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Alfred ‘Alfie’ Date learned to knit in the 1930s so that he could make a jumper for his new nephew. Flash forward over 80 years, and Alfie’s knitting skills are allowing him to help his country’s wildlife. Amazingly enough, at 109 years old, Alfie is worried about having idle hands, so he is putting his knitting needles to work and creating the most adorable sweaters for penguins!

Australia's Oldest Man Spends His Time Knitting Tiny Sweaters for Injured Penguins


When Alfie arrived at his new home, an elderly-care village on the New South Wales Central Coast, he was immediately asked if he could put his well-known knitting skills to good use. Around that time in March 2014, Phillip Island’s Penguin Foundation requested the help of knitters around the world to make sweaters for penguins who had fallen victim to an oil spill. So naturally, Alfie signed up!

Sweaters are vital in the rescue of penguins affected by oil spills. A patch of oil the size of a thumbnail can cause their feathers separate and get matted together, allowing the cold to reach their otherwise protected skin. Penguins who are covered with oil will instinctively try and clean themselves by picking at their feathers with their beaks, this causes them to ingest oil which can damage their digestive system. Placing sweaters on rescued penguins prevents them from ingesting any oil while preening and keeps them nice and warm.

Australia's Oldest Man Spends His Time Knitting Tiny Sweaters for Injured Penguins


The idea to knit sweaters for penguins started after an oil spill in 2001 affected 438 penguins. Thanks to these sweater donations, 96 percent of the penguins were saved, rehabilitated and released back into the wild by the Wildlife Clinic at Phillip Island Nature Parks. So, when another spill compromised penguins in 2014, the foundation asked for more sweater donations.

The response to the Penguin Foundation’s request for sweaters was amazing. They quickly had more than enough, including a bunch made by Alfie!

Australia's Oldest Man Spends His Time Knitting Tiny Sweaters for Injured Penguins


Alfie continues to knit and send penguin sweaters to the Penguin Foundation. “It’s amazing and we feel quite privileged to have him dedicating his time and effort to the Penguin Foundation,” a spokesperson told ABC’s Nine News.

Australia's Oldest Man Spends His Time Knitting Tiny Sweaters for Injured Penguins


Alfie’s knitting skills and dedication to the penguins is truly inspiring. He is officially our favorite little-penguin-jumper-knitter!

Though there is no longer a need for knitted penguin sweaters, there are plenty of ways to help the Penguin Foundation. For more information, visit their website here.

Lead image source: Daily Mail Australia

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698 comments on “Australia’s Oldest Man Spends His Time Knitting Tiny Sweaters for Rescued Penguins”

Click to add comment
17 Days ago

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Jean Parker
10 Months Ago

They will drown when the wool gets wet and pulls then down

10 Months Ago


Mihai F. Sunshine
10 Months Ago

He wants to heat them to death?

Riet Beusen
10 Months Ago

so sweet , s o sweater in fact :love to this man

Joy Grate
10 Months Ago

We all need a purpose. Alfie has found a lovely on. What a great story.

Frances Laurie
10 Months Ago

please research this further because the professional carers of the penguins did not end up using these sweaters

Dorothy Randall
10 Months Ago

When you know they were covered oil & detergent wash [Very necessary Pullovers 10/10 to this knitter [Great designs too]]

Anne Gressie
10 Months Ago

Gabe Gressie

Carol Veltry
10 Months Ago

My mom and I made lots of these for penguins caught in an oil spill. It was somewhere around Australia but years ago. They must be made of wool so it keeps them buoyant.


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