Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Crochet Cloths!

So. I've been crafty even if I haven't managed to be bloggy... (hmm, bloggy isn't quite a word, but you catch my drift.

Just this past weekend, I made birthday gift for a great friend and colleague of mine:

I 've been sneezing and coughing (I got a bug from the kid, I'm sure) and didn't finish it until just before I walked out the door to work at 7:30 this morning. Sorry for the bad lighting. 

I made four washcloths and a scrubby from free patterns I found on ravelry.com and around the web. I mostly just started the patterns, then finished off the edges in my own way. I liked the way the borders turned out. For all but one, I single crocheted around the square, then I doubled crocheted again. For two I did this twice:
The colors are a bit off. The pictures below are more accurate.

I used Lily Sugar and Cream Solids and Self Striping. I'll admit, I didn't much like the feel of crocheting with cotton, but the resulting cloths were super soft (wonder how that happened?) and seemed really sturdy. I've crocheted for a while now and must admit -- these are my very first dish/wash cloths. I don't know why I never made any before, perhaps because I was never using 100% cotton?

I also made her a handmade card with a piece of white card stock and markers. I found the template for the flower here - http://www.lets-make-greeting-cards.com/how-to-make-paper-flowers.html   As always, I just did my own thing instead of following the whole tutorial. On the inside, I wrote a birthday wish and on the back I gave instructions on how to care for the cloths.

I tied it all up with a ribbon:

See the tissue paper flag banner in the background? I'm trying out ideas for Baby H's first birthday party!

She really seemed to like them and I'm really happy about that. I love giving handmade gifts. I think people appreciate when someone takes the time to make them something.

I hope that you too will find some joy in giving a little of your talents to others. 
As for me, I plan to devote a bit of craft time each month to gift and charity crafting.

All the best, 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Easy Crochet Wrap Bracelet #1

Easy Crochet Wrap Bracelet
Wrap bracelets are everywhere. I went to three different stores last weekend to buy gifts for friends and there were so many of these extra-long bracelets out there. I'm going to my first ever craft show (I've sold a few items at a show, but this will be my first foray into full out selling) and decided to make a few prototype crochet bracelets.

Chan Luu Wrap Bracelet Polyvore.com

 I love the look of these bracelets and so for the next few posts here I will show you what I came up with . Here's the really simple pattern for the Easy Crochet Wrap Bracelet #1 (at the beginning of this post).

Easy Crochet Wrap Bracelet #1

Please note: You can make this pattern for any reason, even to sell. But I reserve the copyright of the pattern and you should link back to this original post if you blog about this pattern or sell it online. 

Skills Needed to Complete this Pattern: You must be able to chain, single crochet, double crochet,  half double crochet, and be able to string beads onto your thread. A great resource for the basic crochet stitches is http://www.dummies.com/how-to/crafts-hobbies/Crocheting.html .

Materials Needed:
less than one oz of Crochet Cotton or Nylon in size 3. (You can use a lighter weight thread or heavier yarn, but you will have to adjust your starting chain to make it fit your needs.)
Size 1 crochet hook (again you can use a different size, but that will change your gauge)
approx. 2 dozen beads (my version has 26)
A yarn needle (that can slip through your bead holes, this is possible the trickiest bit of the whole pattern. Beads are finicky.)

Super Easy Instructions
Prep: Thread your beads onto your thread. It is better to put too many beads on, than too few.  For now, let the beads stay close to the skein and out of the way of your foundation chain. (explained below)

1: Make a foundation chain long enough to wrap around you wrist loosely at least 5 times.

2: Double chain in the first 10 chains of the foundation chain.  Then, *yarn over insert into the next stitch of the foundation chain, pull up a loop (3 loops on hook), then slide a bead down to the hook. Yarn over pull through 2 loops, yarn over and pull through last two loops to complete the double chain. Double chain in the next 4 stitches of the foundation chain* repeat from star for 2/3rds of the length of your foundation chain.
3. When you get 2/3rds done, stop adding beads and double chains. Instead, single chain into the rest of the stitches of the foundation chain until you get to the 5th stitch from the end. There add a bead by pulling up a loop in the stitch, push down a bead and then complete the single stitch by yarning over and pulling through both loops on the hook. This will serve as the bead closure for the end of the bracelet.

