Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

The Tale of the Ancient Yarn

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 5:01 pm on Friday, April 28, 2006

Once upon a time….no, I don’t think so. That’s entirely too twee, and I could never sustain a cutesy story telling style for the entire post. And if I could, you’d all be so disgusted with it within a paragraph or two that you’d unsubscribe.

Okay, here goes. You may recall that one of the items on my long WIP list is a short ruana, adapted from the pattern in the book Folk Shawls. This is a stash-buster project, using about 8 different yarns that I’ve had for a while. For six of the yarns, I was using a set of dice to help me determine which yarn came next, and how many rows to knit it. The other two yarns were being inserted now and then at random intervals (determined by throwing a 20-sided dice on every row, and seeing if the number ONE came up) as single row accents.

Ruana, Current Status
The Ruana – Stalled

I was rapidly approaching the halfway point when I discovered a problem. One of the accent yarns was running out!

I heard that – “Big deal,” someone out there said, “just go buy another skein.”

Well, that’s a great idea. Except that this particular stash yarn – a bright pink that you can see along the left-most edge – I’ve had for at least 18 years, and I no longer had a ball band to even tell me what it was.

Yarn Remnant
All That Was Left

The pink is a little more pink and a little less red than it appears in these photos. The yarn is a 2-ply synthetic. One ply is a narrow ribbon, the other a loosely spun single. You get a nice fluffiness accompanied by a random shimmer from it.

I carried this bit of yarn around with me for some time, hoping against hope that I could find something like it. Not a chance – none of the current novelty yarns are quite the same.

I even tried to simply match the color, figuring that in this application that would be the most noticeable factor. No pinks I found were anywhere near the pink in my mystery yarn. The difference would be glaringly obvious.

And so, for at least a couple of months now the ruana has sat idle, awaiting a solution to the ancient accent yarn problem.

One day last week, I was going through all my supplies and kits for needlepoint and cross stitch. I pulled down two Craft-Stor totes that sit on top of a cabinet in my studio – one labeled “Needlework kits”, the other blank.

The labeled one was just what it said. The blank, unlabeled tote turned out to contain….more yarn. After I’d already organized my entire stash. (Which organization had already been followed by at least four other discoveries of boxes, bags, or drawers containing yet more yarn.)

Reaching into the large compartment, I pulled out 8 to 10 skeins or partial skeins of acrylic worsted weight to add to the collection I thought was already completely gathered and organized.

And then, an amazing thing happened. As I picked up the last skein, I saw a flash of dark, bright, pink in the bottom of the tote.

I gasped. I looked again. OH. MY. GAWD.

The Missing Yarn
The Return of the Skein

Unbe-freakin’-lievable. It’s even got the ball band.

I’ve already Googled this yarn, and have turned up virtually nothing. Well, one person had 9 or 10 skeins of it in camel color up for auction on eBay, but that’s not my pink.

For the curious, here are the details:

Pingouin Douceur Ball Band Info

I just might have enough of this now, though. For the accent stripes I’m using it for, at least.

Weighed the skein on my scientific scale just now – 45.47 grams, with ball band on. Given that the original skein was (claimed to be) 50 grams, I’ve got darn near the whole thing.

So it looks like the ruana is back in the rotation again. Hooray!

I can probably finish it with this amount of the accent yarn. But, on the off chance that someone among my vast large modest miniscule readership might happen to find a skein or two of this exact yarn, in this color, in their stashes, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a chance to acquire them. Drop me an e-mail at fiber AT folkcatart DOT com, and we’ll work something out.

The Specs:
The Yarn:
Pingouin Douceur
The Color: #823, a dark pink

It’s amazing the secret joys that can be found right in our own lives, if we only dig enough into all the forgotten corners! If you haven’t done so in a while, why not poke into some forgotten corner of your life this weekend, and see what you turn up. You may be pleasantly surprised!

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Bleah

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 12:33 pm on Thursday, April 27, 2006

That’s how I felt most of Wednesday. Tuesday I felt a bad, deep, throat-tickle cough kicking in several times a day. Tuesday night, it decided to keep me up until almost 5 in the morning. Wednesday, it nagged at my tired body off and on all day.

