Let the 2021 Holiday Craft Fair Extravaganza Begin!

Sat Nov 6, 2021 starts our amazingly epic holiday season craft fair extravaganza! Starting this Sat, Michelle and I will be at a craft fair every weekend through Dec 11. I will admit, I am extremely excited!  We have so many amazing events this year that I can't wait to get the holiday shopping season started!


Nov 6. marks our first holiday event at the Black Bay Depot in Post Falls, ID. We will be hosting a large booth with some of our most iconic items such as reversibles and beaded earrings. We are also bringing a few new items! These new items include Squid Game inspired toys, beautiful Birthstone earring studs, and exciting mystery bags!


The other events we will be attending are:

  • Rathdrum Craft and Farmers Market – Nov 13, 10am – 4pm
  • The Rusty Star A Merry Little Christmas Craft Fair – November 20 and 21, 9am – 4pm
  • Silver Lake Mall Black Friday event – Fri, November 26, 9am –3pm
  • CDA Makers Craft Fair – Sat, November 27, 10am – 4pm
  • Post Falls Winterfest – Fri, December 3, 4pm – 8pm
  • NICS Holiday Craft Fair – Sat, December 4, 9am – 3pm
  • Cowboy Christmas Market – Dec. 10 4-7pm and Dec 11, 10am – 7pm

With so many craft fairs, shopping at our online store is even easier.  Pickups can be scheduled to correspond with the craft fair times! Simply order your item, schedule a time during one of the events and pick it up. during the event hours.  You can also make special orders to be completed and picked up at one of these times as well. Contact us with any questions and we will be glad to help.



The Rathdrum Craft and Farmer's Market is for the Community

October 9th, 2021 is starting the Rathdrum Craft and Farmer's Market holiday seasons! This event will not only support local artisans and farmers, it will also be helping out the Rathdrum Senior Center with a food drive, donations, and a fun raffle featuring handmade items from local crafters. Along with helping out the Rathdrum  Senior Center, visitors will find wonderful handmade gifts, produce, farm fresh eggs, flowers, plants, baked goods, & more. Check out their event page here.


Thanks to Sandra Cook and Kayla Johnson The first of the three Rathdrum Craft and Farmer's Markets will run from 10am to 4pm Saturday October 9th. Future events will take place Nov. 13 and Dec. 11.

Cutoff Crafts received the opportunity to interview Sandra Cook.



I know you are working on benefiting the senior center in Rathdrum. What are you doing to help support them? 

   Times are tough with no signs of things easing in the near future. Food anxiety is at a record high as are the need for assistance with food. The community center in a non profit with limited resources. They are very sweet and generous people who desire to help the whole community. We are a community focused market and our hearts break seeing how people are struggling to get food, pay their bills, etc. To help the community we are doing a food drive, many vendors are donating products for raffles, and all the money raiseed from the raffles will go toward the community center. 

Should event attendees bring foods for the senior center?

   We are accepting non-perishable food donations from non-vendors. The more we receive the better.

How many vendors are you expecting?

   For the October event we have about 20 indoor vendors and 10 outside vendors. 

What can visitors expect to see?

   We have a photo booth with a photographer and cute themed outfits for people to use, raffles, food drive, and wonderful vendors from food to handmade gifts.

What do you look forward to most about this event?

   Kayla and I look forward to helping others, it's sappy but true, and this event is certainly helping the Rathdrum community. I also look forward to vendors and visitors enjoying themselves. The Rathdrum Craft and Farmer's Markets is a great way for people buying or selling their products to meet new friends and customers. 

Thanks to Kayla and Sandra, there is going to be a wonderful community event filled with fun! And of course, Cutoff Crafts will be there having a blast as well.




Crafting while Enjoying Nature

It was a beautiful day out, up here in the mountains of northern Idaho. I love nature. I am very fortunate to live in a land with incredible national forests and lakes in every direction. My sister and I decided to squeeze in one more camping trip for the season. When we got to the park we found out they had a couple cabins available so it turned into a lovely cabin retreat.

My checklist while camping tends to go a bit like this: clothes, toiletries, tent, tarp, food, water, sleeping bag, map, crafting supplies, book, and a deck of cards.

