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  • Crochet Beginners’ Tip: Slip Stitch Fake Facts


    About Today’s Tip for Crochet Beginners

    I’m going to unpack the “outdated advice” part.

    crochet beginners tip 0002 slip stitch misconceptions

    For reasons I still haven’t figured out, misconceptions and outright errors (alternative facts?) about slip stitches have been repeated uncritically in crochet how-to books for decades. I’ve distilled them all into the following four sentences, which are also found in my Slip Stitch Crochet 101 class handout.

    Can you spot all of the unhelpful advice?

    “There is one kind of slip stitch and it is crocheted tightly. It is useful only occasionally, for a few things, such as joining a round, closing a picot, or seaming. Don’t bother trying to make anything with it, it has no height. It doesn’t really count as a stitch at all; it’s a nonstitch.” 

    Crochet beginners have been discouraged from exploring slip stitches only, not other basic stitches. Why? It’s not because slip stitches are tricky for beginners. In my classes, the experienced crocheters struggle more (thanks to the misinformation).

    New Rules for Crochet Beginners About Slip Stitches

    Substitute the fake facts above with this:

    Thinking of slip stitches as a group of stitches is better than reducing them all to one stitch. It aids understanding, inspires innovation, and improves pattern writing. Go up at least two crochet hook sizes to crochet them loosely unless a pattern specifies otherwise. Also assume you’ll be crocheting into one top loop instead of both.

    Slip stitches are exceedingly versatile, useful, and pleasing for many of the things crocheters make. In fact, slip stitches are often preferable to other stitches, such as for ribbing, or for a thin, supple fabric that conserves yarn. They may also be fine for joining a round, closing a picot, or seaming, but not always. (For example, slipping a loop through to join is more invisible than a slip stitch; a single crochet makes a better picot in some patterns; a slip stitch or single crochet plus a chain-1 is sometimes a better seam.)

    Slip stitches clearly have height—how odd that it needs to be stated. The evidence is in the heaps of very wearable scarves and sweaters. You can also crochet around the post of a slip stitch. Not only does a slip stitch have height, the height varies depending on the type of slip stitch. As a starting point, expect front-loop types to be taller than back-loop types.

    I learned about crocheting slip stitch projects *decades* after learning how to crochet everything else. There’s no reason for crochet beginners to wait decades like I did!

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    • May 23rd, 2017 by Vashti Braha

    Vashti’s Crochet Archives are Coming Online


    “Crochet Archives”?

    Four 2008 photos from my crochet archives: the crochet is a cardigan in Tunisian crochet strips. An unpublished pattern; the yarn is unusual and discontinued (a felted spaghetti-like texture due to the lycra), but you can see it complete and modeled on its project page in Ravelry. The flower became the Fearless Leader of the Crochet Liberation Front’s Flower of Power Ring!

    In the latest newsletter (#84 Crochet Ruffles Old and New) I briefly mentioned upcoming posts (and videos! Yay soon!). Here’s why: I’ve built up extensive crochet archives over thirteen years of professional crocheting. For example, my Flickr albums alone contain 1.5 million crochet photos.

    The most important reason is that I’ll be able to digitize and tag the paper-based bits I’ve filed. This is so important for easy retrieval. It’s also protective: I live at sea level in a hurricane zone. In between hurricanes, it gives me easy posting ideas for this blog (& social media places) that could help or inspire other crocheters.

    My crochet friend Julie M. inspired me to take stock of it all when she saw all the materials I’d brought to a class and asked, “How do you organize all your swatches and files?!” Some of it is digital and the rest is stored in my house. Is it working for me?

    The ultimate test of my filing system is how quickly and easily I can retrieve everything I need for a new newsletter topic, a crochet class topic to develop, or a call for design proposals to answer. All of these have themes that cut across several kinds of materials and details. Tags work the best for this, and tagging is a digital thing. So the more my crochet archives are digitized and tagged, the better. (Safer from hurricanes too.)

