By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN “What has 18,000 pieces that you can fit into a shopping bag?” Delano resident Skip Knight asked.
His answer? “Puzzles.”
In the past two years, Knight has completed 18 puzzles, each with 1,000 pieces.
“Everybody should have a hobby,” he said. “I’ve been doing puzzles since I was 6 years old.”
For many years, Knight was busy with work and family, but now that he’s retired, he’s picked up his favorite pastime once again.
Each puzzle takes about two weeks to complete.
“Sometimes you work for about an hour, and then you get frustrated and give up,” he said. “Then, suddenly, at 1 o’clock in the morning, everything falls back into place and you keep going.”
Knight does his puzzles on a white tablecloth in the kitchen, where he has a large window to look outside.
“You always start with the border and work in,” he said. “If you can’t find that, you move to the bright colors and work around.”
Knight often leaves out the last four pieces, so that his wife of 47 years, Kay, can place them when she comes home.
“She loves that,” Knight smiled.
All but one of Knight’s puzzles has a train theme.
“I love my trains,” said Knight, who has a collection of model trains.
His favorite puzzle depicts two children gazing into a hobby store with toy trains, because it brings back memories of when he was young.
“We didn’t have any money to buy anything,” he said. “We just drooled.”
Knight was born in England, and his father was part of the 8th Air Force, which flew B-17 planes.
Knight’s only puzzle that isn’t related to trains depicts a B-17, in honor of his father.
After he completes a puzzle, Knight creates a frame for it. He uses a thick white backing, glass for the front, and oak for the edges. Instead of matting, he uses various colors of masking tape.
For the oak frame, Knight uses sandpaper, stain, and polyurethane.
“You’ve got to be very patient,” he said.
Knight has a few more puzzles in boxes, and he’s excited to get started on those, as well.
When asked what he plans to do with all the puzzles, Knight responded, “The truth? I don’t know.”
He enjoys collecting a variety of objects, such as eagle figurines, model cars and ships, and other pieces of history. Knight even has a piece of coal from the Titanic.
Before he retired, Knight was a heavy line mechanic at Morrie’s Automotive Group in Minnetonka. His wife, Kay, works at Haven Homes of Maple Plain.
The couple’s house in Delano has been in Kay’s family since it was built in 1898.
Their family consists of two daughters, three granddaughters, and one great-granddaughter. Soon, Knight will also have a great-grandson.