4. Complete the row with single stitches.

5. You're pretty much done! I decided to add a little tassel to the end of my bracelet by knotting the end threads together (instead of weaving them back in) and knotting on a few additional pieces of thread.

And you're done!

To fit the bracelet, just wrap it around your wrist and push the first bead and last bead into the opening of one of the double chains of the bracelet. It may take a few tries to get it to fall where you want it too, but don't try to make it perfect. Part of the wrap bracelet appeal is its unstructured look.

backhand view
back of the wrist view

Please let me know (show me pictures!) if you make this bracelet!
My goal with the crochet patterns I share is always to share something that will bring joy to any who come across this page. Do let me know if you have questions.

See you soon with another wrap bracelet pattern!


I linked up at:

The Girl Creative

The Girl Creative

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hey Look: My Scarf Design is sorta like Donna Karan Sweater featured in Allure

Can you see the similarities?

My Lattice Stitch Summer Scarf (wrapped around my arm)
Lauren Conrad, Allure Magazine May 2011
I was dusting, my least favorite chore, especially since we've been away for four days and I was gone a week before that- when I picked up the May issue of Allure magazine and thought, that sweater looks familiar. 

We get quite a few magazines at our house. They are all gifts from a great friend of mine who started subscriptions for me when I was pregnant and not going out much. They proved to be a great escape in those first few months after Baby H arrived. 

I don't know much about Lauren Conrad, I tried to watch one episode of the Hills and didn't make it through the first 2 minutes. A friend tells me she's the least objectionable person from the show, I'll take her word for it. 

I do know a bit about Donna Karan. There hasn't been a season since I started being fashion-interested (I used to be fashion-obsessed but that has dulled since I've gotten craft-obsessed) that I haven't loved her Ready to Wear lines. Both her high end label and the more affordable (if you think 100 buck shirts are affordable) DKNY line fit with my style preferences - sleek, modern, tailored lines and menswear inspired. 

When I found out the sweater Conrad was wearing on the Allure cover was a hemp knit for Donna Karan I'll admit I was a bit surprised. It's a bit more fussy and girly than her usual. But it's still great looking.
And it ought to be... for $895! That's right, friends! The hemp knit cover up sweater pictured above retailed for nearly 900 smackers. I'm all for spending a little money on a good, staple piece of clothing, but that's exorbitant. Surely if it were made by hand with lots of care, I could venture to say that some well to do person could pay a few hundred dollars for a nice sweater -- but I can't imagine $900.  

The great thing is, if I ever want a sweater like the one pictured, I think I might be able to make a pretty good version and in only a few nights. I have a friend who will be honeymooning in Hawaii this winter, who I just might try to make this for - if I can find the time! 

I think that may be the thing I like most about working on my crochet skills and other handiwork, the potential of it exceeds my purchasing power! 


Monday, August 15, 2011

On My Hook: Antique Corticelli Crochet Edging

Here's what I've had on my hook for the last few days while traveling non-stop:

It is my version of an edging found in Coritcelli's Lessons in Crochet Book 1 from 1916.  The book and many other antique needlework books and pamphlets are available for free at http://antiquepatternlibrary.org . If you knit, crochet, tat, embroider or just like needlecrafts, this site will have you spending hours ohhing and ahhing. 

I got the idea to try my hand at some of the antique stitches and patterns from Fatima over at Crochetology . Her blog is one of my favorites. She makes the coolest crochet wearables and is committed to taking what seem to be difficult patterns and stitches and making them accessible. Her pattern hacks and jewelry designs inspire me. Hers isn't your Grandma's crochet! I'm hoping to use some of her jewelry techniques to create some one of a kind gifts this Fall.

On her blog, she worked through several of the antique edging and stitches found at the Antique Pattern Library. I was inspired to do the same when I realized that I was going to be spending hours upon hours on planes and needed something small, yet engaging to do. 

I picked Corticelli Edging 318C - mostly because it had a set of directions I thought I understood.  I used Aunt Lydia's Fashion Crochet Thread size 3 and a 7/1.65 hook. This thread and hook are a bit larger than the original pattern recommended so the size of my stitches are too, but I knew that when I started. 

