Every Detail, Every Time

Down a quiet country road lined with trees there is a workshop. Meticulously kept yet unassuming, you’d never guess that it is the workshop of one of the best artisan spinning wheel makers in the world. This is Jerry Jensen’s Spinning Wheel Shop and last weekend my friend and I had the privilege to spend a couple hours with Jerry & his wife Audrey.

When I ordered extra parts in April for my new-to-me Tina 2 spinning wheel, Audrey mentioned that if I was in the area — I only live about 2 hours away — I should stop in and meet Jerry & see the shop. It was shortly after this conversation that a plan was hatched to have a little weekend getaway in June with my friend Jennifer — who is also a knitter & spinner and a true believer in the power of handmade —  in which we could take the Jensen’s up on this kind offer. Since setting the plan and making the hotel reservation in early April, Jennifer and I have very literally been counting down the days.

When we pulled into the driveway on that hot & muggy June morning, Jerry greeted us with a warm smile. We made our introductions and chatted for a bit and then he led us to his workshop. Kind gentleman that he is, he held the door for us as we walked in…

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Of course, the first thing we noticed were the wheels.

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The beautiful, beautiful wheels. Quite honestly, I was overwhelmed. I’m so thankful that Jennifer kept her head and took these pictures because I walked away with very few. I was simply lost in taking it all in.

For a working shop, it’s incredibly tidy…

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Climate controlled for the best possible environment for the wood as well as comfort, neatly labeled hand-drawn templates line the walls. Wheels in various stages of creation occupy the worktops.

Audrey joined us after a little while and it was just such a treat to see them together — her pride in his work and joy in his enthusiasm was evident.

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We talked a lot about his wheel designs and it was quickly clear that his depth of knowledge is vast and comes from a lifetime of striving for perfection in each wheel he creates. At the very heart of Jensen spinning wheels, what sets them apart from the rest, is the fact that Jerry has never been interested in “good enough” — Jerry believes in doing things right; every detail, every time. Even when there are obstacles and problems to solve, he does not settle. When he needed a new lathe and was disappointed in the pricing and lack of detail in what was commercially available…

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He designed one and had it custom built locally.

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It’s one of his best stories and a tool he is very proud of, so we felt very fortunate that he was willing to demonstrate it for us. That’s right — I stood there while Jerry Jensen used the lathe he designed with a template he drew to turn a spinning wheel leg.

As we continued our tour, his appreciation for the wood with which he works was obvious as well. He cleaned up this freshly cut piece to show the beauty of the walnut’s grain…

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And in seeing our awe, he & Audrey reminisced about some of the special projects he’s done. One spinner asked for a hole in the table of a wheel so she could see her feet and he found a piece of wood with a burl that would do just that. Incredible.  And then he pulled out this piece…

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And explained how he planned to cut the piece and work the natural burl into the table of his next wheel. Every detail, every time — he has both an artistic eye and attention to detail that is just unparalleled. There will never again be any question in my mind as to why when I sit at my Tina 2 it is both a work of art and spins like no other wheel. This man is a true master craftsman.

If all of this wasn’t enough, again holding the door for us, he led us to his small showroom which doubles as an office and packing room at the other end of the same building.

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There are so many wheels in this room we couldn’t fit them all in one picture. They aren’t simply spinning wheels — they are the collected works of a master craftsman.

I fell in love with this style…

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It is a tall castle wheel and offers a 24″ wheel in a space saver design. I was lucky enough to try it and I still can’t get over how light it feels when you treadle this wheel. You would never guess you were moving that big of a wheel from how it spins.

 

We talked a bit longer and then eventually worked our way back to the car. We said our goodbyes and as we pulled out of the driveway Jennifer and I were almost speechless. To see so many beautiful wheels and have the pleasure to learn how they were developed, to see how and where they are made, and to fully grasp the care and artistry that goes into each wheel is one, huge, awe-inspiring aspect. On top of that, though, just to hear the stories and get to know the generosity and kindness of Jerry and Audrey Jensen, it’s something that I will never forget. It’s an experience that has touched my heart and inspired me to continue to create both in my spinning and in my day-to-day life with purpose and joy and care — every detail, every time. And that’s what I’m reminded every time I sit down with my own Jensen masterpiece.

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16 thoughts on “Every Detail, Every Time

    1. It’s sooo cool! It would look awesome next to my desk… just sayin’… In all seriousness though, it has such a cool feel to it. I spin on my 30″ all the time and a 19″ and this 24″ felt really light. Love it!

      1. It’s on it! Along with a 30” Ashley and a very lusty Tina Traveler he had in yew wood. At that point, odds are I’d sell at least one of my other wheels at that point though. Hubby told me the other day, “It’s ok to just admit you want to be a collector.” 😂🤣❤️

      2. Lol I was at a lovely event this afternoon, most folks were spinning, such an assortment of wheels! One woman has 23 antique wheels! She uses them all! Today she brought two, and was spinning her own flax. Interestingly, she has only one bobbin for each of the wheels! I said I had but two wheels, but lots of bobbins. 😉 But each wheel does something different, it was pretty amazing to talk to her.

  1. What a wonderful adventure! I love fine craftsmanship and I love people like him who take such pride. Hard to find anymore, making your wheel all the more special. How very cool.

  2. It is awe inspiring! And you are right. It does make the wheel all the more special. So glad that it is in your care.

    1. If you have any questions about spinning, or learning to spin, I am here for you!

      As for the stash… when we moved last year, we moved from a place where I was within a relatively short drive to many yarn shops and a lot of spinning and knitting friends. To ease the adjustment a bit, my husband offered to take those two huge shelves and make our main living room like my own private yarn shop — so rather than tucking away all my fiber and yarn it is part of the decor. It definitely is awesome to live in my own personally curated, personal yarn shop! But awesome as the stash is, I still the think the wheel is more amazing. 😉

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