August 29, 2010

The Beet Juice Experiment

I usually use chemicals to dye my yarns; but I've been investigating organic dying a little and thought that I would do a little experiment.  So here is what I did:

Step 1:  I mixed 4 parts water with 1 part vinegar and let the undyed merino DK wool sit in this bath for about 15 minutes--just to make sure it soaked up the liquid completely.

Step 2:  I microwaved the yarn on HI 3 times in 2-minute increments.  The original directions that I found at Pioneer Thinking said to simmer the yarn for 1 hour; but I have a fear of felting, so I microwaved, instead.  I've never had anything felt up on me in the microwave.  The purpose of this is to pre-fix the dye before I add it so that it will "stick" and not bleed out during rinsing/cooling.  I let the yarn sit for a couple minutes between microwaving sessions, and then I let it cool down to room temperature before adding my dye.  I drained the excess vinegar/water from the dish so that it would cool more quickly.

Step 3:  I took beet juice, which I saved from 3 cans of beets ($0.89 per can makes for a pretty cheap dye!) and soaked the freshly-squeezed yarn in it for most of the day (about 6 hours).  I used plain old beets, not the pickled kind.  Although, come to think of it, the pickled beet juice might kill two birds with one stone if I add just a little more vinegar to the already vinegarized juice.  I will have to try that next time.  The ratio was 2 cups juice to 1 cup filtered water.

Step 4:  Pour the beet juice over the yarn, mix well (I carefully turned the yarn over--with gloves on, of course!--and then pushed down on it to make sure that the juice fully saturated the yarn), and let sit for an hour and a half.  I turned the yarn once about half-way through this step to make sure that there was even saturation.

Step 5:  I microwaved the yarn again, twice, in 2-minute increments, letting it cool for about a minute between sessions.  Then I let it cool back to room temperature.

Step 6:  As a final measure, and to make sure that any vegetable remnants that might have been in the beet juice are washed out, I did a quick "shock" soak in iced-cold water in the sink (about 10 minutes).  I didn't agitate it much, just enough to move any vegetable particles off of the yarn.

Step 7:  I squeezed out excess water and let it dry on a drying rack.  Here's the final product.  Sadly, the finished product is much, much lighter than I had hoped.  Oddly enough, I ended up with some spots of an orangey-ink color in about 5 places on the skein.  Not sure why.  I think next time I will hold myself back and let the juice sit on the yarn overnight.  Maybe there wasn't enough saturation time.

And here's another project from 2 weeks ago.  I've been dying (no pun intended!) to show off this little number, which I custom-dyed for Roberta from Tallahassee for an August yarn swap.  It's super-gorgeous, and this picture doesn't do the subtle color variations of turquoise justice.  880 yards of lace-wt. merino.  Roberta says she LOVES it!  I'm so glad.  This turned out so well that you can expect to see this little number in my Etsy store for spring.

August 28, 2010

The Sweater Knitting Blues

Ugh.  That's about all I can say about it.  Ugh.

I was so anticipatory of moving on to the body of my latest butter yellow version of Swing--I had carefully written the pattern with instructions for ease, but hadn't test-knit that version until now.  I went to knitting club this morning, sweater yoke in hand, with 4 rows left to the yoke division point, determined that I would not return home without having started on the body because I have been trying to make progress all week and hadn't even picked this project up to do a stitch.  I, in fantastic knitting company, knit those last 4 yoke rows.  And then I announced that I was finally ready to divide for the yoke to the entire group, only to realize that I had somehow knit this top-down sweater--my own pattern mind you,  a pattern for which test knitting has already been done successfully, a pattern that I wrote--I knit the yoke minus an ENTIRE SLEEVE!  Ugh.  A month of stolen knitting moments in the frick frack toilet.

When my fellow knitters asked me how could I have made such a mistake, all I could say was ... "Well, I did start working on this the week of pre-planning ..." and that pretty much explains it all.  Knitting is a major stress-reliever for me; but in this case, the stress of the new school year apparently decimated my already weak math skills.  And what is even more crazy is that I haven't, at any point, noticed that I was missing an entire sleeve.  What a waste!  I am just so mad!  But, on the sunny side, I do own a ball winder, so ripping it out will be swift, untangled, and fairly painless; but dang, I have to rip it out all the way back to the mandarin collar.  I think I'll just go work on some gloves. (insert frowny face)

So let this be a comforting lesson to you new knitters in the self-confidence department:  Even the veterans make a disastrous mess of their knitting now and again.  We all have those kinds of days.  All you can do is suck it up and knit on.

