Lion Brand Notebook

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Flattering Sweater Styles For Women Of Every Age

July 28th, 2015

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sweater_07272015Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. She is a regular contributor to the Notebook.

As we get older our bodies change. The clothes I wore in my 20s and 30s wouldn’t suit me now and they wouldn’t fit. But, why should I scold myself because the clothing I wore years ago no longer flatters?

As knitters and crocheters, we’re privileged.  Rather than settling for something cloned and off the rack, we can select customizable designs, choose yarns in colors we love, and craft sweaters that are gorgeous, practical, and absolutely right for us.

That’s where Lion Brand comes in.  There’s an abundance of great designs in the huge Lion Brand pattern database, and so many are flattering to women of a certain age.  Each pattern keys to a perfect match of Lion Brand yarn, so guesswork about gauge and fit is minimal.

I’ll highlight some of the Lion Brand designs I’ve discovered.  They’re comfortable, crafted in lovely yarns, and range from easy to moderately challenging.  All are absorbing to work and beautiful to wear.  When you wear them, you’ll feel attractive and relaxed, as well as accomplished, delighted, and in control of your fashion destiny!

Let’s consider two cardigans, knitted and crocheted.  The knitted Seaside Kimono Cardi requires only 5 skeins of Fishermen’s Wool®.  Its basic shape is squared and loose, but dense cables at the wrist, collar, and lower edge create a gentle blouson that complements many different figures.  The cardigan’s natural tones and rich textures convey an elegant, slightly ethnic sensibility that’s great with jeans, a simple dress, or a skirt.

The crocheted Retro Swing Cardi, in Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick®, packs a lot of style into a quick project.  Done with a large hook, it works up swiftly into a gentle A-line jacket that floats over the torso.  This design is great for petite figures, as it doesn’t overwhelm.

There are many reasons to favor cardigans, as they’re easy to slip on and off, and useful if you like to layer.  Much as I enjoy cardis, though, the Level Two Knit Pullover really captured me.  I love the dropped shoulder of the loose, yet sculpted design.  I love the textural interest of the front and sleeves, and the adorable band collar.  For such a sophisticated pattern, it’s hard to believe the skill rating is “easy.”  I can’t wait to knit it in several different colors!

 

kimon retro_swing level_2_pullover
Knit Seaside Kimono Cardi made with Fishermen’s Wool® Knit and Crochet Retro Swing Cardi made with Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® Knit Level 2 Pullover made with Lion’s Pride® Woolspun®

 

 


New Pattern Journal: One Thing Leads to Another … Featuring the Tribeca Tunic and the Dotty Dots Afghan

April 26th, 2015

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

One Thing Leads to Another

If Kathy’s sister hadn’t been named Dorothy, and if Dorothy hadn’t been expecting a baby, and if Kathy hadn’t crocheted a blanket for Dorothy’s baby, Kathy would never have knitted herself the most sophisticated sweater ever. It was as simple as that.

Dotty Dots Afghan

She’d gone to the crafts store, where the blanket was on display. Its upbeat colors–cream and soft grey, vivid yellow and purple–immediately appealed. She also loved the whimsical layout of squares, diamonds, and circles, as rhythmic and happy as a children’s song. When Kathy saw the pattern was titled “Dotty Dots,” that clinched it! The family had called her sister Dorothy “Dottie” since forever. A Dotty Dots blanket for Dottie’s baby—the coincidence was pure serendipity!

It was crocheted from a subtly-chained, petal-soft yarn, Modern Baby®, which had a lively, bouncy quality that her fingers loved. The Modern Baby® palette was joyous, the yarn a pleasure to use. After finishing the blanket, Kathy wondered what else she could do with it. Too much fun to stop now!

Maybe, she thought, it’s time to focus on me. Making something just for her — that was when her creativity peaked. She could play with color, shape, and structure. She could express herself.


Tribeca Tunic

The Tribeca Tunic, a sophisticated look in two shades of Modern Baby® and one of sparkle-inflected Vanna’s Glamour®, was the perfect next project, Kathy discovered. Its construction appeared complicated, but was surprisingly straightforward. Yet there were enough changes in direction and color to keep things interesting. Knitting that sweater was as fascinating as crocheting the Dotty Dots afghan had been. She marveled at Modern Baby®‘s versatility—it worked equally well for adults’ and kids’ clothing.

