A couple weeks ago, we had a few beautiful weather days. We set the kids up with new bikes (growing kids are expensive!) and I did my best to keep up with them. We brought out a couple of our deck chairs and had a little fire, remembering how beautiful it would be on our deck when the trees leafed out. I even managed this…
My first outdoor spin of the year!
It was during this time that I started to think again about spending time in “The Tower” — our funny name for the little balcony off of our bedroom. It’s small, but fits our two chairs and with the trees leafed out in the summer, it’s one of the best spots in the house. Last summer, I would take knitting or a spindle project up there, but I’ve been dreaming of a little wheel to keep upstairs. A wheel that would be small enough that it could live in the bedroom without being in the way, where I can enjoy a quiet spin in winter and also easily move the wheel outside on days when the weather is nice and I have time to enjoy The Tower. So I started to browse.
Very tentatively, I looked on eBay and used tool threads on Ravelry and the Facebook marketplace. I found a Louet s40 Hatbox wheel that I was excited to try, but was outbid on eBay. Then I found a used single treadle Schacht Matchless for sale in North Carolina that was ready to ship, but that didn’t work out. Clearly my “browsing” had turned into more serious searching. It still had to be the right wheel, though, and at the right price because this wheel was squarely in the “want,” not “need” category.
On a whim, I shared in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry group that I was kind of bummed about the Matchless sale not working out. And then the most amazing thing happened. A wonderful lady named Mary that I know from my knitting instructor days, who is an avid knitter with the ladies in my old hometown & in the Ravelry group chimed in, “I am interested in selling my Jensen.”
As soon as I saw the post, I PMed her for details. Jensen was a wheel maker that had been strongly recommended to me when I was looking for a new wheel last year, but I’d shied away from it because they only come as double treadle. As a secondary wheel now, I thought it could work for me or it was at least worth a try. I simultaneously reached out to Karen, a fellow spinner I know who has the same Jensen wheel, as well as my spinning guru, Mary Ann at Three Waters Farm to ask their thoughts and advice. Their reactions were pretty much the same, “Are you in your car yet?! If not, get in your car and go get this wheel!” Jerry Jensen is a renowned wheel maker based out of Wisconsin Dells, WI and he hand makes each wheel. Used Jensen wheels are so loved that they just don’t come up for sale often and there is a notoriously long wait time for new ones. I spoke to my husband that evening and shortly after I had a plan to take a drive to Mary’s house after the Easter holiday and buy her Jensen Tina 2.
I had about a week to prepare. I researched getting parts in case I’d need them, drive band materials, how to check for the proper stamps & signature, how to clean up the wood, etc. All things Jensen were on my radar. I have to give a huge thank you to Karen (who sells her beautiful handspun yarns on her website Gift of Grace Handspun) who, as a Jensen owner and spinning friend, took a lot of time to answer questions. She even went so far as to send me some extra drive band material she had so I wouldn’t have to buy the entire million yard spool the recommended material comes on. Ok, it is not quite a million yard spool, but it’s way more than I would use in a lifetime. Suffice to say, Karen was extremely generous and and I am forever grateful!
And then Monday morning rolled around. We had an incoming snowstorm, threatening to drop a foot of fresh snow on us in the afternoon, so I was thankful to get an early start. Mr. Knitting Sarah had the day off, so he stayed with the kiddos while I embarked on the 5-hour round trip to pick up the wheel. I don’t often find myself in the car alone, so I treated myself to a cafe au lait on the way out of town and I enjoyed listening to my own music and just bopping along. As I drove, I couldn’t help but notice that no one in any passing car looked like they were having as good of a time as I was having. Clearly, they were not on their way to buy a Jensen.
When I got to Mary’s place, she welcomed me into her home and we sat for a while and talked, giving lots of love to her new puppy Zoe while we did. As I looked the wheel over, she told me the story of how she’d come to own her Jensen Tina 2. After years of spinning on her Haldane, Mary liked the idea of the smaller castle wheel and when she found the Tina 2 at an estate sale for a very good price she picked it up. As the story goes, she didn’t use it much and since retiring she found she prefers to spend her time knitting and playing bridge. When she saw in the ravelry group that I was looking for a small wheel, she said she felt like it was meant to be. She was really happy to sell it to me because she knew it would be used and loved.
It was funny that she said she felt it was meant to be. From my seat, all week leading up to the trip and then sitting there with her at her kitchen table, all I could think about was how lucky I was I’d been outbid on that Hatbox and that the Matchless hadn’t worked out. If I had gotten either of them, I would have stopped looking and I’d have never mentioned it in the group. And yet here I was, buying this beautiful wheel from a wonderful lady who was happy to sell it. Clearly, it was meant to be.
I was a little excited on the drive home.
I beat the snow home and spent the rest of the afternoon giving the wheel a little tune-up. It hadn’t been used in a few years, so while it was in excellent shape it needed a few screws tightened, a new drive band, etc. You know, those routine maintenance kind of things. Then I meticulously cleaned my new-to-me Tina 2 and let it sit overnight. The next morning I gave the wood a light conditioning. Wax on, wax off, as they say. After the ‘wax off’, my jaw dropped.
When I saw the grain on this treadle, something really hit me.
I knew this wheel was beautiful and I knew it spun amazingly, but I had no idea exactly how gorgeous it was.
I mean really & truly; Jaw. On. Floor.
So I’ve established that it’s a fine looking wheel, so how does it spin you ask?
It spins even better than it looks. Does it spin like a dream? It spins better than my wildest dreams. The treadling is effortless and I can treadle with ease with both feet or just one. The spin is smooth. The orifice is at just the right height. There is a spot to keep the bobbins right on board the wheel, a detail that will be especially nice when the wheel makes the move upstairs. The best part, however, I think is the feel of the adjustment for the double drive. The ability to fine tune this is just not something I’ve experienced before. In fact, this wheel is not something I’ve experienced before. It is a wheel on a whole new level.
As time goes by and I get to know my Jensen Tina 2 better, I’ll share more of the details of what makes it so special. For today, though, I want to reflect on its beauty and the immaculate design of this handmade wheel. This wheel isn’t just another spinning tool. This wheel has a life that began on April 27, 1996…
And if I have anything to say about it, it will have a life well beyond my own.
I love my Lendrum and my Schacht Reeves — they are wonderful wheels and I’m thankful to have them and I’ll continue to use them and enjoy using them for many years to come. But whereas I am the owner of those wheels, I feel like this Jensen Tina 2 is different. This wheel does not belong to me. I am one fortunate person who, through the very best of what this world has to offer, came to welcome this very special spinning wheel into my home. I am one person in what I hope will be a long line of stewards for Jensen Tina 2 #222, born on April 27, 1996. And as any good steward does, I promise that I will use and care for and appreciate and love this beautiful wheel… for as long as it is meant to be.