August 27, 2010

What an awesome way to end the week! I WON!!!

My husband and children thought I had just won the lottery when I started screaming "I WON!!  I WON!!" after I got home from school today.  No, no lottery... way more awesome than that!  I won the BIG Spud & Cloe giveaway at Yarn on the House!  I never win anything.  Really.  Never.  But I won, do a little dance, I won!  Thank you so much to the very awesome Veronika!  I'm so excited!  Look at my awesome prize:

So now everyone should visit Veronika and check our her newest giveaway of gorgeous yarn and her very awesome blog and her top-down raglan KAL.  What I happy Friday this has turned out to be!

Another Week Done

I'm so glad it's Friday!!  It's been a VERY stressful week for me and for my colleagues!  But, I'm going to make my deadline, despite this miserable summer cold that I managed to pick up on the 2nd day of school and which has just steadily grown worse.  So I'm actually dragging myself into Friday, but in a few short hours, it'll be the weekend.  I'm keeping my eye on that prize!  That's the sunshine on this cloudy, stormy morning--that, and a strong cup of coffee!

I got new merino DK in the mail yesterday, so it's looking like a weekend of Elegy fingerless glove knitting for me.  Yeah!  Asparagus (such a pretty, pretty green!), rusty pumpkin (makes me long for cooler temps.), and camel (soft and lovely).  And, tomorrow is my knitting club meeting, so two hours of uninterrupted knitting are on the horizon.  The thing about knitting these mitts is that, on the one hand I think, "What if I knit up these gorgeous mitts and no one wants them?" (at my Etsy store), and on the other hand I think, "but they're so beautiful, how could they not sell?"  I guess knitting is knitting, even if it ends up in the closet.  Truthfully, I knit because I love knitting.

August 26, 2010

It's Thursday.  Already!?  How did the week fly by like that?  I have a monstrous deadline at school tomorrow, so this is short, and I'm sorry.  I also overslept this morning--wicked sore throat tells me to stay home, but my overwhelming sense of responsibility says get your butt into work!  I hope we've connected today at Buzz on By with Two Saavy Sisters.  Love their crafty site!  Please leave a comment while you're here.  Would love to say "hello" to you in return!  Have a great and crafty Thursday!

August 25, 2010

W.I.P. update

You know, school is REALLY cutting into my knitting time, and I am REALLY not happy about that!  I am afraid I don't have much to update about my projects this week.  I'm done with the yoke, finally, on my latest knit up of Swing (+1 ease for this one), so the rest will practically knit itself, I expect (See cardi pattern on the left sidebar for a picture).  The raglan part of a top-down sweater is always a slow process for me--I tend to drop or lose my markers every time I have to M1, and there are a lot of M1s.  I've been trying to think of a good way to avoid that constant clumsiness, but so far, nothing has come to mind.

I've started on a new pair of Elegy gloves for the Etsy store, size L.  This pair is also that gorgeous blue pictured in the pattern.  I have one pair available already, size M, and more of the fantastic merino in gorgeous colors for this project on the way to my house as we speak.  I'm thinking of offering a kit for this pattern; but I'm still on the fence.  I haven't gotten much action for this pattern; but it is also still summer.  I guess the DIY kit will just have to wait until it gets a little cooler.

I have made NO progress on the lace scarf or the top-down, toe-up, 2-at-a-time socks.  And the Reconstruction sweater hasn't seen much action, either.  I want to, but my life has gotten in the way.  The more I work at being a teacher this year, the more I want to just quit and open a yarn shop.  I could knit all day.  Hmmmmm.