At the baby shower, Kathy wore the chic Tribeca Tunic, worked in cream and two shades of black, over velvet leggings. She gave Dottie the Dotty Dots Afghan, and her sister was enchanted. “Thank you so much!” Dottie enthused. “I’ve never seen anything as adorable! And by the way, that’s a fabulous sweater you’re wearing. Is it new?”

Kathy smiled, and considered how lucky she was to be a sister and an almost-aunt, as well as someone who loved to crochet and knit. It had been so rewarding to follow her intuition from baby blanket to Tribeca Tunic, as one creative project led to another, in natural succession — just like life itself.

Nothing is more fashionable than a handmade accessory you’ve made yourself. Save 20% off these kits for a limited time:

1) Tribeca Tunic
2) Dotty Dots Afghan

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


A Shrug That Will Have You Totally Hooked: Rib and Shells Shrug

March 29th, 2015

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

Coming into the office, Jan saw Carrie at the reception desk. As usual, the young woman looked adorable — her hair perfectly styled, her makeup impeccable. What really caught Jan’s eye, though, was Carrie’s short, jazzy shrug — open and swingy, with bright flashes of color that popped off a darker background.

Suddenly, there was nothing Jan wanted more than a shrug like Carrie’s. Jan always dressed well for work, but she felt her clothes made her seem decades older than her mid-thirties. Carrie’s shrug suggested new possibilities. Draped and elegant, the garment would create a glamorous, professional look, and also provide warmth without encumbrance.

“Carrie,” Jan exclaimed, “Your shrug is gorgeous! Where did you get it?”

“Actually,” said Carrie, “I crocheted it. It’s handmade.”

Jan processed this information. It was boggling to realize that anyone could crochet something that looked so perfect. Once upon a time Jan had crocheted a simple afghan and some scarves, but nothing as amazing as Carrie’s shrug.

“Do you know how to crochet?” Carrie asked. “I can give you the pattern.”

“Oh gee,” Jan began. “I used to, but it’s been years . . .”

“This pattern is totally for beginners,” Carrie said. “You just crochet a rectangle, then fold and seam. The stitches are easy to remember, so you can crochet while watching TV, and it’s done in no time! Look, I’ll print the free pattern from the Lion Brand website, you buy the yarn, and I’ll help if you get stuck. Deal?”

The softly-plied yarn, called Landscapes®, glowed with the impressionist brilliance of a tropical ocean sunset. Carrie was a willing crochet consultant, but Jan quickly recalled the stitches and easily understood the pattern. “It’s like riding a bike,” she observed. “You never really forget.”

“So what’s next?” Carrie asked. “Something more challenging?”

“I haven’t even finished this shrug!”

“But soon you will.”

“In that case, I think I’ll make myself another one, in a different colorway,” said Jan. “I have to confess that when I bought the yarn, I just couldn’t decide which colors I liked best. So I bought some extra.”

“Really?” Carrie seemed quite amused. “How much extra?”

“Um . . . a lot?” Carrie was laughing now. “Jan,” she said, “I think you’re totally hooked.”

Save 20% off Landscapes® until the end of March!

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


Homespun with Love: The Sunset Throw

February 22nd, 2015

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

The Sunset ThrowIn my family, Peggy, my big sister, weaves, Mom crochets–and I knit. For as long as I can remember, it seemed, we each had our piece of yarn turf, and we didn’t trespass. Why it was like that, I don’t know. Maybe we didn’t want to compete with each other.

But one day I got this super strong urge to learn to crochet. Actually, I imagined myself crocheting something really cool for Mom’s birthday.

Mom had sometimes offered to teach me before. “There’s only one tool,” she’d explained. “And things work up quickly.” I always made excuses, so after a while she stopped. I guess I just wasn’t ready then. But now I certainly was.

My urge to crochet just wouldn’t disappear and I was too proud to ask her this time. I got a “How To” book at the library, but the diagrams made me cross-eyed. Then a light bulb went on — I’m a visual learner! If I just paid attention to someone crocheting, I’d certainly get the hang of it.