The main aha! on Wednesday was realizing that it frequently came up after going into my bedroom to work on my desktop computer for a while. And Tuesday night, of course, there I am trying to sleep in that room. Obviously some one of my allergy triggers was present.

Not knowing where to begin, I asked Gryphon to change the bedding out for me (in case it was something that had gotten into the sheets), and to check the filter in the air conditioner. That must have done something, because I was able to go to bed essentially cough-free last night.

Today, there’s still a little bit of a throat tickle, but it’s nowhere near yesterday’s cough that had me fearing the onset of bronchitis.

It’s been a miserable spring allergy season for me so far. One of the worst yet. I hope this doesn’t bode ill for summer allergies.

I think I’ll bring the preemie hats to Panera tonight for Knitting Around. I only have one or two so far for the next delivery a week from Monday. It would be nice to have a few more to offer this month.

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I is for Interview

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 4:23 pm on Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It has been 5 days since our last media coverage.

I received an interesting e-mail out of the blue last week. It was from a woman named Sarah Shemkus, a reporter writing for the New Hampshire Union Leader.

It’s not all that unusual to Gryphon and I to be contacted by, or be mentioned in, a newspaper. It seems to happen several times a year. We feel a bit silly about it – we think we lead fairly unremarkable lives, and sometimes wonder what the fuss is about. But when we examine reality more closely, we realize that somehow, we manage to do mildly interesting things and then speak articulately about them to others, either in person or on our blogs. I guess our personal enthusiasm can be infectious. (That, and the fact that this is, after all, small town NH. Gryphon and I are vocal enough about our interests to be noticed in the small population.)

After getting Sarah’s e-mail, I joked to Gryphon that we should post a sign on the wall reading “It Has Been X Days Since Our Last Media Coverage.” We had a small burst of media coverage for me only this February, when I was one of several knitters in New Hampshire interviewed for an article about the Knitting Olympics. That piece appeared in The Hippo in mid-February. And around the same time, I was quoted in a piece in The Cabinet (the Milford, NH weekly) about the opening of a new supermarket in town.

In Sarah’s case, it seems that she was writing about the current political situation in Milford, NH*, and had been searching for blogs in the area that opined about the subject. In the search, she happened to turn up one of my more inactive blogs, The Milford Memory Box. This blog is dedicated to my and Gryphon’s participation in Geocaching**, and in particular, to a geocache that we ourselves hid in Milford. Sarah found the concept of the Memory Box interesting, and thought it would make a nice piece for the paper. So she asked to Interview us.

And so, last Thursday, Gryphon and I went off to Emerson Park in Milford to meet with Sarah and talk to her about the Memory Box. Luckily for me, I had the brilliant realization before going that…

I is for Interview

When I explained my Knitting Around and the ABC-along to Sarah, and asked if she would permit Gryphon and I to take a picture of me knitting while she interviewed me, she agreed. Turns out, she is an avid knitter herself. I encouraged her to join us for one of our knitting meetings some day, and it almost sounded like she might – if she’s in the area at the right time. She lives in Massachusetts, but she’s all over the region for her reporting.

I think, too, that as a journalist she was amused by the opportunity for reciprocal journalism. I know Gryphon and I were.

I is for Interview
Folkcat and Sarah Discuss Geocaching

Sarah wasted no time – the Geocache article appeared in the Union Leader the very next day. You can read it here, though the online version doesn’t include the nice color photo of Gryphon and I that they printed in the hard copy edition. She did a very nice job with it – Thanks, Sarah!

The knitting, for the record, is the latest of the Preemie Hats I’m knitting for charity. If you look at the green tote at my feet, that is loaded with skeins of baby, fingering, and DK weight yarns with which to knit the things. It’s an easy to grab WIP for Knitting Around occasions.

And that is Folkcat’s version of “I is for…” Hmm….”J” is next…wonder if I can think of anything for that? *wink*

Star Says

Star, Large
“Gosh, Mom – I’ve only been here a short while, and even I know what “J” is for!”

