January’s Jigsaw

I got a jigsaw puzzle tradition from my mom. And there has rarely been a year since I lived on my own when I have not followed the tradition.

Every year, after the Christmas decorations are put away, when it is cold and snowy and I’d rather be by the fire, when the sunshine beams in the windows brilliantly, I make a new jigsaw puzzle.

First, I pick out a puzzle with a good image that won’t irritate me when the puzzle-piecing gets hard. Like this:

Then I choose a nice bright place to work in natural light. Usually that means the kitchen table, but given the table’s constant use, it is not always the best pick. (And since I have children, you will notice that the natural light in this photo has long since disappeared). I have to adapt to working on a large piece of cardboard or wood.

I pick out all the edge pieces, like this:

And then I randomly choose a colour or zone of the puzzle to work on next. Right now, it is the sky:







By now, I have most of the pieces sorted according to colour or zone.









I continue on this way, picking out areas, placing pieces, until I am all done! This particular puzzle, although only 500 pieces has turned out to be rather challenging because some of the pieces have the exact same cut and will fit in more than one spot. The colour variations and patterns then become the key thing to look at.







How satisfying it is to place the last piece! (Sorry, I just started this one, so no pic).

I have done various things with completed puzzles. Sometimes I break it all up in  haste, and put it in a bag for Goodwill because it was such a miserable thing (think not-interlocking-pieces-that-fall-apart-whenever-you-look-at-them) to work on.

Other times, I put them back in the box for another time. I made a Norman Rockwell puzzle three times, I think. Then I gave it away to another puzzler. I couldn’t handle making it again, great as it was.

Another thing I have done is glue the completed puzzle together and frame it. Then they have memories to go with it. This puzzle was given to me from a dear friend in university. And it was framed by the handyman whom I house-sat for when they were down south in weather like this. It has been on one wall or another for two decades:

The sunflower puzzle was incredibly challenging, and since I am not an expert puzzler, my Mom and brother finished it for me. And my Dad framed it, so I guess you could say it was a family affair!

Here is a close-up of it. Don’t you just love it? It was also a gift…

So, I’m not sure what I’ll do with “Family Picnic” yet, whether it will go back in the box or not, but so far my January jigsaw has been as enjoyable as ever!


8 thoughts on “January’s Jigsaw

  1. A colleague and I completed a 1500 piece puzzle last winter on our lunch breaks. We were able to shut the door and leave work behind. And chat in that no-pressure way when silence isn’t awkward because your hands are busy. I’d love to do another.

    I have several relatives who love puzzles. One received the world’s hardest puzzle for Christmas from his kids. It was meant to be drawn on with markers, which the kids threw away. A completely white puzzle. He also did a puzzle with the same picture on both sides, rotated 90 degrees. I’m fairly happy with the 20-50 piece puzzles the kids enjoy right now.


    • I love that you used a puzzle for a getaway at work! Great idea! But I sure don’t think I’d be up to the challenge of an all-white puzzle, or a two-sided one. I admire people like that!


  2. I love doing puzzles, thought I don’t have a tradition, or set time of doing them. Usually when we go to Mammoth for summer vacation I scour the condo for a puzzle. But I get so addicted to the puzzle that the other family members get irritated with me, their stomachs growling.

    My daughter has grown to love puzzles, and every now and then we’ll take the challenge. The only problem is that for some reason we’re missing one piece at the end. So strange how that almost always happens.

    Love the framed puzzles above.


  3. This was such a neat post. I absolutely love pictures of wash on the line. We have some when we went to the Philippines and also in Guatemala. So much to learn about a family from a clothesline. My former dentist actually found a puzzle of the farm house he grew up in and did it and then framed it in his office. Keep up the puzzling,. Mom De Jong loves to do jig saws too.


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