So many people have expressed an interest in knitting hats for soldiers that blogging now seems like the best way to keep everyone updated on the project.
This is the place where you can get the pattern, see some photos, hear how many hats have come in and who they've gone to.
If you want to make a hat for an Israeli soldier -- well, first of all, thank you! I can promise you that it'll be put to good use. Second of all, please be aware that the hat must be knit according to a specific pattern -- this one. This pattern has been developed to conform with both the soldiers' requests and army regulations.
Q: What is this project?
A: This is what happens when a small group of women with needles -- in this case, the "Chicks with Sticks" of Gush Etzion, Israel -- decide to use their craft to do something good. In brief, about a year and a half ago one of the women suggested that we take on a project to benefit our soldiers. I had a son serving in paratroopers at the time, so I was elected to investigate. I asked around, found out they'd appreciate some warm, snug hats and developed a pattern. Once it had been approved by the commanders, we made a bunch of hats, sent out a couple of emails and -- boom! The internet is an amazing place. Since then, knitters from around the world have been mailing me hats -- hundreds of them -- for Israeli soldiers.
Read about us, for example, here: www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/128373
Q: How does it work?
A: The hats must be knit to pattern from black, machine washable wool. They get mailed to me, I affix a label that says (in Hebrew) "knit for you with warmth and love" and see that it gets to a combat soldier who could use it.
Q: How are the hats distributed?
A: Up until recently, my son and his friends were helping me to distribute the hats and they went mainly to soldiers serving in the Golan and on the Hermon. My son has since completed his army service and the number of hats coming in continues to grow so I've teamed up with Barbara Silverman of "A Package from Home". This organization puts together wonderful care packages for soldiers that include long underwear, gloves, toiletries and the like. I strongly urge you to check out their website and see all the good work they do. They specialize in "chayalim bodedim", which means "lone soldiers" who don't have family in Israel.
Recently, I gave them 175 hats to put in their last shipment and they were overwhelmed by the positive response of the soldiers. Barbara S. wrote to me that,
"When they came to pick up the packages and saw the hats they were thrilled. You should have seen their faces. One of the soldiers asked me to make sure the packages he gets all have a hat from the ones you sent us."
Q: What are your current goals?
A: Barbara Silverman has a list of another 2000 lone soldiers in combat units that she's sending packages to this winter. Our goal is to get a handknit hat to each and every one of them.
Q: Doesn't the army give the soldiers hats?
A: Yes, it does. The standard hat that soldiers receive in their kit bags is from a fleece-type synthetic material that is nowhere near as warm and snug as our hats. But besides that, one of the reasons we make the hats is to show our appreciation for the IDF soldiers and the hard work they do. The hats provide both physical warmth and emotional support and we feel good knowing that somewhere tonight, a soldier doing guard duty in the cold will be wearing a warm hand knit hat, made with love.
Q: Is there a crochet pattern for the hats?
A: Sorry, there isn't. We've experimented with crochet but the resulting fabric is neither as snug as the knit fabric, nor as stretchy, which is important in helping the hats fit a wide variety of head sizes. Also, the commanders wanted the hats to have a uniform look, so that all the soldiers get something similar-looking, and the crocheted hats just don't look like the knit ones.
Q: Who knits the hats?
A: Anyone who wants to -- caring individuals, knitting and crafts guilds, bat mitzvah girls...and hopefully you, too!