Ah, but she’s not telling all – you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks. Though I’ll bet that regular readers can guess!

*We won’t get into the details about current Milford politics. Suffice it to say, it’s very nasty, and it may very well make the human infrastructure of Town Hall implode completely before it’s done. Milford is heading in a bad direction under its current management. ‘Nuff said.

**Geocaching is like a treasure hunt, using a GPS receiver to locate caches, or boxes, that people have hidden in the real world. Whether you know it or not, if you live in the United States, there are probably hundreds of these treasures hidden within a short distance of your home. Right here in Wilton, for instance, there are currently 1,866 caches hidden within a 50 mile radius of me. For more about geocaching, visit the Geocaching website.

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Nashua Area Knit Groups, Apr 25 – May 7

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 12:33 pm on Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Group Report

The most exciting gathering of the week was Sunday’s SnB-NH at Panera. You can see my report about it in yesterday’s post.

Add Your Meeting

If you have any knit gatherings planned in the Southern New Hampshire area that are open to the public, and you’d like to see them listed here, just drop me a line at crafty.kitty@yahoo.com with the details. Be sure to include Date, Time, Location, and Contact Info, as well as whether it’s a one-time event or repeats on a regular schedule.

Knitting Groups for Wed., Apr. 26 to Sunday, May 7.

Remember, you can also view these events (and more) at the SnB-NH calendar at Yahoo! Groups.

Please note: where phone numbers are given for “Info”, that is the contact phone for the location, not the knitters organizing the gathering. Since none of these events are officially coordinated by the host sites (except as noted), if you reach someone by phone and ask them about the knitting group, they might not have any clue what you’re talking about.

Wed. Apr. 26 –

SnB-Chelmsford, MA @ The Java Room, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ginger Ale Plaza, Rte. 110, 14 Littleton Rd., Chelmsford, MA

Info – phone: (978) 256-0001

Thurs. Apr. 27 –

Knitting Around, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Panera Bread, 590 Amherst St., Nashua (Rte. 101A near Target)

Info – e-mail: fiber AT folkcatart DOT com

Sun. Apr. 30 –

SnB-Nashua @ Borders Books, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. 281 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, NH

Info – phone: (603) 888-9300

Wed. May 3

SnB-Chelmsford, MA @ The Java Room, 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Ginger Ale Plaza, Rte. 110, 14 Littleton Rd., Chelmsford, MA

Info – phone: (978) 256-0001

Thurs. May 4 –

Knitting Around, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m., Panera Bread, 590 Amherst St., Nashua (Rte. 101A near Target)

Info – e-mail: fiber AT folkcatart DOT com

Sun. May 7 –

SnB-Nashua @Panera Bread, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. 590 Amherst St., Nashua (Rte. 101A near Target)

Info – phone: (603) 821-6021

Folkcat’s Plans?

I expect to be at all the events in New Hampshire, even the ones at Borders. Gryphon and I found our last excursion for a meeting there to be quite fun, so we’re planning to do it again as often as we can!

Happy Knitting!

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Monday Melange; Frogs, Rats, Knitters, Rats, and Bloggers (and Rats)

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 6:00 pm on Monday, April 24, 2006

Lightning Can Strike Twice

If you go looking for it. After my surprise find of a froggable silk sweater at a local rummage sale on Friday, Gryphon and I decided to check out the Salvation Army shop that we learned had opened in Nashua a year or so ago.

Within seconds of hitting the sweater racks, I had my hands on a lovely, dark coral cashmere sweater that, if frogged, would give me yards of laceweight. Alas (and luckily), I discovered the moth holes before hitting the checkout with it.

Reluctantly putting back that sweater, I kept cruising the racks. And there were lots of them. I found at least a half dozen different racks, each 15 – 20 feet long or so, just loaded with sweaters of all kinds.

p4223840.jpg

In the end, I settled for a blue chenille sweater by Nautica that looked promising. 65% acrylic, 35% cotton. The online tutorials I’d found advised against frogging chenille sweaters on the grounds that they shed, sometimes to the point of the yarn going completely bald. Still, there was a factor to consider that Neauveau couldn’t have accounted for. It was pink tag day at the Salvation Army, so this $5 sweater only cost me $1. I felt that was worth a try!