    Shared Crochet Archives: Places

    Want to follow along with my crochet archive sharing? I’ve test-posted two other things so far: both to Twitter first, then to Pinterest and Facebook, although I may shift how/where/when these get posted. As always, updates on anything Designing Vashti will appear in the right-hand column of my newsletters, and here in this blog.

    The two other test-posts are crochet tips with associated images. My goal is that they are worth liking, saving, and sharing by many crocheters. These illustrated tips will likely fall into “tracks”, such as Tips for Beginners posted on “Newbie Tuesday” (catchy!–wish I’d invented it), Skill Refiners (tips for Intermediate or Experienced skill levels), and “Crochet Pro Tips” (more for aspiring crochet designers etc.).

    I also have quotations from fashion designers, artists, writers who inspire me with their wisdom and approach to their work. I think of them as my mentors and might post some of these bits to my Tumblr account.

    Today’s post above is not a crochet tip, just pure charm. Maybe on Fridays?, or maybe as a Sunday/Monday boost. I love when other crocheters and knitters post pure eye candy: stitches close up in fibers and colors that make me want to pick up my hook. It’s instantly replenishing, as if I’ve just emerged from a spa!

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    • May 19th, 2017 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet for the Easter Weekend (Check-in)


    Happy Crochet Easter! Today I’m taking a break from lots of behind the scenes crochet work to post a quick update. Here’s a long silk skirt I’ve worn every spring for years. It’s one of my all-time favorites. This weekend I mused on its colors.

    This “Vashti’s Silk Skirt” color combo would make a striking crochet Easter/springtime project, wouldn’t it? Perhaps a wrap, shrug, or bolero to go with the skirt? I can picture multicolored motifs. Or, a cream and lavender thing, with the darker colors as a contrasting border–little flowers, maybe. In fact I’m going to create a project page for this in Ravelry after I finish this post.

    I’ll be able to send out a newsletter issue after I meet a big design deadline this week. So close! I’ll also be able to keep moving forward on new blogging and *crochet video* plans I’m excited to share.

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    • April 16th, 2017 by Vashti Braha

    Happy [inter-]National Crochet Month


    Thanks for stopping by on my Crochetville NatCroMo blog tour day!

    I’ve created NatCroMo specials exclusively for you. These specials run from today through Monday March 20.

    It’s certainly a big weekend for us crocheters.

    1. Tomorrow is a very green holiday (St. Patrick’s Dayso here’s a coupon link to get 17% off DesigningVashti Lotus yarn in our new Emerald Deep color. This is a rich, satisfying, and inspiring green to take you from winter to spring.

    NatCroMo Emerald Green Lotus yarn special

    ‘Emerald Deep’ Lotus yarn color is perfect for a chilly St. Patrick’s Day weekend. (DJC Lotus Curaçao is here.)

    Speaking of Spring…

    What a cold snap, huh? Most of us in the US are getting a lot of snow or freezing rain. It’s cold here in Florida too.

    A chilly NatCroMo weekend!

    Brrr. Map courtesy of The Weather Channel.

    2. I’ve just returned from teaching “Big-Hook Slip Stitch Crochet”.

    Want to feel warm and cozy quickly? I urge everyone to round up their jumbo crochet hooks and superbulky yarns! Some of my slip stitch projects take only an hour or two this way.

    No superbulkies handy? Create your own: just crochet with multiple strands held together of whatever’s in your yarn stash. (Tip: throw in at least one strand of alpaca or angora because these fibers are four times warmer than wool. Add a yarn with a halo like mohair, or a textured novelty yarn, to fill in any gaps between stitches.)

    Expedient Cowl is 50% off this weekend. Warm up a big hook (size P/11.5 or 12 mm) for this toasty, speedy item. I named it “Expedient” because it took me 2 hours tops to make one during LAST year’s surprise cold snap. Enter this code: MarchC0ldSnap (that 0 is a zero). Here’s a direct link to redeem.

    NatCroMo cold snap special: Big-Hook slip stitch capelet-cowl

    Cozy capelet-like Expedient Cowl. Add a third ball and more rows to turn it into a trendy skirt!