Anyway, that's what's knitting, or not, this week.  And since I've already mentioned how I'm not very happy being back at school, I guess I might as well mention that I am decidedly unhappy with the way school recycling programs run.  First of all, ours is done through our county recycling post.  We have about 1500 students in our building, and that's a lot of wasted paper and plastic and stuff.  So, they give us one little trash can, not really even as big as my two classroom trash cans, and they send kids around MAYBE once a week to pick up the recycling "bins"--a bin in my mind is a much bigger receptacle.  Well, my recycling bin has been full of assorted things to be recycled (and some gum--gross!) for two weeks now, and no one comes around to collect it, so the kids have stopped recycling.  I could complain, but the poor teacher in charge isn't getting much support from the administration this year with using students to empty the bins.  It's becoming a vicious cycle, and we used to be the #1 paper recycling school in our county.  I think that the worse the economy gets, the less people care about the environment.  I'm seeing it in my kids, too.  Since we've gone back to school, no one wants to recycle at home, either.  I'm going to have to step in, I think, and do something about this--at home and at school--before it gets much more out of hand.

August 22, 2010

Just Something I Whipped Up (and finished just in time for Monday!)

Okay.  I started this last weekend, and worked on it all week on the premise that I was relieving stress--knitting relieves stress, right?  Well, this baby was WAY stressful!  I've never felted before, and I have to admit it looked much more decoratively creative in my head than it actually turned out to be.  I think what threw me off was the tomatoey color of the wool.  ANYWAY, it's done.  I had to stay up past my Sunday bedtime to finish it, but it's done.

"What is it?", you might be asking.  It is a felted DPN needle case.

(This last picture is a more accurate representation of the color.) A few decorative, non-purposeful buttons, a little ribbon, a blanket stitch with embroidery thread, and a very interesting felting experience with a front-loading washing machine, and voila!  A needle case is born.

I improvised this based on two different free patterns that I found and Patons and I can't remember where else--Ravelry maybe--, neither of which really gave me what I wanted.  I hate it when my DPNs fall out of the straight needle roll-up case every time I unroll it to get some needles.  I knit this up on size 8s.  The fabric is a little thick, and I probably should have used a fingering weight (that's going to be the next felting experiment) instead of about 220 yards of DK weight, but it serves the purpose.  Who's going to ever see it besides me and Buddy the Knitting Dog, anyway?  And, well, besides you.


I don't usually blog on Sundays, but this deserves a change in routine:  I have my own website! The host is (mentioned in a post this past week), and my address is:

How cool is that!?!  Please stop by, check it out, share your opinions ... I'm always glad to know what you think.

Hope your weekend was a great one!

August 20, 2010

Something for Saturday

Okay, I've REALLY gotten away from what I love to do, which is to knit, in just the few short weeks associated with going back to school/work.  I've spent more time blogging than I have knitting, and that's practically a crime.  It's even more criminal because I knit to relax, and after this first week of school, boy do I need to relax!  So, today, since Rocket and I are having the day to ourselves, there's going to be knitting, darn it!  Maybe I can even get her to pick up her sticks and do a little practicing.

Since last weekend, I've been working on a felted DPN needle case to show off on Monday, and if all goes well, I'll start featuring them on my Etsy store.  I'm also working up to a new collection of hand-dyed and hand-painted yarns for the Etsy store ... thinking this collection will be called something foresty and be filled with greens and browns and golds and reds and rusty oranges.  I'm hoping to accomplish three things this weekend, knit-wise:  finish the felting project, knit up another pair of Elegy gloves for the Etsy store, and get some serious work done on the latest knit of Swing.

And if I reach my goals, I might just have to treat myself to the GORGEOUS new cardi pattern at Chic Knits.

Hooray for Friday!!


I hope everyone is having a fantastic Friday!  I am personally very happy to have made it through a particularly exhausting week.  The first week of school always kicks my butt!  I hope that we have met via one of these great Friday hops, but if not, leave a comment and I will visit you right back!

August 18, 2010

Nifty Free Stuff (for knitters, that is!)

I like to post free patterns that are nicely done on my blog for my followers and visitors to take with them.  Granted, most of them are not mine; but they are available on the Internet for free; so I just try to help you access them more easily.  Today, let me share with you a fantastic glove pattern from Mirth:  Off-Kilter Mitts. I'm sorry that I can't seem to get this image to be larger without being super-blurry.  Just click on the link and you will be able to see the pdf version.

