Sunday, 7 February 2016

new year, more blogging?

well, I had planned to do more blogging, but that was not to be. shortly before christmas I started to write a new entry - but before I could finish and add pix - our computer was attacked by ransomware - which made me loose all pictures and files that I didn't save elsewhere - quite a lot, because I neglected moving things to other media - and got punished for this! we refused to give in and pay, which of course meant that everything that was encrypted was lost:( by now the "box" is working again, but of course all the old files remain lost. I was furious (still am, though less vocal about it:) - but decided to try and find a positive side to this: loosing all the stuff means that I don't have to sort through the whole collection to decide what to keep, what to print etc...
of course it also means that I lost the pictures of the stuff I made during the last few months, so what you see here is only the very recent stuff that was still in the camera.
Because I don't have a local yarn shop, I tend to buy my sock yarns in batches. this is the latest haul. the red and red/green/white is a special edition from here - I liked the free pattern provided, so decided to order some for a sock knitting friend in germany and for myself - we can share the red!  
I also bought some sock yarn with angora, two balls of sock yarn with cotton (not for socks, but for baby "dolls") and a sock yarn, where the photo on the homepage looked more purple and the name - something with grapes or wine? - sounded more purple as well:) turned out more blue than anything, but never mind, it will be used eventually... just not for myself I'd say!
the yarn with angora was used to knit bed socks as a gift - very cushy, soft and warm - though maybe less durable than normal sock yarn? 
before christmas I had made a seasonal wreath as a gift - but of course the photo of that one is lost. never mind, I have to admit that I like this one for spring much better anyway:) I tried to find spring flowers, daffodils, bluebells, forget-me-nots, a fat bumble bee and of course - living in ireland - a shamrock won't go amiss. the idea is to make other flowers that can be added - or exchanged depending on the seasons (sunflowers, poppies, fuchsias etc. come to mind). the flowers are only attached with pins, easy to exchange. I have quite a lot of sock yarn in storage, in colours suitable for flowers, but I think I have to dye a nice green or two myself, because I haven't found suitable greens - I don't want to pay a fortune for indie-dyed yarns, when I only need a few meters for a leaf or two!
this project took some time to finish - a denim vest for my grandnephew. it turned out to be a bit too large, but I am quite sure he will grow into it:) the yarn is real denim yarn = will change colour during washing and wearing. the problem wasn't in the knitting - I just couldn't find a suitable zipper that opens at the bottom, in the right length and colour. eventually I admitted defeat and asked a friend in germany to get one for me...  
I have made quite a few wrist warmers in similar style. for the first one I followed the pattern "elf clobber" , but with every pair I made I changed it slightly. the red is a simple k2/p2 rib, alpaca dyed with lac, the grey is a mix of silk and merino. this is the last in the series, and here I left out the crochet bit altogether to replace it with ruffles, simple increases of purl sts in between the k2 from the rib. the grey is finished with an attached i-cord, to keep the edge from rolling up.
may I introduce you to another adoptee in this household? before christmas, on a dreary, wet, windy and cold day DS came home late from school - carrying a little bundle in his bag, a bedraggled, wet and half-starved kitten! of course we couldn't just throw the little fellow out, so my son had to cycle back to town in the yucky weather to by cat food for kittens! that has been about 3 months ago - see the result:) after a bit of debate we named him Mr Pringles (part of it is from "the green mile" and the mouse mr jingles, the other part from my sons's favourite snack - pringles). he is quite affectionate, loves cuddles and purrs as if he had swallowed a small car:) of course he has silly ideas and is up to no good when bored - but he's so cute with it that it's hard to be annoyed at him for long! I did learn my lesson though and started to pack away beads, tools, yarn balls etc. when pausing in my work! too much temptation for a cat teenager maybe?:)
I also joined the online guild of weavers, spinners and dyers again. the land group, where we meet every second month, is alright, but doesn't give me much in the way of inspiration and certainly not much in learning new techniques. we seem to cater mostly for beginners of all kinds of crafts these days - and given that I dabble in most of them myself, I rarely find anything that interests me and provides a challenge. so I am looking forward to several of the courses online during the coming year - and hope that I'll find enough time to try my hand at some new things!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

the "two entries a year" blog....

