The needlework community suffered a great loss recently, with the passing of Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum of Told In A Garden, a cross-stitch designer who created masterpieces in stitch form, charting gorgeous, large-scale works that taught us all to truly think bigger with our stitching. Her creative use of subtle color gradations, beading, and decorative threads was something that really hadn’t been seen in the cross-stitch world before her, and it doubtless influenced countless designers after her Angels, like Angelica shown here, as well as fairies, Indian maidens and Amish gatherings were just a few recurring themes which inspired her intricate designs.
Marilyn’s sense of color and texture is unmatched in cross stitch design – her designs paid homage to the full creative range of DMC embroidery floss, introducing many stitchers to metallic threads, beads, and linen.
From the early days of the internet, Marilyn’s site, Told In A Garden was an inspiring, helpful place – from the small, but detailed photos in gilt frames to the meticulous lists of all the DMC floss colors, fabrics and materials you’d need to complete your project. It is still rare to find a designer’s site that is as helpful as Marilyn’s.
Marilyn did other unique things, like include alternate skin shade palettes for ethnic groups - a small detail which said to me that she was a person who found every color of human being beautiful. I enjoyed Marilyn’s many dark-haired angels – another nod to a wider view of beauty and loveliness. The expression and movement in her pieces are something very unique in the embroidery world.
When one works in counted cross-stitch, you sometimes feel less creative – but when stitching one of Marilyn’s works, you get the sense that you’ve been given the color key to create a masterpiece. And, masterpieces they are, indeed. Their scale is other-worldly, too - this finished piece, for instance, measures 11 x 16 inches when worked on 32 count linen, with a face worked in 1 x 1 (see detail below).
From Marilyn’s site: “When I design, I am still the stitcher. There is a magic that happens, a peace that is like a thread running through the forest and I follow it with my heart.”
Thank you, Marilyn, for the beauty of your inspired pieces and the way that you have allowed us glimpses of something rarer, higher, and lovelier. May we meet you in the next garden!
Have you stitched one of Marilyn’s designs over the years? If so, please leave a link to your work in the comments, as a tribute to the skill and creativity of this wonderful artist.