     

    A Jumbo Crochet Hook Kit is Perfect for NatCroMo

    3. Be ready for the next cold snap with this crochet hook set & bucket pattern. (It’s already at a discount as a kit so I’m unable to discount it further for NatCroMo readers, sorry.)

    Perfect NatCroMo kit!

    It’s displayed in my studio and I use it all the time now.

    You’ll also be ready for when I release these new Big-Hook Slip Stitch crochet patterns (links go to their Ravelry project pages):

    Zumie Lace Vest  I used a size S (19 mm) hook for most of it. This one-skein lace item took only 45 minutes to crochet. Yarn: the fun Hikoo Zumie by Skacel.

    SS-Luscious Sampler  Size 12 mm (“P”) crochet hook and two skeins of luscious Berroco Noble.

    Pink kitty-ears hat with only 95 yds and an M/9 mm hook. It’s simple back loop slip stitch in rows, then seamed on the top and side. It came out smallish on me and perfect on my friend (she kept it!). No yarn left over so I’m mulling a way to get a slightly more out of about 95 yds of yarn for this.

    Slip Slab Neckwrap  This started out as the initial prototype for the Expedient Cowl. I needed only 168 yards and a P/12 mm hook.

    4. Lastly, Happy Spring Break!

    Does it start this weekend for your family? My son’s starts this afternoon.

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    • March 16th, 2017 by Vashti Braha

    Star Stitch Crochet Scarf with Love Knots


    Love Knot+Star Stitch Scarf: New Pattern!

    A star stitch crochet scarf with love knots? (About as common as a love knot scarf with star stitches.) So beautiful together!

    UPDATE: Lovelace pattern has been added to the Designingvashti Shop and to Ravelry.

    I’m calling it Lovelace Ring Scarf and the pattern is with the tech editor now. The first thing I’ll do when I add the pattern to my shop and to Ravelry is update the header of my shop, its Ravelry project page, and announce it on the DesigningVashti Facebook page.

    Why Star Stitches With Love Knots? The Story.

    I first swatched this in 2014 (see last photo above) for CGOA classes I would be teaching: A Star Stitch for Every Purpose (3 hours) and 21st Century Love Knot Adventures (3 hours). Back then I had to set it aside due to stitch compatibility problems. You might be able to see some in those initial swatches.

    Early in 2016, a visitor to the DesigningVashti Facebook page requested the pattern. Again in deep crochet class prep mode, I had to put it off until after teaching. By the fall I was finishing up a series of seven crochet tutorials I agreed to do for the Cut Out & Keep site (site owner has not added them as of today).

    After the US election I appreciated the sweet, loving patterns crochet and knit designers were spontaneously posting. My 2014 attempts to blend stars and love knots in one pattern came to mind. It lifted my spirits to polish it up into a fun, versatile, balanced, harmonious stitch pattern, with the idea it might also lift others’ spirits.

    The free stitch pattern will be available soon; I’ll announce it everywhere when I hear from the Cut Out & Keep folks. I used it to make a 6.5″ square block with DK weight yarn and a G7/4.5 mm hook. It’s pictured above (without its single crochet border all around): the middle photo in the top row. The border would probably turn it into a 7″ block.

    The Lovelace design happened next because I needed a self-edging version. It came to me while I was getting over a flu-like cold during Thanksgiving (what a season this has been!). As I lay there contemplating the stitch pattern I’d sent off to Cut Out & Keep, I wondered about giving the basic stitch pattern a selvage (no edging later). The start and end of the love knot section always looked a bit stringy and unstable to me. I also wanted to vary the balance of the texture and widen it for a lush, romantic ring scarf. This is how Lovelace came to be.

    Is a Love Knot-Star Stitch Crochet Scarf…Challenging?

    These are Intermediate-level crochet stitches but that doesn’t mean they’re difficult. I include tips and visual aids in the pattern that have worked in my classes. Most of Lovelace is rows of easy, familiar stitches like single and half double crochets (sc and hdc, or as they say in the UK: dc and htr).

    These beginner stitches form a balanced backdrop to the fancy stitches. Like peace-keeping diplomats, they harmonize relations between the two iconic, culturally powerful, individualistic “diva” stitches. My experience of crocheting star stitches (stars) and love knots (LK) in the same pattern is that I get some comfort zone rows of simple stitches, then a spicy row or two, then more comfort zone.

