This Spin-Along is Totes Inspiring

Variety is the Spice of a Spinner’s Life.

Stefanie Johnson Apr 6, 2022 - 4 min read

This Spin-Along is Totes Inspiring Primary Image

Stefanie Johnson spun sturdy, subtly colored yarns for a felted Spiral Vortex Bowl. Photos by Stefanie Johnson

One of my favorite things about make-alongs is the variety and creativity that abounds. There are many talented fiber artists participating in the current Spin Off Tote-along; it is fascinating to see how each fiber artist is inspired by the fiber they have and the general theme of the spin-along. Many of us are trying new-to-us techniques and/or fibers.

There are luxurious blends, rare-breed wools, beautifully dyed locks and rovings, as well as an array of gorgeous natural-color fibers. We took this opportunity to search our stashes for coarser fibers that would be a good match for a basket or bag. Some artists worked with multiple fibers within a single project, some that felt and some that do not, experimenting to see how the resulting fulled fabric would look and feel. There is some trial and error, and we are all learning from the experiences of our online spinning community. And as usual, there is a lot of encouragement, too!

Which basket is your bag?

A couple of us began with the Sedona Spiral Vortex Bowl from the Summer 2004 issue of Spin Off magazine. (Editor’s note: This project is part of Spin Off’s free felting ebook). For my Spiral Vortex Bowl, I spun 4 separate skeins to have more discretion in the resulting stripes. My blended colors were a subtle gradation of yellow and peach. I followed designer M’Lyn Walther’s pattern’s larger stitch count, switching colors for stripes that varied in thickness. I tossed my knitted bowl into the washer with a full load of laundry 3 times to achieve my desired sturdiness (my machine does not have a central agitator). The fulled container keeps my small fiber tools handy and organized at my drumcarder’s side.


Spun, knitted, and fulled, Stefanie’s Sedona Spiral Vortex Bowl keeps her spinning tools at the ready.

Several of the participants have been working on Woolly Baskets from the Summer 2020 issue, and one fiber artist created a crocheted version. Others used embroidery, lace, and weaving. We are quite a craft-diverse group!

One is not enough

After my first relatively quick but satisfying project, I decided to spin for one of my longtime favorites from the pages of Spin Off: Kate Larson’s Golden Hour Bag. I had 6 ounces of dyed Leicester Longwool locks, and I was eager to use Kate’s method of spinning the locks for three shades ranging from green to purple. For my main color, I had some pale-yellow dyed alpaca that I plied with red eri silk for some shimmer. The knitting is complete, and I am now deciding on whether to line the bag and finding material for leather handles to complete the piece.


The colorful, lustrous Leicester Longwool yarns stand out from the alpaca/eri blend in Stefanie’s Golden Hour Bag.

The spin-along continues through May 1, 2022, so if you’re curious, pop in to the Spin Off Knitters & Spinners group on Ravelry. We’d love to chat with you and see what sort of tote might inspire you to get back to your wheel this spring!

And if I haven’t convinced you yet, did I mention there are prizes to be awarded?

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.