Australia’s Oldest Man Knits Penguin Sweaters

About a year ago the Phillip Island’s Penguin Foundation made a plea to all knitting aficionados to make and donate small sweaters for the little penguins they are trying to save. The receptionist at the Foundation told ABC News that they can rehabilitate about twenty oil-affected penguins a year by making them wear sweaters. “If somebody puts oil into the sea, a little penguin swimming along pops up to the surface and finds out he’s come up in a circle of yukky stuff,” she said. “The first thing he wants to do is get to shore because he loses all of his waterproofness.” A jumper prevents a penguin from cleaning oil from its body with its beak, and keeps it warm until conservationists can release it back into the wild. The little penguins, which live mainly around the coast of Victoria, are not as immune to the cold as their southern cousins. Boo.

The program started in 2001 and provides empathetic contributors with an easy knitting pattern. And just a few days ago the press learned that Australia’s oldest man – his name is Afred ‘Alfie’ Date, he’s a whopping 109 years old and has been knitting for eighty years!! – has been making the coolest sweaters for the little guys. One of his nurses had heard about the penguin program and asked Alfred to apply his skills. “The girls who used to work for me, they’ll tell you I’m a sucker. I can’t say no,” Alfred told 9Stories. “It’s a good way of getting along in life. You make friends all the time but you don’t make a fool of yourself either.” And even though the Foundation has notified contributors they don’t need any more sweaters for the moment, Alfred stays busy knitting beanies for premature babies and scarves for friends. Well Alfred, if you ever run out of customers, you can knit me one of those rainbow sweaters. I like ’em oversized.


February 12, 2015

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9 Responses to “Australia’s Oldest Man Knits Penguin Sweaters”

  1. avatar
    Paris Rendez-Vous and Beyond - Reply

    Totally fantastic!!!!!!!! On ya’ Alfie!! You’re a star.


  2. avatar

    Alfie doesn’t knit ‘sweaters’; in Australian English they’re called ‘jumpers’ :-). Although with increasing American television, the word ‘sweater’ is making inroads 🙁

  3. avatar

    This is beautiful! These precious penguins are so cute and adorable wearing their protective sweaters.

    God bless all the people that can make these innocent little animals cozy and happy.

  4. avatar

    Love your blog and your new website design!! I sat behind you at the Giulietta show and was mesmerized by your beautiful outfit!

  5. avatar
    Style Wilderness - Reply

    I love that you picked up this story! It’s proof that fashion and craft can do good for the world.

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