Nothing expresses respect and “thank you” quite like an item made with love. Our recipients are always deeply touched by your efforts. We send ~100,000 care packages each year and like to include a handmade item in every package!
Here are answers to the questions we are most often asked about our knitting/crocheting project for the troops.
When does Operation Gratitude need scarves and hats to send to the troops?
We accept scarves and hats from September through early-December each year. Our final packing day for the Holiday (winter) Drive is in mid-December. No items of warmth are sent during our spring/summer Patriotic Drive, as we concentrate on “beating-the-heat” cool-ties during that drive (see pattern below; please send your cool-ties March-May). Due to lack of storage space at the armory during the summer months, we ask that you please hold onto your knit scarves and hats until the fall and send them to us September through December only! Please keep knitting/crocheting all year though!
Is there a pattern for the scarves and hats?
There is no specific pattern that we ask you to follow so feel free to use your own — or try one of these PATTERNS…there are more below, too (scroll down). We do recommend that you keep them simple and perhaps use slightly larger needles (sizes 11-13 are good) so more scarves can be made! If you would like, please feel free to use one of the patterns posted below.
What size should the scarves and hats be?
It is important that you keep your scarves within our size restrictions (5-6” across and about 48” long) so they fit into our care packages. No fringe please (except perhaps a small amount for fleece scarves). There are no size restrictions for the hats, but we recommend that you use a human head as a model!
What colors should we use?
While we accept any color, it is best to keep the colors on the subtle side–blues, browns, olives, grays, maroon, and black would all be excellent choices for both males and females. The troops always appreciate military colors.
What fibers are acceptable?
We will accept scarves and hats made from wool, acrylics, or non-flammable fleece materials. Try to avoid scratchy fibers, since the items will be worn next to their skin. The softer the better! Due to potential allergies and/or Military uniform restrictions, please list the fiber content on your “Made With Love” note that you attach to the scarf (see next paragraph). To be clear: We get a lot of inquiries regarding acceptable fiber for the scarves. Please know that the scarves and hats we send are gifts. We take ALL types of scarves, made from whatever fibers our volunteer knitters care to use. The service members often wear the scarves and hats we send while they are off-duty.
Should I attach a letter or note?
Definitely! We want all hand-made items to include a short note and an e-mail or mailing address so that the troops can respond, if they have time. A brief note is very important and will make your gift even more special for the recipient. It could be as simple as “Hand-made with love” OR a note or letter telling him/her about yourself—whatever you’d like! If you are uncomfortable including your own e-mail address please feel free to use ours: firstname.lastname@example.org
Will I get a letter of acknowledgment from Operation Gratitude?
Yes, we will keep track of all the scarves and hats you send or deliver to the armory, and send an acknowledgment of receipt by the end of January. For tax deduction purposes, please attach our letter to your receipts for yarn purchases (consult your tax advisor for more details). Please remember to include your name and address on each box or bag of items you send us!
How else can I support Operation Gratitude?
At this time, our most urgent need is for: Financial Donations to pay the postage and production costs on our care packages ($15/package); personal Letters of Appreciation, small plush animals (like Beanie Babies and Webkinz), handmade Paracord “Survival” Bracelets and Bandana Cool-ties.
We also welcome collections of used cell phones for recycling. For more information, please click: Recycling for Troops
Please send ALL items (handmade and other) to:
Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
ATTN: SCARVES FOR TROOPS
IMPORTANT: Please include a Donation Form in every box you send: DONATION FORM.
Tax-Deductible Financial donations!
Any amount you are able to send will be greatly appreciated. Every care package costs $15 to assemble and ship. Please send checks only (packages cannot be accepted at this address and will be RETURNED) to:
16444 Refugio Road
Encino, CA 91436
or donate online here: DONATE HERE (monetary donations are tax-deductible)!
For information about letter writing and additional ways to help, please request flyers: email@example.com
Stock up on sale yarns!
See www.mycraftcoupons.com for money-saving coupons.
Finally: Please spread the good word – to senior centers, Girl Scout troops, yarn shops, craft websites, bloggers–anyone who would like to help with our “hand-made” projects and show their appreciation to our troops! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kelly at Opgratscarves@gmail.com
See pattern instructions below.
Thank you very much for your thoughtfulness and consideration of Operation Gratitude’s patriotic cause. You will be putting smiles on the faces of tens of thousands of service members during a very difficult time away from home and loved ones. They and we will be forever grateful.