That’s when the next light bulb illuminated. The Lion Brand Website! It has a Learning Center, with short instructional videos. So once my homework was done, I’d watch a How to Crochet video multiple times each night, practicing a chain stitch, or single or double crochet stitch. Pretty soon I could tell that I was ready for a real project.

Naturally I wanted something perfect for a beginner. In addition to the Learning Center, Lion Brand had a gigantic pattern directory and through it I found this amazing Sunset Throw design, crocheted in eight rich colors of Homespun®. That yarn has unbelievable qualities–it’s loopy and lustrous, and really soft. It just makes you want to snuggle! I planned to crochet the individual sections in my room, sew them together, and give the throw to Mom for her birthday.

* * *

“Happy birthday!” I crowed, handing Mom my debut work, neatly folded. “I taught myself to crochet so I could make this for you.”
“Oh wow,” she laughed. “So that’s where my K hook went.” Then she hugged me so hard, it was like we were blanketed in love.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


Knitting to the Rescue: The Traffic Throw

January 25th, 2015

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

Helen didn’t mind her nighttime schedule at Children’s Hospital, but after hours of sick kids and distraught parents, decompressing was hard. That’s where knitting came in.

Mom, herself a pediatrician, had suggested it. “Knitting clears your brain,” she said. “You see results.”

During the time she’d been at Children’s, Helen had knitted constantly, not for herself, but for the kids. She made what was needed — chemo caps, security blankets, stuffed animals. Now she was knitting a throw with a cheery design of trucks and cars.

It was almost done, just a few rows left. Helen loved that the “Traffic Throw” was knitted with Vanna’s Choice®. For every skein purchased, St. Jude’s Research Hospital, dedicated to curing childhood diseases, received a donation. Knowing that made Helen feel she was doubling the benefit of her knitted gifts. She loved everything else about the yarn, too–its softness and clear, bright colors. On break, she’d sit in the lounge and knit away. When others asked, Helen answered, “Oh…it’s for someone I haven’t met yet.”

Then one of the surgeons told her about Charlie. “Helen,” he said. “Check out room 102.” He pointed down the hall, where the post-op kids were monitored.” Charlie pulled away from his mom in a mall parking lot, into the path of a car backing out. Every parent’s nightmare, right?”

Charlie was four; he’d sustained contusions, a concussion and a broken arm. He looked incredibly small, his head bound with gauze, a rigid cast on his arm. On his bed were a teddy and small toy trucks. His exhausted dad sat in an adjacent armchair.

“I’m Dr. Chen,” said Helen, on entering. “How ya feeling, Charlie?”

Charlie looked away.

Dad said, “I think Charlie’s feeling as bad about disobeying his mom as he is about getting hurt. Aren’t you, son?”

Charlie said nothing.

Helen said, “Everybody makes mistakes.” She went to Charlie’s bedside. “I guess you like trucks, right?”

Charlie nodded. “I have more at home,” he whispered.

“I think there might be some around here,” Helen said. “I’ll look for them, okay?”

Charlie nodded again, then closed his eyes.

When he woke up, he was covered with something warm and soft. As Charlie and his dad counted the cars, trucks, and traffic lights, their hands found a note:

Dear Charlie,
Get well soon.
Your friend,
Dr. Chen

Save 20% off Vanna’s Choice® until the end of January!

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


Yarn is the Key to Friendship: The Concerto Cowl

December 28th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

“You don’t have to do everything yourself,” Tom said. “No one will mind if you buy a present, instead of making one.”

How could Lynn explain? There were some people she just needed to knit for. Like Beth, her BFF. They’d been together through violin lessons, music camps, statewide youth orchestra. They’d been music majors at the same college–and they’d been in each other’s weddings. That’s how close they were — like sisters. Lynn just couldn’t buy Beth a present. She deserved something lovingly handmade.

During the summer, Lynn had planned to knit Beth a vest. Then in September, she changed that to a scarf. Now Christmas was just weeks away, and she still hadn’t begun knitting. Where had time gone? Guilt was setting in, and with it, stress. Maybe she’d counted too much on Beth’s relaxed nature. Lynn knew that whatever she gave her, Beth would be fine with it. Their friendship wasn’t about stuff.

