Scarf, Hat, Cool-Tie Project Details: Materials, Size, Patterns

SWTHANK YOU for your interest in our “Handmade with Love” programs to support troops, veterans, new recruits, wounded warriors and emergency first responders!

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 Scarves for Troops Program:

When does Operation Gratitude need scarves and hats to send to the troops?
We accept scarves and hats year-round. 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). 

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 PATTERNSthere 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 volunteers 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? HandmadewithLove
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:

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 asap. 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 a completed Donation Form in each box 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 Appreciationsmall 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
21100 Lassen Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311

ATTN: Donations/Angel Cuevas

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:

Operation Gratitude
P.O. Box 260257
Encino, California 91426-0257

Or make a tax deductible donation online here: DONATE HERE 

For information about additional ways to help, please start here: Help Make More Smiles No Matter Where You Live

Visit our hand-made with love Pinterest board: Scarves, Hats, Cool-Ties & Bracelets

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 feelfree to contact us at


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.


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).
Begin decrease:
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:
  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
• Scissors
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 us:

Thank you!

About Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude annually sends 150,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment, hygiene and hand-made items, plus personal letters of appreciation to Veterans, New Recruits, First Responders, Wounded Warriors, Care Givers and to individually named U.S. Service Members deployed overseas. Our mission is to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of our Active Duty and Veteran communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for all Americans to say "Thank You" to members of our Military. Each package contains donated product valued at $75-100 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude volunteers have shipped more than One Million Care Packages.
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96 Responses to Scarf, Hat, Cool-Tie Project Details: Materials, Size, Patterns

  1. Mary Hazzard says:

    Infinity scarves, or cowls are popular around my area. I have made them no longer in drop
    than 48 inches. Would such a scarf be acceptable?

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  8. Barbara A. Mills Sun City West, AZ says:

    4/9/2015 I am crocheting scarves for the troops! When do I need to have them sent to you?
    Barbara Mills

  9. Jodi Erickson says:

    What’s your policy on loom knitted projects? A lot of charities don’t accept them, since the gauge can be looser than with regular knitting.

  10. Jennifer Gough says:

    I would like to participate, but I have a concern. When my boyfriend was in Afghanistan, they received a box of handmade hats. The soldiers were not allowed to wear them because they didn’t comply with uniform standards. The whole box was tossed in the trash. My bf treasures the one he managed to save. Does your organization have assurances that the items donated are actually received and used by troops?

    • Jennifer, thanks for your interest in participating! The scarves and hats we send are meant to be gifts from home. This message is from Carolyn Blashek, Founder of Operation Gratitude:

      “The importance of the scarves in our packages is to send the very warm and loving message that people at home care enough to take the time and effort to make something as beautiful as a scarf. Our scarves, hats, etc. are not ‘regulation,’ so they can only be worn by the troops during their moments of rest and when they go home. Nevertheless, the message they send is enduring. 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.”

      Find more info here:

      Thank you again! If you have more questions, please let us know! –

  11. C. says:

    Is this group still functioning and if so, are the above patterns still pertinent?

  12. anne barone says:

    love your ideas….hope i don’t loose the directions……not good with computers…..83 years young

  13. Caroline Heltzel says:

    Do you collect donations for yarn for people to make them? Also when can I make them and send them in?

  14. Jodi Banks says:

    I see the types of scarves that are wanted. My question is if you can make cowls for them? Not a multi wrap cowl, but a pull over the head one. I would like to start making items for the troops, but I don’t want to make things that they can’t have.

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  20. Stephanie says:

    Our church group is planning to make about 200 Cool Ties to ship to your wonderful organization.

    Could you please confirm that you will be accepting them again from March-May of 2014?

    Thank you so much,

    Stephanie (Oakton, VA)

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  22. Karen D. says:

    Would like to participate, but need more information on the size of the hook used for crocheting scarves for the troops. Any idea how much yarn would be involved would help. Anything else I could create for the troops by crocheting would be appreciated.

  23. Grams Rose says:

    This is a wonderful program! Had no idea there was a place to send these!
    Will be making and sharing. Notifying all friends who crochet too.

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  29. Tannis Atchison says:

    This may be a completely stupid question…. But, I am a Canadian, IN Canada… I was wondering if I was allowed to send some crocheting to your troops as well…..

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  46. Patti Asmus says:

    I am new to this program and am starting to make scarves to send for next year. I will have them washed but need to know if there is a certain way that they should be packaged? Thanks!

  47. Debbie Alexander says:

    I have a lot of yarn that could be used for your project. However, I can’t make anything that would be recognizable so wanted to know if you have anyone close to Ok that would use it for your cause..

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  51. Kelly says:

    I thought I’d stop in here to tell everyone about the scares I have made. I completed my 600th just 5 days ago, and I have done 20 more since then. I’m still hoping to reach my 1000 mark, but time is running out :(

    Hope everyone else is cranking out a whole bunch of them!!

    • THANK YOU so very much, Kelly! What an accomplishment! We appreciate your hard work and generosity — and we know the troops who receive your gifts in our care packages will, too! Thank you again!

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  55. Sue Totten says:

    Saw a clip on TV last year about a woman who had been making scarves for our soldiers since WWII. Wow! I took note of your web site and have now been knitting scarves since November of 2010.

  56. MARIE says:

    I would like to knit for our soldiers. I am not very computer -literate, so don’t know how to get involved or do whatever you would like me to do.