Pack weight is a serious concern for any hiker or camper. One of my favorite crafting projects to take when I know I am going hiking is chainmail. My main chainmail bracelet material is anodized aluminum. This is perfect as it is light-weight, vibrantly colored, and water resistant. The bright colors of the rings make them easy to spot amidst the tall grass where I sometimes work. There are roughly 850 anodized aluminum rings in an ounce. A bracelet takes 100-400 rings. So a single bracelet project takes less than half an ounce of material. The only tools I need to bring are two pairs of pliers, which weigh in at 4 ounces each. This means I can pack a fantastic craft kit for less than a pound. Plus, the rings are easily dividable among multiple plastic bags. This makes them far less cumbersome to carry compared to art media that involves bulky sketchpads or weighty glass beads.


As we were going cabining, and not just out for a trail hike, I decided to bring a far more elaborate kit than the bare minimum. This gave me plenty of options regarding colors to calmly sort through at the cabin in the morning and selectively bring only the ones I was truly interested on working with on the trails.


The sky was a spectacular blue. The mountain lakes were refreshing after hiking all day. We were able to lay out on a quiet pier and spend some time soaking up the still mountain air... and of course make art happen! I didn’t get a chance to finish this silver and black dragonscale but it sure is off to a solid start.


Meanwhile, Halloween is just around the corner so I felt very inspired to make some seasonal bracelets. I managed to complete an entire pseudo-mobius in purple, orange, and black while resting in a meadow.

My sister and I had a wonderful time. I highly suggest bringing along a creative craft to relax with while enjoying the soothing world of nature.

Dill Pickles Recipe - A Delicious Taste of Summer

There’s nothing quite like the taste of home canned pickles. I love harvesting cucumbers from my plants all season long and then turning them into pickles we can enjoy all winter. It’s rather magical to me. Pickles are a delicious taste of summer’s bounty when the snow is thick on the ground.

Sometimes my cucumber plants do not yield as well as I would like. Nature can be fickle and, while a gardener tries their best, it just doesn’t always work out. That’s what happened this year. Fortunately, this is the perfect time of the year to buy vegetables by the case at the local fruit sellers. A case of cucumbers weighs 20-25 pounds (depending on the seller). Every quart jar of pickles takes roughly one pound of cucumbers. So a single case of cucumbers will make 20 quarts! That’s 5 gallons of pickles! I bought two cases this year: one case to make into sweet pickles and one case to experiment with creating new delicacies.

Sweet pickles are typically my go to use for cucumbers; I love them, my family loves them, and my friends love them. However, last week my grandmother asked me to try making dill pickles. She has to be careful of her sugar and sweet pickles are a bit too sweet for her.

I’ve never made dill pickles before so I decided to give it a try! I am so glad I did because I absolutely love how they turned out. They are bursting with flavor and have a delightful texture. Feel free to try your hand at making some delicious dill pickles using my Zero Sugar Dill Pickle Recipe.

First, I wash and sterilize 5 quart jars. My dishwasher has a hot temperature wash that steams the jars for 30 minutes so I pop those suckers in while I prep the rest of my station. Any method that is USDA approved will work to clean canning jars.

Next, the cucumbers get washed. I use a diluted vinegar solution to rinse (1/3 cup vinegar to 6 cups water) if I am concerned about any residue from store bought cucumbers.

I slice each cucumber into 1/4 inch thick rounds. This makes for nice pickles perfect for sandwiches or as a side dish. I discard each end piece of the cucumber as well as any discolored or suspicious spots. Since I keep quail, all the vegetable waste goes into a scrap bucket for my happy birds.

With a canning funnel I fill the quart jars with sliced cucumbers. It's important to leave 1/2 an inch of headspace for quart jars so they will seal well after the hot water bath.

I pop a pot on the stove and add the water and vinegar. This gets turned on high until the mix boils. Hurray for pasteurization!

I dice the garlic cloves and turn the mix down to low-medium.

Now it's time to add the salt, garlic, peppercorns, dill seed, and dill weed. I give it a good stir, making sure the salt is fully dissolved.

