We asked longtime Spin Off contributor and community cheerleader Stefanie Johnson to help lead our new spin-along. Stefanie is a public health inspector and hobby farmer, so the last few years have been challenging. We asked her to share a bit about her winter so far and what she is planning to spin for the tote-along. —Spin Off Editors
Winter On the Farm
As I sit in my rocking chair and feel the chill of winter in our old farmhouse, the desire to pull my spinning wheel over and relax into its rhythmic revolutions creeps in. As I start spinning for this year's spin-along, I have a bit of breathing space to think over my busy days.
One of the winter challenges faced on our hobby farm is keeping our French Angora rabbits groomed while maintaining the bulk of their warm coats in place. I brush them gently and do not pluck them during the winter, so a lot less fiber gets harvested.
We acquired our doe, Elke, two years ago as an adult rabbit; she did not love to be handled. Lots of attention and tasty tidbits trimmed from our fruits and veggies have brought her a long way, though! She is now eager to be petted, as long as we don’t pick her up. She is camera shy, but our buck Marshmallow (Raberto) isn't! We will know very soon if we are to be blessed by the adorableness of baby bunnies as the gestation period for rabbits is only 28–34 days.
Kits (baby bunnies) are just what we need to perk up our spirits. The past two years have been exhausting working in public health. Our current challenge lies in learning how to live with the COVID-19 virus being endemic while returning to a focus on our routine public health programs that our communities rely upon. We have so many interventions and treatments at our disposal to reduce our risks; I am comforted by the fact that my family members have all been able to get vaccinated. Things change over time, and we can adapt to those changes together. Resiliency is of utmost importance.
I look forward to Spin Off’s themed spin-along every year. This year’s theme, Keep It Together: Spin Off 2022 Tote-Along, seems particularly salient to me. There are so many projects in past issues of Spin Off that fit the theme; I can’t wait to see what everyone creates. I plan to start with M’Lyn Walther’s Sedona Spiral Vortex Bowl from Spin Off Summer 2004. I have carded some natural-colored Lincoln wool with some dyed wool to create a striped yarn that will be just perfect for this felted container to keep my small fiber tools handy and organized. I will be all set to do my spring cleaning ahead of schedule!
I hope you’ll join us, and there are several ways to do it! You can post your progress on social media using #spinoffmagazine or find us in the Spin Off Knitters & Spinners group on Ravelry. We can’t wait to see what you make!
When Stefanie Johnson is not protecting public health through environmental inspections and communicable disease investigations, she enjoys teaching others to spin, knit, and weave. The Johnsons raise French Angora rabbits, honeybees, and a variety of chickens and ducks on their hobby farm, Settlers Grove, in Illinois. More of Stefanie's work can be found in Knitty, Knotions, and on Etsy and Ravelry.