Nordt Family Farm
Diane Nordt at her James River farm.
Photo by Tracy Lee
Weaving is by nature a contemplative art. But for Dianne Nordt, that peace is sometimes punctuated by drama. Things like, say, wrangling a nervous yearling ram for its first shearing, or bottle feeding and diapering orphaned (and temporarily house-dwelling) lambs for 40 days through an icy early spring.
But the pastoral life on the 400-acre James River farm she shares with her husband and three children is all inspiration for Nordt, who began weaving merino wool blankets in 2009 from wool produced by her flock of 36 merino sheep (merino wool is the softest type of wool). From the original basement kitchen of her circa-1850 manor house, sited prettily at the end of a lane flanked by phalanxes of towering loblolly pine, she colors the wool—its natural hues are a warm spectrum of cream, chocolate and gray. Using vegetable dyes made from ingredients like the vibrant yellow sawdust of native Virginia Osage trees, the cactus-inhabiting cochineal bug, and indigo, she creates thread that ranges from the color of creamy butter to crimson, celery green and deep sea blue.
About a year ago, Nordt enlisted the help of three weavers and a finisher to meet the growing demand for her feathery-soft blankets (she makes a baby blanket in addition to her signature 72-inch throw), who all work alongside her on two looms (one a gift from her father when she graduated from VCU with a degree in fashion design and crafts), bumping her production from three to around 10 per week.
Though she has plans to add more looms and possibly host workshops on the farm, Nordt says, “I don’t mind growing slowly, seeing where it goes. If my business levels off, I’d be perfectly happy.” We’re betting it won’t. $130-$225. NordtFamilyFarm.com
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Nordt Family Farm, Charles City
Moonrise Jewelry, Cape Charles
Awl Snap Leather Goods, Richmond
Moore & Giles, Forest
Cricket Cove Soap, Glen Allen
Buckingham Slate Company, Arvonia
New Ravenna, Exmore
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Rappahannock River Oysters, Topping
Red Truck Bakery, Warrenton
Pickled Silly, Richmond
Glass House Winery, Free Union
Willie Byrd Sauce, Richmond
La Vache Microcreamery Caramels, Charlottesville
FERIDIES 5 O'Clock Crunch, Courtland
Three Ships Coffee, Virginia Beach
Commonwealth Gin, James River Distillery, Richmond
Gingerbread Stout, Hardywood Brewery, Richmond
Latell Sails, Deltaville
Tad Coffin Saddles, Ruckersville
Goodpasture Knives, Ashland