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Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: Beyond the Ribbing & Sorting Out Patterns

January 28th, 2010

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It has been a lot of fun to see so many of you already starting the Inishturk Sweater and sharing your ideas and experiences with the rest of us.  Probably the hardest part of this sweater is the part I’m going to talk about today – going from the ribbing into all those cable patterns!

I found working the ribbing went just fine until I saw that I had to increase 22 stitches on that last ribbing row (which is a WS row).   I’m making this pattern in the medium size that had me working 106 stitches for the ribbing.  So I took my handy, dandy calculator and divided 106 by 22 and found out I should increase a stitch every 4.8181818 stitches!  OK, that is pretty close to one increase every 5 stitches, so looking at the ribbing, I decided I would mark 22 of the ribs with pins — skipping one here and there.  Then I just increased at the top of these ribs.  I know that increasing doesn’t have to be perfectly even for this pattern, but they should be fairly evenly worked across that row.  I worked my increases as “make 1” (m1) increases, but I also could have just knit into the front and back of those 22 stitches to increase, and that would be fine for this pattern.  I just wanted to make sure I didn’t have “holes” where I made my increases (which would happen if you worked your increases as yarn overs).

So, I finally had my 128 stitches to work my patterns.  I carefully worked the set-up row and the following row which had me just knitting the knit stitches and purling the purl stitches.  Then on Row 3 of the back, with stitch markers in hand, I carefully worked that row, placing stitch markers on my needle on each side of the larger cable patterns.  Until these patterns are established (and even after that!) these markers will make sure that my patterns will line up – and just make knitting them a whole lot easier.

Another way I sorted out the patterns was to place different color markers on my needle on the side of each type of cable.  Then I wrote down the color and corresponding cable on a sticky note and attached it to my pattern.

This sweater is a beautiful combination of some very different, but traditional Aran cable patterns.  However, not only do these patterns have a different number of stitches, but rows as well!  Some of you have been keeping track of that with Excel or another spreadsheet program — but here’s something to remember:  the largest of these panels (Panel B) has 16 rows.  All the other patterns have row repeats that go into 16:  some have 2 rows, some have 4 rows, and Panel A has 8 rows.  What this means is: every time I start Row 1 of that large Panel B, I should also be on Row 1 of all the other patterns.

Now as for that center Panel B — I have been following the row instructions written, but I do love charts.  So, I’ve decided that this week I will make charts and share them with you next week.  For those of you who have never worked charts before, I’ll include a little tutorial on how to do that as well.  Meantime, keep those stitch markers and row counters at hand!

Don’t have a row counter? If you go to the pattern on LionBrand.com, you’ll notice that there’s a built-in row-counter right on the pattern page! It’s handy if you are working on your sweater near a computer OR on a mobile device.

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Inishturk Sweater Knit-Along: Choose Your Yarn & Make a Gauge Swatch!

January 21st, 2010

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It is a thrill for me to host another Knit-Along with all of you!   I am really looking forward to making this great Aran knit pullover named the Inishturk Sweater.   It didn’t take long for me to decide to make this one for myself.  It has been quite the winter so far, and still a lot of winter to go.  I’m really anxious to get started and make a new sweater — and I hope you are, too!

I have printed my pattern for the Inishturk Sweater, and you can print your copy out anytime you wish.  Now, what size to make?  Many times, my knitting students have wondered what size to make a sweater for themselves and I tell them to measure a sweater they already love to wear.  I have a favorite pullover that is one I wear again and again.  I measured across its chest and it was 21″ — so it is a 42″ bust.  Looking at the sizes of the Inishturk sweater, I’ve decided to make the medium, which is a 44″.

I’ve decided to make this great Aran knit in the Fishermen’s Wool, because I love to work cables in a natural fiber or a yarn that has some wool in it.  The cables just seem to look better in a fiber like wool.    I chose the Oatmeal color that will go with almost anything I will wear.  For my size, I will just need 3 skeins of the Fishermen’s Wool!