The score of the day, however, was this color-blocked sweater

Thrift Store Color Block Sweater

Good seams: Check

Quarter to Show Yarn Scale

Worsted weight, usable yarn: Check

Tag

Cashmere: Check

Let me repeat that last one.

Cashmere.

Are we sure we got that?

Cashmere Tag Close-up
100% CASHMERE. Worsted weight.

It’s a great, big, mucking sweater, too. A little tight around my hips and neck. But the yarn feels absolutely yummy against the skin, and I long to be able to wear it. I’m guessing that if I frog it carefully, I might just get enough yarn to make myself a little cardigan or something.

Oh, yeah – it didn’t have a pink tag, so I had to pay full price for it.

$6.99.

Cool.

Star, of course, figures that only her opinion of these things matters.

Star Inspects the Cashmere
Inspecting the Cashmere

Thank goodness she approved.

Let the Frogging Begin

I decided that the chenille, being not only so cheap but considered by the tutorials to be likely to fail on me, was where I was going to begin. I found some seam threads, and disconnected a sleeve from the body. I’m sorry there aren’t pictures of the process, but the tutorial that I linked above shows how it goes quite well.

I found that the chenille yarn shed slightly, but not much. I think I found a sweater in pristine condition, and that makes a difference, I’m sure. Of course, when I’m all done I’ll be washing the yarn – we’ll see if that alters things.

I showed the ball of yarn that I got from a single sleeve to Gryphon, and he was impressed. Imagine a fingering weight chenille yarn, in a ball at least six inches in diameter. We’ll figure out later how much yardage there is, but this sweater is on track to providing a nice amount of yarn.

Gryphon has always found disassembling defunct clothing to be a relaxing pastime. (He picked the habit up in his bachelor days, salvaging buttons and the like from worn-out clothes.) He suggested he might like to share in the project of frogging sweaters.

I had been quite liking the process myself, however, and I confess to an internal twinge at the notion of giving up any of my special sweater finds to another – even my beloved Gryphon. But then I remembered a nearly unused cotton cardigan I had in the closet. Purchased at severe discount at a Going Out of Business sale at a Syracuse department store when Gryphon and I got married, it had turned out in the long term to be uncomfortable and unnecessary. But it’s got the right seams, and a nice red cotton yarn that I could imagine knitting with. So I offered it up to Gryphon for his first frogging project.

Star Helps Gryphon Frog a Sweater
Star Learns About Frogging

As you can see, he solicited a little help with the job.

Blogiversary Celebration

Well, technically it was just another SnB-NH gathering on Sunday, but hey, it was my blogiversary, too. And there were special guests and even gifts, so I think I can count it as a celebration!

We had a marvelous gathering, I think in the end nine of us had made it. Everyone had a great time chatting and knitting.

The UCP Twins
The UCP Twins

My friend Anne was inspired by my Ugly Crochet Poncho to make her very own, and they were seen together for the first time on Sunday. Sorry, Anne, but apparently Gryphon couldn’t see on the tiny camera screen that your eyes were closed in both pictures he took! This was the best of the two, I promise.

Oh, yeah – and check out the cool hat that Anne’s wearing. She crocheted it herself. It’s based on a free pattern from Lion Brand, but she found it necessary to pretty much make it up for herself as she went, because she couldn’t get their recommended gauge to work out for anything. I think she did a great job, and I might just have to make a hat like it for myself sometime before next winter.

A special Sunday treat was that Sara was able to come all the way down from where she lives in Claremont, NH. That’s a long hike, but she was in the area (well, in Manchester) anyhow to drop her partner off at the airport, and since the timing was right, she decided to join us!

