Australia’s oldest man, Alfred “Alfie” Date, 109, has an interesting hobby. He knits sweaters, for tiny penguins and the photos are adorable.
So how did this penguin sweater knitter get into this unusual activity? First, he is the type of person who can’t say no, when someone asks a favor.
When Phillip Island’s Penguin Foundation requested knitters to donate their time and to make wool sweaters for little penguins to wear in the event of an oil spill in March of last year, the response was overwhelming and came from all over the world, according to Nine MSN.
Date has been knitting since he was in his late twenties, when the great-great-grandfather’s sister-in-law handed him a pair of needles and some wool for the first time.
“She said knit me a jumper,” Alfred recalled. “And that was my first effort — a jumper for the boy.”
Almost the same thing happened when he was approached for the penguin sweater (jumper in Australia) project by two nurses in the retirement home he now calls home.
“The girls who used to work for me, they’ll tell you I’m a sucker. I can’t say no. 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.”
Similarly to his sister-in-law, the nurses left him some heavy wool and needles “because if you’re using light wool you’re wasting your time.” Soon he was knitting the tiny penguin sweaters for the wildlife clinic at the Phillip Island Nature Park, a non-profit organization.
The sweater rehabilitation method was proved in 2001, when at least 438-penguins were covered in oil following a spill near Phillip Island,the organization claims. The knitted sweaters ensured 96 percent of the penguins were successfully returned to the wild, according to foundation member Lauren Jones.
The foundation was aware Date was their “most senior little penguin sweater knitter,” however, they did not know Alfred was also the oldest living Australian and probably one of the world’s oldest knitters, says Danene Jones.
“We knew he was over 100-years-old, but had no idea he was declared the oldest person in Australia. It’s amazing and we feel quite privileged to have him dedicating his time and effort to the Penguin Foundation.”
Despite his advanced age and loss of movement in his hands, the penguin sweater knitter also creates items for humans, including premature babies and always strives for perfection.
“I like to make it without mistakes and I don’t excuse myself for doing it,” he said. “(But) I think there is an excuse for a person who’s gone beyond the normal span of life.”
[Image via Penguin Foundation/Facebook]