Plenty of knitters have heeded the most recent call for sweaters to enrobe penguins affected by an oil spill (1st image, a pile of newly-received penguin sweaters being filmed by a local news crew). Earlier this month, The Yarn Kitchen - the blog for Skeinz, a store in Onekawa, Napier, NZ - encouraged readers to send in the little sweaters and provided instructions (another set here):
Penguin Jumper in 8ply - Must be 100% Wool YarnA 775' cargo ship had leaked hundreds of tons of oil when it ran aground off the port of Tauranga, New Zealand, putting the native penguin population at risk. Oil clogs their feathers, which reduces their insulating and waterproofing qualities. “Basically, when you get even a drop of oil on these birds, it opens up a channel so water can penetrate. It’s like a hole in their wetsuit,” explains Kevin McGowan of the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology. In their attempts to preen themselves, the birds ingest the oil and are poisoned. The sweaters are put on, both to prevent the preening and to keep them warm until they replenish their natural oils. Dressing the penguins has become part of the protocol for rescuing them, and has evolved as experience has grown. “They used to use little ponchos but the penguins worked out how to pull these off," says Roz Jessop of Australia's Phillip Island Nature Parks. The sweaters are removed and discarded, although at Philip Island the routine is to allow them to disintegrate: "After the penguins are cleaned and dressed in the sweaters, they are put in salt-water pools at the rehabilitation center. As they swim and regain their strength, the salt water destroys the wool. By the time the penguins are ready to return to the ocean, their natural oils will have come back, and they can go home dressed only in their feathers." The Yarn Kitchen's call for volunteer knitters went viral and within just a few days they had plenty (video here), but they won't be refusing any shipments: "As reported earlier we do have crital mass of jumpers - but don't worry if you have just completed yours - still send it in to us as we will keep stocks available for the Wildlife Rescue Team to draw from if required." They will be ready to swathe the penguins - like the wearer of the turtleneck in Tasmania in 2000 (2nd image), the model of the gray rolled-neck off the coast of South Africa in 2000 (7th image), and the stylish Toby and Percina in Australia in 2005 (6th image) - after the inevitable next time...
1 pair 3.25mm , 1 pair of 3.75mm needles , 1 set of 3.25mm dpn’s or circular
Cast on 36 stitches using 3.25 needles.K1, P1 to end of row. Repeat this row 7 times. Change to 3.75mm needles and K2, P2 rib. Work 4 rows increasing at each end of every row. (44 sts)
Continue until work measures 15 cms.
Decrease 1 st at each end of every row until 28 sts remain.
Decrease 1 st. in middle of next row (27 sts.)
Leave on needle.
Make second side the same.
Transfer the 54 sts from both pieces to 3 of the set of 4 3.25mm needles.(18 sts on each.) and work a round neck in K1 P1 rib for 10 rows.
Stitch up sides to decreasing to 27sts (opening for flipper). Add elastic to the top and bottom to prevent the penguins getting out of them. Top: 15cm of elastic; bottom 17 cm (knots allowed). Flat elastic OK.