I've shown off my completed project for this pattern before; but since the KAL & contest associated with this patten are coming to an end (fingers crossed for my name on the glorious grand prize!!!), I got permission from Jan Hagan to share this pattern on my blog. And, I don't mind showing off my FO again:

This pattern is a super-quick knit--I know I knit these in a weekend, and if I remember correctly, the pattern instructions were such that I was able to figure out how to knit them two-at-a-time with a magic loop.  The medium that I knit was a little small for me--even though my hands are rather thin and boney--because I tend to knit very tightly; but Rocket can't wait for it to get cold to wear them.  Maybe by Christmas we'll see some frosty weather around here--right now we're back in a drought and I think the temp. gauge in my car read 99 on my way home from work today.  So, although I keep kniting 'em, no chance that either Rocket or I will be sporting our stunning gloves any time soon. (insert sad face).

August 17, 2010

Something New to Link It All Together!

 So I found this nifty little site via Etsy that allows you to sign up for a free account that will put your blog, your Etsy store, etc. all at one location on the internet.  Here's my new address for  Here you can view my blog and all of my other goodies in one place.  You should definitely check this out if you have a million toolbar bookmarks like I do to keep track of your internet world.  Please bear in mind that my new Soopsee account is under construction, so things look a little bare right now.  I'm working on it!  Stop by for a visit and check this out!  It's free, what could it hurt, right?

And what would Wednesday be without my weekly W.I.P. update?  Well, you know me, I have to have a new project started for every old project that I haven't finished.  It's a vicious knitting cycle!  Anyway, I'm STILL working on the test knit for Swing for +1 ease--so far, I'm pretty darned on the money--and that lace scarf of mine glares at me from it's little knitting bag.  I'm down to the bottom ribbing on the body of the Reconstruction sweater.  I've pretty much put the toe-up socks into hibernation--hard to knit socks when it's to darned hot to wear shoes!  So my newest W.I.P. is a little felting project that I am doing with some wool that I received from a July swap--tomato red wool.  So I am knitting what appears to be an endlessly long, and a little too wide tomato-red scarf.  When all is said and done, and I am hoping to show it off on Just Something I Whipped Up! Monday, it will be well-felted and transformed into a dpn needle case.  And, if all goes well, I'll put others like it in my Etsy store.  

August 16, 2010

Tuesday Hops and Such

Whew!  I made it to Tuesday!  The first full day of school was pretty new and different.  My school day runs from 6:30 am until 4pm.  My elementary school-aged children got on a school bus at 7:25 this morning and didn't get home from school until 5 pm.  They were on a bus for an hour this afternoon, and we literally live 2.5 miles from their school.  Go figure.  The extended day to accommodate a shortened school calendar is going to take some getting used to; and, definitely, weekends are going to become more important.  I have an exchange student from Switzerland in one of my advanced American lit classes--that's very neat, but at the same time a considerable challenge because he has to earn credit but his English isn't very fluent.  I'm not sure that I'm ever going to agree with the new "line them up in the hall every block for a bathroom break" plan.  Elementary school bathroom breaks for high school students just doesn't jive with me.  But we won our first football game in maybe two years last Friday, rumor has it that we might have supply money by mid-September, and the day went pretty well.  Except for the stupid bathroom break thing, I really can't complain.

So it's Tuesday and we are all hopping around.  I hope we get a chance to meet today, but if we don't, I promise to get back to you ASAP--probably after I get my homework done.  Ha. Ha.  Thanks for stopping by.  Happy Tuesday!

August 13, 2010

It's Friday!!!

Well, that's all, folks!  Whatever shred of summer vacation that I may have had to hang on to is gone.  It's Friday.  School starts on Monday.  Due to budget cuts, we've been told that we have to come in on Saturday and Sunday if we want time to prepare our classrooms and make copies for Monday's first day of school.  REALLY.  We will have spent 4, count them, 4 days in staff development workshops and meetings.  I, for one, am ready for No Child Left Behind to get left behind--either that or a pay raise.  I haven't had a paycheck this small since 2000.  That's like a ten-year cut in pay.  And for those of us who didn't lose their jobs, it seems like the "be happy you still have a job" statement is being used to abuse us as we start the school year.  We won't have money for classroom supplies until MAYBE January. We won't get new textbooks until they are 12 years old, if we are lucky.  I'm starting the semester on Monday with no materials AT ALL--no textbook, no workbook, no worksheets, no nothin' except a comment from the board office that, "we wish we had enough band width for you to work online with your students, but you have to understand that we can't make it happen".  I'm a veteran teacher, but this class and I may be spending the new 102-minute class period just staring at each other on Monday.  There aren't even state standards for this class.  Its the SAT prep. class.  Kind of an important class, I think.  Apparently there are only a few other people with that same opinion.  ANYWAY, I'll be coming in on SUNDAY to make my copies and put my room in order.  We're short on desks, too, so I gave my desks to the drama teacher, who had none and is still 8 short with my 25, and took round tables with chairs.  Not sure how I'm going to fit 7 round tables in my room, might have to knock out a wall, but I will do it, and with a smile on my face.  Right? I'll just be all grumbly on the inside.

