The legacy of Marilyn Leavitt Imblum

I’ve just heard of the death of Marilyn Leavitt Imblum, one of the most influential cross stitch designers of the twentieth century, in my opinion. She died on 14th August, aged 66.

‘Angel of Hope’, stitched on 16 count Aida fabric

She was the person who designed the Told in a Garden range of Amish cross stitch pictures, as well as the Lavender and Lace angels. It was the angels which grabbed my attention, back in the early nineties. I remember when I still ‘went out to work’ (before I started my embroidery kit business), when those of us who used to do cross stitch would take our latest project into work and stitch in the lunch hours. And how many hours those designs took!

The first one I did was ‘Angel of Hope’, and I remember it taking all of my spare time, for about six months. But it was gorgeous when finished, and I still display it in my bedroom over the fireplace. The other one I loved was ‘Angel of Summer’, with its flowing ribbons and flowers. That one took even longer, but was, if anything, even more beautiful. Each one I altered slightly, stitching them in Anchor stranded cotton rather than the DMC threads listed on the colour keys, and the Angel of Summer one I decided to do on a powder blue Aida cloth, instead of the more usual cream fabric.

‘Angel of Summer’, stitched on 14 count powder blue Aida fabric

Marilyn had a fantastic way of depicting faces (having tried it myself, I am in awe of how she gave the impression of a beautiful face in quite a limited amount of stitches in her designs). I still have several of her charts in my ‘to do one day’ heap. One day I’ll get around to stitching her fabulous ‘Celtic Christmas’ design. Her website is , if you’d like to drool over all her wonderful charts.

She influenced very many people with her depictions of women in graceful poses,  gave pleasure to millions, and will be greatly missed.


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