This will simmer for 10 minutes. I stir occasionally; no-one wants scorched pickle sauce.

I pour the hot syrup directly in to the loaded quart jars using a canning funnel. Again, I make sure to leave 1/2 an inch of headspace. Proper sealing is important for home canned goods!

I use a chopstick to poke around the jar and release any air bubbles. Air bubbles are a canner's nemesis. Chopsticks make the perfect removal tool that won't disturb the flavor of the sauce like a metal tool might.


I wipe the rims of the jars with straight vinegar to clean off any spillage. I seal the jars with clean lids and rings. It's getting so close to finished pickles I can almost taste it!

I load the jars into a hot water bath that is simmering. It's critical that the bath is only simmering. Loading cool jars into a boiling bath is a recipe for shattered jars and sadness. I make sure the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Then I bring the hot water bath up to a boil. Quart jars of pickles need to be hot water bathed for 15 minutes + 1 minute per thousand feet of elevation above sea level. I live at 2,600 ft so I hot water bath for 18 minutes. It's important to remember, the clock starts when the water is boiling - not before.

Lastly, I cool carefully on a cooling rack. It's important to make sure there are no open windows near the cooling rack if it is cold outside. Sudden temperature shocks are bad for hot glass.

Dill Pickles are now ready.


Get the recipe by clicking the image below and saving it to your computer. Then print and create for delicious Dill Pickles! 



Time To Celebrate More Herbs, Less Salt Day!

Today I found out that August 29th is More Herbs, Less Salt Day. According to the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital this celebration of flavor started before 2018 (Jefferson.edu). I haven't been able to pinpoint an exact origin story, so if anyone has a lead please leave a comment down below!

Regardless, I adore herbs and will happily talk about my favorite herbs to cook with and grow.

I grow the vast majority of my family's culinary herbs partly for that stunning garden fresh taste and partly because herbs are so dang expensive in the stores. We cook a LOT at my house so it is always good to have pounds and pounds of plants on hand. An oregano plant will cost about $4-$6 at a nursery, a tiny bottle of dried oregano might run twice that high.

Dried Oregano

Quite a few herbs are perennials, they come back year after year. Once I plant a sprig of thyme that sucker is not going to stop no matter how many blizzards or droughts. Every year my thyme plants burst forth in an herbal abundance ready to be harvested again.

Thyme 

Most herbs love to be harvested. The more you pick them, the more you encourage fresh growth. Some herbs have particular harvesting habits to bear in mind. Up here in Idaho, basil is an annual, it lives for only one year and then has to be planted again. My basil does best if I carefully pinch off the top bundle of leaves on each stalk. This encourages the plant to bush out and throw more branches.

Basil Leaf

My favorite herbs to grow for culinary purposes are: oregano, basil, thyme, lavender, sage, and parsely.

Herbs are a wonderful source of delicious flavor and incredibly important nutrients. Parsely, for example, is incredibly rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron. Its fortifying nutrients are why it is loved by grandmothers everywhere and added to chicken soup whenever someone feels a cold coming on.

Container of Parsley

Pretty As A Picture

Photos are a critical part of my work with Cutoff Crafts. Our new Square Shop is rolling out which means I need to have a bunch of earrings individually photoed and lovingly described. Since my jewelry is all handmade, each piece gets its own special photoshoot.

A good series of pictures makes or breaks an online sale. If my pieces look stunning in real life but have lackluster photos, the online sales will flop. After all, the world can only see what I post. I have to advocate for my jewelry as best I can and provide the most accurate evidence so customers can judge if they want to buy something or not.

Here's how I make my pictures speak positively about my jewelry and make sure everything is as pretty as a picture.

First, I make sure to have a clean backdrop. I always sweep, mop, or rake the area to remove any loose debris. A single hair can ruin an otherwise beautiful composition (see photo).


Second, the backdrop sets the tone of any photo. I enjoy emphasizing my outdoor rural location, so my photos often include natural flowers, leaves, and stones. 

Third, there are stages for art all around us. I like to try different locations, settings, and accent pieces to see how they change the feel of my jewelry.

