Crochet, Knitting and Stitching

A recent comment about my Blog – “Kudos on blog; fun site; poked around but found nothing wool-related”! – prompted me to write something about my journey in craft.

A short piece about Ellen Lambert, my granny, would have to preface any talk of my craft interest as she was my inspiration.

Ellen Lambert was born in Kereight Co Wexford in 1900, one of 10 children. It was a household where of great love of Irish culture, arts and history was fostered. This where Ellen learned how to do Irish crochet from her mother. She was attended Bree NS and then the secondary in Loreto Convent in Wexford town.

She went to England where she worked as a monitor (teacher assistant) in a convent primary school in Chorley, Lancashire. She remembered the factory workers going to the mills in the morning with shawls over their heads and their clogs clattering along the cobblestones. When I heard the song Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs about Lowry’s paintings, I often thought of my Grandmother’s descriptions of the cotton mill workers in Chorley.

I met a childhood friend of my grandmothers, Annie King, who had some wonderful stories about Ellen’s visits home – the excitement of seeing her fashion: “She was tall and elegant – a model, she had beautiful hats and coats, long flowing hair, and such a joy to behold at mass in Galbally on Sunday. Ellen was a favourite at home and away.”


Ellen missed home, however, and returned to Wexford just as the civil war was starting. She immersed herself in the politics of the time, joining Cumann na mBan, frequently helping out the local Flying Column keeping look-out, delivering messages, finding hide-outs, etc. She later married the commander of that Column, Robert Lambert, who was the love of her life.


Celebration of Crafts and their stories

In 2022 I answered a callout from the National History Museum to submit craft items and tools from history with the relevant story. I submitted this story with a collar crocheted by Ellen about  2024, and a single bootee (so much the worse for wear) that was crocheted in Tully North Queensland in 1927.

I am Ellen’s eldest grandchild. I started to knit and sew at home and then in school when I was quite young. Knitting at that time was taught to children in 1st class (aged about 6). I loved showing off my various craft projects to my grandmother when she visited.

An Irish crochet doily made when I was about 12yrs old

Seeing my interest she taught me to how to do Irish crochet in the 1960’s- she wanted to ensure the skill went to another generation. I was always proud to visit her with examples of my work – doilies, gloves, collars, edges for hand towels. She also gave me some of her crochet tools which I have guarded carefully since.

I embroidered this tea cosy in 6th class (aged 12 ish). It had the same pattern front and back.



This year a participated in a stitch project where I’d to choose an old piece of work and “renovate it” – a take on the Japanese art of kintsugi. These illustrations show the old (c.1965) and the ‘renovated’ tea cosy (2023)



I used appliqué and some sashiko stitching on this old doily, probably done by my grandmother in the 1930’s as part of kintsugi project this year.



I continue to knit and crochet – it keeps the hands busy while I watch TV – I usually watch out for a charitable projects such as The Rotunda Octupus for Premies, Baby clothes for V de P, Knit a hat for the Homeless, etc and contribute.



Author: Breda Fay

I'm retired since end August 2016 and loving the new life! More time now for family and friends and to explore craft, history, travel and certainly more of a chance for, me-time. To paraphrase Seuss: I've no tears that (teaching) is over; but many smiles that it happened!

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