Tina Takes a Road Trip

Last week my family and I loaded up the aptly named Adventuremobile (also known as our van) and headed South. Mr. Knitting Sarah’s parents live in Southern Missouri and we were off to spend a week visiting with them. Knowing we had a pretty slow, relaxing week ahead of us and we had a fair bit of room in the van, along with — you know — clothes and toiletries and dog food, I packed an obscene amount of fiber, my Jensen Tina 2, a sweater knit, and a sock knit. I was planning to spin. A lot.

We figured with our puppy, Bear, the drive would take about 12 hours. Puppies require frequent bathroom breaks and poor Bear is not a huge fan of car rides. He struggled through it with a lot of TLC from the kids…


If you’re wondering about the towel, he is a nervous drooler, so unless you want to be drenched we’ve found towels to be a necessity.

About an hour and a half from our destination, we were making plans for the following day with my husband’s brother when the tire pressure alarm went off and shortly after we felt the tire go. On a busy interstate with almost no shoulder, rather than risk someone being injured, we called in roadside assistance.

While we waited, a very kind state trooper stopped to help out and with his coverage from behind, we were able to start work on getting the spare out. Unfortunately, in order to get at the spare this had to happen…


There is something pretty humbling about splaying your belongings out on the side of the road. I mean, my poor Tina!!! In any case, in order to avoid too many cooks in the kitchen with the tire, I hung back in the car with the kids and the dogs until I heard from the back, “Let me go get my expert.” Mr. KS and the trooper were having trouble releasing the spare from its bizarre locking system, so I was called in as the “expert” at figuring this kind of thing out. A couple minutes later the spare was free (go me!) and shortly after that a very kind gentleman with roadside assistance showed up to help finish the job.

img_5206As you can see, the tire was pretty much toast, so when we made it to my husband’s parents’ house just a couple hours late, we were feeling thankful that nothing else had gone wrong. Tina — and the rest of us — had made it safely to Southern Missouri!

As you probably have heard me say, very few plans survive contact with realty around here. Saturday morning with the car at the tire shop getting all new tires (Happy early Valentine’s Day to us!), I settled in for a few minutes of spinning. Those 15 or so minutes were the extent of my awesome spinning week though. After all my lofty goals and ambitions and the huge load of fiber I’d packed for my quiet week of spinning, I discovered that when you aren’t in your own space and you have a puppy, spinning is pretty much impossible. Between exercise and play and trying to keep the pup out of the cat food, your time is pretty much spoken for.


He’s probably worth it.


All right, he’s definitely worth it.


I like the little guy. A lot.


And this guy, too. He’s pretty majestic and awesome (in this photo he’s watching Mr. KS try to photograph an armadillo we spotted — so focused!).


And they are both pretty good porch sittin’ knitting buddies, too…


We did enjoy some beautiful weather and I managed to get quite a bit of knitting done on my Weekender sweater. In fact, I am almost done with the main body and the front up to the shoulder seam as well.


We did take the short drive over to Prairie State Park on the Missouri-Kansas border to see their bison. In addition to the bison, we saw loads of different hawk species, had a very brisk picnic (does anyone else have picnics in 30F temps? I didn’t think so!), and took a nice walk through a freshly burned area.


It was beautiful.

And it was good practice for this guy…


Who is slowly learning to handle being in the car with a bit of zen and slightly less drool.

As our week came to a close, it became apparent that the drive home would be a snowy one…


And it was. It was pretty grueling through Missouri which saw much more snow than they are used to and most of Iowa, where the weather was worse, but the roads were clear. We were thankful for the flat tire we suffered on the way down which allowed/instigated us to invest in better quality tires, something we’d been putting off because they weren’t a necessary expense. Thankfully we’d saved a few pennies to be able to afford it and the investment made the snowy trip back markedly safer.  Even when things go wrong, they often work out for the better at the end of the day.

To pass the time, we listened to an audiobook as a family, I knit on my sweater, we made a playlist and sang along, and the pups…


Well, they figured it out.

After a long day in the car, we were all happy to get home. We ate some dinner, I sat in my chair, and promptly fell asleep.

The next day, we took the pups out to one of our favorite spots where they frolicked and played…

beaver pups

Happy to be back among the land of snows and marshes and trees downed by beavers…

bear ice

And skating on murky ice.

And after that nice long walk, it was nice to come home and do some spinning after that week long, puppy induced hiatus…


I on my Schacht Reeves…


And Bear chose the Lendrum.


Tina, well, she’s tired from her little adventure. And even if Tina’s road trip ended up being for naught, we made a lot of wonderful family memories, basking in the glorious and fleeting days of the puppy while Tina stood stoically idle. Sometimes that’s just the way it should to be.






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…


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


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…


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.


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…


He designed one and had it custom built locally.


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…


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…


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.


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…


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.