Legends in wool

Designer Laurie Jacobi doesn’t get caught up in trends.

She’s more of a storyteller than a fashionista.

Jacobi has developed an international following for her woolen designs inspired by nature.

Her collection at Nordic Homes Interior, 620 W. 58th St., includes coats featuring Odin’s ravens. In Norse mythology, ravens delivered important information from around the world to Odin, making him omnipotent. A pine needle coat in the collection is inspired by the Sami people of northern Scandinavia.

Jacobi of Linden Hills will be on hand to talk about her work for a special Valentine’s Day "Legends in Wool" Trunk Show on Feb. 14 at Nordic Homes. The store carries rugs featuring her designs and has given her extra space for her collection in a showroom next to the main store.

Jacobi’s clothing line is a collaborative effort. She creates the designs out of her home near Lake Harriet. Then they are turned into wool blankets at the Pendleton Woolen Mills in Pendleton, Ore. Jacobi’s business partner Mary Jane Miller, a seamstress, turns the blankets into clothing — coats and vests, primarily.

The special fabric, designed exclusively for the Jacobi line, is also used for accessories, including mittens and totes.

Vests and coats range in price from $225–$900, rugs cost around $800 and up. Accessories go for around $40.

"[Jacobi’s] the brains and I’m the hands," said Miller.

The pair have been working together for two decades. They met working for a local graphic design firm. Jacobi moved to Northern Minnesota — near the Leech Lake reservation — in 1989 to recover from a stressful life, which she believes contributed to a diagnosis of cancer. She credits reconnecting with nature for helping her heal.

She started designing blankets for the Faribault Woolen Mills in 1992. Her work soon started to attract attention. Robert Redford bought some of her blankets for cast members of his film, "The Horse Whisperer." She also saw a woman dancing in one of her blankets in a Twin Cities Public Television documentary about George Morrison, the Ojibwe artist.

Her collection has been featured at the American Swedish Institute in South Minneapolis, Ingebretsen’s on Lake Street, Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis and at festivals all over the region.

Miller said she’s learned the "importance of simplicity in design" from Jacobi.

"There is an authenticity in her designs," she said.

Jacobi, meanwhile, said Miller help keeps her "grounded."

"She is deeply thoughtful and can articulate the things I cannot say," Jacobi said. "She always helps me by talking through an idea or problem so I can get to the other side of it."

Jacobi’s new line features Ginkgo leaves on coats and blankets. She designed it for Japan House at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Whatever she designs, she’s hoping to strike a chord with her customers.

"It’s not about fashion. People are really touched by the stories," Jacobi said. "It’s about connecting on a spiritual level."

Valentine’s Day ‘Legends in Wool’ Trunk Show and Sale

What: A chance to meet designer Laurie Jacobi and see her newest line of clothing and textiles.

When: Feb. 14, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Where: Nordic Home Interiors, 620 W. 58th St.