The next day Lynn visited her local craft store, wandering around, looking for inspiration. She passed the yarn — Heartland — on display, surrounded by swatches and samples . . . and stopped. She reached up and squeezed a skein. It was luxuriously soft. Heartland’s nuanced colors reminded her of Beth — elegant, luminous, subtle. Lynn placed two skeins in her basket.

She knew this was the beginning.

The beginning of what? Thank goodness for Lion Brand’s Patternfinder! Smartphone in hand, Lynn used the Lion Brand app to search for patterns. There were more than a hundred for Heartland. Then she saw the Concerto Cowl, a composition in exactly the yarn colors — ebony and ivory, like printed music — she’d just pulled off the shelf.

* * *

Tom, coming into the living room, saw her curled on the sofa, knitting away.

“So you found something to make for Beth?”

“Definitely,” Lynn replied. “Except it was actually the other way around — I think this project found me.”

It was the first of many Concerto Cowls she’d knit — including one for herself. Quick to complete, and stunning in a variety of color combinations, the classic pattern was, like a beautiful piece of music, something she’d always love to replay.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


A Personal Sanctuary: The Cable Comfort Throw

November 24th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

It was called a Cable Comfort Throw, and yes, it was richly cabled and richly comforting.Exhausted by her stressful day at the office, Sharon, while driving home, could think only of removing her coat, suit and heels, putting on her comfiest sweats, and curling up on the sofa beneath the beautiful afghan she’d recently completed. It was called a Cable Comfort Throw, and yes, it was richly cabled and richly comforting.

Before, she’d never tackled anything bigger than a scarf. The throw taught her to cable and to manage a large piece of fabric. If you could knit stockinette, cables were a snap. Plus, the project was on large needles, and the yarn–the most squishable, chunky Wool-Ease® Thick & Quick® in a happy lemongrass green–knitted up fast, providing immediate gratification.

Sharon parked, and unlocked the front door of her home. The serenity of the hall, with its quietly ticking clock, the silk-shaded glow of table lamps as she switched them on, the scent of potpourri in a bowl on the mantel, the sight of the Cable Comfort Throw draped over the arm of the sofa–all brought soul-nourishing relief. She called it the “Sanctuary Effect.”

Make-up and office uniform removed, sweats and thick socks on, a magazine and the TV remote at hand, the Cable Comfort Throw wrapped around her, Sharon sank into the sofa’s deep cushions. But was she dreaming? Brian was already announcing that it was time to eat.

“Oh…I must have dozed off.” She yawned, pulling the throw closer, thinking how its luscious warmth made her feel so peaceful. Even though dinner smelled wonderful, she could hardly bear to leave the Cable Comfort Throw’s embrace.

Then Brian emerged from the kitchen, with a food-laden tray. “Now don’t you move,” he said, settling down beside her. “Dinner is served.”

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


More Than Just Knitting: The Autumn Lace Afghan

November 9th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

When Jessie thought about her life, it was as a series of moments. Sometimes these were big events, like holidays, but often they were small—a bluebird’s late-winter visit to the garden, the way her husband smiled as she approached. Sometimes the moments were sad, like when she’d had the diagnosis, and when she’d begun chemo and radiation.

Of course family and friends had been there all along, but she’d needed a steady diversion from the symptoms and side-effects. Knitting had kept her anchored and calm. Knitting had let her feel capable even when she’d hit her lowest point.

The pattern was called Autumn Lace Afghan—beautifully textured, with a kind of embedded story in every repetition. Each knitted diamond framed a stylized tree of life and connected to another diamond and another tree; the border was seed-stitch, symbolic of growth and hope. The yarn, an autumnal Hazelnut shade of Wool-Ease® Thick and Quick®, was meltingly soft, and became a fabric both durable and comforting. To make the knitting magic last, Jessie knitted mindfully, just a few rows every day. Thus she managed to stretch the project over several months.

