More than just a tale to spin

Marion Wheatland is heading to the Antarctic, where she plans to spin wool outside Sir Douglas Mawson's huts. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.

Marion Wheatland is heading to the Antarctic, where she plans to spin wool outside Sir Douglas...
Marion Wheatland is heading to the Antarctic, where she plans to spin wool outside Sir Douglas Mawson's huts. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
When the cruise ship Orion left the Otago harbour for the Antarctic region yesterday, it carried one passenger on an unusual mission.

Melbourne woman Marion Wheatland (53) is taking a spinning wheel to the icy continent, and plans to spin wool outside the huts of Australian Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson.

Her plan is to use the yarn she produces on the ice to knit a replica of the balaclava worn by Mawson, a balaclava shown in his likeness on the Australian $100 note.

The replica will be auctioned next year to help raise money to help save Mawson's huts at Cape Denison.

Mawson was an expedition leader during the heroic age of Antarctic exploration, and undertook an expedition in 1912 in which his two travelling companions died.

Mawson's Hut, the Antarctic. Photo: National Library of Australia
Mawson's Hut, the Antarctic. Photo: National Library of Australia
In Dunedin yesterday, Ms Wheatland said her trip was made possible by money left to her when her father died three years ago.

He was a history teacher, and the trip would help honour his memory, she said.

The spinning wheel, made by a Tauranga company, was given to her yesterday, and its makers said the rubber drive band would operate in temperatures of up to -20degC for at least half an hour.

Those sorts of temperatures were a major challenge, and Ms Wheatland, who runs a yarn spinning company in Melbourne, spent time in a cool room at -18degC before leaving on the trip, to prepare for the experience.

Spinners needed to feel the wool going through their fingers, she said.

Douglas Mawson
Douglas Mawson
"I'll have to spin with gloves on.

"I trained my fingers to feel the fibre through the gloves."

Ms Wheatland said she planned to give talks on her experience after the 19-day trip, and would then auction the balaclava with the help of the Mawson's Huts Foundation, based in Sydney, which is raising funds to help save the huts.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

 

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