Sara and I “met” back in February, when we both knit for Team NH in the Knitting Olympics. We’ve been reading each other blogs ever since, but given that we live in such different regions of the state, I had presumed that meeting was unlikely.

Color me wrong!

Folkcat and Sara - Together at Last!
Folkcat & Sara, Together at Last

I knew that Sara was coming – but I didn’t know she’d be bearing gifts. To my surprise, she brought out a little baggie and handed it to me, saying “Speaking of the rats, this is for them.”

The baggie contained a lovely, soft, cotton garter-stitch square, knit in shades of purple. Sara had knit a rug for the Rattie Sisters!

Star and Sable and the Gift Rug
A New Rug for Condo Raton

The girls have already inspected it thoroughly, and have agreed that it’s a beautiful addition to their condo decor.

Thanks, Sara!

Wrapping Up the Threads

Quite an interesting and fibery weekend altogether. I found a source of affordable luxury yarns to knit with. I met a blog friend for the first time. Gryphon has picked up a pastime that can directly benefit my knitting. The rats are proving quite interested in – and talented at – fiber inspection. My little Rattie children were acknowledged from outside the immediate family by the presentation of a gift. But best of all, I spent hours knitting and talking with good friends, old and new, on the day of my blogiversary.

All that, and the Easter Candy at Target was 90% off on Sunday. 16 cents for a bag of Mini Robin Eggs. Shut up – I only brought home four bags! Oh, and a 9 cent bag of jelly beans.

I think the conclusion here is obvious. I had a great weekend!

My sincere thanks to all the friends that made it so!

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One Year Later…

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 1:44 am on Sunday, April 23, 2006

I began blogging sometime in December of 2004, technically, but it was only an informational blog dedicated to news about my bead store. It was intended as a replacement, of sorts, for the newsletter I used to write for the store, and which we could no longer afford to publish.

On Easter Sunday, 2005, we closed that store forever. It was the end of March.

I floundered a bit trying to figure out what was next for me. The blog, “The Beading Life” (the same title as the newsletter), was no longer relevant to anything. Rather than keep it archived, I outright deleted it.

No great loss. The few posts were mostly “we’ve hired someone new” or some such. Still, I am left without anything to tell me the exact date that I first created a blog and wrote a post for it.

After deleting “The Beading Life,” I still felt I wanted to try blogging. Writing essays for the newsletter had always been one of my greatest joys at the store, and a blog would, I hoped, give me that outlet.

Folkcat’s Fiber Crafts” was next, and has the distinction of being my first personal blog. The very first post – the one I now count as the beginning of my blogging “career” – went up on April 23, 2005. Yes, one year ago today. It wasn’t anything great – just a simple administrative statement about what had happened to The Beading Life. A much better post to look at is my second one, not posted until about a month later, where I mused about the concept of blogging, what I hoped for from it, and what it meant to me at the time.

It took me a while to find my blogging rhythm. I went through a period of blogging explosion, as I created new blogs willy-nilly everytime I thought an interest deserved an individual focus. The high point saw 11 different blogs before I came to my senses and narrowed the field down to only a few in September 2005. The blogs that I retired at that time can still be found through my retired blogs archive.

Additionally, although I had already been posting “Extreme Knitting” photos in Folkcat’s Fiber Crafts, I finally formed my concept of Knitting Around – and thus found both a focus, and a name, for my newly created primary blog.

And so, although this exact blog that you are reading right now has only existed since September 2005, today marks the first anniversary of my personal blogging. It took me a while to get the concept down, but now it’s a regular part of my routine. Earlier this week, I passed the 200 post mark for this blog alone – and if you count all my blogs, this Blogiversary post is actually Number 546.

Wow. I am amazed that I’ve written that much. I’ve never been one who could sit and write in a diary, at least not a paper one. But somehow, this forum – and particularly, All Of YOU, the community who has come to cross my path here – have made the concept work for me.

I wish I could say there were a prize for each and every one of you, but if you’ve been reading for any length of time, you know how the budget is here at Chez Folkcat et Gryphon. Instead, let me just wish everyone of you all the happiness in the world. May your needles always be swift and sure. May your yarn never tangle. May all your WIPs work smoothly, and all your FOs come out exactly as you envisioned.

