Jean Leinhauser’s first job out of the University of Iowa was the public relations director for the Hobby Industry Association in Chicago, her first job out of the University of Iowa with a degree in journalism; little did she know that it would start her on a path to become a leader in the world of knitting and crochet.
Jean, who passed away on Sunday, June 12, went on from her first job to becoming an account executive at Aaron Cushman & Associates, a PR firm where she was assigned the Boye Needle Company account. Although she knit, Jean had to teach herself to crochet in order to understand the tools her account sold, and she eventually became an expert in both knitting and crochet, going on to write dozens of books on her own and later with her business partner Rita Weiss, former president of the Crochet Guild of America.
In addition to dozens of books, Jean founded an independent needlework book publishing company, which became Leisure Arts, the nation’s largest needlework book publisher. She also founded the American School of Needlework, another knit and crochet publisher. After selling that company and moving into retirement, Jean–never one to slow down–and Rita then started Creative Partners, a consulting firm specializing in knit and crochet books, continuing to design and write patterns. They continued to attend yarn events and inspire new generations of yarncrafters, like the Knit and Crochet Show, where we at Lion Brand were always happy to catch up with them.
At these events, Jean, Rita, and their friend, designer Margaret Hubert, would joke about the exclusive club of three they belonged to, called “Old Broads Rule.” The requirements for joining? Being a still-working knit/crochet designer whose first book was published before 1968.
This July, Jean will be honored by the Crochet Guild of America at the Knit and Crochet Show in Minneapolis as the first person inducted into the CGOA’s newly created Hall of Fame.
We at Lion Brand have been honored to have known Jean, and we will miss her greatly.