hello again! long time no see, I know... they say that the days are getting shorter and it's true! somehow there are never enough hours in a day:) by the time I've finished everything I meant to do (and often not even that!) the day is over and I haven't blogged - again. so - I'll try to be better!
anyway, of course I've finished many things during the past few months. I didn't exactly count all the socks I finished, but there must have been at least 10 or more pairs... some went out so fast that I didn't even take pictures. I did a few for myself, tried out a few new patterns and one new cast-on.
difficult to see here, but I started by doing the shells on top of the rib. it's done with a cast-on over a crochet hook, easy to do, found it somewhere on pinterest. the green sock on the left has a pattern that's called laburnum, and the "christmassy" looking sock on the right - is from the same book (Charlene Schurch), but I forgot the name:) both hand-dyed yarns; I think the green was done with food dyes, and the red with the colour crabapple plus leftovers from Gaywool Dyes. 
I am also working on a men's cardigan, made from soft donegal (from Donegal Tweed Company in Kilkarra). the pattern is from the new book by Anna Zilboorg, splendid apparel. there are lots of different patterns, all shown "naked" and also embroidered, the main feature of the book. I will finish the pattern first and see how much adornment via embroidery I'll add - it's for a man, so shouldn't be overly much decorated! I did a gauge, which I often skip, but I thought that the pattern will draw in a bit - and it does!
I also used up the yarn blend yak/silk, dyed with lac, which I originally used for knitting the Morvarch shawl. it was a bit too smooth/silky to my liking for the morvarch, but it drapes perfectly for the "rosered" cowl from "enchanted knits". and it's very soft and lovely to wear. 
I wasn't sure if I could finish another small cowl with the little bit of leftover - but it worked. I had about 5 m left, when I did the cast-off on this feather-and-fan cowl. oddly enough this is my favourite just now - not quite as close to the neck, good for the not yet very cold days on the bicycle:)
this is the pattern "olive garden", free on ravelry. it drapes beautifully, esp. due to the many beads that are used in the design. I added two pattern repeats to make it a bit larger and it is nice to wear - and very nice to knit! the only drawback to the pattern is that the last row (crocheted!) takes ages - because of all the added beads. but it's worth all the work, I think! 
I also started to use up some of the "tons" of leftover bits of sockwool. I quickly got hooked on the beekeeper's quilt pattern, lots of little hexagons, filled with polyfill. I didn't think of a use for them at first, but suddenly realized that they'll make nice covers for my garden chairs. they are washable, but soft and squishy, nice to sit on - and use up bits and pieces. I need about 10 m for each and it takes approx. 20 minutes to finish one hexie. bit by bit the bag filled - and after about 100+ hexies plus a bit of sewing and an attached i-cord all around....
.... the pillows were finished:) in the meantime two more bags of sockwool bits have arrived, so that I'll probably have enough to start a small cover/blanket from it. I think I'd sort the colours a bit though, less higgledypiggledy, more colour coded, maybe mostly blues? I don't have enough of purple sock yarns for a big project:)
 I also finished a table mat in EPP. the recipient loves ox-eyed daisies, so I picked out different whites (some pure white, some with white-on-white prints), some yellow/orangey tones and the green/white/yellow base fabric. I didn't fussy-cut the background, but I did try to have the pattern match a little bit, to avoid odd cut-offs. after finishing the top, I made a ring out of hexies in background fabric, which followed the edge pattern. when folded over, it makes a nice edge, instead of a regular binding. another thing I found on pinterest:) there's no quilting again - I just knotted embroidery floss into the yellow middles to fuse the thermolam and the background fabric to the top. but for some reason blogger doesn't allow me to push the photo to the left, like the rest... maybe that's my punishment for not blogging for so long?:)
anyway - that's enough for now, I think. I hope to blog more regularly again now that monsoon season is upon us again!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

still no sign...