Here is a piece on cement stairs:


One on a log:


One on a leaf:


Faceted crystal and gleaming metal can be extremely finicky to photograph in a flattering light. I take a deep breath and do as many shots as I need. For a single pair of earrings I may take 40-50 photos. Although most times I can get away with around 20 photos per piece.

Sunlight can be a lovely ally or a terrible opponent. If I am working with a phone camera sunlight is often a wonderful boon. I have to be careful though, too much sun can cause awful streaks and blurs.

Here is a cloudy shot:


Here is a lovely full sun shot:


Here is too much sun:


Photoshop, GIMP, and other photo editing programs can be a wonderful aide but it is best if I can get the cleanest base photo I can. Photo editing tools are often a bit of a roll of the dice on if I can salvage the shot - also the less time I am manipulating photos the more time I have to make wonderful pieces of jewelry!

Hopefully some of these tips can help with your own photography adventure!


Cutoff Crafts Has an Online Store!

We have an online store! Check it out

That one sentence is causing a lot of excitement here at Cutoff Crafts. Now shoppers can find our wonderful products anytime they desire and not just at craft fairs and other events.  Don't worry, we will still be attending as many craft fairs as we can that meet our unique tastes and needs. This store simply adds another avenue to connect and provide our loyal customers with ways to buy items we have lovingly handcrafted in Northern Idaho. 

Believe it or not, it took us a while to figure out where we wanted to host our store and how we were going to do it.  Our main concerns were making a store that is safe and secure for our shoppers, pleasing to the eye, easy to navigate, and provide additional details to our customers. These concerns and requirements lead to weeks of debates, discussions, and sorting through so many choices. I had no idea there were so many ecommerce options for budding our store.

Honestly, we tried a few options to see how they would play out. We tried PayPal first. PayPal, while they provided useful checkout and "buy it now" buttons, required a bit of coding, constant care and tracking, and unfortunately, it lacked the ability to organize the hundreds of buttons needed to create a usable store. This was not the ease we were looking for.. We tried a few sites on a trial bases to see if the shopping experience would be better than our handmade PayPal store. While these sites integrated into our blog and provided a lovely dashboard to create listings, after the initial trial period, their monthly fee was a little expensive. It was starting to look like we would never enter the online store world. Thankfully, Cutoff Crafts was about to discover something amazing!

Cutoff Crafts, like many vendors that attend amazing events, uses Square in order to take credit cards, google pay, and other forms of payments. But what we didn't know was that with this amazing device we also received something that we had no idea existed until recently. Did you know Square provides a free ecommerce website to sell our items online? That it's free and fully customizable? Wait...what?!?!?!

Yup! By clicking the beautifully small button that reads, "online", anyone with a Square account can begin the process of creating an online store. We went through each step by building our website to match our theme and brand, listing items, setting up shipping requirements, and setting up taxes.  Once each step was done, Cutoff Crafts entered the online world.  

So did Square hit all the concerns and requirements needed to be a viable platform for our most awesome online store? 



The process to discover the truth was simple. All we had to do was ask and answer 3 important questions:

1. Was it safe and secure for our customers? Since this is Square, which is a trusted and secure place to take payments that many of our customers use, the ecommerce website checked the safety and secure box. 

2 Was it easy for our customers to navigate? Because I could customize the store, I was able to make navigation as simple as possible and make the store pleasing to the eye all while matching the Cutoff Crafts brand and color theme. This checked off the navigation box and the pleasing to the eye box. 

3. Could I provide additional details about each item sold with extra images for the customers to read and look through? Each item is added individually providing a space for details, a space for several images, and even a place to track inventory so that our customers know how many we have for sale. This, checked off the details box.

Best of all, Square is easy on the checkbook. I encourage others to use the Square site and try it out  for themselves. Click the image below to start your own online ecommerce!