Fishermen’s Wool is a “Category 4″ medium worsted-weight yarn.  If you don’t want to use the Fisherman’s  Wool, there are other great yarns that would be great with this pattern. Other yarns I think would be great would be Wool-Ease (a washable wool-blend), Vanna’s Choice (with its huge array of colors), or Cotton-Ease (with its cool hand and great drape) to name a few. (The latter two are good choices for those who are sensitive or allergic to wool.) Any yarn that gives a gauge of between 16-18 sts =4″ will work, but solid colors will show the cables the best.

Once you have your pattern, yarn, and know what size you would like, a swatch will be what will guarantee a sweater that fits.  Although there are different stitch patterns used in this pattern, the gauge is given for the Double Seed Stitch pattern.

Now, here is the thing about swatching with the Double-Seed Stitch — and I only know this because I remember panicking while knitting a project I made using that stitch pattern years ago —  I thought I would show you what happens when I work that stitch alone:

It can slant!  Not to worry, because when this stitch is dampened or worked within a pattern, it straightens out.  So, here is how I did my swatch.  I cast on 26 stitches and knitted for 5 or 6 rows, then I knit 3, worked the next 20 stitches in the pattern, and knitted the last 3.  I kept the garter stitch border, worked my pattern for 4″ then, knitted for another 5 or 6 rows and bound off:

Then, I dampened and dried the swatch and all I had to do is measure between the garter stitch border.

(1/26/10 – Swatch photo updated; original swatch photo was squished by the scanner.)

What size gave me the gauge?  A US 10 — glad I made this swatch as my sweater would have been much too small for me with the recommended US 8.

So, I’m ready to cast on and happy we can do it together!

How are your swatches turning out? Have you cast on  your sweater yet? Let us know!

Don’t forget to join our Ravelry or Flickr groups for discussion forums, sharing your photos, and more!

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Moderne Jacket Crochet-Along: Adding the Finishing Touches

April 8th, 2009

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This CAL has just flown by! This jacket has been fun and challenging at the same time for myself and many of you. Last week I worked the collar, and I’m glad I used markers to help me evenly space the stitches around the neck. After I worked the collar, I wove in all my ends and washed it inside-out, on gentle cycle, in my washing machine. I just let it air-dry and I’m amazed how much nicer a garment looks after it has been washed — after you finish any project, it’s always a good idea to wash it, since it’s been handled a lot during the making process. I used Vanna’s Choice and Vanna’s Glamour which I could easily wash in my machine. Just make sure to always check the label on your particular yarn for washing and drying instructions so that you may “ooh” and “ahh” after you clean your jacket for the first time!

While the jacket was drying, I decided to make the buttons. Below are the three types I made before I decided on which one to make 2 more times. The button on the bottom is one strand of each of the yarns I used with the size J hook called for in the pattern. You can see the size of these buttons compared to the quarter. Depending on what yarn you used for your jacket, the self-made buttonholes created by the ch-1 spaces are going to be larger or smaller than the same fabric created with another yarn.

I tested my button with my jacket and realized that the buttons would be a tight fit to get through the hole. So, I made a smaller button (in the middle) with 2 strands of Vanna’s Glamour and an F hook. This button fit through the hole, but I think it would have “popped” out while the jacket was being worn – and it looked a little small. I then made a button with 3 strands of Vanna’s Glamour and the original J hook creating a larger, and very shiny button! This seemed to go through the hole with a little squeeze, but my daughter almost always wears her jackets open. So, we decided on the “glam” button on the top.

Of, course you have all sorts of options when it comes to buttons. If you want the fabric buttons, but can’t get them through the hole, you could sew them to the front of the right side of your jacket and sew snaps on the fabric underneath. Or you could purchase buttons and if you want to make the buttonhole more apparent and reinforce it, you can just stitch around the openings of your buttonhole with a single strand of yarn. Remember the swatch you made in the beginning? I always keep mine nearby while I make a project, but you can also use it to practice stitching to make a buttonhole, rather than practicing on the jacket. That way you can see if you like it, and if your button will fit through the hole.