... of spring:( but the sun is shining, which makes winter more bearable, I guess. there wasn't much snow last night, just a sprinkle, but icy roads are never far away - which means that I am chickening out of cycling to town:) the whole week is supposed to be fairly dry, just a few snow showers here and there and sunny intervals - but the Nephin (806 m high!) is covered with a white blanket. it looks very close in clear weather, but as a matter of fact it's more than 60 km away! I've been there once, but never climbed up - but when snowfall is threatened we always look out the back to see if the Nephin is covered. if it's white - we might get some snow as well:)
and in the sunshine I could finally take a few pix that weren't too far off the real colours.
the sweet pea jacket has reached its new owner - and apparently it fits, so phew:)
the "knubbelchen" is a small knitted "doll", and because there are no parts that could be swallowed, it's perfect for the chewing stage, where anything and everything gets covered in dribble:) easily washable - like the cardie, which is spun and knitted from superwash wool.
in the details you can see the sweet pea seeds (bobbles) and a little attached tendril on top of each pod. I just couldn't resist the pattern, it's by Mary Scott Huff, one of my favourite knitting designers (famous for a lot of colourwork...). should I ever knit it again, I'd change the design though - it was difficult to find suitable ribbons and I don't really like the ones much, that I finally attached. or maybe I'll hunt for the perfect ribbon first - and paint and spin the yarn afterwards?  
this is a work in progress, but I'll be finished soon. the shawl has a very interesting cable pattern in the middle and a bit of lace at the edges, but other than that the part in between is worked in stockinette = very tv suitable:) the yarn is gorgeous, soft and silky at the same time - I am looking forward to seeing the pattern blocked out! 
 this is one of my cones of kilkarra tweed again - without flash the colours are much more accurate! I think this will be the yarn for my next project - I am just not sure whether to knit cables or ribs or plain or....  I think a few book browsing sessions are in order:) it knits up pretty quickly and the tweed colours make knitting more interesting than with just plain yarn.
those two might be around for a long time! the plan is that double knitted cardigan/jacket for myself... but I haven't decided yet about a pattern. ornamental? flowers? more browsing sessions coming up....but I already know that it will take me ages, because I usually have to interrupt stuff for myself to make gifts etc.  
gardening ist still on the back burner with the snow and ice, but of course we have to feed the birds, esp. in this weather! unfortunately magpies, crows and probably also rats try to escape with the fat balls I hung up in the branches! all I found was the ripped netting... when I saw this idea, I thought I might make my own. no recycled wire cage in stash here, but we had enough strong wire to wind our own. I push the netting over the bottom end of the wire spiral and fix the one on top with a little plant peg. has worked fine so far, though the shop ran out of fat balls last week:( to give them a bit more than just seeds I made my own mix of fat and seeds etc... - and filled coconut shells with it. the first one went down a treat - the second one vanished over night - again (just like the fat balls)! I think it must be a rat, because I doubt that birds could snap through plastic covered wire to free the shell! to avoid any more rat parties under the trees I found a different spot - with only vertical, overhanging branches... unless rats can fly or climb up trees hanging off branches - it should be safe! I did find the emptied shell - so I can try again with another batch. luckily (in that case, though I love watching them!) we don't have any squirrels - no doubt they'd laugh at my attempts to keep the birdfeeders safe:)

Monday, 26 January 2015

I'll be back.....

...says winter!
I can't believe that january is nearly over, but on the other hand I am hoping for signs of spring now. doesn't help much though - after two or three days of milder temperatures, with rain here and there, but nothing too bad, we'll be back to winter again from wednesday onwards:( the only thing that lifts my spirits every time I go out are the first snowdrops outside! pity that they don't flower in yellow or red, they would be even more uplifting!
there are signs of spring though - the daffodils are out now, some even with visible buds! I do hope that it won't be too bad because our next spinner's meeting is supposed to be on saturday - but only if snow and/or ice on the roads won't make driving too hazardous. on the other hand we were lucky to only have about 6 cm last week - here's the proof:
looking towards the north-west - a very drab colour scheme.... 
the birds went crazy last week; to the right is the place were I put the feeder and they had a "conveyer belt" going all day. they wait over the hedge to the left, then come closer into both ash trees - and only when there's a free space will they move to the feeder - and back again to their waiting perch on the left:) I had to refill the feeder during the day - I think they told every bird in the neighbourhood to come because they'll get fed here:)
and you can see on the table that we've had quite a lot of the white stuff in only a few hours! I hope it won't be that much during the next few days, because it always results in hiccups on school runs (the school bus won't go) and shopping trips.... and travelling to our meeting of course:) 
this is the reason why I am really anxious to go. I put in a small order at kilkarra donegal tweeds a little while ago. after I made a small sample with the dark red-purple soft merino I ordered last time, I decided that I'd like to go ahead with a longer cardigan/coat in double knitting. but of course I need a contrasting colour for this. hard to decide which colour to take, but in the end I decided against grey and for the light "seafoam" green/blue in the upper left corner. the two cones to the right in a light petrol (the colours are darker without flash) will become a cardigan for my father (who doesn't like chunky cardies. it'll take time, but I'd say there's enough time to knit it until next christmas:).
both pinks (one aran, one soft merino) are not for me and neither is the denim blue on the right. the dark blue on the left however will be another aran sweater. or at least half of it - the other half is already promised to another fan of blue:)
so let's hope that I can go to the meeting - to unite the cones with their new owners:)
of course I knitted some more, even though I was hampered by a finger injury (not the first time I've managed to push a wood splinter right under my fingernail:() - but the pix are still in the camera downstairs. let's just say that I finally finished a sweet pea - and some other things as well!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

