Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Red Dawn of the Penguins

Penguin Dance from Patons Young at Heart, 1988

Ah, the 1980s. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was a time of boom boxes and breakdancing. As this sweater clearly demonstrates, penguins were at the forefront of this dance craze. In fact, some of Michael Jackson’s best moves were stolen from these party hearty penguins! This is why, to this day, Michael’s music sales in Antarctica are so low.

But this decade wasn’t totally tubular for our flightless friends. Their communist past made them penguins non grata in Ronald Reagan’s America. Most penguins moved back to Antarctica, but a small group of radicalized penguins supported the failed Soviet invasion of Colorado in 1984. As a result, all penguins remaining in the United States are now behind bars.

For the complete pattern (and more snark!):

Penguin Dance

Two 4½ mm (U.S. 7) and two 6 mm (U.S. 10) knitting needles or whichever needles you require to produce the tension given below.

TENSION: 15 sts and 20 rows = 4 ins (10 cm) with 6 mm needles in stocking st.
The 1980s were a tense time during the Cold War. When the United States was given permission to test cruise missiles in Cold Lake, Alberta, protests broke out across Canada.
The instructions are written for small size. Any changes necessary for medium size (M) and large size (L) are written in brackets thus: ( ).

Note: Wind small balls of the colours to be used, one for each separate area of colour in the design. Start new colours at appropriate points. To change colours, twist the two colours around each other where they meet, on wrong side, to avoid a hole.
In fact, this dancing penguin sweater was designed by Canadian protesters as a deliberate slap in the face to the commie-bashing, penguin-jailing Americans.
FRONT: **With red and 4 ½ mm needles cast on 65 sts (M – 73 sts) (L – 81 sts).

1st row: (Right side). K1. *P1. K1. Repeat from * to end of row.
2nd row: P 1. *K1. Repeat from * to end of row.

Repeat these 2 rows (K1. P1) ribbing for 3 ins (8 cm) ending with right side facing for next row and increasing 11 sts evenly across last row. 76 sts on needle (M – 84 sts) (L – 92 sts). **

Change to 6 mm needles and work chart VII in stocking st to end of chart reading knit rows from right to left and purl rows from left to right noting front neck shaping. (Chart VII shown on page 23).

Note how the chart specifies that the background be red – the favourite colour of the Red Dawn penguin terrorists! Coincidence? I think not!
BACK: Work from ** to ** as given for front.

Change to 6 mm needles and work chart VII in stocking st to end of chart reading knit rows from left to right and purl rows from right to left omitting all reference to penguins.
Omitting all penguin references on the back of this sweater was a last minute attempt by Patons to protect themselves from accusations of supporting penguin terrorism.
SLEEVES: With red and 4½ mm needles cast on 33 sts (M – 33 sts) (L – 37 sts) and work 2 ½ ins (6 cm) in (K1.P1) ribbing as given for front, ending with right side facing for next row and increasing 11 sts evenly across last row. 44 sts on needle (M – 44 sts) (L – 48 sts)

Change to 6 mm needles and work chart VIII in stocking st to end of chart reading knit rows from right to left and purl rows from left to right. (Chart VIII shown on page 22).

Work duplicate stitch on all pieces of garment as illustrated. (See diagram in helpful hints on page 32).
If you don't know duplicate stitch, you are clearly a spy for the penguins!
NECKBAND: Sew right shoulder seam.

With right side of work facing, white and 4½ mm needles, pick up and knit 14 sts down left front neck edge. Pick up and knit 16 sts across centre front neck edge. Pick up and knit 14 sts up right front neck edge. Pick up and knit 29 sts across back neck edge. 73 sts on needle.

Beginning and ending on a 2nd row, work 2½ ins (6 cm) in (K1.P1) ribbing as given for front. Cast off loosely in ribbing. Sew left shoulder and neckband seam. Fold neckband in half to wrong side and sew loosely in position.

TO MAKE UP: Sew in sleeves between markers. Sew side and sleeve seams. Do not press.
There is no making up with penguin terrorists! Never forget the sacrifice of the brave Wolverines!

Even now, the Penguin Red Dawn is hiding in Venice, waiting for their chance to strike again!

Okay, maybe they’re not hiding.

Click here for the printable pattern.


  1. Are they dancing to 'Use your flippers to get down" by The Presets?

  2. All these penguin posts got me thinking about the original Batman penguin and then I went on YouTube looking at clips and then I found this:

    Nothing to do with penguins but still so very funny.

  3. Anony - I'm not very familiar with Australian bands (except for Men at Work, of course!), and a search didn't turn up any Presets songs with flippers. Inquiring minds want a YouTube link, please!

    Kim - Long time fan of Batman! That link was hysterical - loved the rubber shark. And actually, that led me over to Robin's Puberty, which was also hilarious. But the Robin Sex Change clip was way too disturbing.

  4. Apparently I don't know my Australian bands all that well either! Flippers is actually by Art vs Science. I'm a bit of a goose! (Also, check out their hilarious video for Parlez vous Francais, it won awards [the words are a bit sleazy though] )

  5. Anony - Thank you for the links, Art vs. Science is fun, especially Parlez Vous Francais. However, the Flippers song is definitely a tune to breakdance to!

    That said, I don't think Art vs. Science holds a candle to one of our Canadian Bands - the Arrogant Worms. I may be a tad biased.

    Judge for yourself!