A Tale of Beauty and the Beast
By Dina McNair, Vail Valley and Mountain Horizons Magazines,
Huffman, a pioneer woman for the 21st century, a woman whose curiosity
and vision led to the creation of a new industry, who looked beneath
the beastly and wild image associated with bison.
Huffman uses fleece found under the coarse outer hair of the American
buffalo that she spins into yarn. The result? American Buffalo
Knits by Ruth Huffman Design.
Imagine buffalo cashmere: it may sound like a fantasy, but it
isn't. For Huffman, the soft undercoat of the bison offered an
untapped opportunity to produce luxury knit sports wear, accessories
and comfort accessories for the home.
Huffman, a Dallas native, has made a name for herself as the
"Buffalo Gal." She deals in both wholesale and direct
marketing. Despite using fleece from an animal usually associated
with the Wild West, her work is traditional. Her designs are
contemporary with an elegant, classic look. Only the rich, chocolate
brown color reveals their origin.
Ruth Huffman's beret and scarf are knitted
from 100 percent American buffalo down. Scarf measures 11"x65"
and can be ordered with or without fringe. Unisex.
"These natural fibers produce a look and feel that exceeds
anything that I imagined before my research," says Huffman.
This soft, yet strong, American buffalo fiber is a de-haired
product from which the coarse hairs have been removed from the
soft down, leaving a light, insulating and warm product. The
buffalo hair is acquired either by gathering tufts that have
been shed or by shaving.
Huffman produces a sturdy yet supple yarn for her knits using
a mixture of the animal's longer hair and the soft fleece that
grows closest to the skin. The result is comparable to the quality
of cashmere, yet warmer and fluffier. These qualities enable
Huffman to produce products that are both beautiful and durable.
"This bison adventure has been very exciting. The more
I learned about this animal and its by-products, which can be
some of the softest and most exotic items found anywhere on
Earth, the more I grew to love the bison and realize what a
magnificent American classic we have."
Thundering back from near extinction, there are now nearly 300,000
American buffalo grazing private and public lands. Indian legend
says that a white female buffalo would be born bringing in a
new age of peace, understanding and prosperity. In honor of
the prophecy of white buffalo, Huffman's poncho and throw pillow
bear its image.
Most buffalo pelts are used for leather, with the hair traditionally
wasted. Prior to Huffman's direction, buffalo hair was dissolved
or burned off to prepare the hides for sale. What was once a
waste product of the buffalo meat business is now the foundation
of the new industry.
This is a tale of old world meets new, a story deeply rooted
in the Old West, but applicable to life in today's city landscapes.
These are stylish urban wraps with all the comfort and luxury
a prairie girl could ever dream of. The luxurious knits spun
from the wild, untamed buffalo are a true tale of beauty and