Instructions for COOL TIES (great to do with a friend or a “team!”):
You will find your own rhythm and best methods, but this system works for some people:
Cut strips of fabric about 6 1/2 inches wide, with the length measurement being the width from selvage to selvage. Sew a small width end, then turn 90 degrees and sew along the whole length side (1/4 inch margin), leaving the last short width end open. Then, turn it inside out and iron the creases. Then, sew (about 13 inches) up from the closed end, across the thin width. Add in the crystals, IMPORTANT to make sure they all slide all the way down to the seam. Sew across the thin width again to make a pocket for the crystals. Last, close the final open thin width end, by tucking in the edges and sewing across.
For more information and to order the polymer beads:
Instructions for Crochet Scarf:
To start crocheting, you need to make a chain stitch. Tie a loop in the yarn end, and place the crochet needle in the loop. With the needle, loop the yarn around the needle once and pull through the starting loop. That’s chain 1. Loop the yarn around the needle again, pulling it through the loop that is on the needle, that’s chain 2. Continue until you have the amount of chains you need.
Single crochet (SC) is the same motion, only now you have a chain to connect to. So the first SC will occur by putting the needle through the back loop of the last chain that you just completed, loop the yarn around the needle, pull through the back loop. Now you have 2 loops on the needle. Then, loop the yarn around the needle and pull through both loops on the needle, leaving 1 loop on the needle. Insert the needle in the next chain back loop). Loop the yarn around the needle and pull through, leaving 2 loops on the needle. Loop yarn around needle, pull through both loops, leaving 1 loop on the needle. Continue. Chain 1 at the end of each row to allow for the next row up.
The easy stitch that I use is single crochet. If I want to crochet lengthwise, I will chain 120 stitches. (that gives me about 42″ long. I crochet loosely, so if you are just starting, you may crochet a little more tighter and may want to measure for length) Then, turn and SC in first chain, but only in the back loop. Continue across to the last chain. Chain 1 (allows for the next row up), turn, and single crochet in first stitch,( back loop only) continuing to last stitch. Chain 1, turn. Continue for several rows until it measures 5-7″ wide.
Crocheting in the back loop gives a ridged pattern
To crochet for width, I do the same thing, starting with 15-16 chains to give me 5-7″ (measure, depending on the size of your stitch). Turn, crochet in the first chain,( back loop only), across to the end. Chain 1 (allows for the next row up) turn, and crochet in first stitch,( back loop only), across to the end. Chain 1, turn. Continue until the length becomes 50″ long.
SIMPLE KNIT GARTER STITCH SCARF:
Using a “bulky” yarn, often indicated by the number “5″ on the label, cast on 14 stitches using size 13 needles. Be sure to cast on loosely so the stitches don’t pull. Work in garter stitch (knit all stitches) for the entire length of the scarf until the yarn is almost gone; bind off loosely. Weave in ends to finish. Finished scarf will be approx 5-1/2″ wide and approximately 46″ in length.
Simple Knit Ribbed Scarf — Let the yarn do the work.
Size: Approximately 48″-50″” Long and 5” Wide
Approximately 300 yards of worsted medium weight yarn (16-20 stitches over 4 inches).
Size US 9 needles (or size recommended by yarn).
Scissors and tapestry needle to trim sew in ends.
Gauge: 4-5 stitches/inch
Cast on 32 stitches.
Every Row: K2 P2
Continue until scarf is 48″-50” long.
Bind off loosely.
Remember — no fringe!
Instructions for knitted hat:
-Size 7 or 8 double point needles (or size to obtain gauge) NOTE: If you knit with loose or medium tension, size 7 needles will make a snug, close-fitting hat, perfect for everyday wear and to fit well under a helmet. Use size 8 needles if your tension is tight.
-One stitch marker.
Gauge:4.5 st/in. in St stitch.
With circular needle, cast on 90 stitches. Being careful not to twist the cast on stitches, place stitch marker and join row together.
Rows 1-3: K1, P1 ribbing.
Row 4: Increasing 1 stitch in first stitch, knit around – 91 sts. Continue knitting every round for 4″ above ribbing. (Do not include the edge ribbing in the measurement).
Round 1: (K11, k2tog) 7 times – 84 sts
Round 2: Knit
Round 3: (K10, k2tog) 7 times – 77 sts
Round 4: Knit
Round 5: (K9, k2tog) 7 times – 70 sts
Round 6: Knit
Round 7: (K8, k2tog) 7 times – 63 sts
Round 8: Knit
Round 9: (K7, k2tog) 7 times – 56 sts
Round 10: Knit
Round 11: (K6, k2tog) 7 times – 49 sts
Round 12: Knit
(Switch to double pointed needles when rows become tight.)
