Australia's Oldest Guy Knits Sweaters—for Penguins

Alfie Date has been knitting for 80 years
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2015 9:23 AM CST

(Newser) – When Alfred "Alfie" Date moved into a new retirement home on the New South Wales Central Coast last year, his reputation preceded him. But it wasn't his title of Australia's oldest person that the facility's nurses were most intrigued by. "I think I'd been in here about 12 hours, might have been 13," says Date, now 109. Then "the two girls come in to me and say, 'We believe you can knit.'" It turned out that Victoria's Phillip Island Penguin Foundation was in need of sweaters for a species known as little penguins, affected by an oil spill. Date, who first learned to knit when his sister-in-law handed him wool and a pair of knitting needles 80 years ago, was the perfect man for the job, 9Stories reports. "I'm a sucker," he says. "I can't say no."

Oil mats a penguin's feathers, allowing water to penetrate the inner layers of down, which causes them to become cold and distressed. The sweaters keep the animals from preening their feathers and consuming the toxins, Mashable reports. "We feel quite privileged to have [Date] dedicating his time and effort to the Penguin Foundation," says a rep, noting the foundation has now met its sweater quota. But Date—who told the Northern District Times his secret to a long life is "waking up every morning"—is still knitting scarfs for friends and caps for premature babies. "I like to make it without mistakes and I don't excuse myself for doing it," he says. But "I think there is an excuse for a person who's gone beyond the normal span of life." (In other animal news, your dog can read your facial expressions.)

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