By then the treatments were over. Slowly she felt more vibrant, and increasingly grateful. The afghan was beautiful, but was so much more than that. It was a knitted diary of all those moments—when she’d felt awful, when she’d known for sure that the worst was over, when she realized her health was restored. And when she draped the completed afghan over her shoulders, she felt lovingly protected by its warm, inspiring embrace.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


A Homemade Life: The Granny Throw

October 26th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

She was a homemaker. At parties, Angie sometimes said, “I’m a domestic engineer.” Same difference. With three kids, two dogs, and Mike, who spent long hours at his hardware franchise, Angie often wondered how they’d manage if she didn’t have great organizing skills and abundant energy.

Angie, like her husband, thrived on life’s routines and complexities. But no matter what, she always took time to crochet. It wasn’t just a pastime. It was the feeling that crochet preserved her. Those minutes each day, hook and yarn in hand, cleared out stress and focused her on something productive that became something beautiful.

Her newest project was a classic Granny Throw, to replace the one Mike’s mom had made years before. That was now beyond repair. Yet it was the family “lovey,” a comfort of their daily lives, and Angie didn’t want them to do without.

The Granny Throw comprised twelve generous squares that worked up quickly on a K hook. She’d done each one in spare moments, often while waiting in the car to pick up the kids from school. Angie adored the subtly variegated yarn, called Tweed Stripes®. Earth-toned, with occasional bright accents, it had a woodsy quality that complemented their maple furniture, corduroy upholstery, and braided rugs.

Angie placed the finished throw on the couch, and waited to see who noticed first. Six-year-old Daisy, of course. It was Friday, after supper, when the kids were allowed a movie before bedtime. Daisy put on her pajamas, brushed her teeth, and raced downstairs ahead of her brothers. Leaping onto the couch, she automatically pulled down the throw. Angie heard her call, “Mommy, there’s a new lovey! It’s so-o-o beautiful!”

Jake and Tyler joined their sister. “Hey, let us have it!”

“What’s up, you guys?” Angie asked, coming into the family room. The kids tussled some, then finally cuddled into the Granny Throw. Faces shining, slippered feet sticking out beyond their new blanket, they were eager to watch the film.

At times like this Angie knew why she loved the life she and Mike had made.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.


Patterns of Inspiration: The Sunset Shrug

October 19th, 2014

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This story is from our newsletter called Pattern Journal which brings a warm-hearted, wholesome story to your inbox to read every month. If you enjoy it and would like to subscribe, click here.

Crochet Sunset ShrugThe front door slammed and Dawn, at the window, watched her teenagers board their bus. Until late afternoon, this day was hers. Now that Lexie and Mike were in high school and she wasn’t driving them every afternoon to sports and lessons, Dawn’s life had entered a new and interesting phase.

She hadn’t formulated grand plans. Her intuition said to go with the flow. Today she’d start crocheting something just for herself. Called a “Sunset Shrug,” the design displayed a golden sun amidst colorful nebulae.

Dawn loved the yarn, Heartland, for its softness, warmth, and drape. Heartland developed easily into the bands of rich hues the pattern specified, and as her hook swiftly connected one shade to another, she found herself thinking of Miss Sanchez, who’d taught Earth Science in high school.

The image was so vivid, like she was back in high school again—Miss Sanchez standing before the class, rapidly explaining atmospheric layers or volcanic activity, energetically writing on the board.

Dawn remembered Miss Sanchez’s handmade shrugs and scarves as clearly as she recalled her lessons on natural forces. She loved that class. Miss Sanchez was so cool, so pretty, and so smart. She had undeniably inspired Dawn to major in geology in college.

Now, as she crocheted the Sunset Shrug in her peaceful home, Dawn thought it might be interesting to continue her education. Her kids were practically independent, and if she took two courses every term, she’d have a teaching degree by the time they left for college. She imagined standing before a group of note-taking teenagers, just like Miss Sanchez. As she turned to write on the board, the back of her Sunset Shrug would radiate an image of nature’s beauty, for all to see.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A story by Selma Moss-Ward.

Selma Moss-Ward writes and knits in Rhode Island. You can find her work on our blog, as well as Lion Brand’s monthly newsletter, Pattern Journal, which you can subscribe to here.

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