Marylyn Levitt Imblum – creator of Lavender and Lace Cross Stitch Designs
Lavender and Lace Cross Stitch designs are quite advanced for a new starter and are be more suited to the experienced cross stitcher. If you are thinking of starting this rewarding hobby the benefits of cross stitching outweigh the cost, effort, and time required to complete a project. It’s a great stress reliever, it helps build muscle memory, it’s a positive outlet for creativity, and keeps the mind active while promoting relaxation.
Beginners and pros all have one thing in common – they block out the world and its problems while they focus on stitching, effectively relaxing without even realizing it. Once you get the basics of how to cross stitch, you’ll be sucked into the world of cross stitching and all the resplendent ways to add refinement and some extra dazzle to the finished project. Buttons, glitter, beads, lace, and other extras can all be worked into the pattern.
In the annals of cross stitch history, a lady named Marylyn Levitt Imblum figured this out and began implementing it into her stitching. She passed away in 2012, but her designs and passion for bringing cross stitching to life is still enticing avid crafters while recruiting beginners to try their hand at embellishing their projects.
Born in 1946, Marylyn lived in a world where there were many more restrictions on women than there are today. She did not attend college or get any type of educational degrees. But she had a wonderful imagination and the drive necessary to bring her ideas to fruition in the form of cross stitching. She graduated high school, and obtained a job in an advertising agency where artists spent their days sketching out their new marketing ideas. She watched and learned as they sketched, drew, and put ideas to paper.
The 1940’s didn’t have a lot of cross stitch patterns available. So, Marylyn – mimicking what she had learned at the office – began to draw pictures that eventually morphed into cross stitch patterns. She was gifted in painting watercolor, and this gave her the tools needed to determine the exact colors of each stitch in her designs that could bring her ideas to life.
In 1985, she developed and sold her first cross stitch kit at a local needlecraft store for $5. Things spiraled from there, and that is how the birth of the Lavender and Lace cross stitch designs came to be. And the rest is cross stitch history.
‘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’ – Marylyn Levitt Imblum
Lavender and Lace, in short, is a large collection of angels and women clothed in long, flowing Victorian dresses. These designs are not for the faint at heart, and not recommended for a beginner to learn from. But what they are, what the finished project is, is absolutely a stunning site to behold.
The pattern usually calls for 28- or 32-count Aida cloth. This means the stitches are small…very small. These minuscule stitches can be a pain in the neck, but remember this – the smaller the stitch, the more detailed and refined the completed project looks. The smaller stitches means that the faces of these beautiful women hold more details, more expressions, and more beauty than what could be accomplished with a larger stitch.
Marylyn focused on making the facial expressions of her angles and Victorian women as lifelike as possible. With limited amounts of stitches, the faces are alive, graceful, and realistic. The way their faces are depicted are absolutely amazing. Calm, thoughtful, full of integrity, and peaceful are emotions that Marylyn has managed to instill in their soft facial expressions.
But Marylyn didn’t stop there. She added more sophistication to her creations. Beads. The beads don’t substitute for stitches – they embellish the stitches. The Lavender and Lace patterns require a high degree of detail than most others don’t because Marylyn painstakingly placed each stitch and bead where it would shine the best. The beads complement the woman, who is the focal point, without taking away from her strength or beauty. The swirls of her dress, the gentle curl of her long hair, the flowers she cradles in her hands – all given that amazing breath of life through beads and silk threads.
Years ago, I was looking for a new cross stitch project and came across one of Marylyn Levitt Imblum’s Lavender and Lace “Nantucket Rose” cross stitch designs. Unbeknownst to me who she was or the level of difficulty of the design, I bought the pattern because it caught my eye. A beautiful Victorian lady enjoying the day surrounded with roses as she lounged outside of her cottage by the sea. It was breath taking, and I wanted to stitch it. Being an intermediate stitcher at that time, it took me a few months to finish it.
My only free time was after a tiring day at work, after dinner, and after the kids went to bed. It calls for 32-count grey linen, but I didn’t have any. So I used 14-count off-white Aida cloth instead. The stitches were larger which meant that I could see them better as I stitched in the evenings.
But the finished project was gigantic. I didn’t have any beadwork to implement, but that’s fine with me. I added a few metallic threads in some places even though the pattern didn’t call for it, but I thought it would enhance the beauty of it. It did. It made those stitches pop right off the linen as they caught the light. I stitched it, I finished it, and I love it.
If you see a design that you’d like to do, but it isn’t exactly what you want, just remember that you can always change certain details of it without taking away from the designers original intentions. The linen cloth can always be a higher or lower count based on what you prefer. Change the color of the linen cloth, too. If it calls for black, but you think dark gray would be prettier, then make that change.
Designers like Marylyn Levitt Imblum create these cross stitch patterns from the view point of the stitcher. They want the stitcher to enjoy the journey of stitching as well as enjoying the final destination of completing the project. There’s always room for changes, embellishments, and details that make your cross stitch experience better and the finished project just as good – if not better than – the original intention of the designer.
Whether you fancy Victorian ladies in their finest dresses, angels beaming lovingly at the world, medieval women standing defiantly in their long flowing dresses as they face the world, or a stunningly beautiful Celtic lady ushering in a new season, the Lavender and Lace cross stitch designs will keep you busy for hours and make you beam with pride when guests mistake your cross stitch for a professionally created drawing or painting.