Penguin Sweater KAL, anyone?

Hi guys, I recently got an email from an old friend. Knowing that I'm a knitter, she included a cool link about a need for penguin jumpers (sweaters) at Phillip Island Nature Parks in Victoria, Australia. They use them for penguins that are affected by oil in...

the water. When they get oil on them the birds lose their natural ability to repel water and it allows the sea water to get down to their skin and they start to get very cold, very quickly. When they get to shore, the penguins want to clean themselves by picking off the oil which, if ingested, could be harmful or fatal. The jumpers are used to keep the penguins from doing that along with keeping them warm until they are able to be cleaned off by someone at the park.

Click here for the article if you would like to read more about this. At the top left of the article is a radio interview that you can listen to as well. In it, the woman being interviewed mentions that the need for the sweaters may only be 20 or so a year, however it is mentioned in the article that they are also used for educational programs and sold for fundraising for the park.

This sounds like a fun next-project and I plan to knit a couple to send down. I've attached the PDF of the pattern (a link for which can also be found in the article). I don't know if anyone else would like to join in? If you do decide to make any, please share your pictures with the group!

PDF icon penguin-jumper-pattern-2014.pdf416.14 KB


CLABBERS's picture

I read about this a few days ago and think it's a brilliant idea. I have so much stash that I think I'll work up some of these just for fun. It's a better way to use yarn than to have little balls of it rambling about in a basket. Thanks for sharing it with us, Ken.


gardenguy42's picture

I love to do charitable knitting projects and I saw this and thought "great!" but then I saw the article I quoted below. Don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but. . . .

According to this article the organization doesn't actually seem to use the jumpers for actual penguins but rather they seem to put them on stuffed penguin dolls to sell as a fundraiser. Nothing wrong with raising money for a good cause but the original reports were somewhat deceiving when they implied that the jumpers would be used to rescue live penguins.

Tasmanian Conservation Trust politely posted that their project was closed after 15,000 sweaters were received. Just weeks after the 2011 Rena knitting project was mentioned on a knitting forum, the forum’s moderator posted:

"And by now it turned out that none—not one—of the sweaters was actually used. The rescued penguins were being kept in warm water and recovering under heat lamps, much less stressful for wild birds than dressing them in a cute knitted sweater. Nobody seems to have asked the vets and rescue workers if they in fact needed penguin sweaters, and those interviewed seemed a bit surprised by the international knitting effort…Apparently the sweaters will be sent to a conservation group in Australia, though with crates of penguin jumpers already in storage it’s hard to see when they’ll ever be needed; some might be sold for unspecified fund-raising purposes.

Oh yes, they were being sold for fundraising purposes, not being fitted on sweet little penguins. And they are still being sold for fundraising, and the foundation behind the sweater drive wants everyone to keep knitting and sending the penguin sweaters.

. . . The Penguin Foundation rescues approximately 20 birds a year.

With money raised from selling penguin sweater-dressed plush toys, the foundation opened a new Phillip Island Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre which can house up to 1500 penguins in the event of a major oil spill. Which is great! The world needs more wildlife conservation centers. But they don’t need to be built on the dreams of grannies and hipsters who believe they are creating woolly jumpers for distressed penguins, when in reality they are creating merchandise to be sold."

For those interested in using up stash yarn for other charities I highly recommend these organizations which I have supported for several years:
The Mother Bear Project gives handmade teddy bears to distressed children in Africa, often orphans of the AIDS pandemic.
Free pattern for seamed or seamless bears.
Knit-A-Square -- We make vulnerable and orphaned children warm.
Accepts simple squares made from both wool and acrylic.
Knitting For Charity -- a clearinghouse of knitting charities that work to clothe children, provide blankets to children and Hospice patients, chemo hats for cancer patients, and others.

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -- Mahatma Gandhi

KenInMaine's picture

Thanks for all the info, Brian, including the list of charitable knitting options! I did mention in the third paragraph of the post that the sweaters would most likely be used for fundraising efforts. Sorry if that wasn't clear.