Farewell, Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum

Friday, September 14, 2012

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.


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38 Responses to “Farewell, Marilyn Leavitt-ImblumComment RSS feed

  • Karen Trettel
    September 14th, 2012 11:27 am

    So very sorry she passed. Her designs were so imaginative and beautiful. Her lovely Angels will never be equaled. Her blending of colors superb. We will miss you Marilyn!

  • Susan Simko
    September 14th, 2012 11:38 am

    Earthdancer was my first design of hers to stitch:

  • Pamela
    September 14th, 2012 11:49 am

    Her designs are simply amazing. She will certainly be missed. No one does those intricate patterns like her.

  • susanc
    September 14th, 2012 12:06 pm

    I am so sorry to read of her passing. Her designs were lovely. I love her sense of color and have one of her charts ~ I need to get it out and stitch it!

  • Rita Gordon
    September 14th, 2012 12:32 pm

    I fInished Celtic Noel in June and I an half way done with Celtic Spring. I plan to do all four seasons. I live her cross stitch

  • Julie
    September 14th, 2012 12:37 pm

    I have done three of her Celtic season ladies-she had wonderful detail to colors! Her work is truly something to admire:)

  • Kay
    September 14th, 2012 12:49 pm

    RIP, Marilyn…. I have many of her beautiful designs. Told In A Garden is one of my top three favorite pattern designs.

  • Darlene
    September 14th, 2012 12:53 pm

    Rest in peace. What a very talented woman she will be missed. I have stitched several of her angels for my grandchildren.

  • Karen Peckham
    September 14th, 2012 12:59 pm

    I don’t know any avid stitcher who didn’t like her artistry… and ANGELS ~ Marilyn was certainly one of my FAVOURITE designers of cross stitch! She will be greatly missed! Heartfelt sympathies to her family (AND GRANDCHILDREN especially ~you have an ANGEL to watch over you) :(

  • Denise Melcher
    September 14th, 2012 1:00 pm

    I stitched the guardian angel and baby in basket birth announcement. The angel is the piece I am most cherish. She was an artist.

  • Barbara Hagerty
    September 14th, 2012 1:14 pm

    So sorry to hear this! Marilyn was one of the first designers I conversed with years ago, long before yahoo groups when we were all in the alt-cross stitch news group on the free web. I love everything about her designs: the pattern, color, composition, complexity, just everything! And she was so prolific! She will be missed!

  • Anne
    September 14th, 2012 3:29 pm

    Sorry to hear this, I loved her work.. Such a great designer.. We will all miss her..

  • Eileen
    September 14th, 2012 6:19 pm

    I am truly sorry to hear of her passing. I have loved her work for years and was so proud when I completed my first “Angel”. She will be missed

  • Marny CA
    September 14th, 2012 8:44 pm

    Dear Marilyn, you are missed – thank you for being my friend.

    Gentle as you go,
    Serene Swan in MarilynsGarden on yahoo.

  • Tam
    September 14th, 2012 8:50 pm

    Marilyn’s designs have always been a delight to look at and a joy to stitch. She will be greatly missed but the joy she left us will continue.

  • palmire
    September 14th, 2012 9:59 pm

    Hommage à marilyn, qui va me manquer

  • Anne Fraser
    September 14th, 2012 11:29 pm

    Here is my link to Angel of Hope that I completed in 2008


    and I also had done Angel of Spring. I love her works and shall continue in my life to stitch them in her honour. She was a greatly talented designer.

  • Marian
    September 15th, 2012 1:10 am

    It is sad to hear when a talented designer has passed on. I have quite a few of Marilyn’s Amish Charts, but I have yet to stitch one – I was buying secondhand while studying for my degree – but I am going to stitch one of the charts over the summer.

  • Janet Granger
    September 15th, 2012 5:26 am

    Marilyn was such a talented designer, and she will be greatly missed. I made two of her Angels – Angel of Summer and Angel of Hope – and loved stitching them. I talk about them here on my blog, in a post I wrote when I heard of her death:


    Having been back to her website several times in the past few weeks, I have now decided to make all five of her Celtic Ladies.

  • Sandra
    September 15th, 2012 6:08 am

    Thank you for the lovely tribute to Marilyn. I’ve made many of her designs and have more in my stash to complete. She was amazing.

  • sara blackwell
    September 15th, 2012 7:53 am

    I have stitched five of Marilyn’s angels and have two more in progress. My goal is to stitch 14 of her angels to be viewed as exhibit..a reference to the poem about fourteen angels, which I will also stitch to accompany the angels. My ongoing tribute to Marilyn, whom I loved dearly even though I never met her. Wish me luck in completing this project! Thanks to DMC for this lovely tribute.

  • Joan Archer
    September 15th, 2012 9:34 am

    This is very sad news, I loved her designs they had so much colour and life in them. She will be sadly missed by the cross stitch world.

  • Melody
    September 15th, 2012 4:17 pm

    I had not x-stitched in awhile, but after hearing of Marilyn’s passing, I’m determined to finish Blueberry Homecoming in her honor. I have done many of her beautiful designs. The Celtic Seasons series are simply gorgeous, but I think my favorite is Little Wings or maybe Nantucket Rose. Shoot, they’re all beautiful. The cross-stitching world has lost a true artist. Thank you, Marilyn for sharing your talent with us.