Round 13: (K5, k2tog) 7 times – 42 sts
Round 14: Knit
Round 15: (K4, k2tog) 7 times – 35 sts
Round 16: (K3, k2tog) 7 times – 28 sts
Round 17: (K2, k2tog) 7 times – 21 sts
Round 18: (K1, k2tog) 7 times – 14 sts
Round 19: (k2tog) 7 times – 7 sts
Cut yarn, leaving a 6” tail. Thread tail through remaining 7 sts. Pull tight and secure.
Instructions for Crochet Hat:
Materials: Any soft worsted weight 100% washable or superwash wool yarn that will knit to gauge, such as Cascade 220 Superwash or equivalent.
Size G or H crochet hook or any size to obtain gauge.
Sizes: Average Adult
Gauge: 7sts. = 2”.
Pattern Stitch: Half Double Crochet (hdc).
Chain loosely 71 sts Join with slip st., hdc in 2nd ch from hook and each ch around, (70 hdc), join with slip st in first hdc., ch.1.
Next Row: Work 1hdc in each hdc around, join with slip st in 1st st, ch1. Repeat last row until hat is 4 1/2” above starting ch.
Decrease Row: * Work 1hdc in next 5hdc, pull up hdc loops in each of next 2 sts (6 loops on hook ), yo and draw thru all 6 loops, (1 st decreased). Repeat from * around row. (10 sts., decreased.
Next Row: Work 1hdc in each hdc around
2nd Decrease Row: * Work 1hdc in first 4 hdc, work 1 dec in next 2 sts. Repeat from * around row.
Next Row: Work 1hdc in each hdc around.
Repeat last 2 rows, working 1 st less between decrease sts each decrease round, with last dec row worked on every 2 sts. Fasten off, pull tail of yarn thru to under side and tuck in, repeat for starting yarn tail.
Instructions for Fleece Scarves
What you’ll need:
• ½ yard fleece fabric
• Sewing machine
• Thread to match fabric color
How to make it:
1. Cut two pieces of fleece equal in length and width. Length will determine how long your scarf will be.
2. Lay the two equal pieces with the right sides (the side that has the pattern on it) facing in each other.
3. Leaving approximately a ¼” seam, sew the full length of the scarf. Repeat on the other side. You will end up with a long tube of fabric with open ends.
4. Using a pair of scissors, cut the fringe by cutting ½” wide slits about 4” up from each end.
5. Turn scarf inside out so that the sewn seams are now on the inside, finished edges are on the outside.
6. Sew a running stitch along the top of the fringe to “close” the ends of the scarf.
7. Trim any loose threads and you are done!
• Half a yard of fleece will make one scarf approximately four and a half feet long. If you want a longer scarf, simply get more fabric. Ask for assistance at your favorite fabric supply store.
• Use good scissors. Cheap or old scissors that have dull blades will make this project much more difficult than it needs to be and can cause problems with cutting straight lines.
• This is a fun and inexpensive project. Ask store staff where to find the fleece that is on sale. Our scarves cost $3 to $4 each to make.
**NEW!! Instructions to SEW a Quilted Scarf
If You Can Sew Two Pieces of Fabric Together and cut in a straight line, you can make a scarf!
18 6” x 6” Squares
1 piece of 4 oz weight polyester batting 48” long by 5 ½” wide
(The 4 oz weight gives enough warmth to the scarf, but still makes it light enough to be packed and mailed. This can be bought on rolls at a width of 48” which I feel is a good length, but anywhere between 45-50” long is fine. You can cut off some excess material to match the batting length.)
1. Sew 9 squares together .
2. When machine sewing, feed them through the machine with the presser foot’s right edge aligned exactly with the right edge of the Squares. This is what is known as a ¼” seam allowance.
3. Sew another 9 squares together.
4. Take the two long strips, and put them together face to face. Then sew these together along one long edge.
5. Open the two strips and fold them back-to- back. Place the batting in between the two strips.
6. One of the strips will need to be folded over the batting so it does not stick out. Before sewing the remaining 3 sides, each piece needs to be folded in ¼ inch and pinned before sewing. If you are not good at pinning, you may want to iron the fold to stay better.
7. Now sew the end, down the long side and across the other end, with the ¼” seam allowance.
8. Be careful to remove pins as you come to them while sewing to avoid damaging your machine’s needle. Make sure you are catching both pieces of material as well as the seam fold.
9. To secure the batting so it doesn’t slide inside, sew down the length where the two strips were originally joined together. Sew where each of the squares were sewn together, sewing through all layers. (This process is also known as “stitch in the ditch”)
10. Trim the strings and your scarf is ready to go!
QUESTIONS? Please email Kelly: Opgratscarves@gmail.com