the last entry....

... for this year:)
just a few more hours and the old year is gone. I had planned to write sooner, but christmas got in the way, as usual. and yesterday blogger didn't like me - I couldn't open the blog, never mind put a new entry in. it still doesn't do what it is supposed to - the new header picture just doesn't want to stay in the right size. but you can see the weather we had over the weekend - mostly sunny during the day, but pretty frosty (down to minus 6 deg.C) at night. in the morning everything was covered in white and the dogs, who like to drink "dirty" water from buckets etc., got a shock - because their lovely water was replaced by discs of sheer ice:) the look on their faces - they ran from bucket to watering can (emptied out) and to the pond - nothing! what a relief to find the water dish inside full to the rim:)
nothing left of that today - most of the day we had either drizzle or rain plus a lot of wind - and the rain is going to be stronger tonight. lovely - it seems we have to light our sparklers inside the porch again, just like last year! 
I did manage to finish all christmas gifts in time, but I only realized yesterday that I forgot to take some photos. never mind - I did take a few at least. I also spun bits and pieces - but again, I didn't take pix - yet! I hope the new year brings improvements to my forgetfulness - there's room for more!
anyway, here are a few of my "fiddles":
 I made a "christmas tree" in patchwork. I had planned to make one on a wall hanging, but I realized that there won't be enough space to hang it in the recipients' home, so I thought a 3-D pyramid to sit on the table might be easier to put up. originally I had planned to make a foot/trunk, but after I put the bottom in, I liked it better this way. putting on the beads was a real fiddle, because the inlay is so tough that my beading needle looks like a hook now:) but I managed with a thimble and patience... I have the base of a second one ready, but the plan is to put on more of the "chain garland" and less (or none?) of the single beads...
seems like I am on a patchwork roll just now - I also made about a ton (ok, maybe around a dozen:) of those  decos, little hexie wreaths with a christmassy charm to dangle in the middle. I made batches in red/green/gold and one in purple and neutral, all to be given as small tokens - they fit nicely into an envelope with a christmas cards.
I also made most of my cards, but nothing textile - and of course they went out before I took a picture....
and I knitted my very first chimney sock! I've had a book with patterns for ages, but when I need them, I usually need them urgently - and end up making one out of felt! this one is knitted with leftovers of handspun in "rosewood" and a lacy edge from handspun silk/linen. in real life it's much bigger of course - no point in making tiny chimney socks (where would you put the goodies then?)... luckily I only need one of those, given the fact that I seem to suffer from single sock syndrome at the moment. I did finish one pair for DH - out of a "new" sock yarn, 8ply, a good bit chunkier than normal sock yarn. I think it's too thick to wear the socks in normal shoes though - but they warm birkenstock-clad feed nicely:) what I didn't like so much was the ball size - way too much for all but the biggest sock sizes, but not enough to knit a second pair. I compromised and made wrist warmers out of the leftover yarn, because I only bought one ball to try - and wouldn't have any other suitable sock yarn to use it with!
as I said I made other things, spun some yarns etc. - but this will have to do for now. I'll try to be better with picture taking - but at least I took one of my cookies! most of them rather last-minute, and I didn't do a single "cookie cutter" variety this year, but at least they taste nice, even if they don't look fancy!
time to get ready for the changeover - no new year resolutions for me - they usually only last for a few days anyway!  I hope all of you have a wonderful year to come, always enough fibres to play with and enough time to try out all your ideas!
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

good weather...

