Spinning a Yarn or Two

Perennial State Fair winner Mary Nedry shares her passion.

Mary Nedry was just 13 years old when a life-long passion was born. It all began with her Great Aunt Darlene. First it was a scarf and then it grew into blankets, until working with yarn led to many a State Fair ribbon and a family bond that she’s passing down to her grandkids.

Nedry’s aunt lived close by and they always had a special bond. “Learning from her was time we enjoyed together,” she says. “I knit her a pair of slippers with her pattern when she was in a nursing home. It was so fun to give them to her.”

The circle continues with Nedry’s grandkids. “My granddaughters started learning to knit with a simple scarf pattern. I will teach my other granddaughter when she turns 10, although she is trying to get me to move up the date since she is now seven,” she says. “The oldest [grandaughter] actually made the slipper pattern last winter while they were visiting from Ohio.”

Nedry knits for her grandkids often. Her granddaughters are picking the pattern and colors right now for birthday sweaters. Her two grandsons each want a blanket, which typically takes longer, “so I will need to get busy soon,” she says. New babies in the family get a hand-knit item or two from Nedry. One Christmas she made stocking hats for her six brothers and another year, hats and cowls for sisters-in-law and nieces. “I am a very fast knitter and, as a retiree, I knit two to four hours a day typically,” she adds.  

Her first entry in the Minnesota State Fair, over 20 years ago, was a crocheted tablecloth, which landed her is second place. She switched to knitting, taking on a Scandinavian jumper with a bolero jacket for her first granddaughter and was rewarded with the Judges Choice Award. She says her most challenging project was a sophisticated white and blue-gray mitered poncho for which she won first place at the fair in 2016; a just reward for taking on such a complicated design. She has also won first place for a red child’s cabled sweater. She’s working diligently on a very detailed shawl she plans to enter this year.

Nedry enjoys knitting with hand dyed yarns and occasionally with cashmere which she considers a real treat. “I knit samples for a fantastic yarn shop here in Maple Grove called Amazing Threads. We are fortunate to have such a lovely shop so close by,” she says. “Knitting samples helps satisfy my passion.”

Nedry usually has the TV on when she knits but, depending on the complexity of the pattern, she may or may not pay attention to the screen. “I have had some missteps such as knitting a pair of detailed mittens for my daughter, but I made two right hand mittens,” she says. “Sometimes if I make a mistake and cannot correct it, I will either start over or take the work back to before the mistake,” she says. “I did it today on a sweater I am working on.”  

Nedry also enjoys knitting with friends. She taught her sister how to knit and encouraged her to move from socks on to more complex patterns including sweaters. “She lives close by and will call for help when she gets stuck or needs to correct a mistake,” Nedry says. However, she assures that you can find just about any knitting or crocheting technique on YouTube.

Sharing a skill like knitting may seem an old-fashioned choice, but Nedry has found it rewarding and a great way to connect with family.

Look for Nedry’s shawl this year in the Creative Activities building at the Minnesota State Fair. (No pressure.)