Well, the only thing left to do was to get my youngest daughter to try it on! The jacket shimmers — and she shines, too!

I have had a great time making this jacket with so many of you and I hope you have enjoyed making it as well. Remember that you can still read all the posts, questions and responses to this CAL on the “Crochet-Along” link on the right side of the Lion Brand Blog. Thank you all for joining and keep those updates and pictures coming!

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Moderne Jacket Crochet-Along: Putting Together the Pieces

April 2nd, 2009

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I have really enjoyed all the comments and questions many of you have posted during this CAL of the “Moderne Jacket” and although it is wonderful to hear that some of you have finished, I know that many of you (like me) have been “in pieces”! This week I finished the sleeves and made sure to keep the first sleeve I made close by for the second, to make sure the shaping and length turned out the same.

Luckily, they did turn out the same – although I had to keep track of my stitch count every row. I found myself writing down the number of stitches I should have at the end of a row, just in case I was called away from my jacket.

So, after I finished my back, fronts and two sleeves – I laid them out to see if they all would fit together and in the correct order:

Since this jacket is a raglan, I needed to sew the sleeves to the front and backs before I can work the collar. I wanted to make the seams as flat as possible, so with the right side facing me, I sewed the seams going through the edge of the stitches on each side. I thought I demonstrate with some red yarn to show you the path of my stitching:

The resulting seam was nice and flat which is good for a jacket made with a thick fabric. I also used stitch markers to hold my pieces together, so that one side wouldn’t be longer than the other. Then I was “on a roll” and I sewed up the sleeve and side seams the same way. I wove in ends and wow, a jacket!

It’s hard to believe that all that is left is the collar and the buttons! For the small size, I have to work 57 sc evenly around the neck, starting and ending 1 1/2” from each edge. I’ve already evenly spaced markers to divide the collar into 4 even sections – so I will work 14, 14, 14 and 15 stitches in these sections to get to my 57 stitches. I’m really getting anxious to see this on my little (5’9”) girl!

What about you? Tell us how you’re project is coming along! Don’t forget to share your photos either on our Flickr group (see the link below) or in the Lion Brand Customer Gallery.

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Moderne Jacket Crochet-Along: Working the Front Panels

March 26th, 2009

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This weekend was a pretty productive time for me and my Moderne Jacket – and I found out that this is a very portable project. I’ve been a “swim mom” for more than a few years and this weekend found me on bleachers with my CAL jacket during a 3 day meet. I always like to look around and see what the other knitters and crocheters are working on – there was sock, poncho, afghan and a dog sweater in the making at that meet!

Even though I had finished the back and was starting work on the left front, I didn’t leave that jacket back piece out of my yarn bag. I’ve found that one of the worst mistakes I can make “on the road” (or on the bleachers) is to leave at home the rest of my project. Although I’ll follow the pattern of my project and take notes, it’s helpful and reassuring to have other pieces as reference for the piece I’m working on at that moment.

So, when I was working on the left front, I kept my back nearby to check measurements to the underarm, and the raglan shaping. In my last post I talked about “lining up” the stitch pattern while working the decreases in the pattern. Besides counting my stitches after those decrease rows, I laid the front on the back to make sure the shaping was going along well. The left front actually turned out nicely and so I used the left front as reference for the right front.

Many times the instructions for the second front says to work it the same as the first front, reversing shaping. I know as a teacher that the term “reverse shaping” can seem rather daunting – but here’s something that I always do to make sure the fronts are the same, but reversed. When I finish my first front, I lay it upside down while I am working the second front. Then as I work the second front, I lay it on top of the first and this helps to make a perfect “mirror image. So here are both fronts “reflecting” each other!

(Click the photo to see it enlarged.)

Oh, and here’s one more thing that makes this pattern easier to shape for the second front — the crochet stitch pattern that is used in this jacket is reversible. So, if you don’t mind the bottom edge of your fronts looking a little different you can actually make two left fronts and just turn one around for the right front! What’s not to love about reversible stitch patterns?

