Surprise Rug Yarn: Cowhair

RugYarns (2)Last week I wrote about my day of washing and drying of Borgs rug yarn.  What I didn’t share was that among the other colored (i.e., non-green) skeins were several with labels reading “Wholly produced in Sweden RugYarnTag2 (2)by Klippan’s Yllefabrik A/B….CUM Textiles Industries Ltd. Denmark.”

Klippan’s Yllefabrik A/B, established in 1879, spun the yarn for CUM Textiles Industries Ltd.  CUM Textiles was located at 5 Rømersgade in the Capital Region of Copenhagen, Denmark.  I just finished a Google street map tour of the neighborhood but found no trace of CUM Textiles. 

I looked for information on CUM Textiles and came across one of its publications (thank you, Smithsonian Institute), an 84 page book titled “Scandinavian Handweaving and Textiles.”   (You will see there are a couple of download options.)  Weavers who are interested in traditional Scandinavian textiles undoubtedly will find it interesting. 

On its first inside page I read that “CUM was awarded 14 Gold medals at the International Textile Exposition in California 1967 —1968-1969.”  On the inside of its back page reads, “Largest selection of handweaving yarns in Scandinavia.”  If that is so, I wonder why I found so little information about CUM Textiles.

(By the way, if you try your own on-line search, be sure and type “CUM Textiles” or you may be surprised/horrified by the results that come up.)

RugYarnTag1 (2)Look at the other side of the label, however:  Matt Yarn (Cowhair)!  Now “matt” is the Swedish word for rug, and both Borg and Glimakra sell matt yarn – “the perfect yarn for weaving rugs and Southwest style runners. It is great for weaving tapestry designs.”

But it isn’t often one comes across yarn made of cowhair!

HighlandCowsPicI would hazard a guess that the cowhair came from a Scottish breed of cows called Highland (pic source), which have a history dating back to the 6th century A.D.  Highland cows have shaggy, thick, wavy, double-haired coats – the longest hair, in fact, of any cattle breed.  Like most double-hair coat wool-giving breeds, the outer coat covers a downy undercoat.  Their coats are many colored:  black, brindle, red, yellow, HighlandCowPicwhite, silver and dun (i.e., a grey-gold or tan).  Given their size, it will come as no surprise to learn they are brushed rather than sheared.

Here’s the link to the Highland Cattle Society and The Livestock Conservancy should you want to read about this breed.  It is a hardy breed, and given that these cattle thrive in cold weather, it is no surprise they are popular in Northern Europe.

HighlandCowsinDenmarkI love this picture of Highland cattle grazing in Denmark with a hang glider overhead.  (It was taken by David Bengtsson and posted on the National Geographic Your Shot.)

After reading about these beautiful animals – and especially information shared by farmsteaders who raise them – if you live someplace cold and windy and want to keep cows – or have enough room to raise an animal for unusual fiber –  you may want to consider the Highland.  Or maybe not.  🙂

In conclusion:

  1. Has anyone made rugs with rug yarn made from cowhair?
  2. Does anyone know the fate of CUM Textiles?

About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
This entry was posted in Fibers, Miscellany, Rug Making, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Surprise Rug Yarn: Cowhair

  1. It is great rug yarn indeed!


  2. patakdoc says:

    I’ve woven with CUM Matt Yarn and liked it a great deal. In fact, if anyone has any left over (in dark brown) I’d love to purchase it from you. Doesn’t need to be a full skein. Thanks!


  3. Thanks for the information . Yes, sadly … this is great rug yarn!


  4. Sidsel says:

    I have looked up the business in Rømersgade 5. It seems to have folded in 1990. Sadly.


  5. Marit says:

    Wow, who knew!


  6. lissymail says:

    wow. just wow. I loveseeing interesting fibers used!!


  7. Janet says:

    I’ve had this CUM book for years. Inspiring!


  8. Pia says:

    I’ll ask around for info about CUM, I frequently see weavers offering old publications about weaving from them.


  9. I washed all the skeins and dried them outside on a warm day. The yarn’s hand softened and color brightened!


  10. Susan McKee-Nugent says:

    As soon as my Fair stuff is over with I am going to start a rug with my cowhair yarn. I wonder if it is necessary to wash it first? Probably should try some and see if it shrinks……


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