KELSO, Wash. – Carol Hughart’s Kelso home is full of items you’d expect a 71-year-old sewing enthusiast would make: place mats and potholders. Colorful curtains. Heavy-duty aprons of all sizes. Oh, and about 80 desert camouflage do-rags.
Yes, Hughart is the grandmother you actually want sewing your birthday present.
Lately, though, she’s been working on a much larger project.
Hughart is cranking out do-rags – lightweight cotton caps – for U.S. soldiers to wear in the Middle East.
Customers can pay $7 for a cap, write their name on a card, and have both shipped to a squadron in Iraq. They also can buy a cap and personally send it to someone they know. The $7 covers the cost of the material, Hughart said.
“There isn’t a whole lot that some of us older people can do to help our troops,” said Hughart, a retired truck driver who has been sewing do-rags for about four years and sells them at the market. “This is right up my alley.”
The idea, Hughart said, came to her after a conversation two weeks ago with a soldier who recently returned from duty. He came up to her booth at the farmer’s market, called “Ye Old Sew and Sew,” saying her do-rags would come in handy for troops.
“This young man came up to me and he said, ‘I wish I had something like this when I was in Iraq,’ ” she said.
The soldier offered advice on a few alterations: Use Velcro to fasten the cap in the back because a knot won’t fit under a helmet. Ditch the cute kitten patterns and replace them with desert camo.
Hughart’s do-rags are made to battle a glaring sun and sweltering heat.
The lightweight cotton breathes easily, and a shammy band on the inside keeps sweat from dripping into the eyes. The tail that runs down the back protects the neck from intense sunlight. Some are made with netting on the sides to allow more air to cool off the soldier’s head.
Hughart’s grandson serves overseas as a linguist, and her granddaughter served in the Air Force. Through her granddaughter, Hughart was able to get in touch with the leader of a squadron serving in Iraq. The squadron leader said he’d be interested in distributing the do-rags to his troops.