On the flip side, come Monday morning at 7:20, when the bell rings and my students come in, it'll be exciting all over again and, for that day. I'll forget all about how much it sucks to be a teacher right now, because
EVERYBODY, even if they hide it on the inside, LOVES the first day of school!

August 11, 2010

Elegy Pattern now Available!

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I have published the pattern for the Elegy (Fingerless Mitts) to Ravelry and my Etsy store. The price is $5.00 USD.  If you are interested, stop on by!  Also, I have now one pair of blue Elegy mitts and will have additional pairs and colors of these hand-knitted gloves available for purchase in my Etsy store if you don't want to knit them yourselves. 

In unrelated news, I've made a few new additions to my blogging experience, including a Facebook page and a Blog Frog page.  I sure would appreciate it, if you are visiting me, if you would mention my blog to your facebook pals or your Blog Frog pals who might be interested in knitting.  There are little buttons below for you to click on.  Hint, Hint!  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday's Notes

Well, all of my projects are on hold except for trouble-shooting the Elegy Fingerless Gloves pattern which, fingers crossed, will be available beginning this afternoon in my Ravelry shop and in my Etsy shop.  I was apparently not in my right mind when I wrote the pattern for four rows right in the middle of the dang pattern, and what I wrote down is not what I did. C'est la vie.  It'll all work out in the end. 

I have made some progress on the Reconstructions Sweater and now only have a few rows left to the body.  Scout #2 is very pleased that I might actually be done with it in time for cold weather in November.  The sleeves will knit up fast--good knitting for watching TV. And I've finished 1/2 of the yoke in size medium with +1 ease on the latest test knit for the Swing sweater.  So far I've only come across one little typing error in that pattern; so I'm pretty happy with it, and it's selling pretty well.  Check out the links on the left or visit one of my shops if you are interested in purchasing the pattern.

And if you've visited me because you are hopping around today, thanks for stopping by!  Happy Wednesday!
I found the perfect blog hop group for me:  Green Blog Hop!  The button is on the left sidebar if you want to join in.  Pressed for time this morning since I am back to work (insert crabby face).  Go green!

August 10, 2010

Simpler Things Tuesday (8-10-10)

It's back to work today for me.  Grumble, grumble.  But it is also Summer's Simpler Things Tuesday, so I thought I would share one of the great wonders of the world with you, my garden pets.

Check out those fangs (long yellow pointing things on the face)!!  The one at the top left me a present for next year, an egg sac that looks like a vidalia onion bulb--no kidding, it's that big!  Anyway, these creatures with their 4-inch long bodies keep my garden and back yard pretty free of mosquitoes, flies, and moths; so we're pretty happy with them, even though they are monstrously large.

August 09, 2010

Just Something I Whipped Up! (August 9)

  I had a busy. crafty weekend!  I created a new fingerless glove pattern, which I started whipping up on Saturday and finished by Sunday-gloves in two different fibers and two different colors.  I love fingerless gloves because I can wear gloves AND have fingernails!


The pattern is in the math-checking stage right now, but should be out this week on Ravelry and my Etsy store. I'm also going to put up a few pair of these gloves in the "HOT" colors for the fall fashion season--camel, blue, grey, maybe pumpkin--for sale.  I'm thinking of deleting my Shopit store.  It's not really the right venue, I guess. There isn't a knitting or yarn category, just Hobbies.  This morning I got an email from a potential customer because I'm in the "Hobby" category asking me "How do I create a Mac book animation?" and that's just not something I can help with.