... not for going out, no - but for crafting away inside:) we're having the "punishment" for the lovely september weather; a lot of rain, often windy, foggy, cool - or maybe it just seems that way after the long spell of nice weather? it's normal november weather really, nothing unusual for us at this time of the year. just this morning I heard on the radio that it's only 6 weeks until christmas! maybe it's for the best that the weather isn't exactly gardening friendly, otherwise I'd be even more behind in my christmas crafting:)
I seem to have reached the age, where the eyesight changes. lately it's become a bit difficult to wear my glasses, when doing finer stuff close-up. which means that knitting in front of the tv isn't so great. either I can't see my knitting properly or I can't see the screen. that's why I've been spinning a lot - I don't need to put away the glasses to see the spinning:) but it also means that I've not been as productive with the needles as I should! it's not even project spinning, some of the tops just popped out of bags I've dug out of storage!
 I found mohair top that I dyed with cochenille at least 3 years ago... it's darker in real life, but as shiny as it looks in the picture. very smooth and dense - probably good for lace knitting, though I think I wouldn't like it close to the skin...
this on the other hand is 75 % viscose, 25 % silk. very smooth, very shiny - and extremely heavy! probably nice to wear, though too chunky for lace and I have no idea what to use it for! I bought a kilo of this, but I only have 650 g now - no idea, where the rest of it went. but I am sure I haven't knitted it into anything, I would remember! off to the stash - for now.... 
these are some of the teeswater tops I dyed here and there. I think the green on the left and the red were dyed with leftover easter egg dyes, the right one is far darker green and not so grey looking in spots - the camera is playing up again! all of them would be suitable in thickness for the "persian dreams" blanket - but I am not sure that the colours would work well together... we'll see about that. over the last few years I dyed and spun quite a lot of the teeswater top, there should be plenty more colours for this. I do have to spin a load of the main colour first though:) not sure if it's going to be natural white - or if I should dye it black? 

this is the result of spinning the blending board rolags from my last post. it's much more blended than my usual batts from the drum carder - probably, because I don't like putting the fibres through the drums too often (sheer laziness:). it's easer to do on the board, though it probably takes longer to load and draw off again.  
I also finally finished the baby alpaca cardigan! I don't know why I procrastinated for so long, it took ages to knit, even though the spinning went smoothly. it must have been the sleeve caps, because I had to block the parts first to calculate a proper fit... I used attached i-cord all around and put in button holes for the front.  I hope it arrives safely with the recipient and soon (for some reason the mail to Berlin always takes longer than to any other german destinations:()

the pattern is called horseshoe lace, simple to knit, just 8 rows (or was it 10?) and a 10 st repeat. if you turned it over it might be called angel wings:)  
those two cowls are the leftover silk threads from the first petal cowl plus some black handspun merino from my stash. for the first one below I worked the purl rows plus the k row before in colour, but there wasn't enough silk left to do that in the 2nd cowl. so I only worked the purl rows, which means that some of them look like sashiko embroidery:) but maybe the slightly more muted look makes it easier to wear, if you don't want to look too colourful?:) it's wider as well, because I realised after knitting the first one that I don't like cowls so tight-fitting!
 the blocking was fun with those two - I rolled up two rubber foam fillings for neck rolls into a towel and pulled over the cowls. no pinning involved.....
and of course I had to make more rolags:) these two batches went as spinning fodder to Berlin as well - I used similar greens, but more yellows and rusty reds, so that the yarn should look more autumnal than the greens I spun up myself. it's mostly merino and south american wool, plus handdyed silk and soy silk for the glitz. 
I also found some bigger sample bags in my stash. the dark brown is yak, there's guanaco, alpaca, some angora and cashmere and the shiny beige is soy silk, dyed with coffee. it still smells like coffee, after such a long time in the bag:) the rolag diameter is much smaller because the fibres were fairly short - apart from the soy silk. I hope I am going to see a photo of this when spun up - could turn out to be cafe latte?:)
when I am not spinning or knitting I am making embroidered christmas cards. just 6 weeks left - tick tock:)

Thursday, 30 October 2014

if time flies....

