Businesses everywhere are marketing their products and reaching out to customers with electronic newsletters. Some are beautiful, some are basic. Some are "much ado about nothing." Others are packed full of information that is useful and that others might charge for. In which case, one actually considers purchasing the product being pitched.
While looking for yarn online, I came across Lion Brand yarn and signed up for their mailed catalog (beautiful, so well produced from a design and printing standpoint) and for their emailed newsletter. The newsletter is not long; it seems to come about once a week. What I appreciate about it is the free pattern that is highlighted in each issue.
A few months ago, the free pattern was for a crocheted Market Bag (Pattern #: 70221A). With patterns I like, I simply select with my cursor, then copy (CTRL C) and (after opening a new doc in MS Word) paste (CTRL V) the photo and directions into an MS Word document, then save (CTRL S) in a folder on my computer or print out (CTRL P) and put in a 3-ring binder (where I then have a pattern book filled with patterns I like and can actually use).
Lion also sells all the yarn needed for the bag, but as the organic yarn recommended came to ... gulp ... $45, I used another solution.
A few years ago, I bought a basket full of various Sugar 'n Creme cotton yarns at a secondhand sale. I've used them to crochet dishcloths and washcloths. I pulled the basket out and started working Lion's easy-to-follow directions. By the end of the weekend and several DVD-episodes of a favorite BBC series, I had a large market bag (I wanted to use my ergonomic crochet hook and choose a slightly larger size hook than in the directions.)
My results (the first photo here) looked VERY colorful. I wished I'd had more pink/blue to use intead of the weird green/turquoise mix on the handle. Like many a frustrated artist, I was sure that if I put MORE "stuff" on the bag, it would be improved. So I worked up a few crocheted flowers and sewed them onto the front. It is a very busy bag.
Then, I decided the bag was too busy looking to use as a gift (my intention in the first place in starting out), so I trotted to my local store (hey, they deserve my business too) and bought Sugar 'n Creme on a large spool for $11, and it did the trick and was almost the same color as the one in the directions; natural with a few speckles of color strewn about. Bag #2, weekend #2, DVD disk-set #2, worked out much better (see second photo). I skipped the flowers this time, but put a puff-stitch pattern around the bag (3 rows of puff stitch, with a row of the regular bag pattern in between the puff-stitch rows). Voila! a great gift for anyone who wants to reduce use of plastic grocery bags, and, as it turned out with this recipient, likes to frequent farmers markets (we have one of the best ones around here in Athens County, Ohio. Did you know Athens was once voted by Mother Earth News as "one of the 12 best places you've never heard of"?)
Here are some other businesses that offer newsletters and/or free patterns. I haven't read them all, so try them out and see if they are worthwhile. You can always cancel. If you're worried about your email being out there, sign up for a free Gmail address just for this purpose. You can check it, whenever, and see what interesting things you can make using available products or new products. Remember that whether talking about baking, crocheting, or painting--quality of products DOES matter. Try something out with less expensive alternatives, and if you like the results, spring for better quality materials in the next version.
YARN SITES WITH FREE PATTERNS:
And also, visit the Craft Yarn Council of America.