Friday, April 24, 2015

Lillian polluted penguins' pal

KNITTER and CWA stalwart Lillian Burkinshaw has been working to help vulnerable penguins - one stitch at a time. Ms Burkinshaw began knitting jumpers for penguins affected by oil pollution after reading a call for help in a magazine. She sent 24 jumpers to the Penguin Foundation, based at Phillip Island, and they were so impressed they requested more.

Jumpers play an important role in saving penguins affected by oil pollution. Oil separates and mats their feathers, allowing water to get in, which makes a penguin cold, heavy and inhibits hunting for food. A patch of oil the size of a thumbnail can kill a little penguin when ingested.

When admitted to the wildlife clinic at Phillip Island Nature Parks, they wear a knitted jumper to prevent them preening and swallowing the oil, before staff wash them.  The Foundation has since filled its quota of jumpers, but a spokeswoman was grateful to those who got knitting. “It went viral last year,” she said. “The response was incredible and we’re very grateful to the thousands of knitters from across the world who generously contributed their time, effort and cute home-made penguin knitwear to the cause.”

Ms Burkinshaw, who knits most days, will return to knitting booties and beanies for premature babies and newborns as part of a CWA project. “I’ve been knitting for the hospitals for about 20 years,” Ms Burkinshaw said. Ms Burkinshaw has knitted since she was 20 years old.

She once lived on a farm at Wauberrima, near Galore in the Riverina, breeding her own coloured sheep. She spun and weaved her own wool and has been knitting for the CWA for 61 years. “I used to compete in handicraft competitions through the CWA – I don’t compete anymore,” she said. “I’ve won a lot of prizes over the years.”


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