ISSUE 40  |  North by Northwest

Dyed by the Sea: Seacolors Blankets from Maine

October 04, 2012 1:30 PM

BY Christine Chang Hanway

Guild artist and sustainable farmer Nanne Kennedy is a busy woman. She runs an 80-acre farm; raising sheep, preparing wool, dying yarn, and making sweaters and blankets in Washington, Maine. And did we mention that she’s developed a process of solar dying wool in seawater called Seacolors?

Instead of using chemical salts or acids, or petroleum-sourced heat, Kennedy developed a system using natural salts and acids and solar-derived heat. By trading time for temperature, the colors melt slowly into each other and the yarns, resulting in soft colors as well as itchless wool. “I call Seacolors a Yarnery,” she says. “Like the crafting of wine in a winery, crafting of color depends as much on the weather and the breed stock as it does on the artisanal blending of good taste.”

Above: The background colors in Kennedy's Mermaid Napper blankets derive directly from the sheep, while the accents are from her Seacolors yarns; $280.

Above: A batch of Seacolors yarn in their natural habitat.

Above: A stack of Mermaid Nappers wait patiently for takers outside of Kennedy'a sauna: $280.

Above: Kennedy juxtaposes wide stripes of Seacolored yarns in her bigger-than-king-size blanket, 3 Bags Full: $600.

Above: Sheep, yarn; it doesn't get much simpler.

Above: Kennedy's Seacolors emulate the surrounding environment of her farm.

Above: Kennedy's products are Bioregional which for her means that all the sourcing, scouring, and spinning is within a five-mile radius of her farm.

Above: Young members of Kennedy's sustainable community.

Above: A corner detail of Kennedy's Salt Day Bed Throw; a reproduction of a three-stripe design originally woven in the 1840s and currently on display at the Maine State Museum; $450.

N.B. A chill in the air and looking to replenish your blanket supply? See 185 images of Blankets in our Gallery of Rooms and Spaces.