Now that I have started a sleeve, I’m making sure to keep one of the fronts in my yarn bag, and I will make sure the raglan sleeve shaping will be the same length as the fronts. I’m betting that you see where I’m going with this, because I will definitely keep that first sleeve around when I make the second! Doing all this will make sure I won’t have any unpleasant surprises when I go to sew all these pieces together.

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Moderne Jacket Crochet-Along: Tackling the Back

March 19th, 2009

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I have been just so amazed this last week at the number of you responding to the invitation to join our CAL for the Moderne Jacket! For those of you who are just joining in on the fun, make sure to print your pattern soon as it will only be free especially to all the CAL participants until March 23rd.

This last week was a time for many of you to decide what yarn to use, making that swatch and starting work on the back. In my last post, I discussed what types of yarns would probably work best and decided myself to work with yarns that were different from the ones used in the pattern. The pattern calls for two different colors of yarn–but I decided to work with two yarns that were very similar in color. The two yarns I chose were “Vanna’s Choice” in Beige, and” Vanna’s Glamour” in Topaz. I liked the bit of glimmer that Glamour gave to my project, and so I chose a smooth, golden look to the jacket I am making my daughter.

So, how did my back turn out? Well, much to my surprise (and to some of you!) I found that after working my decrease rows, the 2 stitch pattern “shifts” by 1 stitch. Now, for many of you, this won’t be apparent at all – especially if you are working with two tones, or darker yarn, or a yarn with a texture, like Homespun. It is always amazing to me how the same pattern can look so different with a change of yarn!

Again, for many of you – this won’t even be an issue…but here is how I kept the pattern in line. I noticed while working this pattern stitch, that the first stitch I work into for the sc2tog was different in appearance than the second stitch I worked. (One is the stitch resulting from the sc2tog on the previous row, and the second is the ch1 done after the sc2tog). Keeping that in mind, on the rows that were “off” from the pattern, I did a sc at the beg of the row and an extra sc at the end of the row to make sure the stitch pattern lined up on itself as it did in the beginning. It was a little trickier for the raglan shaping as I was trying to line it up every row. I like how my back turned out, but it did take some forethought. I’m already thinking of doing this jacket again – but maybe a two- tone next time!

I’ve already started my fronts and keeping the pattern stitch “lining-up” will keep me busy. Next week, we’ll see how they “shaped-up”!

For CALers in the NYC, stop by the Lion Brand Yarn Studio to see the original jacket LIVE.

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Moderne Jacket Crochet-Along: Choosing a Yarn & Swatching for Gauge

March 12th, 2009

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Welcome to all of you crochet-lovers who have been patiently waiting for your time to crochet together again. I am very excited to host this “adventure in crochet” with all of you! I had such a great time hosting the Cable Luxe Tunic Knit-Along a few months ago, that when I was asked if I wanted to host a crochet-along (CAL) – I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough! As a teacher and designer, I enjoy this camaraderie of our craft, and I know this CAL will be a lot of fun.

I was also thrilled to see which design the majority of you chose –- the Moderne Jacket. This is a great design that I think many of you will enjoy making and adding to your wardrobe. In my case, I am going to make this for my younger daughter, Caroline. My oldest daughter, Lizzie, was the lucky recipient of the knitted “Cable Luxe Tunic” and so I was hoping her sister might like the style of the “Moderne Jacket” – and she does!

OK, so before we go into the yarn I chose for the jacket, make sure you all print off the pattern for the “Moderne Jacket.” You can print this pattern for free until March 23rd! With the pattern in your hands (or yarn basket), let’s talk about what yarns would work well for this project. Actually, this pattern lends itself to a wide choice of yarns. The original pattern calls for a strand of Lion Wool and Lion Cashmere Blend to be worked together. Both of these yarns are worsted weight (category 4) yarns –- but when they are held together in a pattern, they are the same weight as a super bulky weight (category 6) yarn.