  • Dorothy
    September 15th, 2012 4:54 pm

    Will miss Marilyn! I have quite few charts. I had stitched her Celtic series and then had a house fire, lost all the pieces I had stitched. Wonderful Marilyn sent me replacement charts and said she was very sad she couldn’t replace the actual pieces. Such a wonderful person in all ways!

  • irene M.
    September 15th, 2012 5:20 pm

    Over the years my mom collected and stitched many of her patterns. Her favorites were the angels. All those patterns are now mine and many still need to be stitched. What a wonderful collection to have and to enjoy. One pattern my mom started (The Teacher) but due to poor eyesight, she couldn’t finish it. I finished it, framed it and gave it to my daughter who over the years studied and has become a wonderful teacher. I put both my mom’s and my initials on the piece. What a great gift and all made possible because of a great designer. (not sure if this link will work)


  • floresita
    September 15th, 2012 10:04 pm

    Hi Irene, your teacher piece is gorgeous!

    I think this link should work: http://s1130.photobucket.com/albums/m526/ireneo52/Needlework%202011/?action=view&current=TheTeacher.jpg

  • Donna S
    September 16th, 2012 4:57 am

    I am so saddened to hear that Marilyn has passed, thoughts and prayers to her family. I will miss waiting for the next chart, her work is amazing. I have stitched many of her works but mostly angels. I have collected just about every design and as soon as I finish one I can’t wait to start another. The intricacy of the designs make them look like oil paintings when they are hanging on the wall. We will certainly have lost an amazing artist-and although I was never fortunate enough to meet her- the world has lost an amazing soul, you can feel the love through her designs.

  • Andrea
    September 17th, 2012 6:54 am

    I recently did her Celtic Seasons set. They are probably my favorite pieces. I’m sad she won’t be designing anymore. My best to her family.


  • Marny CA
    November 14th, 2012 6:23 am

    Marilyn made the world a better place and she is missed by many.

    Gentle as you go, dear friend.

  • Kathleen McKenzie
    December 5th, 2012 11:08 pm

    I began cross-stitching Marilyn’s angels many years ago as part of a collection of angels for my daughter. I think Angel of the Sea was my first one and it took years because I was ill. I didn’t think I’d ever get it finished and felt such a sense of accomplishment when I did. I stitched three of her free Christmas patterns for a friend who lost her sister, niece and nephew in a dreadful accident, and one for a co-worker, just because he was very helpful. Along with the smaller pieces, I also did the Angel of Autumn, I think it was, and I was working on the Earth Angel when my daughter passed away. I distributed all but a couple of the angels to her friends and caregivers. I still have two patterns and want to return to stitching them soon, for myself. Completing a Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum pattern always gave me such pride and a sense of accomplishment. Her designs are all beautiful and challenging, at least for me.

  • Jennifer Gladding
    January 5th, 2013 7:36 pm

    I was able to make the most glorious Xmas Santa pillows that have been on display every Xmas since 2000. I tried a new pattern this year and the colors were a horrendous fit, so I stopped work and found the patterns to the beautiful pillows. Then I googled Marilyn’s name to see if I could find a beautiful stocking or Xmas pattern for my daughter. Sad to see she had passed. What an achievement to leave behind so many gorgeous, “color-rific” creations. I never got over how fabulous the colors all blended in her patterns. A truly talented and detail oriented lady. Her family will be proud that so many of her designs have and will be family heirlooms for many generations. It took me a long time to stitch each Santa pillow, but it was worth the effort. I absolutely love them.

    If she has some Xmas stockings ….someone send me the link! :)

  • Paulz
    June 21st, 2013 7:56 am

    Is there anyone can share the pattern of Angel of Hope and Angel of Summer. I have the other three seasons but I couldn’t complete them because of angel of summer. You can email the pattern to me on pccadm12sky2@gmail.com.

    • admin
      June 22nd, 2013 7:21 am
      Author's Reply

      Please be sure to share the actual pattern and not a copy due to copyright law. Thanks!

  • Michele Holderby
    July 15th, 2014 7:29 am

    I have done 16 of her beautiful angel designs, but it has been years since I have completed one. I am now purchasing several of the more recent angel designs to stitch. These masterpieces adorn my stairway and up and down my upstairs hallway. Marilyn was a genius of design and I am so sorry to hear of her passing.

  • Di
    October 27th, 2014 5:37 pm

    She was my favorite needlepoint designer. I am currently doing three angels for my Grandgirls. Angel of Love, Guardian Angel and Angel of the Sea. I will miss her beautiful patterns to embroidery.

  • Marybeth
    January 29th, 2015 2:08 pm

    Believe it or not, it is now 2015, and I just found out about Marilyn’s passing. I felt so sad at her leaving… I always loved her work.. and have been following her for about 30 years now. I did Angel of Grace, which I gave to a dear friend of mine. It took me 2 years to complete. My friend has since died, and I have reclaimed the piece, which now hangs in my bedroom. I will be starting Feathers and Friends, a piece I’ve had around for 30 years, but have never done. Always loved it. I loved her Amish designs, her story, her humbleness, and her talent.

    She was a strong, creative force among us. We were so luck to have her here. I hope I meet you again, Marilyn… in your most creative and beautiful studio in the heavens… and we will spend much time catching up, stitching, and designing.

    Thank you for all your designs and for sharing your wonderful talent with us.


    • admin
      January 29th, 2015 2:29 pm
      Author's Reply

      Hello Marybeth,

      Marilyn was a brilliant designer, her loss has been felt by many. Thank You for reaching out and expressing your
      heartfelt feelings.

      DMC Team

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