabrigo yarns, and it was pure pleasure to join you as you travelled through the plant with your camera – I could almost FEEL those yummy yarns as you showed them to us. Your article is beautifully written and absolutely captivating. More, please….!

    With kindest regards,
    Susannah from Canada

  46. What a lovely article to read as I’m knitting a pair of socks with malabrigo yarn called Well Water. This is without a doubt my favorite yarn. Now I know why. Thank you!

  47. Maureen Rhowmine

    I’m in the middle of knitting the beaded Celaeno shawl in Malabrigo Sock in Azules. How wonderful to see where it actually came from. You did a superb job sharing the magic with all of us! Thank you.

  48. Hi Liat,
    Just read your article with my morning coffee. I loved it. So informative and insightful. The Malabrigo story is fascinating. It certainly makes me appreciate the thought that goes into each skein of Malabrigo. It makes each skein of this beautiful yarn even more precious. Thank you so much for posting your article. You’re a wonderful writer and this article certainly deserves to be published.
    Also your video is priceless. Your enthusiasm and obvious love affair with Malabrigo brought a smile to my face as I totally understand your joy. Antonio impressed me too. He is warm, generous, humble and oh so creative.

  49. Totally enthralled from word one. Couldn’t stop reading until the article was done. Made me feel as though I were right there with you. Thank you for sharing with the rest of us. It was as terrific as you are.

  50. Liat,
    This article is so meaningful to our ability to understand success with a personal connection to the source. In our world of corporate control this story creates a real sense of the connection that I think we all want with the people that create what we buy. I love your work and I love Antonio! Your story left me wanting more, just like Antonio’s Malabrigo yarn.
    Terrie

  51. I felt like I was there with you at the interview. What a gift you have for writing. The colors of yarn are dancing in my head. It made me happy just reading about his journey. I’m new to knitting, sort of. I made a jacket for my dad when I was in 8th grade and it was 4 inches too big in every direction. I haven’t done much knitting since. Now I have a friend that takes me “knitting in public” on a regular basis. It is a wonderful thing. You need to take another trip and another interview. I will be waiting. Thanks.

  52. holy freakin’ cow, girl, you must have wanted to wet yourself when you saw all those colors in one place. I love going to Mass Ave. Knits in Indianapolis, they have Malabrigo hanks hanging freely in long rows, I want to bathe in the colors. the picture you posed of the lovely lovely pink/red combo,,, that’s getting printed and put in one of my nursing books to relieve stress during boring lectures… thanks for the little travelogue, and thanks to the Malabrigo people for letting you in!! oh, jeesh, now I gotta go knit some….

  53. What a wonderful tour you have shared with us all! Thank You! I truly appreciate that Malabrigo as a company strives to use eco friendly methods to manufacture the beautiful yarns that they offer. Being able to visualize that helps me make a better choice for the environment. I love the yarn it is wonderful!

  54. Magical!!!!!!
    Thanks for showing all of us the factory.
    I stumbled on Malabrigo and just keep using it more and more. I love their silkpaca, too.
    Keep doing what you do.
    Thanks

  55. This article is a total treat! Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us and letting us into the malabrigo world. This is my favorite yarn, and now I feel even more connected with it!

  56. Liat, your creative skills constantly amaze me. I loved the story, and like others, am now even crazier about Malabrigo and YOU. I particularly loved the part where Antonio says he enjoys watching the colors change through his hands when he knits a swatch. I feel the exact same way. Thanks for all you do to promote knitting. I agree with the others that Interweave missed the boat on this one. I was enthralled throughout.

  57. Thank you so much for this beautiful article! It truly warmed my heart. Antonio himself is even more inspiring than the yarns he designs – and that’s saying a lot! When he mentioned the thrill of seeing the colors change in your hands as you knit, I giggled because I know exactly how he feels. I hope he and his employees know how much we love their work and how much joy they bring to our lives. Today when I sit down to knit, I will think of the town of Mal Abrigo and smile. Thanks again for sharing your experience with us!

  58. I am always fascinated with how and where the yarn that I use was made, like alpaca farms, but this small factory totally surprised me because of the quality and colors of Malabrigo yarns and its availability. I expected a much bigger operation and thank you for this very interesting article. I read the article, than watched the video and it filled in what I had imagined in my mind’s eye. It was so-o-o good.