So for this pattern you can either work a super bulky yarn (like the beautiful and easy-care Wool-Ease Thick & Quick), or two worsted weight yarns held together (like two strands of Cotton-Ease for a spring jacket or LB Collection Organic Wool that’s perfect for fall), or a heavier worsted and a sport weight together.

I went to my stash of yarn and pulled out a variety of yarns to see how they would work with this pattern. I decided to try a skein of beige Vanna’s Choice (heavy worsted weight) along with topaz Vanna’s Glamour (sport weight). Vanna’s Choice and Vanna’s Glamour are also great, affordable yarns, and in this economy, they are a wonderful budget-friendly option. The results were beautiful as the Vanna’s Glamour gives a subtle shimmer to the fabric. On my tall, blonde daughter – I think this will be one “knockout” of a jacket!

Lucky for me, the size N crochet hook called for in the pattern was the right size and below is a picture of my swatch (note that each “bump” in swatch is 2 stitches):

Now that I know what yarns I will use, I made sure to order enough of each yarn to make the entire jacket. For the 5 sizes of the pattern, you will need approximately 900 (1000, 1100, 1200, 1300) yards of each of the yarns you will use. For my jacket (which will be a small) I will need 6 skeins of the Vanna’s Choice and 5 skeins of Vanna’s Glamour. Now it is your turn to pick out a yarn and swatch away! For your swatch, make sure to start with an even # for your chain (I chained 18 to get a nice size swatch). I’m going to get busy on the back of the jacket now, but I’m looking forward to your questions and comments!

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Cable Luxe Tunic Knit-Along: My Finished Product!

January 22nd, 2009

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The Cable Luxe Tunic is done — woo-hoo! As a designer, many times I have to work on wooly projects in the summer and cool lightweight projects in the winter, so it was a pleasure having this wonderfully warm project on my lap these last few weeks when the temperature was rarely reaching double digits!

After sewing up the seams, I wove in the ends and ta-da! Here is the tunic right after I finished it:

My students often have questions about weaving in ends and the Learning Center has a section just about weaving in your ends.

So, what is really the final step in finishing your tunic? Wash it! A garment always looks better after it is cleaned. Just make sure to follow the instructions on how to wash your tunic by looking at the instructions on your yarn label. I used Wool-Ease and no wonder “ease” is in its name — I just washed it gentle, cold water, and a gentle cycle for the dryer as well. I also turned it inside-out for the wash and it turned out so soft and pretty.

Speaking of pretty…the tunic has finally met up with its intended owner, my oldest daughter, Lizzie. A perfect fit — and look at that smile!

This will be a super warm and easy-care sweater for her to take to college in upstate New York next fall. (I think I was smiling just as much or more seeing her wearing it)!

This has been a wonderful Knit-Along and I thank all of you who have participated, asked questions, given advice, or even have this tunic on your “to do” list. You can access all of the posts for this KAL (and the first KAL for the “Tree of Life” afghan) by clicking here. We’d also love to see all of your finished projects! Add them to the Lion Brand Customer Gallery OR our Flickr group!

Happy knitting everyone and enjoy your tunics!

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Cable Luxe Tunic: Nearing the Finishing Line

January 8th, 2009

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It’s hard to believe that I’m near the “finishing line” of this Cable Luxe Tunic! Actually, I still have one sleeve to finish–and I will try it on my daughter before I finish the sleeves. The yoke was very fun to do, and I realized that at the end that I could have done this yoke in the round on the 24″ circular needle. If you decide to do that, just remember that you have to knit one round and purl one round to get the garter stitch. Also, if you work in the round with garter stitch, you will still get a “jog” (or a line) at the beginning of the round when you switch between the knit rounds and the purl rounds. Here is what the back of my yoke looked like when I finished:

I bound off on the wrong side of my yoke to create the purl ridge at the top of yoke – which is very pretty. If you do this in the round, then you may want to bind off purlwise at the top. It really took very little time to sew the back yoke seam because sewing up garter stitch is basically sewing under each ridge from both sides.