    Similarities and Differences Between Stars and Love Knots are Dramatic!

    I don’t recall ever seeing these two unique stitches combined in one stitch pattern.

    1. Differences

    All of these differences affect what it’s like to get them to work well together in one stitch pattern.

    • Love knots are reversible, star stitches are not. It was an issue with my early swatches.
    • Love knots are more independent than the usual crochet stitch, and star stitches are the other extreme. This shows in lots of ways. LK can be added anywhere just like a chain stitch (because it’s a type of foundation stitch), and each one is distinct, complete, and recognizable from a distance. Stars require context: the stitch just before it, after it, and often above it determine how recognizable it is! 
    • Love knots likely originated as a southern lace, stars as a northern thermal fabric. LK were almost always crocheted in very fine cotton and silk threads for delicate, summery, fanciful edgings, baby bonnets, and petite “opera bags”. Stars have been used most often for making thick, dense coats and blankets in wool. Even when early stars looked like fine spidery lace, wool was the fiber of choice. (That’s why my unofficial name for the original swatch is “North and South stitch pattern“.)

    2. Similarities

    • Both LK and stars are romantic, iconic, classic/old-fashioned, popular, and beloved.
    • Both originated in 1800’s.
    • Both have long been favored for baby things. (Stars: baby blankets and coats; LK: saques, bonnets, layette edgings.)
    • Both can be lacy. When star sts are lacy, you’re looking at pulled loops, just like with LK.
    • Both start the same odd, non-intuitive way. I did a newsletter issue on it: “Starting a Stitch with a Backtrack“.

     

    How to be the first to know when Lovelace the Star Stitch Crochet Scarf (or any new pattern) is published:

    Or, be the second to know by subscribing to my newsletter and opening the email the moment you get it 🙂

    [Feels good to blog again. Remember my “50 posts in 50 days” challenge back in June? I sort of miss it!]

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    • December 8th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet Mini Skirt Hem Tests


    Four Crochet Skirt Hems So Far

    I’m working on a crochet mini skirt! The last time I crocheted a mini skirt was in 2006 for Crochet! Magazine (March 2007 issue). Today I completed the third and fourth ideas I have for a decorative hem.

    Crochet Mini Skirt in DesigningVashti Lotus ayrn, 4 hem ideas

    Maybe seeing all four photos together like this will help me decide which one I want to wear.

    Finally a Crochet Mini Skirt for Fall!

    It happens to be a trendy item this year, but every fall I want a crochet mini skirt to wear with leggings and boots. I need it to be in a neutral color. This dark grey is perfect for me.

    I’m calling this design Carbonite after the name of this newest color of our Lotus yarn.

    Crochet Stitches for Skirts

    My goal was a solid stitch pattern with a brocade-like texture and a nice drape.

    Does the stitch pattern look familiar? It’s a modified “Catherine Wheel”, a.k.a. “sunburst stitch”. This popular crochet stitch pattern is often used for thick wool scarves and afghans. I tweaked it a bit to prevent gaps that commonly happen between the tall stitches of the “wheels”.

    I have a few more idea for hems I’d like to try but I don’t want them to slow me down too much. Each time I try a hem idea, I block it, let it dry, style and photograph it. Then I have to edit each photo a bit so that the tones and light levels match ok. Each photo is taken on a different day and time of day. A few were taken during Hurricane Hermine!

    Next I’ll make decisions about the waistband, and write the pattern for several sizes.

    Carbonite crochet mini skirt design has a Ravelry project page that you can check to see more updates.

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    • September 5th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Crochet Conference Prep, the Aftermath


    This past June and July I blogged fifty days of crochet conference prep. I returned home from the conference on July 17. Today is August 18. What happened between then and now?

    crochet conference prep: swatch buntings

    I crocheted together lacy Tunisian Lotus swatches in the car. It reminds me of Mexican “papel picado”. Worked out well for teaching!

