this thing's incredible

My Roll-Up Puzzle Mat Stops Me Losing My Marbles (and My Jigsaw Pieces) During Isolation

Photo: AILBHE MALONE/ AILBHE MALONE

About eight years ago, my mother was gripped by a jigsaw-puzzle mania. She bought a couple of 1,000-piece puzzles and a supremely dorky and exceptionally large jigsaw-puzzle board upon which to play them. Her board (which she bought at the Art and Hobby Shop in Dublin) was like an artist’s portfolio case, and closed over the puzzle when not in use. You could store it upright or flat, and it had a little handle, should you wish to take your puzzle with you elsewhere, but it was truly giant and was never really out of sight, no matter where you put it. About four years ago, I, too, was gripped by a jigsaw-puzzle mania: I wanted a screen-free hobby, but didn’t care to take up crafting. I soon learned that a dorky puzzling accessory was crucial — my kitchen table was not big enough to accommodate an in-motion 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, as well as dinner for two and the flotsam of daily life. However, I didn’t want an A2-size board in my house at all times.

Then visiting my aunt-in-law in Chichester, I stopped into a games shop and noticed a puzzle roll for £10 (as well as a handsome Ravensburger 1,000 piecer). Comprising a large piece of felt, wrapped around an extending cardboard tube, the puzzle roll seemed like a non-bulky alternative to my mum’s giant mat, and for £10, I was willing to take a chance. I stuffed both the roll and the puzzle into my duffel and brought them back home on the train.

In the years since, I’ve recommended the puzzle mat to anyone who will listen. You puzzle directly onto a large piece of felt, which rolls up and around a cardboard tube when you’re done. You secure the felt with three Velcro straps and can then shove the roll in a cupboard or on a bookshelf — I keep mine in one of my vinyl storage boxes. The felt is large enough to easily handle up to a 2,000-piece puzzle, and I’ve yet to lose a piece — the felt is surprisingly grippy. And now that my kitchen table has the additional daily load of being my workspace, it feels more pleasing than ever to be able to spread out a Ravensburger 1K without worrying about how to eat my dinner around it.

£21

This is the roll I have. It’s back in stock on April 18.

This option is in stock at Amazon, comes with three constructable rolling tubes and is perfect for transporting puzzles.

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My Rollup Puzzle Mat Keeps My Jigsaw Pieces in Order