September Newsletter
Dear Knitters and Crocheters, 
This photo is of 9-year old Angelina Rose who, after watching her mom and grandma make scarves for Operation Gratitude, asked to be taught how to knit in a hurry so she could help keep our troops warm this winter!  This is the loving spirit that our volunteers share--and will ensure that our 2009 Holiday Drive will be our most successful yet!  If all our relatives and friends picked up their needles and got to work like Angelina, just think how many thousands of hand-made items we could send to our beloved troops!
Here are answers to many questions we have recently received:
1. When is the deadline for sending scarves and hats?  We will begin loading up our care packages on October 24th, and our final packing day will be on December 19th.  I would like all items to be at the armory by the first week of December--12 weeks from now!  That will allow time to get them ready, packed up, and hopefully worn by their grateful new owners by the end of December!  
Many of you have already completed a scarf or two and sent them to the armory, and I thank you.  But remember--there will be many a soldier in the frigid hills of Afghanistan that would cherish receiving one of your warm items, so please continue your knitting and crocheting right up until our deadline in December!
2. 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 so more can be made!  Please keep your scarves within our size restrictions (5-7" across and no longer than 50") so we can fit them into our care packages.  No fringe is preferred.  (If you're interested, see the patterns below that might be helpful.)
3. What yarns and colors should we use?  Any soft yarn is fine and any color will be accepted, but if possible please keep the colors on the subtle side--blues, browns, olives, grays, maroon, and black would all be good choices.
Stock up on sale yarns!  See for money-saving coupons.
4. Should I attach a letter or note?  I make sure that all hand-made items include a short note and an e-mail address.  If you could do so for each of your hats and scarves it would be most helpful--and will make it even more special for your receiving soldier.  It could be as simple as "Hand-made with love" OR a note or letter telling him/her about yourself---whatever!  If you're uncomfortable including your own e-mail address please feel free to give mine.
5. 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, then send you a thank-you letter within a few weeks after the completion of the Holiday Drive.  Please remember to include your name and address on each box or bag you send us!
6. What else can I send Operation Gratitude for their care packages?

Beanie Babies or other small stuffed animals
Small packages Beef Jerky
Single Serving Boxes of Cold Cereal; Individual Packets of Hot Cereal
Hand-Knit/Crochet Scarves and Hats
Computer Flash Drives
Halloween Candy
Commercially sealed Lip Balm, toothpaste, toothbrushes, roll-on deodorant
Personal Letters of Appreciation
Please send all items (including scarves and hats) to:
Operation Gratitude/ California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA  91406.
Attn: Charlie Othold / SCARVES
 ....and most of all we need financial donations!
Any amount you are able to send will be greatly appreciated, as each care package costs $11 to ship.  You may send a check payable to Operation Gratitude and mail to 16444 Refugio Road, Encino, CA  91436, or donate online here: DONATE    (and it's all tax-deductible)! 
A great way to donate is to buy an Operation Gratitude sweatshirt or t-shirt with our logo on front (my mom wore hers recently and recruited a new volunteer!).  They come in various colors and sizes and will be mailed directly to you.  T-shirts are $25 and sweatshirts are $35 (postage included).
If you would like to receive Operation Gratitude's general e-mails and newsletters send an email to
I'm very pleased to have so many new knitters and crocheters helping out with our 2009 drive!  I actually dreamed that I went to the armory one day and was overwhelmed with floor-to-ceiling scarves and hats---how I'd love to make this a reality!  Please help spread the good word--to senior centers, girl scout troops, yarn shops, craft websites, bloggers--anyone that you think may want to help out with this project to show their appreciation to our troops!  
I am in awe of all you do!  One of our volunteers writes that she has 3 kids, takes care of her ailing mom, and goes to college online at night---but she dedicates a block of time each day to lovingly support our troops by knitting a scarf.  You are all the best!!
With love and gratitude,

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 chai (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. 

Instructions for 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. 
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