  59. Thanks so much for the very informative video. Just wonderful, soft and beautiful yarn. You are fortunate to be able to go to it’s birthplace. Thanks again. I will be purchasing more of the colorful, soft yarn.

  60. What a wonderful story and the video is so much fun. Seeing this helps me understand the sheep-to-yarn process and really appreciate Malabrigo now more than ever. I’m wondering if you knit the fingerless mittens you were wearing that day?? Nice pattern!

    1. I did! Those are knit in one skein of ArtYarns Cashmere (it was a big splurge), with the threads probably held double, I think. It was based on my basic mittens pattern, but instead of finishing the top of the hand, I worked in ribbing until I ran out of yarn, then did a stretchy bind-off.

  61. I loved this, it was for me like a dream, sometimes we all tend to forget how much energy and love it takes to those who produce such beautiful yarns. Antonio and those that work with him lead lives that we don’t see. So what they do is truly a love and how beautiful they all are. We here in the US are so blessed to be able to not only buy there yarn but to give back to those who live by such humble means. This has changed me, I will forever pray for all of them and buy there yarn and it will be treasured.

  62. This is the MOST INTERESTING article & video about yarn that I have ever seen. I haven’t used Malabrigo because wool makes me itch. I’ve tried a few types, even blended with other fibers. Now I will try this for a hat to start. If it doesn’t itch, I’m a fan. Very inspiring.

  63. Thanks for letting us see through your eyes what a brand called Malabrigo is. I would never be able to go and see all these. We yarn lover enjoy so much these posts. Thanks once again.

  64. jeanne delcambre

    malabrigo is my all time favorite yarn!! the colors, the softness-even in my stumbling beginner hands it knits up so beautifully!! Made a pair of socks in Indiecito-my favorite color!, and even though they don’t fit well, i love them and wear them all the time because the wool feels so wonderful!! absolutely loved your article and the video-was such a great insight into that world. What a great story!! Increases my love for malabrigo even more!! enjoy your videos and ebooks so much! thanks!

  65. What a fantastic insight into a world that i have always wondered about. The beauty of your article is that it offered such a human face to such beautiful yarn. I realized that I hadn’t actually considered that a ‘name’ yarn like Malabrigo would have such a warm, passionate, dedicated individual driving its success. Or that such a commercial success as Malabrigo would have such a simple humble origin (and ongoing). I think I just assumed some corporate process happening. You really brought to life how a simple idea can change so much. I loved how Antonio was able to keep Uruguayan wool for a Uruguayan industry. Must have been a fantastic trip. Thank you for sharing it.

  66. Liat, thank you for sharing that story. Although I have been knitting and crocheting for a while, I had never heard of Malabrigo before. A little while ago I purchased two skeins of Rasta in Arco Iris and could not believe how incredibly vibrant and soft the yarn was! I kept thinking to myself, “this is why others rave about it so much and what have I been missing all of my life.” This article makes me appreciate the love and energy that goes into the entire yarn dyeing process and Antonio’s shyness was just refreshing. You’re absolutely right to tell him he is a superstar! His yarn is truly a work of art :D

  67. What a great article AND video! Very fun learning about the name selection (what creativity) and all about the growing up of the business and the process of making fantastic yarn. I just bought my first Malabrigo about 3 weeks ago, so I actually can relate to your loooove of the color, look and feel of the yarn. The video was almost (almost) like being there. I’m glad you decided to share both – fun!
    And I’m a HUGE (albeit new) fan of yours, too :).

  68. I absolutely loved your article and video! You are so full of energy and invigorating to listen to. You have such a patient way of teaching that I truly enjoy!

    I have never heard of nor seen Malabrigo yarn, so I’m going to have to goggle it to find some close to me as I love their colours. I love the way the colours peek out and shine. I can’t wait until I can get my hands on some and of course I will have to be dragged away from buying it all, lol.

    Thank you so much for that wonderful trip to Uruguay!

  69. Wow this is so fantastic. I could picture myself there when i read it and then you included a video!!! I am new to knitting but this article has just inspired me and helped me see an even deeper level of awesome found in this craft. I aspire to learn more and even find myself a skein or two of this beautiful yarn! Thanks for your website and for doingwhat you do, Liat!

