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Scarf, Hat, Cool-Tie FAQs

posted on Aug 05 2010 53 Comments

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. 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 (no larger than 5″ Wide, 36″ 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, but, please NO red-white-blue combinations.

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.

Do you have patterns I can follow?
YES, please find some here: PATTERNS: Scarves-Hats and PATTERN: Cool-Ties

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:  [email protected]

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 Appreciationsmall plush animals (like Beanie Babies and Webkinz), Hand knit/crocheted Scarves and Bandana Cool-ties.

We also welcome collections of used cell phones for recycling. For more information, please click: Recycling for Troops

Please print out this Donor Form, complete it and include a completed form in EVERY carton you send to Operation Gratitude. This form is required in order to receive an acknowledgment of receipt from us.
Please send ALL items (handmade and other) to:

Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406

Rich Hernandez: 818.469.0448

Mark on any boxes that include handmade items: SCARVES FOR TROOPS

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
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 protected]

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 [email protected]


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  2. Kym St Clair

    posted @ 02.4.2012

    Are you still in need of scarfs?? I also have some hot hand warmers I would like to give… I have my old cell phones packed!
    Also what about print cartrages?

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  6. Patti Asmus

    posted @ 12.5.2011

    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!

  7. Barbara Rottman

    posted @ 12.5.2011

    Do you need neckwarmers? I recall hearing that these are nice to keep cold and drafts out of uniforms.

  8. Debbie Alexander

    posted @ 11.29.2011

    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..

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 11.29.2011

      Thank you, Debbie! We always appreciate yarn donations — we’ll see if we can find someone in your area who could use your yarn for gifts for the troops!

  9. Lee Gates

    posted @ 11.13.2011

    Am doing crochet scarves as fast as i can…have 6 & counting. Am SO glad to have met the woman in the knit department who was making these scarves for our service people.

  10. martha

    posted @ 11.8.2011

    Are you still accepting hand knit scarves? what is the deadline for sending them in?

    • admin

      posted @ 11.10.2011

      Yes — we are. Please send by December 5, if possible. Thank you!

    • Margaret

      posted @ 11.18.2011

      Are you only accepting scarves or hats as well?

    • admin

      posted @ 11.18.2011

      Both hats and scarves — thank you!

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  14. Kelly

    posted @ 07.25.2011

    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!!

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 07.25.2011

      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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  18. Sue Totten

    posted @ 03.20.2011

    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.

  19. MARIE

    posted @ 02.28.2011

    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.

  20. Kelly South

    posted @ 02.4.2011

    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.

      posted @ 03.8.2011


      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

      posted @ 04.4.2011


      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!!

  21. Lisa

    posted @ 02.2.2011

    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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  23. Audra Powell

    posted @ 01.22.2011

    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!

  24. Nicole B from, Minnesota

    posted @ 01.20.2011

    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

  25. Scarf

    posted @ 01.3.2011

    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. 🙁

  26. minnie serure

    posted @ 12.14.2010



      posted @ 12.28.2010

      I would like to knit scarves for our boys overseas – please tell me where to send them.

  27. mary

    posted @ 12.12.2010

    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.

  28. mary

    posted @ 12.12.2010

    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

      posted @ 02.6.2011

      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?

  29. Mary Ann Weddngton

    posted @ 12.12.2010

    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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  33. Sherry Seiler

    posted @ 11.23.2010

    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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  37. Alice Greenleaf

    posted @ 08.31.2010

    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

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 09.7.2010

      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.


      posted @ 04.7.2011

      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

    • Operation Gratitude

      posted @ 04.7.2011

      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!

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