Last night, I sat knitting on the couch, watching the first season of The West Wing (for a Canadian I’m really intrigued with American politics…the West Wing is accurate right? If you guys are going to elect actors, why not Martin Sheen instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger?) and turning out the Mamluke socks
I got to thinking that I didn’t really have anything to blog about today. Nothing. The socks are boring, (Hint – the second one is going to look exactly like the first one) the spinning is boring (Hint – the second skein is going to look exactly like the first one) and that’s about all I’m working on. Ask and ye shall receive. My lovely and charming Mother-in-law Carol dropped by, fresh from a trip home to Newfoundland. Now, I don’t just say nice things about Carol because she brings me wool (Hint – I can be bought) she’s a really nice lady, but she did bring me this… which is enough of a bribe that I would say I liked her even if I didn’t.
My crappy picture aside, this wool is lovely, and Carol bought it for me at NONIA on Water Street in St. John’s. Two of the above are completely sexy mohair, and the darkest one is beautiful navy/grey sock wool. The top mohair is beyond words, it looks grey in the picture but it’s really a mix of every colour you can imagine. It is so beautiful, that it is all I can do to resist tossing aside the mamluke socks like joyless foot husks and casting on a hat in the mohair. Fortified with 4 cups of coffee and a deadline for the socks, I am ignoring the mohair.
NONIA isn’t a wool shop, but stands for Newfoundland Outport Nursing and Industrial Association. In 1920 there was a shortage of doctors, nurses and midwives in the outports of Newfoundland. The British government sent over some nurses to help the people (particularly women) in these really isolated communties. As is the way with governments (particularly ones who aren’t likely to have to deliver a baby alone, in a blizzard, with nothing to eat and 7 other kids) the funding for this health service was touch and go. The nurses came up with the idea that if they were to knit and weave stuff to sell, they could fund the program by themselves. They recruited women from all over Newfoundland, gave them wool and taught them to knit (if they didn’t know already). The women knit what pleased them, and NONIA picked the knitting up, paid the women, and then sold the knitting to pay for more health care. It was without a doubt, one of the cleverest woman-helping-woman schemes ever thought up. The nurses kept their jobs, the women earned a little income, and everybody in the outports got health care.
Even though Newfoundland and Labrador is now a province of Canada, and has health care through the government of Canada, NONIA still exists, pays knitters and funds nursing care. They sell knitted stuff in the shop and you can buy the leftover wool. That’s what I got. Go to Newfoundland. You can have some too. Cool eh?

9 thoughts on “NONIA

  1. Vive Newfoundland! That puts all the “oh I only knit for charity, and only out of crap yarn I wouldn’t be caught dead in, but I’ve knitted 276 preemie hats this month alone, and I make each recipient write me a suitably abject thank you note” geeks on the Knitlist to big time shame, eh?
    Practical, sensible, resourceful. And I’ll bet none of the items is knitted in “hunter’s” orange or Red Heart or Lion Brand woolease either.
    Enjoy your pretty hat, Steph.
    How clever of you to have a useful mother-in-law.

  2. Thank you for telling us about NONIA, what an interesting program! I see they have an order form to order finished products. I love the photo on their website.

  3. Way cool and thanks….see you turned a boring blog day into information. I’m counting this in my “you learn something new every day” 🙂

  4. Leave it to the women to quietly and efficiently go about fixing things. Rather inspirational I think.

  5. The WestWing is, what I would say, and incredibly accurate dipiction of American politics–and I love the show! (Though not as much as my mom–if my brother or so so much as utters a word during the show, we are promptly “SHUSH!”ed. Fortunately, since I like it too, I don’t generally try to talk much during it.)
    And I agree–Martin Sheen over Ah-nold any day!

  6. I had heard of NONIA before (I lived in Fort McMurray AB, the biggest Newfoundland city outside of Newfoundland)for 4 years, and the women spoke of it often. But I never realized there was a web-site. I enjoyed the site, and thanks for sharing it.
    I think one of the greatest things about the organization is that it was set up and worked so well at a time when women were not supposed to be able to decide anything for themselves….there were a lot of women at that time who couldn’t even vote.
    Thanks again for sharing that (and the socks look great)

  7. Shortly after I was born, in Flowers Cove on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula, 66 years ago, we were travelling by dog team to our home in Plum Point some 16 miles away. We stopped at St. Barbe (where the ferry now goes to Labrador). Inside a house there was a five year old girl knitting. What facinated my mother, to the extent that she couldn’t take her eyes off her, was that she wasn’t looking at her work.
    This story was told by my mother since my recollection of the event is somewhat sketchy.

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