I didn't count my starting chain, but as I sat on the plane waiting for take off, I chained out a length that would wrap around my wrist, not knowing then what I would make of the edging swatch. When I finished the edging I decided it would be an interesting cuff and doubled it, by crocheting the entire pattern (with the exception of the foundation row of trebles) again under the foundation row. Making the top and bottom mirror one another. Maybe hard to explain, but not complicated, I promise.

You'll notice that my fabric is a lot looser than the original edging. In part this is because of the larger needle and thread, but I also think that it has to do with my hand gauge. I didn't bother to make the stitches tight and even, rather I wanted to produce a flexible fabric. 

The swatch ends with a curve because of how the original pattern repeats. I thought of shortening the last fan to make it square, but then I decided that I really liked the scalloped edge. 

 While I loved the way my doubled edging turned out, I totally FLUBBED the star flower motif I tried to make from the same book. I did the repeats from memory and let's just say, my memory ain't what it used to be! LOL.  I've found that many of the motif patterns are difficult in the older pattern books. There are plenty of crocheters out there who've written about how to understand and simplify the patterns. I should have looked at the picture and went with my eyes instead of my poor pattern comprehension skills!

Note to self (and you too) : Trust What You See!

I haven't yet decided how to complete the doubled edging.

A frilly cuff maybe?
 It isn't my normal style. I'm more urban/modern than Victorian lace (although I do love the antique pave' setting of the engagement ring my awesome hubby picked out for me), but I think that with the right clasp and embellishments, this might work.

There's only one potential problem:

The ends! Because they are so frilly and not a perfect straight edge and because the fabric is really flexible, I'm not sure what sort of clasp would work to keep the edges from folding up like they are doing in the picture above. Suggestions?

I hope this post will encourage you to give the older patterns a try. Go visit Crochetology (I don't know her by the way, I just love her site) and then go make something incredible.

Until next time, which will be sooner than later, I promise ---


Monday, June 27, 2011

Crocheted Figurines?

So, I must admit, I have been feverishly working on new dolls and I've run into yet another set of inspiring/ensnaring/troubling potential rooms to grow my doll making.

The Problem: Crochet Isn't for Every Office

I have a great friend who wanted a desk doll (what I call the crochet dolls I make) but she had a problem with the dolls I make (and not just that I am not currently taking custom orders ...or any orders). Here's our convo:

Her: You know, I'd really love one of those desk doll thingys you made for x,y and z but...
Me: But?
Her: Yeah, I couldn't keep one of those at work. My desk gets way too dusty. (She works in an old office building and sifts through old records for a living.)
Me: Hmm...
Her: If you ever make one out of something else... like a figurine, but not like a little kid or precious moments thing or something, an adult thing like the crochet ones, I'd be willing to pay you BIG money.

Big Money? My ears perked up. I don't make the things I make expecting money (although it would be nice one day). But the rest of what she said had been irking me about the dolls since I first started making them. 

Am I making crochet figurines?
I had another friend tell me that they were more like crochet sculpture or a figurine than dolls. But like my friend with the dusty office, all I can really think of when people say figurine are glass unicorns or Precious Moments babies:

from ecrater.com

from preciousmoments.com
Honestly, I don't see anything wrong with precious babies and glass mythical unicorns, but they aren't really what I'm going for. 

I started making the dolls in preparation to making doll friends for my little one, so that she could have play unique stuffed. Once I got that form down, I moved on to making amirgurumi and the dolls. 

I make dolls with hug afros -- self and friend reflecting little women dolls. They don't do much but sit and look pretty on a flat surface but I always like have a bit of soul or good feeling attached to them. Put one on your desk and when things get rough, look over at her and share a smile like you would do with a good friend who knows you well. 

I use crochet because I like it, I'm good at it and it's a fairly inexpensive medium.

My friend has a point. Because I am not making stuffy playthings (amigurumi)) for the baby and making things that will sit out on desks or shelves, crochet isn't for every environment. Dust is not easy to get out of the hair. 

Should I Try to Make Them Out of Clay?
I've had a really productive few days with the dolls in progress but will have to slow down because my little one is fascinated with the beads I am using to embelish them and I don't want to keep bringing them out and not letting her play. In a few days, she and my hub will go out without me and I'll get back to finishing up my last three dolls. 

