When Signature was quite new we had a customer who took the chance and returned for more and more needles. She is from a part of Michigan that was going through some hard times and we became acquainted by email over the years. Last year when we auctioned off the beautiful sample of the cashmere Shirley Paden design she won and I couldn’t have been happier.
We wanted to feature her in the Signature Circle series and so began to find out a few more things about Jean. We gave a little preview of Jean in an earlier blog post about the donation of the proceeds from the sale of the sample garment to Hurricane Sandy relief. Wow, what a story—a family business in breeding crickets. Who would have ever thought of that as a thriving business? She shares her time in a yarn shop, driving a fork truck, and knitting. If only crickets had tiny little fleeces….
Talk about an interesting life! We hope you will think so too. By the way the Shirley Paden kit and pattern are available on the site if you want to take a stab at making your own Lacey Arches Cardigan.
1. Tell us about yourself:
My name is Jean Eldred, I am 57 years young. My husband and I have three grown sons. A couple of unique things about me: I have seven siblings, including a set of triplets. They are my younger sisters and they are turning 50 this year! After I graduated from college in 1977, I pursued a career in wastewater treatment at that time I was the first woman to work in my community as a wastewater treatment operator. I left that career to become a business owner.
2. When did you start knitting, who taught you?
I love this question! It brings back some good memories. I don't remember whose idea it was, but my Mom and I took knitting lessons together at a yarn shop, I think it was called Monroe Woolen Mills? I was probably ten years old. I can remember knitting some swatches in different stitches. Also, I think I made some mittens as one of my first projects. I have been knitting on and off since then.
3. What are your favorite things to knit?
I like it all! I have several projects going at once (and a few in time out!!) Right now I am working on a beautiful Chicknits cardigan, Elisbeth using some yarn from the Plucky Knitter. I recently finished Christmas stockings for my family. My oldest son just recently got engaged to a wonderful young woman so that was my inspiration to update the family stockings. I used the Churchmouse Family Christmas Stocking pattern for all of the stockings. I made everyone's stocking different. It was great fun designing the stockings for each person. I used Shepherd's wool from Stonehedge for this project; also, I used 40" Signature needles so I could knit the magic loop method. Also, I just made a hat for one of my doctors. I have been suffering from vertigo. He diagnosed my problem as BPPV and performed a simple procedure (called the Epley Maneuver) and I was cured! It was just amazing. So, I decided to knit him a hat. I gave it to him at my follow-up appointment. He was really touched, he told me that his wife is learning to knit and is making a washcloth! Of course, I used that opportunity to tell him that I work part time at Stitching Memories, my local yarn shop. He says she will be coming in to visit us.
4.Can you tell us a little about your unique company?
I work at my family's business, Top Hat Cricket Farm. We raise and sell crickets all over the U.S. Crickets are sold to zoos, pet stores, bait shops and to individuals who require large quantities of crickets. We have a website, www.tophatcrickets.com. There is a lot of information on our company's history on our site. In a nutshell, the cricket farm was started by my father-in-law, Grant Eldred, in the 1960's. Back then it was a summer only business dedicated to growing crickets for sale as fish bait. Over the years, people have started feeding crickets to their pet lizards, frogs, turtles and even birds. As the number of people keeping those types of pets has grown, so has the cricket industry. We sell crickets in quantities from one thousand up to one hundred thousand. They are shipped in packages designed to keep them from getting too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. Our sons have all worked at the business; making them third generation cricket farmers.
|Cricket Shelves||Smaller crickets we raise||Larger crickets we raise|
5. Do you have a favorite local yarn shop?
I am lucky enough to work part time at Stitching Memories, which is located in Portage, MI I have worked there for several years. It is a great way to keep my yarn stash fed! I enjoy seeing customers bring in their finished projects, either from classes they have taken with us or with yarn they have purchased from us. That feeling of satisfaction from a finished object just has to be shared! Working at the yarn shop, I get to see the appeal that knitting holds for people of all ages. We also carry crochet tools and patterns and hold classes in crochet. I think the granny square is making a comeback.
6. How did you become a part of the Signture family?
I have been a huge fan of Signature needles for a long time, even before you sold circs. I think the first time Cathy emailed me was when I ordered a kit which included Lorna's laces yarn, DPNs and a pattern. I can't remember all the details, but I had ordered the kit to take along with me on a family vacation to Mackinac Island.