July 18, 2014 at 1:00 am

Handmade

'Woolgatherers' guild promotes joy of knitting

Judy's Seamless Slippers (Judy Champagne)

They call themselves the Woolgatherers Knitting Guild, but they knit with a range of fibers every third Thursday beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Salvation Army in Plymouth to promote the art of knitting , and make items, like slippers, for local charities.

Plymouth residents Vicki Elster and Lynn Benefiel serve as president and vice president, respectively, and Judy Champagne of Dearborn is retreat coordinator.

The group, which was started back in the early ’90s, is a local chapter of the Knitting Guild Association, which is headquartered in Zainesville, Ohio, and, according to its website, “is the largest knitting association in America, and a starting point for knitters searching for new ideas, products, markets, patterns and fellow knitters who share the excitement of knitting.”

The group offers a range of activities and programs, along with a “Guild Day Out.” “Our knitting meetings are usually taken up with an educational program each time we meet, so there isn’t a lot of socializing,” Elster says.

Some members have formed smaller groups to knit together more often at different locations. “Rather than just meet once a month, we have social knit-togethers every Friday at 2 p.m. at MoonWinks Cafe in Ann Arbor,” Elster says. Some also meet every third Saturday at 1 p.m. at Grand Traverse Pie Company in Plymouth.

Popular knitting instructor and author Lucy Neatby will join members Oct. 18-19 at a hotel in Livonia to teach various knitting techniques. To register for a class, contact Lucy White of Ann Arbor at steucy@aim.com.

Judy's Seamless Slippers

(adapted from Aunt Maggie’s Slippers at bevscountrycottage.com)

Level: Advanced beginner

Estimated time: About four hours

Tools: Size 9 double points and straight needles, scissors, darning needle, stitch marker

Supplies: 100 (120, 150) yards of a bulky yarn

Abbreviations: K knit, P purl, CO cast on, BO bind off, tog together, K2 tog knit two together, st(es) stitch(es), wk work, sl slip, ss slip stitch, rd round

Sizes: Child (women’s, men’s)

Heel: CO 9 (11, 13) sts. Wk in garter st for 6 (8, 10) rows. K1, SSK, K to 3 sts before end, K2 tog, K 1. K 3 (5, 7) rows. K1, SSK, K to 3 sts before end, K 2 tog, K 1. K 3 (3, 3) rows. BO all sts, keep last st on needle. Pick up and K 8 (8, 10) sts along left side, 9 (11, 13) sts along CO edge, and 9 (9, 11) sts along right side. 27 (29, 35) sts.

Foot: Wk first few rows on double points. Change to straight needles (or two double points) as needed for comfort. Rep following two rows to 3½ (4½, 5½) inches, ending with a row 1.

Row 1: K 9 (9, 11) sts, Sl 1 st with yarn in front, K 7 (9, 11) sts, sl one st with yarn in front, K 9 (9, 11) sts. Row 2: K across.

Toe: Divide sts over 3 double point needles. Transfer all sts to 4 double point needles. (Begin knitting in the round.) P two edge sts together. Sl last st on right needle onto left needle. P these 2 sts tog. Wk rest of rd in K1, P1 ribbing. Place marker to indicate end of rd. Wk in K1, P1 ribbing for 3 (3½, 4½) inches.

First Decreasing Row: wk ribbing for 7 (7, 9) sts, * SSK, K 1, K 2 tog,* work 3 (5, 7) sts ribbing, rep between * s, finish rd in ribbing. Next Row: wk ribbing for 7 (7, 9) sts, K 3, work 3 (5, 7) sts ribbing, K 3, finish rd in ribbing.

Second Decreasing Row: Wk 6 (6, 8) sts, *K 2 tog, K 1, SSK,* wk 1 (3, 5) sts, rep between *s once, finish row. 18 (20, 26) sts.

Finishing: Cut yarn, leaving a 12-inch tail. Thread yarn needle with tail. Remove remaining sts from knitting needle by weaving tail through. Pull to close. Rep, pulling tail through all sts twice. Weave in ends. Make second slipper.

Contact: Judy Champagne at

judychampagne@comcast.net.

Detroit News Staff Writer Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150 or jbrown@detroitnews.com. Visit her blog at detroitnews.com/crafts.

Lynn Benefiel, left, and Vicki Elster (Woolgatherers Knitting Guild)