WHEN it was suggested to seasoned knitter Lena Mitchell she should knit jumpers for penguins, she just laughed.
But now the sprightly 102-year-old has created more than 18 cosy coats for stricken birds who have been caught up in oil spills.
A volunteer at Lyndoch encouraged Mrs Mitchell to knit the multi-coloured jackets.
“It amused me when she asked if I had any jackets for penguins,” Mrs Mitchell said.
“They go to wherever the oil slicks are. Some of the penguins get so sick when they try to clean themselves.”
Mrs Mitchell lives in the low-care residence at Lyndoch Living and is independent for her age. Since learning to knit at five, she hasn’t stopped and said the penguin jackets don’t take too long to finish.
“There’s nothing to them,” she said.
“I can run one up in about five hours.”
She also knits baby jackets for her great, great grandchildren and friends, as well as donating woollen jumpers to underprivileged children.
She keeps in touch with family who live in Queensland via Skype and email on her iPad.
Mrs Mitchell arrived in Sydney from Yorkshire, England in 1964.
She came to Warrnambool and immediately noticed the friendliness of the town.
“As soon as we got off the train from Melbourne people were asking to help us with our luggage,” she said.
When asked about her secret to longevity Mrs Mitchell said: “I don’t think there is one. It depends a lot on your genes.”
She plans to continue knitting the jackets for the penguins for as long as she can.
“As long as they keep bringing me the wool I’ll keep knitting,” she said.