Will You Help Our Soldiers By Knitting A Helmet Liner?
Calling all Knitters!
Can you help our troops in Afghanistan by knitting helmet liners? Many of us were surprised to hear that it gets quite cold in Afghanistan for several months out of the year. Winds from Russia and Kazakstan can result in bitterly cold temperatures with heavy snow, especially in the mountains. Chakhcharan has recorded temperatures as cold as minus 51 degrees Fahrenheit. Wool helmet liners, worn under their helmets, provide comfort and warmth to our soldiers from the harsh winters. We are asking knitters across the country to knit helmet liners to help our troops and remind them that we are thinking of them back home. (See below for the pattern and more information.)
A number of New Jersey churches, local VFW and American Legion Posts, The Adopt-A-Soldier-Platoon, A.R.M.S., synagogues, community youth groups and civic organizations, have teamed up to send care boxes to our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the past four years soldiers have received the boxes and sent back heartfelt letters of thanks. Each box includes more than 30 personal care and food items, including Girl Scout Cookies, Beef Jerky, snacks, health and care items, baby wipes, candy and gum, sun and body lotions, current magazines, etc. This is a 100% charitable effort, with all administrative efforts volunteered.
Details about the Soldier Box Drive
- This year more than 300 boxes will be sent, with the first 125 going to soldiers in "Task Force Paladin", who disarm explosive devices in Afghanistan, like the soldiers portrayed in the movie "The Hurt Locker." They put their lives on the line everyday to protect fellow soldiers.
- The shipping is handled by a very reputable organization recommended by a general in the military. The boxes are sent out quickly and make it to the addresses provided for the soldiers, as evidenced by the number of letters and pictures received troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
- In addition to the products shipped in each box, every one also includes at least one picture, drawn or colored by a child in the community, or a letter written to thank them for their service. These personal notes from children in scout troops, camps, school classrooms, etc. are often mentioned by the troops in their thank you notes.
We invite you to knit for our troops!
- The addition this year of the knitted helmet liners has been another opportunity to involve people across our country who want to use their talents to help our troops. Knitting groups from churches, assisted living homes, knitting stores, YMCAs, and other groups have been knitting helmet liners. Some have also suggested that, since it is a relatively simple pattern, it makes a good activity for Girl Scouts to earn a knitting badge, for beginning knitting classes, and is a good activity for residents of senior care centers.
If you, or someone you know, is interested in knitting for our troops, the helmet liner pattern is below, along with shipping and contact information. Each helmet liner requires about 1 skein of yarn, depending on the manufacturer. By military regulations the yarn must be 100% wool, in olive drab, tan, gray, brown or black (but we hear black is a tough knitting choice.) Completed helmet liners should be sent to GraceUnitedMethodistChurch, 555 Russell Avenue, WyckoffNJ 07481.
Knitting questions regarding the helmet liners can be directed to Mary or Dot, whose contact information is included in the Helmet Liner Pattern below. If you have questions about the soldier box project, please call Leigh at (201) 891-9221.
Pattern for Knitting Helmet Liners
(Note: unlike other patterns on the internet, this one has been modified to meet the needs of troops who have tested the finished helmet liners)
Cascade 220 or any soft wool yarn that will knit to gauge. Approx. 175 yards. (5 hanks of 220 will make 6 liners). NOTE: PLEASE USE ONLY 100% WOOL YARN. If you don't see 100% wool on the shelf, ask for it Some stores do not display it. Helmet liners made of synthetic fibers cannot be worn by troops in combat areas. Colors allowed by the military are black, charcoal, brown, tan, olive drab. Size 8 - 16" circular needle, or size to get gauge and same size double point needles. Size 6 - 16" circular needles for the ribbings. One stitch marker. Gauge: 4.5 st./in.in st.st.
Neck: With smaller circular needle, cast on 84 stitches loosely. Place marker. Join in round and knit in 2x2 rib for 6 inches. (Note: This used to read 4 inches but feedback from soldiers to Linda Swinford led to a revision. There should be 6 inches of neck ribbing.)
To make hat portion : With larger circular needle, knit 32 stitches off smaller needle. Leave smaller circ.in rest of the stitches, cast on 59 additional stitches. Place marker to mark beginning of round, join in round, K even for 4". 1st dec row: *K11, K2 tog*, repeat to end of round. Next row: Knit even. 2nd dec row: *K10, 2tog,* repeat to end. Next row: knit even. Change to DP needles when necessary. Continue decreases as established until K2, K2tog. After this, decrease every row until 7 stitches on needle. Cut yarn 8-9"long, feed through remaining stitches and weave in.
Ribbing around face : (This portion has been revised from original instructions, based on feedback from soldiers. Please use these instructions entirely rather than any older instructions you may have). With smaller needle still in neck portion, PU stitches around ace. Join in circle and K in 2x2 ribbing for 1 inch. On last row of ribbing, decrease in a total of 8 purl stitches by P2tog (4 sets on each side of face, i.e. 10:00, 2:00, 4:00 and 8:00). This will pull the ribbing in close to the face. BO in ribbing and work in tail. BO around face can be snug.
Don't forget to include a washing instruction label. Works best if you type the instructions on adhesive labels and stick and/or staple one on each completed helmet liner. Here's a sample:
Washing Instructions : WOOL Do NOT put in washer or dryer, or it will shrink. Hand wash only with mild soap in COLD water. Lay flat to dry. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight. You may also want to include a "Made for you by…" label
Questions? Grace Church knitters are available to help answer your knitting questions: Call Mary (201) 891- 4055 or Dot (201) 445-6046. For other questions about this annual Soldier Box Effort, call Leigh at (201) 891-9221.
Please send your completed Helmet Liners to GraceUnitedMethodistChurch, 555 Russell Ave.Wyckoff, NJ 07481... This is an ongoing, year-round effort, supported by VFW and American Legion Posts, A.R.M.S., Adopt A Soldier Platform, churches, synagogues, community youth groups and civic organizations who have teamed up to help support our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This annual effort to ship care boxes to our soldiers is dedicated in the memory of Navy Seaman, Freddie Neal Porter, Jr., who was tragically killed in a Navy Seal training accident. Freddie was an active member of the communities of Garfield and Wyckoff, New Jersey, working with community and church youth groups, and eagerly volunteering to help the homeless.
These instructions for knitting a wool helmet liner are used with permission from Bonnie Long and Linda Swinford Original design by Bonnie Long, Knit Wits, 3419 Chatham rd. Springfield, IL 62704 All rights reserved. Copies may be made only for the purpose of donating items to our active service personnel. Many thanks for permission to use this helmet liner pattern!