This is an affiliate link


Cutoff Crafts will be at the Inland Northwest LocalFest

 


There is exciting news for all of us here at Cutoff Crafts! Aug 8, 2021, we will be attending a massive event called Inland Northwest LocalFest. It will feature over 100 vendors and we happen to be one of them! Michelle and I will be selling our handmade jewelry, chainmail art, antiques, crochet toys, Cutoff Crafts' exclusive keychains, coffee cozys, dice bags, the ever popular 100% nylon scrubbies and so much more! Come check out our booth, shop for yourself, and shop for gifts! This event is sure to be one of the biggest we have seen in a while here in the Inland Northwest!

So what exactly is LocalFest?

Inland Northwest LocalFest was created to highlight the talent in our region. LocalFest features artisans, crafters, food, & music from the Inland Northwest! LocalFest:

  • is Family Friendly 
  • will feature International Cuisine Meets Fair Food (Grab a Polynesian Shrimp Skewer and a Funnel Cake, or Filipino Pancit and a Snow-Cone!)
  • will have a Beer Garden (Play Lawn Games while you drink a cold one, or try your hand at riding a mechanical bull!)
  • will contain a Diverse Group of over 100+ Vendors (multi cultural influences, craftsmen of many mediums, encourage young entrepreneurs)
  • will feature an All-Day Concert with amazing Musicians (River City Roots | Dj Daniel Royal | Gin, Smoke, & Lies | Loose Gazoonz)
  • will include Kids' and Teens' Entertainment (Featuring Trampoline Basketball, an Obstacle Course, Bounce House, Face Painters, Balloon Artists, and more!)
  • is sponsored by Land of the Free Realty | Dishman Hills Auto Repair | TDS Fiber | Edible Inland NW | Reel Sportsman Media

For all who wish to attend and come out to see us at the biggest LocalFest event here in the Northwest, here is the information everyone will need:

DATE & TIME:
11am-8pm Sunday, August 8, 2021

LOCATION:
Greyhound Park & Event Center
5100 W Riverbend Ave,
Post Falls ID 83854

TICKETS:
Save $2 per ticket when you buy online! Inland Northwest LocalFest Tickets ($7 at the door, $5 when you buy online)

FREE PARKING!

FREE ADMISSION FOR AGES 12 & UNDER!

We can't wait to see you there!

LocalFest Links:
Instagram
Facebook
Cutoff Crafts Event Page


Where Do I find Crochet Patterns?

Items I have crochet using patterns I created and patterns I found online

As an avid crocheter, I am always on the lookout for cool patterns. Somedays, I make it my life's work to find, collect, and hoard the cutest creations found on the web. It's actually really funny, most of the patterns I have collected sit in a digital file collecting digital dust. I have so many patterns that it may actually be impossible for me to crochet them all. However, it doesn't stop me from collecting more. I'll be honest, there is a certain state of mental excitement when I find an adorable pattern and add it to my 'someday' collection. 

I have recently been asked, 'Where do (I) find all of my patterns?' I kind of just stared off into space for a moment and shrugged with the answer, "The Internet." I suppose that was the best answer I had at the time hahaha. However, I have thought about it and looked at my search history to see exactly where I get most of my patterns. Below, I have compiled a list of areas I check often or spend the most time.

When I start my day looking for cute and/or unique crochet patterns, I usually start at five sites and then work my way out from there. Really, all one has to do is Google search crochet patterns and they will find the web is full of them, many of them free. But before I go crazy on Google (some how hours turn into days when I search like this), there are a few sites that I look to due to their collection of the most adorable, geeky, and must-have patterns I need. 

First, I always look to my brain. My own brain is a great place to find patterns.  Much of what I sell is created by me. I am often stating, when discussing a piece, that I invented the pattern. This reversible fox is one of my newest items. There is no stuffing and can be turned inside out to reveal an angry fox. (Sorry it has sold, but I do take special orders). 

When my brain fails to give me ideas to create my own patterns, which is more often than I wish to admit (my guess is it fails 99 percent of the time), I look elsewhere for inspiration, ideas, and patterns. My top five places I look are: 
  • Ravelry has a ton of unique patterns that are often very cheap or free. They range from wear to amigurumi with wonderful images to spark the imaginative process. 
  • Etsy often has several patterns worth perusing that are in the acceptable price range.
  • JoAnn's website has a crafting section and patterns for crocheters that are adorable and free. I do a quick search on what's new. If there are new items, I spend a bit of time reading and perhaps saving some patterns.
  • Yarnspirations, which used to be Red Heart, has A ton of free patterns ranging from Afghans to amigurumi. They are  nicely separated by skill level, type, and style. The instructions are often made by fellow crochet artists and are rated for ease and pattern readability. This car pattern for example, has recently been add to my hoard. Click the image if you wish to own this pattern as well. It is free.


