Dyed and Gone to Heaven – An Online Magazine and Needlework Resource  


Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum
Known to needle workers worldwide and renowned especially for her intricate Victorian Angel Designs
By Rita Vainius

(Click here for Marilyn's FREE sampler motif pattern)

Ms. Imblum discovered her affinity for needlework at a very young age when auspiciously presented with a gift of stamped cross stitch and some embroidery threads. She grew up in a rural setting and her father, who was an avid gardener, taught her an appreciation of the wonders of the natural world. Consequently the simple act of walking in the woods or along the seashore spurs her to inspiring designs.

After completing high school Ms. Imblum took a job in an advertising office and while performing her duties of pasting and filing, she paid close attention to the work of the artists at the firm. With her keen eye and innate sense of design, within a year, Ms. Imblum had risen to become the children's advertising artist.

While her own children were growing up, Ms. Imblum did freelance art work, while continuing to stitch and paint watercolors for her own family and friends. Looking back, she relates the following anecdote with humor and a touch of irony: "One year I spent 3 months hand painting Christmas cards on deckle edged paper. Most of the recipients thought they were store bought and threw them away!".When her children grew older, she returned to work full time at the same advertising office, but now in the position of the top fashion illustrator.

When she moved with her husband to an old Victorian relic in the Amish country, she was able to spend more time quilting, gardening, painting and cross stitching. Amish neighbors became close family friends and this gave her the opportunity to learn first hand of their extraordinary life style.

After moving back to the city, this unique experience inspired her first design ,"The Quilting." It was an homage to the true Amish spirit of self-reliance and simplicity that she had come to appreciate. When completed, she showed the piece to a local needlework shop owner who immediately told her to "graph it and I'll sell it." Twenty five initial designs were packaged in homemade fashion using Xerox's, sandwich bags and photos. Within three days these were all sold out. This success led to more designs and forays to other shops whose owners and customers were equally enthusiastic. With their support and encouragement, Ms. Imblum made contact with distributors and a new business was launched.

Initially, all the bookkeeping was done in a little notebook. Graphs were folded at the dining room table, and packed into boxes in the kitchen. It all started with a $50 investment and no advertising - word of mouth took her designs all around the world. She learned the business by just "doing", making it up as she went along. Reflecting on the early days of her fledgling business, Ms. Imblum credits her success to trusting her instincts in learning about art, business, and life itself. She never ceases to be amazed by the results which this approach has produced.

Her business is now located in a 200 year old house near the sea in Maine. Her company "Told In A Garden" was originally established to market her simple Amish designs. Aware that the stitchers she was reaching were becoming increasingly sophisticated, she expanded the line to include more difficult and complex patterns such as the the "Victorian Angel Patterns. These designs are sold under the name of "Lavender And Lace." To date, there has been another addition "Butternut Road", which encompasses patterns that do not fit into either the Victorian or Amish style, like samplers or Native American motifs.Ms. Imblum is always receptive to feedback from her fans and customers. If a theme or design is repeatedly requested, she will create a pattern and incorporate it into her collection.

Ms. Imblum discovered the Caron Collection by accident when browsing in a shop and seeing two skeins that she knew she "had to have". The colors were reminiscent of hand dyed woolen yarns. The sequence and depth of color tones were like music, as if the threads carried a familiar melody, long forgotten and now brought back to life.

"It's like painting with threads"
(using Caron threads) is the way she puts it. 

The Caron threads give Ms. Imblum a welcome freedom of expression. With them she is able to imbue a sense of randomness into her work which also makes her designs more individual. "It's like painting with threads" is the way she puts it.

Ms. Imblum's expertise lies in the subtle coloring she employs in her designs. She has made her mark in the industry with her more realistic depictions and with the complex shadings of colors that give her work the feel and texture of a water color painting.

A spiritual woman, Ms. Imblum feels that, as a result of the many blessings doing this work has bestowed on her, she has an obligation to make each design better than the last. "When designing," she says, "I'm still the stitcher. There is a magic that happens in a piece, that is like a thread running through the forest, and I follow it with my heart."

Marilyn Imblum's designs are widely available at local needlework stores. If there is no store in your area you can contact the following mail order source: Nordic Needle 1314 Gateway Drive Fargo , N.D. 58103 (701) 235-5231 or (800) 433-4231

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No part of these instructions nor the included designs/charts can be reproduced or distributed in any form (including electronic) or used as a teaching tool without the prior written permission of Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum and Told in a Garden.

© Copyright 1997 Told in a Garden. All rights reserved.


© 1997 The Caron Collection Ltd./ Voice: (203) 381-9999, Fax: 203 381-9003

CARON email: mail@caron-net.com