  70. Your tour was wonderful! Thanks so much for taking us along. I really enjoyed learning all about how yarn is dyed and processed. What a wonderful place to visit. This is a trip you will probably remember forever. I know I will pay attention to Malabrigo yarn more than ever.

  71. what an interesting story and presentation. I have learned a lot and thank both you and Antonio for sharing. Yes it is like being in a candy store. Thanks again and both keep up the wonderful work.
    Robin

  72. Liat, I loved reading your article. It felt like I was right there with you. I so enjoyed hearing all about the dying process of such glorious soft yarns. You make it all sound so yummy! I do have a question though, for some reason I thought I have seen this video before, maybe a year or so ago. Am I wrong? Dreaming? Or just crazy?
    Have to buy me some Malabrigo soon. Thanks again for sharing.
    Rae

    1. Rae, you are right – very sharp! When I made this trip a year ago, I filmed the video and posted it for my lovely readers. I had actually already written the full article at that time, but I had submitted it to Interweave to see if they would publish it. So I couldn’t publish the text here.

      When I FINALLY heard back that they rejected the article (boo!), I was able to post it here (yay!) and I included the video in case there were people that had not seen it last year and might be curious.

  73. Liat, thank you soo much for your story of Malabrigo yarns & Antonio. I can just imagine the factory in my mind from your story, its First Class. I simply have to buy some yarn. I have done some hand dying in the past of my own sheeps wool and angora that I hand spun. It was a wonderful journey, as I am also a colour addict like Antonio is; Colour inspires me in my projects. Thank you again. Linda

  74. Kathleen Wilcoxson

    Oh, Liat,
    That is a great article. You took me right there with you. It was really enlightening to read about such an intimate company, not some big megacorporation that I had thought some of these yarn companies are.
    Thank you so much for the insight. Now I feel drawn to buy some of their yarn.

  75. Thank you for this article! I’m happy to have “met” Antonio and learn about the Malabrigo yarn. It was such a fascinating experience. I really love that you went all the way to Uruguay to follow your passion. — Leslie ;)

  76. Thanks for adding the reading time, so I can keep it for a later moment to read in depth! I am sure it will be worth it!

  77. I’m going to join the other people who commented on this in thanking you for the article and the video – hard not to act like a fangirl at Antonio and all the gorgeous yarn! :D

    Signed, a recent Malabrigo convert.

  78. Geraldine Welburn

    A great, interesting, warm hearted story that is delightfully written. I’m learning how to knit your “Two at a Time” socks by following your wonderful videos. Many thanks.
    Should I succeed I will be looking forward to getting your beautiful yarn for future pairs.

  79. Every time I go on Ravelry I find something fascinating. Someone posted this link and I really enjoyed your article. Thank you very much for the wonderful story of real people. It will make my shopping for it and knitting with it all the more meaningful.

  80. I have never heard of Malabrigo yarn. I will now be looking for it at Stix in Bozeman, MT. I live in Livingston. What a great adventure you had and to meet Antonio must have been a big moment in your life. I enjoyed your story about yarn dying so much and you are a great writer as well as knitter and teacher.

  81. Damage suffered during my growing years (car door slammed on my right hand) and arthritis now join to slow my fingers. I want to learn how to knit faster!

  82. I loved your article and video about my very favorite yarn! Thanks so much for sharing!!
    I am thrilled that I can now buy the beautifully colored roving to spin now! It is so soft!

  83. I started using this yarn when you called it out in your sock patterns. Great yarn, awesome colors. Now that I know the back story of its creation, I’ll do my best to make future items with this manufacturer in mind. Thank you Liat for putting the spotlight on such special people

  84. You told such a wonderful story, that I didn’t want it to end! Much like knitting with Malabrigo, and not wanting the project to come to an end, because the beautiful colors will cease running thru my fingers. I loved the way you took us on a journey with you, and helped us ‘see’ the process of this wonderful yarn! Antonio is a sweet soul, and a passionate artist, leaving no stone unturned until his dreams are fulfilled. Your heartwarming story touched my artist soul.

  85. Hi Liat
    Thanks for educating me in my knitting endeavors. Call me for your next trip and I will
    Carry the yarn home for you! :-)

  86. Hi Liat

    Thank you for a fantastic story of Malabrigo yarn. If you go back again, I’ll carry your yarn and be your translator ;-)

    Thanks again

  87. A great article. I have never tried Malabrigo yarn, but your visit and story have inspired me to try it. Antonio definitely loves his work and it shows.

