Alison Gault, Lecturer in Textile Art, Design and Fashion
“The impact of women rallying together and demanding the vote can be seen in the numbers of women joining organisations such as the Irish Women’s Federation (IWSS) in various parts of Ulster. My grandmother, Lizzie Moore, born in 1894, lived during this time and is a source of inspiration in my work. My memories are of her apron, and that she always seemed to be knitting. Feminine handicrafts were also central to the Suffrage Movement. Badges, emblems, and brooches identified the women who were aligning themselves with the Suffragettes.
The Comber Gazette reported that in 1914 knitting stopped the progress towards women getting the vote. With the outbreak of the First World War, women across the country turned their attention to knitting for the war effort. Because aprons were made and sold to raise funds for the suffrage movement, I decided to design a knitted apron dress in homage. The knit design reflects the style of the period, in the colours of the Suffragette mantra: dignity, purity, and hope. Made of mostly linen yarn it refers to Belfast’s being known as Linenopolis.
My grandmother worked in the Belfast’s linen industry and the yarns are remnants from the mills, most of which closed in the 1990s. During the First World War, many women moved from working in the linen industry to jobs in munitions factories. Their skills of knitting and weaving were transformed into manufacturing shells and munitions.”