BUT, I'm tempted to go to the cfraft store and buy some clay and try my hand at sculpting a figurine version.

This is either the beginning of a really good idea or ...well....

Thanks for stopping by. I know that there are a lot great blogs out there on the net and the fact that you waste any of your time on my ramblings, is really significant to me.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Tooth Fairy or What you doodle while recovering from dental surgery..

The Tooth Fairy arrived quite unexpectedly in my sketchbook today. I was brainstorming. I'm trying to figure out how to draw a cartoon-like version of the dolls I crochet. I was growing frustrated when I started thinking about the Tooth Fairy.

Remember when we were kids and it didn't hurt when we lost a tooth and we were rewarded by the fairy of myths for our lost little chompers?

Too bad that as an adult when you get a tooth pulled (wisdom my foot!) it hurts like hell and there is no winged lady with money for your loss. 

I don't know when I stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy, only that right now I wish I had one. Maybe the drawing will suffice.

Peas and mashed potatoes (all I can eat right now),

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So, What Am I Going to Do About it?... Dolls in Progress

In today's post, I'll share a bit about why I think I was having a hard time crocheting and what I plan to do about it. I hope that my experiences might help someone else who may be having muse problems.

Okay, last post I was a bit nonplussed. I wanted to crochet but I wasn't getting the results I wanted nor taking the time I wanted. I blamed my muse. You know that infamous mythical woman that we who would be artist are taught to blame things on when we aren't being productive? I gave my muse a hard time. But if the muse is supposed to be a friend and a supporter, I thought, how dare I be so critical of her? I sat down and I reassessed my problem. And then, after writing that post about the doll I wasn't going to finish. I did this:

I started two dolls, completing their basic structure and their hair (the most difficult part) in a night. This was a feat not just because I wasn't feeling particularly crafty, but also because I was (and still am) in immense mouth pain. Turns out that I had to have some wisdom teeth pulled among a host of other painful procedures. And after really reflecting, I think part of my crafty difficulties arose from my denial of the pain I was in. I'm used to doing a million things at once --- working full time, mothering, wife-ing (I know, I know, but you get what I mean), friending, writing, reading, and every other ing I could pack in.

But, dear friends, let me tell you if you don't already know, not paying attention to how your body feels will only work for so long. Eventually it will give out on you, make you rest, make you take stock of what's important.

Good thing is, now I think I can go back to doll making. I'm even inspired to try a few things.
I don't work from a pattern for the dolls. I usually just crochet in a spiral, increasing and decreasing where it feels right. For these two dolls, that I began out of frustration --- I just wanted to get a doll done in my rut -- I used two of my favorite skin tone yarns and basic black yarn for the body and wig. The wigs are actually a frogged hat. While similar, these dolls are differently shaped. Most notably from the side they have different bust shapes. I like each of them. I have plans to embellish them each with beads, ribbon and embroidery to enhance them. New territory for me. I usually just give them some earrings and maybe a necklace. I've got big plans for these dolls. I have a third doll with a lighter skin tone on the hook right now. Once she's done, I'll embellish all three. And hopefully have the first dolls for my new crafty business endeavors. (No more custom orders for awhile)

And what about the weird doll I posted about last? I dug her out of the scrap box (am I the only one with a scrap box for crochet?) and also dug out another failed experiment. Here they are in their ugly glory.

Putting them side by side made it easy for me to see what I didn't like about them! They have the same problems even though they have very different appearances.

  • Problem 1 - Eye size. I use standard safety eyes in my dolls. Apparently I only like the really small ones. Lesson learned.
  • Problem 2 - Body Shape. All my dolls have boobs, or at least a breast ridge. Neither of these do. They are both oddly conical and straight up and down.
  • Problem 3 - Hair issues. Both dolls have hair that I have used on other dolls and loved. But I hate (yep, the H word) both of their wigs. After really looking at them I noticed that I had sewn their hair too far back on the head. These dolls have too much forehead. Plus, each wig is too thin. I like my dolls to have big lush afros. Neither of these do.

So, what am I going to do with the two uglies? After much debate (with myself), I've decided to unravel them both and reuse the yarn and stuffing. I can't salvage them because of the eyes. I don't think I'll ever like those eyes.

The next few posts will be progress posts for the three new dolls. Wish me luck.

