Trained as a journalist, Jean began her professional needlework career as Design Director for the Boye Needle Company, where she developed new products and publications. She left Boye in 1971 to found Leisure Arts, which became the country’s largest independent needlework book publisher. Later, she founded the American School of Needlework publishing company. Recently, she was Editor and Publisher of Crochet! Magazine for two years and created and wrote the internet newsletter Talking Crochet.
She was co-owner with Rita Weiss of Crochet Partners, the largest internet crochet discussion group, and of Creative Partners, which specializes in creating needlework books.
Jean lived in San Diego with her two dogs, Alice and Fluffy, 52 rose bushes and enough yarn to stock a store. Despite her work in crochet, she claimed knitting was her first and best love.
Take a little trip down memory lane with me as I dig into the Leisure Arts archives:
Jean didn’t just found Leisure Arts—she designed the company’s very first publication. These are the covers of Leisure Arts Leaflet #1—Pop Tops. It’s got a 35 cent cover price and features the original designs of the great Jean Leinhauser. Smiley faces, flowers, and hot lips—what fun!
How about Leaflet #2 A Gaggle of Grannies? Jean gave us the timeless giant granny afghan and helped kick off the poncho-crocheting craze!
And skipping ahead to Leaflet #5 from 1972, I just had to share the covers of Shrinks ’N Tanks. Don’t you love the designs? They’re all Jean’s! (She describes them in one 2010 interview as “horrible”!)
And that’s just the tip of Jean’s contributions! Her legacy will live on through her publications, including the most recent:
Jean’s designs helped pave the way from the beginnings of crochet to where we are today. Her iconic influence is sure to continue through the decades to come. Learn more about Jean’s pride in the growth of our industry by viewing this video interview: Leisure Arts Editor-In-Chief Susan Sullivan interviews The Creative Partners.
Rest in peace, Jean, and thanks for everything!