Help a penguin out and knit him a sweater

By Amy Lyn Kench

I simply adore penguins. If I could have one as a pet, I totally would. So,when I saw this request by The Penguin Foundation for tiny pullover sweaters, I just had to do a little write up about it. I’m not a knitter, but this really makes me want to learn how.

penguin in sweaterThe Penguin Foundation has posted a global shout-out for knitters to make pullover sweaters for penguins in rehab.

Penguins caught in oil spills need the little jumpers to keep warm and to stop them from trying to clean the toxic oil off with their beaks.

Did you know that a patch of oil the size of an adult thumbnail can kill a little penguin? Oil separates and mats feathers, allowing water to get in which makes a penguin very cold, heavy and less able to successfully hunt for food leading to hypothermia and starvation. Many penguins attempt to clean (preen) their feathers and die after swallowing the poisonous oil.

How do rescue crews treat penguins effected by oil spills?

Staff and registered volunteers at Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Australia are trained in the handling and rescue of oiled penguins. Rescued penguins are taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, where the oil is washed from their feathers using warm water and detergent. Some penguins may require several washes to completely remove the oil.

Knitted jumpers are placed on oiled penguins to keep them warm and prevent them from preening their feathers and swallowing the toxic oil. Once the penguins are back to a healthy weight and their feathers are waterproof they are released back into the wild.

penguin knitting pattern

For many years the Penguin Foundation and Phillip Island Nature Parks have received donations of knitted penguin jumpers from kind and enthusiastic volunteers around the world. Click here for more information

Please send finished jumpers to:

“Knits for Nature”
Phillip Island Nature Parks
Reply Paid 97
Cowes, Victoria 3922

How to Create a Tessellation Quilt

tesselation quilt tutorial
mc escher angels and demons
Circle Limit IV: Angels and demons by M.C. Escher (1960)

A tessellation is like a puzzle where the same shape is repeated to cover a surface, with no gaps and no overlays.

Many tessellations are simple shapes like triangles, squares and hexagons, but some more difficult versions take the form of animals like birds, fish, and frogs. M.C. Escher was the master of tessellations. My favorite is Circle Limit IV: Angels and demons.

Because quilts are a surface that is covered by small pieces of cloth, tessellations are a well-explored way to make a quilt pattern.

SUPPLIES: Square piece of paper, pencil, scissors, tape, at least two different colors of fleece/felt, sewing machine or hand needle and thread, backing fabric.

thin black line

tesselation quilt tutorialSTEP 1:

Draw a line from one side of the paper to the other and a second line from the top of the paper to the bottom.

STEP 2: Label each corner and cut the paper apart on the lines.

thin black line

tesselation quilt tutorialSTEP 3:

Rearrange the pieces so the corners are in the center. Tape the pieces together on the back to create your tessellation shape.  Trace this shape onto another piece of paper and see how your cut out shape will fit into the drawn shape like a puzzle.

thin black line

tesselation quilt tutorialSTEP 4:

Trace the tessellation shape onto a piece of fleece or felt. Use this single piece as your pattern to cut out the rest of your tessellation shapes. Pinning fabric to fabric is much easier than using that paper tessellation shape.

thin black line

tesselation quilt tutorial


Lay out your backing fabric. I like to back my quilts with fleece and leave out the batting so it’s only two layers rather than three. Arrange your tessellation pieces on the backing fabric, alternating colors.

Note: If you do choose to use batting, you would lay out the backing, then lay over your batting, then arrange your tessellation pieces.

thin black line

tesselation quilt tutorial


Pin the shapes to the backing fabric, fitting them together like a puzzle. Stitch down using the pressure foot as a guide.

Hand Stitching Method

I used writing this tutorial as a challenge to myself to completely hand sewn a quilt. I laid out my shapes as in step five then sewed together a strip of four shapes. The top photo shows the layout, the second the pieces stitched together.

Next I sewed each strip to the one above it creating two joined rows.  I then positioned the block to the backing fleece and started quilting the layers together.

thin black line

STEP 7: 

Finish the edges of your quilt in your favorite manner.


This turned into a much bigger project than I anticipated. Once I started stitching and adding embellishments I just kept adding more and more. The small wall hanging I designed turned into a lap quilt which included not only the tessellation pattern but some hand sewn flowers as well.

tessellation quilt

How To: Faux Batik Using Washable Glue

faux batik

I had tried to make my own batik fabric years ago using the traditional hot wax and dye method. Let’s just say (ouch) it wasn’t pretty. This glue method does take a bit more time with having to wait for the glue to dry, but it’s safe for any age to give it a try.

Finished Glue Batik Fabric
Finished Glue Batik Fabric


Waxed paper

Cardboard for inside of clothes

Fabric or piece of clothing to “batik”

Washable glue

Fabric paint or dye


I have experimented with different types of washable glue:

Worst: Tacky fabric glue has been my least favorite. It did go on nice and thick but the lines shrank when drying so I ended up super thin with barely any distinction between colors. Also, it didn’t soften up nicely like the other glues in water so there was a lot of picking and scrapping to get the glue off the fabric.

Best: Elmer’s Blue Glue. This glue dried super fast in the same shape I squirted onto the fabric so there was no shrinkage of lines. To remove the glue I simply soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes, gently rubbed the fabric and the glue was gone.

Fabric before and after 1st Gluing
Fabric before and after 1st Gluing

In this tutorial the glue I used is white washable glue because I got 4 bottles for a buck at the dollar store. They worked great! There was no line shrinkage but it took over a day for the glue to dry completely and had to soak for a good hour before the glue was soft enough to rub off. But, it was cheap money and it got the job done.

The fabric is actually a skirt that I cut up. It had a broken zipper and torn hem but I really loved the print.

Step 1. Cover your work surface with waxed paper and insert cardboard into clothing. Lay out your fabric or garment and draw your shapes with washable glue onto the pieces. You can make totally random shapes, trace around something, or make an actual drawing. Let dry completely.

painted fabric

Step 2. Paint or dye your clothes and/or fabric. As you can see from my photo on the right, I just randomly splattered and splotched different colors onto my fabric. I used oranges, golds, browns and reds since I’m going for a leaf, summer turns to fall, kind of theme. Let paint dry thoroughly.

Also, since the fabric I used was really thin I torn up a pair of jeans and laid them under the green fabric before painting. I knew the paint would soak through onto the waxed paper and rather than waste that paint, I used the denim to soak it up. The waxed paper is still under the denim fabric to protect my work surface..

Fabric after washing off glue
Fabric after washing off glue

Step 3. Soak the fabric or clothes in warm water to soften the glue. Once the glue is soft, rub to remove the glue from the fabric. Let the fabric dry and then iron to set the fabric paint.

As you can see the fabric, where I squirted the glue, is clearly visible after washing off the glue.  You could be done now or take it to the next level like I did.

glue batik 4I wanted to add some detail to my leaves so I used black fabric paint to outline them. My son Sam told me it looked like green leaves floating in a sea of lava. Since that wasn’t really the look I was going for, I decided to add another layer of glue.

Adding more green leaves
Adding more green leaves

So, I repeated the gluing process. Making more leaf shapes over deep red and gold splotches Then once the glue was dried I added some more green leaves.

I let the paint dry, again. Soaked the pieces in warm water, again. Dried and ironed, again. Then added the fine details in black. I supposed I could have just left the fabric as is without the black as traditional batik is done. But, I like the look of bold black lines.