  88. Liat, what a truly wonderful article and video. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving us such a thorough peek at Malabrigo. I had thought it was a big and industrialized company (like Red Heart or something) but it almost seems like its struggling. I wonder if its possible to recycle the water…? They seem like a company full of heart.

    Your reporting is exactly what I enjoy to know. Right now, I am extremely interested in learning about the animals and their wool, farming, dyeing, technique, design, and seeing how the businesses ‘do it’. I think you’re onto something here. I think the curiosity and/or knowledge is an expanding interest for yarny types and you’re wonderful at answering to it. It would be so fantastic if you could visit many other companies, especially the small ones. Hmm, how to get support for that endeavor? This may be way out from left field, but Joe Cross (of “Reboot with Joe” and “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” fame) is a wealthy philanthropist who has invested some interest in a fashion company. Knitting leads to fashion. Also, he thinks green (and I’m not just talking about his juicing). Knitting is green. I totally think you should send him a proposal of a knitting journey (if it all worked out, you would so be living a dream of mine).

    I hope to enjoy more of your travels in the near future! :)

  89. Thank you for the article.
    I would love to find the video that I purchased and buy others but first I would like help finding the one I have already bought. I get emails telling me to go to the forum for advice but as you can see this is where it sends me. I am sitting here nearly in tears I have tried so often for months to get help from your wed site. Maybe this just isn’t the type of medium I should try to use. Thank you for any help. CC Kirchner

  90. I enjoyed your article soooo much. Interweave did a boo-boo when they rejected this. I, too, would enjoy more. I just bought some Malabrigo and it really is lovely. Keep doing what you do. You do it so well!!!

  91. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful opportunity to travel to such an interesting place. Please continue to share the history and processes of creating the yarns we love. You are an inspiration!

  92. I loved your article. I felt like I was there in person. Malabrigo yarn seems so infinite in its possibilities and colors. It is one of the yarns that I just like to gaze at and hug!

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  99. I’ve only worked with one Malabrigo yarn. It is Rios and the color is Piedras and I love it so. He is right about when you are knitting and the new color comes in. It is wonderful! Enjoyed the article very much.

  100. Bonnie Stenstrom

    Liat, thank you for this. I came to your site to learn how to neaten edges for my bind-offs and had this unexpected but very welcome visit to understand how Malabrigo becomes such a unique and beautiful yarn; not only to knit with but to look at! I’ve fallen in love with the Low Tide pattern of “Pacific Knits” and have knit four of these sweaters now .. only 2 in Malabrigo though and I like them so much that I’m going to knit more but of the Malabrigo yarn as it allows attention to the directional draping without drawing attention to itself and then of course, there is the colour! So, I was fascinated learning about the birthplace of this special fibre. Bonnie, Victoria BC Canada

    1. Hello Bonnie,

      Wow, you really are in love! 4 sweaters!! I am so glad that you discovered Malabrigo. Reading Liats story just makes the discovery even better. Please send pictures.

      Candy
      KnitFreedom Customer Happiness Guru

  101. Sandra Casteran-Pesch

    Hola!
    I want to thank you so much for this wonderful article! I am from Uruguay but have lived in the Philippines for more than 20 years. I begun knitting last year when my second son left for College and where I live I can only get Red Heart yarn. One day surfing online I found Malabrigo and to my surprise read it was from Uruguay, I truly had no idea about this yarn. I ordered some skeins online and when they came It felt sooo good to have a little piece of my country with me. It’s my little piece of treasure . Now after reading your article, makes me want to go to Colonia and visit their facilities as well! It was so funny reading your article, I could totally picture you taking the Buquebus to Colonia and being in a place In a place I know well. I love the history of how the company started and the wisdom that each stage gave the founders .
    Muchísimas gracias for taking the time of writing this wonderful piece, I absolutely enjoyed every word!

    1. Hi Sandra, I was so touched by your comment, thank you! That was such a remarkable day, and writing the article later was really challenging! Thank you for your encouraging words. I’m so happy to know that you enjoyed it and felt like you were there! Malabrigo is probably my favorite yarn of all time. Glad to meet you and welcome to KnitFreedom. :) Liat

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