And because school supply shopping places are limited around here, I had to make a pencil case on Friday for Scout #2 (my 5th grader), and then of course Rocket had to have one, too.  A cardinal rule of motherhood is that if you make something for one kid, you have to make something for them all.  Apparently Scout #1 (my 8th grader) is too old for pencil cases.  "Mom, that's just not cool."  I think I did a pretty good job, having no pattern.

The process of making these pencil cases made me realize just how old I really am.  I attended Catholic schools for elementary and middle grades. The nuns would make pencil cases and sell them to the students for $1 or something ridiculously cheap like that.  I don't remember that you had a choice as to whether or not you bought one, but I do remember that there were a hundred different fabric choices. Anyway, as I was making these pencil cases, I was thinking about how there's no way these nuns could have made a profit.  I couldn't even buy 1/4 yard of fabric for a $1!  The zipper was none too cheap, either.  Then it occurred to me--I bought pencil cases from nuns 30 YEARS AGO!  I'll bet zippers cost a quarter.  Dang!  How did I get so old so quickly?

August 07, 2010

Learn to Knit for FREE!

I know that some of my followers are not knitters.  You visit me and leave comments like "I wish I could knit!".  Well, Knitting Daily is giving away a FREE e-book designed to teach you to knit!  FREE!  If you take a class to learn to knit from a local yarn shop, it could cost upwards of $60 for as little as three lessons!  This is FREE!  You just have to go to the site and download the book.  That's it.  You are on your way to knitting gorgeous things and having fun while doing it!  Did I mention that this is FREE?

I know it sounds like this is a paid advertisement; but it's not.  I just love to knit and I think that everyone should knit.  The world would be a better place with more relaxed, crafty people and fewer stressed out, angry, craftless people.  My students tell me all the time that they can't believe that I knit; but a gazillion teachers do it because it helps them to destress.  It's a little stressful at first because it's new; but once you get the hang of it, it just flows.
was in the shop for 10 minutes, and in that time she had tried to teach those laidies 3 different ways of casting on.  She would show them, then she would tell them to do it, and walk back and forth behind them giving the history of the cast on; then before they had even practiced what they had learned, she was telling them to tear it out and cast on a different way.  I don't think anyone learned to knit that day.  Rocket even mentioned that she could knit, and she's 6, and that probably didn't help matters any.  And you know those ladies paid top dollar for that lesson on a Saturday afternoon!  So check out the e-book.  It's free and you can learn at your own pace.  There are also a gazillion Youtube videos showing how to cast on and to knit, and has great tutorials and directions, too.

Happy knitting!

August 06, 2010

Blog to plant a tree!

Usually I only do one post on Friday, but my hopping around serendipitously brought me to the absolute coolest site!  I'm all about recycling--anyone in my family will tell you with a groan that recycling is mandatory in our home and pretty much everywhere we go!  Well, I'm also all about not destroying the environment.  Even if you aren't as focused on recycling, reusing, and saving our greenspace as I am, please check out this link to make your blog Carbon Free.  All you have to do is do what I'm doing:  blog about the program "My Blog is Carbon Neutral", send an email verifying your blog post, and they PLANT A TREE ON BEHALF OF YOUR BLOG!  How cool is that?!?  I don't even have to get my hands dirty!  Go here, do this, be green!  Click on the button on the left side or go to this address:

I noticed that it says "planted in the spring of 2010", but it's the Arbor Day Foundation, and I'm sure they are still doing it.

August 05, 2010

Following Along? It's Friday!

Are you following along?  I hope we've met today!  I love meeting new people! I've joined two new follow-alongs:  Follow Me, Chickadee at Stash Mama and Friendship Friday at The 22 Year-Old Housewife.  Check them out if you haven't already been.  Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment so I can follow you back.  Happy Friday!

A Little Celebration Cake

I made a cake to celebrate how well my Swing pattern has been received on Ravelry.  I mean, I made a SOUTHERN style cake (which means it's unnecessarily gigantic) to celebrate how well my Swing pattern has been received on Ravelry.  Coconut.  4 (count them!) layers of sweet yumminess!

 And there's so much cake that I wish I could invite you all!  Thank you to the lovely ladies who have indulged in a purchase of Swing this week!  You are much appreciated!

And in the "What's New" category, while speaking of Ravelry, I am now a Yarnie in Ravelry, so Ravelry members can check out the yarns in my Etsy store via Ravelry.  How excited I am! 

Happy Thursday to all!


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