Competitive players need practice. And when speed puzzler Amber Haglund-Pagel’s supply ran tedious, she went online.
Haglund-Page launched the Jigsaw Puzzle Swap of the Twin Ports on Facebook over Thanksgiving, and to join means to have access to safe trades with other members as well as access to her, basically, little free library of puzzles.
On the front porch of her Lakeside home sit two purple bins filled with scenes of the outdoors, animals and food in 300-, 500- and 1,000-piece puzzles.
"It's a constant turnover,” she said.
Many of its contents were from her own collection, which was perfect for a couple of reasons.
She rarely tackles a puzzle more than once, but for the select few she keeps around, it is fun for her to see how much faster she is the second time.
And: “My house isn't filled to the brim, and my husband isn't annoyed with me.”
Lynn Goerdt ran across a friend’s post of the online puzzle swap. She requested becoming a member, and after communication with Haglund-Pagel, soon Goerdt was off to take her picks from the porch.
Before 2020, Goerdt had completed maybe a puzzle a year, but she has gotten more into it during the pandemic. It’s a mindful, relaxing way to destress in the evening, she said.
As far as selection, Goerdt doesn't want one that’s too hard. "I just like a picture that I want to look at for a couple days."
Jigsaw Puzzle Swap of the Twin Ports on Facebook has more than 40 members so far. People post progress shots, completed works and links to online puzzling events.
To be a member is to have puzzle posts of vintage memorabilia, a leopard / jungle scene or a circular Reese’s peanut butter cup grace your news feed.
And it’s pretty relaxed and loose. “You can swap one puzzle, a box full, or you can even just offer yours to give away. We’ll assume that no one wants their swapped puzzles back, unless they specifically request that,” the page states.
The group is mostly interested hobbyists, but about a third are speed puzzlers like Haglund-Pagel.
She got into speed puzzling after attending a tutorial at the library.
Last January, she and her team Puzzle Problem won the first heat of the biggest speed puzzle competition in the Cities, she said.
Today, she studies up on different methods and practices, and the faster she gets, the more enjoyable it is for her.
She completes puzzles on her phone sometimes and participates in virtual speed challenges.
As for brands, she gravitates to Cobble Hill and Puzzle Twist, and her go-to puzzles are aesthetically pleasing, easy and fast: Bright colors, obvious subjects, borders and big circles.
“I also like things that I enjoy in real life like desserts and food.”
Having access to a big and free supply helps her and others, she said.
And, "It whets the appetite of puzzle people.”