Peas and carrots,

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Crochet Muse is Resting ..A Doll In Progress, A Tiny Granny Square

Hey Good People,

Life is bizarre but good. I say it's bizarre because I've been all over the map (literally traveling a bunch), under the weather and not inspired by my crocheting ... Like this doll:
I started making her a few months ago for a friend. Every few weeks or so I pick her up and say I really should finish her.

She needs a bit more hair, some jewelry and a stand. She already has a home. I'm making her for a friend. Good thing that friend doesn't know it, because I don't know if she'll ever get done.

Has that ever happened to you? Ever start a project, put lots of work into it (believe me the hair on these dolls is lots of work) and then just decide not to finish it?

Part of me just wants to take a few hours and give her a once over and see if I like it. (You might remember I started this blog to stop having so many unfinished projects.)But then there's this other part of me that just isn't into her anymore.

I think I've lost my crochet muse or something. 

Practicing what I preach to my students -- do something small to get you going on something big -- I decided to make a little jewelry project to get the crochet fires burning.

I watched a little tv shopping network (most of my jewelry ideas come from watching hsn or qvc. Maybe I'll write a post about that soon.) And came up with an idea for a granny square pendant.

And I made this out of some crochet thread:
It's been hanging on my refrigerator ever since. The picture doesn't do it justice. The thread is a nice, soft burnt umber and the square is tiny (less than 1.5" across). It would be great with some beads and a chain. Alas, if only someone else would finish it.

Don't think I'm writing about this lack of crochet inspiration from a bad place. I'm not. It is what it is.

I've been wondering if the problem isn't health related. Crocheting is a physical activity for me.  I work small and long. I spend nights squinting at tiny thread making my eyes tired and my fingers numb...Perhaps, as a good friend offered the other day, I'm just too tired to crochet much right now. No worries. It's just a general fatigue and I have been getting other things done. I've participated in my first swap on Craftster and made a set of greeting cards for a friend. My doodles are growing daily. I find that I can do them more easily while watching my rambunctious 9 month old than working on my dolls which require deep concentration and a meticulous attention to detail. I haven't gotten totally out of the doll making spirit, I've started drawing paper dolls.

Yeah, the more I think about it, perhaps my crochet muse is resting... like I need to. Maybe in a few weeks I'll pick up this doll or the granny square and be inspired...


Friday, April 29, 2011

Dee Doodles

Hi good people!

I have been having the busiest of busy weeks. But isn't everyone? I'll be glad when the semester winds down.

Because I can't get time to crochet like I want... which means that when I crochet I like to finish what I'm making quickly and get a bit obsessive ;)...I've been sneaking in doodling time.

And what do I doodle? Profiles with afros, of course!

Here are a few quick snaps of my sketchbook:

I'm going to start making some cards with these. Maybe I'll make a few ATCs (artist trading cards) to swap.

The drawings are a good way to focus on something that doesn't cause stress and I use them as a sort of visual diary. I use the repetitive patterns and various shading techniques to express my moods and to calm my mind. The net is full of people who draw great Mandelas and Zentangles for similar reasons. (Just do a flickr search and you will have lots of eye candy.) My drawings mash up those forms with my own doodling inclinations.

As far back as I can remember I've been a doodler. I used to get in trouble with my mom because I would take a blue pen and draw patterns on the backs of my hands on the way to middle school. In classes, I would draw little paisleys in the corners of my notes. Teachers always thought I wasn't paying attention. But when asked questions, it was clear that I was. The doodles actually helped me focus.

I used to be hesitant to call my drawings doodles. Sure, the ones in my 9th grade notebook margins were doodles but these drawings and the others that I've done in the hundreds in the numerous sketch books lying around here, didn't seem to be doodles given how much time, planning and effort went into their execution. Doodle seemed to trivialize them. But then I got over myself. I was resisting the word doodle because I thought that by calling my art that I was somehow failing at being a "serious" artist. A doodle seemed like a failure or at best an immature effort. It was only after realizing that accepting my doodles as such freed me up from the harsh critic in my head that told me I was not a good artist and that my art was no good, that I fully embraced the word doodle.