  57. Kelly South says:

    I found out about Operation Gratitude way too late to make scarves for last year, but started the day after Christmas for 2011. I knew I was going to do this, so I asked my family and friends for yarn for the holidays, and WOW did they respond! They gave me almost 30 pounds of yarn, and I am whipping through it. Since I began, I have made 112 scarves, and 15 hats!!!

    I am hoping for 1,000 by the time this year’s packages are sent, and am getting yarn from so many wonderful people, it just warms my heart. I just wonder where I’m going to store them all LOL!!!

    • Sheri S. says:


      1,000 scarves–what a wonderful idea! One question though–how are you going to send all those scarves to Operation Gratitude?


      Sheri S.

      • Kelly says:


        Delivering the scarves will be the easy part. I live just 45 minutes from the armory, and have a pickup truck to carry them all, so I’ll be delivering them in person. I also have a couple of friends that will allow me to store the scarves in their garages until it’s time to deliver them, so at least I don’t have to worry aout storage any more.

        BTW, I completed my 300th scarf on the 28th of March. So, I am right on track to hit my 1000 scarf goal!!

  58. Lisa says:

    First of, thank you for this organization and making it possible for so many of make items with love for our service personnel!

    You say above that “It is important that you keep your scarves within our size restrictions (5-7” across and 48-50” long) so they fit into our care packages”. Can they be smaller though? I have a new yarn I bought where one skein made a scarf that is 5 1/2″ by 42″. Is this too small? Thank you so much for your feedback! :)

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  60. Audra Powell says:

    The college I go to (Mary Baldwin College) put out a newsletter talking about ways in which we could donate or volunteer our time; one of which was writing letters to our troops. I took the ideal and kind of ran with it. I spoke with our school chaplain and a few of my freinds. We are going to start making scarfs now for the next winter. I am going tomorrow to Michaels to see if they will donate some yarn for me. My plan is for myself to have made 500 scarfs by the end of the summer. Please if you have any information about businesses that will donate yarn let me know. This is going to be a huge part of my life and I want it to succeed full force. I am also including a one page pre-written generic message about myslef with every scarf along with a small handwritten letter. I would love advice and help!

  61. Nicole B from, Minnesota says:

    My Grandma and I are from Minnesota. When we learn ed for a older lady that we could make hats and sacrves for the Troops we got started making the scarves and hats and we are supper exited to making hats and scaves. She is teaching me how to make then, so I am learning something and helping someone out, that is helping our country.

    Nicole age 20
    Grandma Mary

  62. Scarf says:

    Hmm, maybe my relatives and friends would appreciate the thought and effort of me actually making a scarf for them, since I’m practically bad at all those crafty stuff. :(

  63. minnie serure says:


  64. mary says:

    It was my understanding the caps are worn UNDER the helmets, so no one sees them or knows they are being worn. I was told at Ft Bragg the guys deploying fight over them. As long as that is the case, I will keep on knitting them. I also have a great pattern for a balaklava (like a ski mask), but the brass won’t let them wear those, for obvious reasons: it was suggested initially because they keep the whole face warm.

  65. mary says:

    I have an easier pattern: cast on 88 stitches. Knit straight k1, p1, for 6 rows. You can also do k2, p2. Place marker, knit in stockinette stitch for 5 “. Decrease as follows: k6, k2tog, to end of row. Knit next row. K5, k2tog. Knit next row. K4, k2tog. Knit. K3,k2tog. Knit. K2, k2tog. Knit. K1, k1tog. If you can, k2tog around stitches that are left. About this time, it gets hard to handle, so I cut a long tail of yarn, and using a large yarn needle, run the tail through all the stitches and pull tight. Sew around the opening with the yarn tail, then weave the end in. Go back to beginning, and use yarn tail to sew together the ribbing that was knitted straight, using mattress stitch. Weave in any and all ends. Easy to keep track of stitches, as it is 88, then 77, then 66, then 55, etc., as you decrease.

    • susan says:

      Mary, this sounds like a great, easy pattern. I’m going to try it. Thanks! I hope to make a lot of hats and scarves for our troops. I love to knit and crochet. What is the mattress stitch?

  66. Mary Ann Weddngton says:

    Just learned of this scarf project so am a little late for this year but will begin now to make scarves for next year. such a great idea. I made and sent a scarf to my grandson when he was serving in Iraq with the 3rd Marines and he loved it. I currently makescarves for the special olympics winter games They are so easy and fun to do. Thanks so much for this wonderful project. Keep up the good work.

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  70. I have been making scarfs for people to bless them for years, so I’m very excited to contribe any way I can….

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  74. i know that the government is not going to let the guys wear the stocking caps that are homemade any longer — how is this going to affect the scarves and other knitted items- will they still be accepted? thank you, alice greenleaf

    • The importance of the scarves in our packages is to send a very warm, loving message that people at home care enough to take the time and effort to make something as beautiful as a scarf. Our scarves, hats etc are not “regulation,” so they can only be worn by the troops during their moments of rest and when they go home. Nevertheless, the message is enduring.

      • JANET ANGEHR says:

        If the scarves can only be worn at rest (offduty) why can’t we make them in bright colors to add cheerry color to the lives of our men and women fighting for us. I have been asked this by a number of the ladies who help me make scarves. Thank you, Janet

      • Some troops still have restrictions about what they’re allowed to wear off-duty, but while we suggest the neutral colors, we will take scarves of any color as long as they fit in our size requirements. THANK YOU so much for your care and concern for the troops!

  75. Pingback: IT’S A WIN-WIN FOR OPERATION GRATITUDE, CRAFTERS & OUR TROOPS! | Operation Gratitude Blog

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