INTREPID wool spinner Marion Wheatland has returned home to Australia with all her fingers and toes after spinning wool for six hours among the penguins and seals in Antarctica to raise money for restoring Mawson’s Huts.
Ms Wheatland spun wool on the ice as part of her plan to make a replica of explorer Sir Douglas Mawson’s balaclava.
She practised in coolrooms and on Mount Hotham in Victoria to prepare for the feat, but was not in risk of frostbite, arriving in “warm” 0 degree Celsius weather at Cape Denison in Antarctica.
“I didn’t have to wear my hat or my gloves and had my parka open.
“Normally it is minus 15 degrees,” she said.
“We had a couple of days of no wind.”
She said she chatted with a friendly penguin for about 10 minutes while spinning wool outside the hut.
“It was just a great experience – when I came home I cried for two days.”
Ms Wheatland said she spun all the wool she needed for the replica balaclava on the ice, skeining and plying the wool on the return trip. The completed replica balaclava will be auctioned in December at a Mawson’s Huts Foundation dinner in Hobart. December 2011 marks the 100 year anniversary of the Australian Antarctic Expedition of 1911.
But until then Ms Wheatland is undertaking a series of speaking engagements in three states to describe her trip and raise money for restoration of the huts. She was willing to share her experiences with any spinning group. Ms Wheatland can be contacted on on her spinning website www.spinningayarn.com.au .