A doodle is a drawing done with whimsy. A drawing that plays with forms, ideas and may pop up on an untraditional surface. When I doodle the point is in making the drawing itself. It's all about the process. My pen works almost as fast as my mind and I don't bother to figure out what it will be until somewhere along the way. I am often surprised at how cohesive the doodles turned out to be. But the great thing is, because I do not go into making a doodle with the expectation it will be great, whatever it becomes is good enough. And for a Type A like me, letting go of control like this is a wonderful thing. Trust me.

Do you doodle?

I'm hoping to be back to more frequent blogging (I have lots of things to share) at the end of the month when the semester is all done. We'll see if little H will let me get in some craft time!

Peas and Carrots,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lattice Stitch Summer Scarf: What do you think?

I have been so busy! It's the end of the semester and I've been swamped. Coming back from maternity leave has been a doozy. But in two weeks I get a life back... and I get my crafting back! Go me!

But I have been working on a few things in the wee hours of the morning when I can't do work -work.

I always like to have Summer accessories that are more for show than for warmth or anything. And I decided to make myself a scarf after finding some really thin, soft mixed fiber yarn at Big Lots of all places. (For a buck, too!)

Here's what I've come up with thus far:

The scarf is crocheted in a variation of the lattice stitch, which is just really a series of double crochets and knot stitches. See here for the regular version of the stitch. There are quite a few other sites that show the stitch, which just seems to be the generic name for the open weave double crochets. I haven't come across one that makes it a netting like I do with this scarf.

Here's the thing though, I don't like it. I mean I love it ...when it's hanging on a doorknob. But on, it's just blah. My darling hubb said it was because it's holloween orange and I wear black 90% of the time. But I don't think that's it. (Plus I think the orange is a nice, vibrant color. Phew for the hubb! lol)

I think it's missing something. What do you think? Should I embelish it somehow? Maybe some beads? A  button?

The scarf is really lightweight and can't support too many extras, but I feel like I need something. Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance for the ideas. And I really miss being on the blog and looking at everyone else's more regularly. Here's to wishing for May 11th!

Peas and Carrots,

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Scrappy Paper Mache Picture Frame

Hi Good People,
I've had a busy week as usual. I needed to make a personalized gift ---for 8 people!!!
I was at Hobby Lobby and these Paper Mache picture frames were on sale for about a dollar each. I have a whole bottle of ModPodge that I used once in 6 months and thought --Ding Ding Ding!
I later found some wood frames at the Christmas Tree Shop that I like better for the Thank You gifts I'm making but these frames were great for decoupage. 
 For this project, here's what I used:
Tissue Paper
White Paint
Mod Podge or other decoupage medium
Foam Brush and paint brush
First thing's first.  I used my fingernail to pry the frame apart. The top of the frame,  where you insert the picture, is just a thin slit.  Decoupage is messy and I've glued plenty of things shut that I hadn't intended before. So, this time I decided to work smarter and not harder!

I painted the frame (front and back) matte white.
You don't have to do this step if you are using opaque paper. I used a few sheet of tissue paper that  came in a pack at Hobby Lobby.

Make Life Easy Tip: When applying decoupage, have a few tools with various edges handy for smoothing, tucking and pushing the paper. Fingers work on big objects but I like these inexpensive wooden clay-work tools you can get at the craft store.

I tore up three sheets of the tissue paper in random jagged tears. I made sure to mix the pieces up.  I then painted the frame with ModPodge in a pretty thick layer and applied the paper all around the frame, making sure that the corners were smooth.

After the front of the frame dried, I glued a piece of the paper in the inside to cover up the writing.

Once it dried totally, I glued the edges of the frame back together using  a sticky paper glue.                   I put the finished, dry to touch frame under a stack of heavy books (a dictionary and a couple of hardbacks) and let it dry overnight.

And VIOLA! A decorative picture frame that looked really good on it's own without a picture. 

It also looked good with a photo in it! (Whew, because that was what I was going for!)

I'm pretty proud of my spur of the moment craftiness and I  can see myself making these as a part of the thank you gifts that I'm still trying to put together.

In other news, I'm working on a doll. A doll with a  fan theme -- is that what you call it when you base a craft off of a popular show? See, I'm a novice at such things. But I got the idea while watching and just had to give it a try. I'm sure she'll appear here soon. Wish me luck.

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