There is a great tutorial of this sewing technique in the Lion Brand Learning Center. Now here is the yoke seam all finished!

OK, now the only sewing left to do is the side seams, but make sure you sew the underarm seams first that was shown in my fourth post. The sleeve and side seams are just reverse stockinette stitch. Again, I am sewing them with the right side facing, and I simply sew into each purl “bump” at the sides.

I found my edges curled quite a bit, so I spritzed them with a spray bottle and let them dry. This eased those edges to make the edges easier to sew. So now I just have to finish that last sleeve, get the right sleeve measurements, and weave in those ends! Thanks to all of you (especially Connie) who have been answering questions and keeping this KAL very fun! I better get my camera charged to take a picture of my finished Cable Luxe Tunic–and maybe have it modeled as well!

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Cable Luxe Tunic Knit-Along: Moving Forward in the New Year

January 2nd, 2009

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A Happy New Year to all of you! I’m sure many of you have been very busy these last few weeks with all sorts of holiday projects. My Cable Luxe Tunic has been sticking up out of my knitting bag trying to get my attention – and now it finally has it again! Quite of few of you have felt you’ve gotten behind on this KAL, but now that the calm of January is here, you can continue (or start!) this project and actually learn from all the hints that other knitters of the tunic have posted so far.

So, where am I on the tunic? I had thought that by now I’d have both the front, back, and both sleeves done — and would be working away on the yoke — the reality is that I have the back finished, and a sleeve done. When I finished the first sleeve, I realized that maybe I would have to adjust the length for my daughter, since she likes to wear her sleeves longer. I decided to put the sleeve stitches on a holder, and get going on the yoke, so that she can try it on before I finish the sleeves.

When I started the yoke, I caught myself ready to make another mistake! Luckily, I reread the instructions and saw that the circular needle I need for the yoke has to be a size smaller than the needle used for the body of the sweater. I needed a US 9 needle for the tunic, so I used a size 8 24″ circular needle for the yoke. The instructions told me to start at that back center seam of the cable strip and pick up all the way around back to the seam. I placed 4 markers on the top edge of the strip right above marking the spots where the back, left sleeve, front, and right sleeve start.

With the right side facing, I picked up the stitches just like I did when I picked up for the back, front and sleeves. I really love to use markers that attached to my knitting and this isn’t the only time I will use them for my yoke. I picked up the 130 stitches for the yoke, which is what the small size total stitch count. To make sure the stitches didn’t fall off the end of my needle, I put a point protector on the other end of the needle.

Although the pattern asks for a circular needle, the yoke itself is knit back and forth, so I placed a marker at the end of the row to remind me to turn my work and knit back. Could you knit this yoke in the round? Sure you can — all you need to do is remember to work the garter stitch in the round which is knit 1 round, then purl one round. And also remember that if your stitches get too tight around your needle after your decreases, you may have to switch to a 16″ circular or double-pointed needles to get to the top. I’m doing the yoke as it is written in the pattern, and I don’t mind the seam in the back which will continue from the seam in the cable strip. By knitting it in rows, I knit every row to get garter stitch this way.

For all the sizes, the yoke decreases every 6th row and for the small size I have to decrease 13 stitches evenly across each decrease row. To make this easier, I am using my markers again to mark 13 places in my knitting. Since there are 130 stitches, I will place a marker every 10 stitches (I decided to go in 5 sts on each end of the row — this still makes 10 sts between each marker, and I won’t have to decrease right at the edge of my row.)

Now I will knit the 2 stitches before each marker together on every decrease row. After all my decrease rows, I can remove the markers and just knit up until the garter stitch yoke measures 3″ from where I picked up the stitches. So that’s my plan and if all goes well, I should have this tunic ready to sew up next week. Here’s wishing you all a year filled with happiness, health, and as much knitting as you can fit in a year!

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