  • Pinterest is a site that I can waste an entire day searching and loving everything I see. A simple search for crochet patterns and the world becomes an array of colors, stitches, and adorable creations. From costumes to stuffed animals, the sky...nay...the universe is our limit. I usually hit this one last because there is so much to share and adore.

I hope this list helps fellow crocheters find event more awesomeness in the yarn world. I know fellow crochet artist have their go-to sites that they use for their inspiration.  I am curious, where do you look to find new patterns for inspiration or to collect? Let me know in the comments below. 

Celebrate Mother's Day With Cutoff Crafts May 8th at the Silver Lake Mall


May 9th is Mother's Day! It's the time to tell our moms just how much we love and appreciate all they have done for us.  Some moms like the traditional set: grab some flowers, sign a card, and finish it off with a nice dinner.  For others, our moms are a little more...eccentric. These moms will love the standard Mother's Day gestures but we all know that they will also adore something more unique.  Either way, we want to show our love and support the best way we know how.

Cutoff Crafts is celebrating moms this weekend (May 8th) at The Silver Lake Mall in Coeur d'Alene, ID, with our collection of gifts that are sure to spark the interest for all of our mons. Each gift is carefully handcrafted to ensure it's longevity and pristine beauty. What is even more amazing is that our collection of gifts ranges from conventional to eccentric.  Our earrings feature bright flowers and adorable hearts to epic dragons and Doctor Who charms. 


We have necklaces that can't be found anywhere else. Many of the necklaces are crafted of carefully selected vintage beads placed on a silk cord, and adorned with a sterling silver clasp. Some even feature a pearl knot between each bead to help protect the beads from rubbing against each other, add to the beauty of the piece, and to add strength to the necklace.

Chinese melon beads from the 1700s with a sterling silver clasp, hand strung on a silk cord.


And to finish off the ensemble we have delightful bracelets in different styles made by our expert chainmail artist, Michelle.  Opening one ring at a time and blending the metal into a gorgeous pattern, Michelle creates works of art that will be beautiful on the wrist and demand the attention of passersby. 

Bottom to top: Half persian 3 in 1, European 4 in 1, Turkish Round, Pseudo Mobius, Pseudo Mobius

Of course, if jewelry is not in your mom's wheelhouse, we have other items moms are sure to enjoy.  Our local crochet artist, Sandra (that's me), creates fun items that are both decorative and useful.  Ranging from look-a-like plants to adorable stuffed animals, the items are sure to be enjoyed.

Some of the crocheted plants Cutoff Crafts will be featuring this weekend are realistic looking little cacti and little roses in a clay pots.  These plants are a wonderful gift because, unlike real flowers, they will never wilt.  As an added bonus, these potted plants never need watering.  

 Cutoff Crafts is debuting a brand new item - magnets.  These little gifts will feature small flowers, butterflies, or other tiny creations that can decorate refrigerators, filing cabinets, and other metal surfaces in the home.  WARNING: Keep away from electronics.

Crochet cactus (top left), crochet rose (top right), flower magnets (bottom)

For the keychain collectors we will have butterfly keychains ready to help celebrate Mother's Day and spring!  For the coffee lovers we will have comfy coffee cozies that will help protect the hands from hot and cold beverages. For the animal lovers we will have small stuffed animals featuring hedgehogs, octopi, cats, unicorns, and more. 

  

Butterfly keychain (top left), Sea Side Coffee Cozy (top right), crochet hedgehog (bottom)

There is so much to find at our store and all of our items are handcrafted with care. The list above is a small sample of what we have to offer. Come by, check out the items, and find the perfect Mother's Day gift.  Hope to see you May 8th at the Silver Lake Mall, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.