    This is the first day that I could imagine sitting down to compose a blog post and enjoy it. That’s a full month of recovery from having a booth while also teaching several new crochet topics.

    Here’s how the past 30 days went:

    • I needed an immediate inventory of what I came home with, so the first thing I did was unpack a gazillion boxes of booth and teaching stuff.
    • After counting everything, I put away what I could. This left me with five big heaps that had to be sorted and packed up carefully for future events. It took two weeks to work through these heaps step by step.
    • It also took about two weeks to completely unpack suitcases and get through all of the laundry only because I felt like such a zombie.
    • Filled lots of orders that continued to come in every day from my website. (I love this about conferences: so many visitors to my website!)
    • Discussed new color #20 of Lotus yarn with our mill.
    • Slept and slept. Slept some more.
    • Sat still happily without my mind racing. No adrenaline rushes, worries, or multitasking. Enjoyed what others were posting about their conference experiences.
    • It took days to go through all of my emails.
    • It took a full four weeks for all incoming and outgoing booth and teaching monies to be settled. (This would surprise me except that it took longer last year.)
    • Thoughts: “I could maybe blog this. Or, tomorrow.” “What do I want to crochet next. No idea.” “What about next year? Not sure.”

    Crochet Conference Prep Results

    How it was better than last year’s:

    I was careful to keep a more accurate and readable list of starting inventory. This way, after returning home, it was easy to compare with the ending inventory (and trust the numbers!). I had to force myself to be disciplined about this. While packing up the merchandise to ship up to the show, I could see when my starting amounts got fuzzier last year.

    This year we shipped by UPS to a nearby UPS store, not to the event or show management company. It worked great this time: fast, cheap, and convenient.

    Thanks to a tip from Doris who used to transport and manage the entire CGOA Design Contest, I purchased some giant clear blue zippered storage cubes. These are perfect for loading up every inch of a car with soft items (yarns and crocheted items).

    Last year I felt like a zombie for much longer—months. A 2015 creative slump lasted for so long that I started to fear I was done with crochet designing altogether. This year I took endurance-building tonic herbs and nutrients for the weeks before and after the event. Maybe they worked! The creative slump only lasted 3 weeks this time. (Last year I also had jet lag.)

    I like the pattern info tags I created at the last minute for the three shawls that George Shaheen of 10 Hours or Less designed in my Lotus yarn.

    The “papel picado”-style swatch buntings (pictured above) that I crocheted on the way to Charleston worked out really well for me in classes because I grouped them by technique and theme. I’m going to do this with more Lotus swatches.

    *Blogging those fifty days of prep kept me focused on the present next step while also accountable to an observer (my blogging self). Plus it leaves me with tips for my future self.

    How might crochet conference prep be even better next time?

     

    This post is getting long so I’m moving this part to a future post.

     

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    • August 18th, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Pineapple Lace and the CGOA Conference


    Pineapples are the theme for this year’s crochet conference. CGOA’s Hall of Fame Award winner happens to be a pineapple lace queen!

    You know these are freshly crocheted because these yarn colors are the new ones we just received from the mill. Even my husband is amazed. (Not shown: Lavender Ice. That’s for another day.)

    If you’ll be attending the conference this month, come by our booth #203 (on the right after you enter the market). Lots of pineapple lace to see and try on!

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    • July 2nd, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Custom CGOA Conference Calendar


    This year I created a public, sync-able CGOA Conference calendar. Anyone can add it to their own calendar if they’re using Google Calendar, or an application that supports the iCal format. (iCal link:

    https://calendar.google.com/calendar/ical/gi85adpe6u2tngfd6kg4qgo08s%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics )

    For years I’ve used a private version of this. It’s so handy! Besides using it on a mobile calendar app, I print it out and depend on it heavily at the conference. It comes home with important notes written all over it. (In case you don’t know, the CGOA conferences are as important for professional crocheters as for hobbyists.)

    CGOA Conference calendar

    Screenshot of my public conference calendar (orange) and private conference cal (purple) is on the right. Print window is opened to the left and I’ve selected “Landscape”. As we get closer to July 13, I may find more items to schedule. 