...where does it go? there must be a huge heap of it somewhere, because I sure don't have any to spare!
anyway, before I start writing a whole entry of excuses, let's just say I've been too busy to blog:) I did however knit, spin, garden etc... and I can show you a few results:
 I made a blending board out of a piece of carding cloth and the bread board my son made as a woodwork project in school (the timber would be too soft to cut something on it, but it's perfect for the new job!) - the downside of this is that making rolags like these is addictive! once I start I can't stop and I work away until the fibre bag is empty! and just now I realised that I forgot to take a pic of the spun yarn... hopefully I'll be quicker with the next entry!
 I didn't only spin the green rolags, I also finished the handdyed purple superwash, which I plied with a fine blue bamboo single yarn - and some leftover fine soy silk, when I ran out of blue... I started a cowl with it, because it is very soft and feels good on the skin.
I also spun a good skein each of red and green teeswater top, which had been hanging on the rack for a long time. didn't wash it yet though, but maybe my next blog entry could show you all the finished skeins I forgot here:)
and I hope that those berries are still on the shrub, when I need some colour for my christmas wreath! 
 our group project for the Connacht Textile Crafters was "houses" of any kind. I don't have much space to put purely decorative things up, so I decided to make something useful instead. I made a roll out of knit/felted gotland, which I lined with fabric to hold my crochet hooks. the roll is held together by a "roof" in green. to make it a bit prettier I added sea glas for roof windows. I embroidered some vines on and windows, added knitted curtains, a little bell with loop - and a silk fuchsia for decoration. the edge of the roll forms the "door" to the fairy cottage.
there were as many different houses as there were makers, everything from felt to zentangled paper houses. they will be put on show in the Museum of Country Life in Castlebar - I think in November/December, if I am not mistaken!
close-up of the crocheted fuchsia  
of course I have to cave in and buy a few cross stitch magazines "shortly" before christmas - same story every year in september! this time there was a freebie of 3 mouse cards on it, perfect for my mouse-loving friend's christmas card. I will frame them all together into one card, because I doubt that I can find a ready-made fitting card for this odd size! I was very proud of myself to finish the first christmas card in september, but since then I didn't manage a single one - so maybe I should pull my head in and do a few more instead of boasting:)  
I do have a good excuse though! I found the perfect pattern for my birthday gift of 5 gorgeous naturally dyed skeins of silk yarn (find more here). the pattern is called "petal cowl" by Xandy Peters. the original uses a multi-coloured yarn, but of course you can use separate yarns - you just have to darn in a few more ends:) and I have to admit that a yarn with wool content might be easier to use, because the non-elastic silk yarn was a bit tight in places and the very unusual way of increasing (12 sts into 1!) would probably look a bit tidier in stretchy wool. I find the pattern really unusual, but not terribly difficult to knit once you get the idea behind it. the next pattern in that direction will be the "Foxpaws" (on ravelry) - but I haven't chosen a yarn for that yet. oh, and I used up the short lengths of silk by making two more petal cowls. the main colour is black and the "zing" silk is only used as an accent. and the cowls are smaller, close to the neck.
and before I start with the foxpaws I am going to knit the "morvarch" shawl by Lucy Hague - which I would probably have finished by now, if I hadn't made a mistake at the beginning of the center! I blame the magic loop method (I know that I have a shorter 3.25 mm circ, but I haven't found it - yet...), which pulls the knitting together, so that I couldn't see the mistake. you can see 3 purl stitches, where there shouldn't be any! I debated whether to rip or not - but it was bang in the middle and I know I'd just stare at it every time I look at the shawl - so I pulled it all apart again.....
 another project by the CTC was our 2nd postcard exchange. last time I knitted a piece in estonian lace; this time I wanted to do something different, so I dug out a piece of marbled cotton I made in a workshop years back and added some embroidery and beads. the back of course looks like a postcard, with lines for the address etc. - just in fabric. I called the pattern streamers, looks like a bit of fireworks to me.
and this is the card I received in exchange - totally different in style, just like the houses. this won't be used - I'll keep it myself as a memento of our exchange.
so you see, I haven't been lazy all that time. the garden is taking a bit of a back seat by now, most of the leaves have fallen and when the mornings are misty and damp, you can see the other "weavers and spinners" outside at work (see header). christmas is coming closer, so out come the needles, yarns and threads:) I need more christmas cards.....
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