I Am a Spinner: Stefanie Johnson, Health Inspector

In the Winter 2019 issue of Spin Off, we featured contributor and Health Inspector Stefanie Johnson in the “I Am a Spinner” department. Stefanie wrote about her experiments in natural dyeing with marigolds and black walnuts in the Summer 2018 issue. Here she is to tell us more about her day job and how spinning fits into her busy life.

Tell us about your day job.
I protect the public’s health as an Environmental Health Sanitarian, or health inspector. The most familiar parts of my job to the public are inspecting restaurants and grocery stores, but I work in many other programs: providing education to consumers and facilities on topics such as private water wells, septic systems, body art, indoor tanning, housing and nuisance complaints, radon/indoor air quality, vector control, and health promotion. I enjoy the variety in my work and try to be prepared for whatever might come across my desk.

Stefanie Johnson

How did you become a spinner?
I have been fascinated by spinning wheels since seeing Rumpelstiltskin spin straw into gold in a movie. On family vacations, we would check out living-history events, and I would watch people knit, weave, or spin yarn. Once when my husband, Jason, took me to a knitting shop, he pointed out a drop-spindle kit. I purchased it and quickly made my first mini skein of yarn. Later that year, I took an Introduction to Spinning class that included drop spindling as well as wheel spinning. I enjoyed the class so much that I left with a spinning wheel (affiliate link). Now there is spinning fiber, along with yarn, stashed in the nooks and crannies all around our house!

Do your job and your fiber and spinning hobbies ever overlap?
With my job, you have to have a desire to learn on a daily basis. We are constantly presented with new challenges and problems to solve. Having a ready-to-learn attitude is especially important to spinning if you want to spin certain characteristics into your yarn. It also helps when learning about new-to-you fibers.

How does spinning fit into the rest of your life?
I spin in the evenings when my family is together or once the kids have gone to bed. I am not great at sitting still, so spinning keeps me in the room with them and helps me wind down at the end of the day. My spinning wheel has a permanent spot in our living room, and I keep a basket of handspun yarn there as well for inspiration. Also, spinning is a hobby I share with my sister who lives almost 1,000 miles away, and occasionally my children, Samantha and Lincoln, spin with me, too.

Do you know someone whom we should feature in “I Am a Spinner”? We’re especially interested in spinners with unusual careers, locations, and perspectives. Drop us a line at [email protected]. If we use your suggestion, we’ll send you a treat from our stash of fiber goodies! Because of the volume of submissions we receive for this feature, we will only notify you if your nomination is selected.

—Elizabeth Prose

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