     

    Conference attendees can easily merge this calendar with their own calendar. If you use Google Calendar, look on the left for “Other Calendars”. Search “CGOA Conference” or use the link in this post (above). Check the box next to it to add its events to your own calendar. Any new items I add to the calendar will automatically update on your app if you “subscribe” to this calendar.

    Print your CGOA Conference calendar like I do

    I’m using Google Calendar. First make sure you’re in the month of July 2016. Then:

    1. If your calendar is not in a weekly format already, click “Week” along the top. Click “Wed.” to start the week at July 13.
    2. Then click the “5 Days” tab along the top so that the 5 days starts with Wed the 13th.
    3. Click the “More” tab in the top right and select “Print”. Once the print window opens up, find the drop down menu for Orientation and choose Landscape. Then click “Print” at the bottom. (see my screenshot).
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    • July 1st, 2016 by Vashti Braha

    Conference Prep Crazy Zone


    Conference Prep Frenzy: A Two-Week Zone

    For Future Vashti’s reference: I shifted into conference prep frenzy at a specific time three days ago: end of the night on Monday, June 27th. It’s like stepping into the cockpit of an airliner, flicking on all switches and activating ‘all systems go’. (Like in the movies, anyway.) It’s obvious when it starts.

    The next morning I did my teacher’s conference prep ritual: put on a pot of coffee, spread a big white sheet on the floor, lined up a row of empty boxes, and labeled each with a class topic:

    Teacher's conference prep ritual! Box per class topic on the white sheet.

    The five boxes on the white sheet, one per class topic. This is how I get the final big picture of all the teaching stuff to ship soon(!) to the conference.

    Completing the Teacher’s Conference Prep

    I rounded up everything to bring: first the completed designs, then the handouts, yarn and other materials for students to use, optional materials like printed patterns, key newsletter issues, visual aids like class swatches etc., topic-related teaching aids like a “blocking demo kit” for the Weightless class and a “beading demo kit” for the love knots class.

    Doesn’t it seem like with a pot of fresh coffee, one could just whip through this? The reality is that it does start this way, but my completed designs are spread all over the house and I forget about some. It’s as if the white sheet cordons off an area of the house (and my brain) that keeps it under construction for 24-36 hours. That’s what makes it a ritual, really. I get through the first layer so that the next layer can be seen.

    After that time I can condense it all into 1 or 2 shipping boxes. That’s the quick and easy part.

    More Show Booth Conference Prep

    Here’s what else got done since I blogged 2 days ago:

    • Wound new Lotus colors in a few 100 gram balls—so that I could label and take photos of them—so that I can add them to the website. (Also means I committed to color names for them: Carbonite, Lavender Ice, Orange Luxe, and Emerald Deep.)
    • We build our booth with grid panels. Found out how hundreds of them will get to the show floor! Thanks to Linda Dean whom I can’t wait to finally see again.
    • Placed final order for crochet hooks I’ll need for the booth and classes.
    • Finalized arrangements and logistics for how everything and everybody gets there and gets back!
    • Formatted several crochet patterns for kits, classes, etc (printed):
      • a fun new one-ball pattern for Lotus that Doris designed for the booth (a printed crochet pattern). More on that later.
      • My Mesmer patterns (scarf, stole, sized vest variations on a steeky theme and with double-ended hook option) as one printed pattern set for the class, and extras for booth.
      • Did the same with my Starwirbel pattern.
      • Still have 3 more patterns to do if I can.
    • Back & forths with tech editor on edits of class handouts and patterns formatted for printing and kits.
    • Delegated my distress to my husband over both of our home office printers breaking within weeks of each other! He’s got that now.

    I know from last year that there will come a point when I won’t be able to focus on pattern formatting or class handouts, so I’ve been doing as many as possible these past few weeks.

    Woke up the next morning to emails from others who were now also ‘all systems go’ with their conference prep too. And now today is Thursday June 30: twelve days from lift off. I predict these blog updates will get posted more erratically but I’ll keep trying. It forces me to find a peaceful moment to collect my thoughts.

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    • June 30th, 2016 by Vashti Braha


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