When Yvonne “Vonnie” Eyer’s great-granddaughter was born, she put a pair of knitting needles in the girl’s tiny hands. “That way she’ll grow up to be a knitter,” her husband, Jim, recalls her saying.
Eyer knitted all her life, and after retiring from her career as a nurse, she taught knitting and started a knitting klatch that made more than 10,000 garments for charity.
“It was her passion, and she left huge footprints in the knitting community,” said Bobbi Kreb, owner of Amazing Threads, a Maple Grove knitting store.
Eyer, a Brooklyn Park resident, died March 8 of pulmonary fibrosis at age 77.
Born in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood, Yvonne Bourn, as she was known then, went to St. Olaf College and decided to become a nurse. She graduated in 1958. At a St. Olaf square dance, she met fellow student Jim Eyer. In their courting days, she knitted him a present.
“It was a pair of socks that were so thick I couldn’t wear them with shoes,” Jim said. “I had to wear them with slippers.”
The Eyers had three children, and Yvonne rose from floor nurse to head nurse in a nursing home.
When she retired in 2000, she followed her passions. One was travel, and Yvonne took trips with an old college friend to China, Europe and New Zealand.
The other, of course, was knitting. “If she was sitting down, she was knitting,” her husband said. “The kids would say she could walk down the street, chew gum and knit at the same time.”
Her specialty was lace shawls, but she could knit just about anything. She took her expertise to Amazing Threads, where she taught knitting for more than a decade. Eyer was there almost every day and taught until she was hospitalized just before her death, Kreb said. She was a knitting instructor for community education, too.
Eyer was a longtime member and past president of the Minnesota Knitters’ Guild. She co-founded the Knit-Wits, a charity knitting group that meets every week at a Culver’s restaurant in Coon Rapids. It began with four knitters, but as it grew, it’s had as many as 45 at a session, said Becky Thompson, a Culver’s employee who helped start the group.
“Sometimes, they just take over the restaurant,” she said. The Knit-Wits have churned out blankets, hats, mittens, scarves and other garments that went to people in hospitals, senior centers, battered women’s shelters and elsewhere.
A memorial gathering for Eyer will be held at the Cremation Society of Minnesota, Brooklyn Park Chapel, 7835 Brooklyn Blvd., Friday from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Eyer, in addition to her husband Jim, is survived by son Timothy; daughters Gloria and Margaret; a sister, Sandra; seven grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. Her daughters are avid knitters.