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Friday, August 17, 2012

Farewell, Marilyn

Nantucket Rose

The stitching world had a great loss earlier this week. On Tuesday, August 14, cross stitch designer Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum passed away.

Marilyn was the hand behind the design company Told in A Garden, with designs under that name, as well as Lavender & Lace and Butternut Road. She was by far the most successful cross stitch designer of the late 1980’s through the early 2000’s. Between the three design lines, she produced a total of 128 designs, not including the free Christmas angel designs she offered for 20 years.

A little over 10 years ago, Marilyn moved to the Rochester, NY area, which is where I live. I had the wonderful experience of not just meeting this lovely and talented soul, but also to work with her and visit her beautiful home on several occasions. I was lucky enough to be the model stitcher for three of her designs (Winter Sampler and the two Button Box Babies). I also stitched trial bits of Angel of the Morning and Secret Santa, as Marilyn decided between possible color combinations. It was an inspiring time that allowed me to get a glimpse of her amazingly creative mind at work.

Over the years, I’ve stitched other designs of Marilyn’s. The first was Angel of Hope, which went to a teenaged cousin battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma (who is doing very well nearly 20 years later). Nantucket Rose (above) and Celtic Banner (below) both hang in my dining room. And I still have Angel of the Sea half-completed.


Marilyn and I fell out of touch in recent years, but I’ll always remember her generosity of spirit, her determination to make her creations the best they could be, and her stunning perennial garden. Farewell, my friend. May your family and loved ones find comfort in happy memories.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

And he’s all I have to show for the past few days of stitching!

SantaMitten 30Nov2011

Two more mitten fronts to stitch, and then assembly. Without the time needed to write a blog post each day, though, I’m hoping to get these done over the weekend! Maybe I’ll set a recent record for my own start-to-finish time!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some Whitework in the Works

Stitching bloggers all over seem to be owning up to the number of works in progress they have. I guess I’m looking at joining the bandwagon. I’m not quite ready to put up a full list, but I would like to share a couple of whitework projects I started over the past year but haven’t yet blogged about.

The first is an EGA group correspondence course by Jane-Ellen Balzuweit called Dresden Garden. DresdenGarden 29Nov2011

Yes, that’s a plain old American quarter there for scale.  The full size of the project is only about 4 inches wide by 3 inches tall. This piece is a study of Dresden lace which is a combination of surface embroidery, pulled thread, and shadow work (as seen in the white swirls). It’s stitched on Legacy shadow work linen, which is approximately 48 count.  I’m guessing that’s what led to this remaining unfinished. The rest of the stitching is counted and primarily pulled. That requires a bit too much concentration for me right now!

The second piece of whitework is also an EGA group correspondence course in another German embroidery technique, Schwalm embroidery in this case. It is Barbara Kershaw’s Liesel, and as you can see, I’ve barely begun. I’m a bit discouraged about the wobbliness of my initial lines of coral knots, but I really would like to get this moving a bit, since I’ve always wanted to learn the basics of Schwalm embroidery.

Liesel 24Sept2011

This project is a bit bigger than the other, maybe about 8 inches by 12 inches. It’s on a slightly uneven-weave linen (32ct by 36ct, maybe?) that I had in my stash, so it was pretty easy on the budget!

As you can see, I haven’t completely abandoned my interest in a wide variety of needlework techniques. It’s still always fun to learn something new. What new (to you) techniques have you been exploring lately?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hooray! NaBloPoMo is Winding Down

I’m very glad I decided to go ahead and commit to National Blog Posting Month (a.k.a. NaBloPoMo). It has renewed my enthusiasm for sharing my stitching successes and failures, along with tips I’ve learned along the way. I really enjoy interacting with all of you, dear readers.

However, over the past four weeks, I’ve also learned that in order to write about stitching, I have to actually stitch something! And it doesn’t work to try to do much of both writing and stitching on any given day, not with the full-time job and motherhood to an almost-three-year-old. (Yes, really. She’s almost three!)

So while I’ve had fun doing this, please be warned that come December, posts will not be as frequent. But I will keep posting. The good news is that I won’t be posting just for the sake of posting something on a given day. I can focus more on providing you with quality information. Fortunately, this month I’ve also learned that a post doesn’t have to be long to share a good tip. Pictures really are worth a thousand words!

And who knows? One of these days I might actually finish cleaning up all of the imported posts on my NEW site and be able to share that with all of you!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Three Down…

…and three to go! I still have to add embellishment to the cuffs and do the final assembly of each mitten, but the individual design for each of these is complete.

Mittens 27Nov2011

That’s all for tonight. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

How To Start a Thread for a Line of Stem Stitch

Sometimes it’s challenging to figure out exactly how to start a thread. The two most common methods I’ve seen are to use an away waste knot (to allow the stitching to be tied off later) and simply using a waste knot in the path of the stitching.

When you’re stitching a line of stem or outline stitch, you could use the away knot and then tie off the stitches later. But the “knot in the path of stitching” option needs a bit of modification to make it work successfully.

The answer? Running stitch.

As shown here, I put my waste knot in the thread and then do a few small running stitches out to where the line of stitching starts.


Then you can simply stitch over these little running stitches with the stem or outline stitch, and cut off the knot when you get to it. If you can pierce a running stitch or two along the way, all the better.


One of the main advantages of this technique is that it doesn’t matter if the line you’re stitching is straight or curvy. The running stitches force the thread tail to follow the curve of the line.

Does anybody else have a tip for starting threads in this situation?