Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stitching Saturday: Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum

detail of the face
detail from Angel of Autumn

I have carried many angels with me in my moves, life changes, and travels for the past 14 years. They are Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum's angels, and they have tagged along for the ride as I moved from college, back home, to New York City, then back home to Texas again.

Angelica was begun in my second year of college - I'd say it was 1998. I'd just lost someone very dear to me, and maybe this was what inspired me to begin a project of such impossible scale: thousands of tiny stitches on 32 count linen, with beads, metallic threads, and 1 over 1 thread stitches. I hadn't even worked with linen before. Had no clue what a beading needle was! Personally, I think I was a bit crazy to even attempt it:


About a month ago, I pulled Angelica out of the box she'd traveled in, almost finished, for 14 years. So you might notice a few discolored edges and a spot or two.

I had worked on her little by little, growing at turns discouraged with the task before me. Then, rather inexplicably, when all I had left to do was finish the beading, I folded her up and carried her around NY for another 6 years.

face and bead detail

All it took was a few turns with the beading needle to remember why I'd almost abandoned her. :) But I refused to give in now, so close to the end, and I finally finished her!

I thought it was weird that I'd so randomly unboxed her - why, after all this time? Then I popped over to Marilyn's site for a quick visit and saw with great sadness that she'd just passed away.

hand, with hand for scale
This is 1x1 stitching, by the way. I remember almost pulling out my hair in the process. :)

I'm too old to believe in coincidences, and I've had too many loved ones pass to the other side to think that they do not nudge us at times to finish what is left undone.

So I picked up the 2 other angels I'd left incomplete (yes I'd started 2 more without finishing the first - bad crafter! :) and I vow that this is the year I'll finish them.

Angel of Autumn

Angel of Autumn

Angel of Spring

Angel of Spring

Here they both are after 8 hours of additional stitching:
after about 4 hours of stitching Angel of Spring, after 6 hours of stitching

Yes, I know it's almost impossible to detect my progress. :) It's very easy to get discouraged working on projects at this scale - Pam just finished her own huge cross stitch project (it's AMAZING) and that gave me a little nudge of encouragement, too.

If you've never visited Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum's site, Told In a Garden, I highly recommend it. You can easily see her training as a fashion artist in the way her designs move. That, and the detail on her faces is simply out of this world. I know frilly dresses are not for everyone, but I think that anyone can appreciate her artistry. But more than that, the words she left behind, the things she found important, what she chose to commemorate, these are all things that speak volumes to me about the kind of woman she must have been.

And, if the Angelica images look familiar to you, you may have seen them on the DMC Threads blog - where they appeared in a tribute post for Marilyn.

So there we are, what I've been stitching lately! I've also been working on more Wee Little Stitches (pics soon) and have made a bit of progress on my blanket. Have any of you ever stitched any of Marilyn's designs? Or maybe just something incredibly huge that you thought you'd never finish? :)