Thank You all for allowing me to be included in this World Wide Web of Knit Bloggers! A year ago, I could never have imagined what it was going to mean to me. And now, I can’t imagine what I would ever do without it!

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Thrifty Friday

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 4:25 pm on Friday, April 21, 2006

Every month, the Second Congregational Church of Wilton (affectionately known around town as Second Congo) holds a rummage sale on a Friday afternoon.

This place is a whole block and a half away from my home, yet I seldom get there. Today, my instincts said I should stop in.

I think I may make a point of trying to do that more regularly. Here’s what I bought.

Rummage Sale Sweater
Rummage Sale Sweater

Not very remarkable looking? The color is a nice, soft pink, and there’s a cable and lace detail down each side that’s very sweet looking, without being frou-frou.

Cable and Lace Detail
Cable and Lace

The sweater is hopelessly too small for me, but that’s not an issue, because look at what the tag has to say:

Fiber Content Tag
Silk Angora. For Real

Yes, folks. The seams tell a tale of a yarn that can be successfully frogged for recycling. I’m going to have silk angora to knit with!

I also found a set of six wooden coasters with a shallow lip on them that would make excellent seed bead dishes for my beadwork. And then I even turned up a lightweight jacket for Gryphon that is in great shape and fits his long torso and arms (he’s been needing a new one for ages.)

And now for the punch line

The price we paid to get all this treasure?

Three dollars. I would have been happy to pay more than that just for the jacket. So the yarn is effectively free. Plus, I get to indulge myself in my first-ever recycled yarn project.

Soiled Spot
Okay, so it needs cleaning

See, it’s not all rainbows and roses, I have to clean the darn thing first! <grin>

I’m going to do a little happy dance in my head now. Promise you won’t hurt me.

Star Says

Star and Tissues
“Don’t expect any help from me, I have enough housework of my own to do!”

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A Thursday Quickie

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 2:19 pm on Thursday, April 20, 2006

Not a lot to say today, mostly because there’s not a lot of time. Gryphon and I had an extra errand this morning that will provide both a Knitting Around and my “I is for…”, but that left me little time to create a real post for the day.

Knitting Around at Panera tonight – I’ll be bringing the Kiri shawl to work on. We’ll see if I get more than a couple rows done, each one takes a half hour now – and that’s if I’m not distracted by conversation!

A “Knitting Around” Meme

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 7:36 pm on Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Well, not quite. But it could almost be.

Over at Kat Knits, Kat has asked for a list of five places where you have knit other than at home or at your knitting store. Well, anyone who knows this blog knows that the very name – I Knit Around – comes from making a point of knitting in different, interesting places! That’s what I call “Knitting Around”. And that’s what Kat is asking for.

Over on my sidebar, you can find a link to a full list of all the different places I’ve knit. There are 22 entries on that list. Kat only asked for five, so here are my five most interesting (in my opinion):

1. On the stage at the Wilton Town Hall Theatre, a registered Historic Landmark as one of the original vaudeville theatres.

2. On Eleven Bridges in 140 minutes.

3. Riding on the sling of a Trebuchet (a medieval siege weapon).

4. With the Budweiser Clydesdales.

5. In the kitchen of my favorite Chinese Restaurant.

If you want to see the full list, check the FAQ section of my sidebar for “What is Knitting Around, and can I play, too?” (The short answer to the second part of the question is, “Yes, you can!” Read the FAQ for details about how.)

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Beadwork Still Occurreth

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 5:10 pm on Wednesday, April 19, 2006

WIP - Bead Embroidery
I did more!

I know I’ve been pretty silent here, but I talked about that before – there just isn’t nearly as much beadwork going on as there used to be.

Yesterday, though, I put in a good hour (plus a little) on my bead embroidery project. All the pearl colored seed beads in the right hand wing were added during that session.

So there – the Chantraphile confesses that beadwork isn’t dead in her household yet. It’s just taking things nice and easy!

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