Made in Virginia 2014: Nordt Family Farm, Charles City County

Nordt Family 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.

See all the Made in Virginia 2014 Winners!


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

Fielding Archer Designs, Midlothian

Kala Studios, Arlington


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

1762 Port, Philip Carter Winery, Hume

Gingerbread Stout, Hardywood Brewery, Richmond


Latell Sails, Deltaville

Tad Coffin Saddles, Ruckersville

Goodpasture Knives, Ashland

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