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Big Post of Randomness

So, I survived preparing for and pulling off a wedding!

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Here are a few of the crafty things that went into the wedding:

Flowers – bouquets, flower girls, boutonnières, corsages, and tables

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table

I made all the flowers out of card stock (in purples and a couple of black and white prints and out of book pages – Scarlet Pimpernel and Lays of Beleriand to be exact…). The corsages had the same flowers as the bouquets and the boutonnières were the same as the flower girls (naturally only a few buds vs giant balls of them…)

Shawl (actual knitting!!!)

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The whole thing blocking, the bed is a queen and it goes off the edges

Project: Queen for a Day
Pattern:Queen Anne’s Lace
Designer: MMario
Source: Ravelry

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blocked centre

Yarn: my hand spun lace weight
Colour Way/Fibre: Lorna’s Lace’s Wool Top, in Black Purl from the Loopy Ewe
Needles: 3.25, 4 and 4.5 (mostly 4.5)mm circulars
Started:  April 22, 2013
Finished: May 17, 2013
Blocked:  August 2013… nothing like waiting until the last minute…

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blocked edge

Notes: Loved it, knit up fast and blocked beautifully.  I was looking for something that would come together quickly and could showcase my handspun.

I covered the guest book/ thesaurus.

guest book

I don’t have any pictures of the outside… but the fabric which peeks around the edges is a black on white damask canvas

And made the programmes, the confetti for the tables, the table numbers, and a variety of game cards for the tables. I also painted my fan black because it was natural wood coloured with purple fabric originally…

And I’ve also finished the MDAK shawl!  It only took me 5 years…. all the good pictures are the ones I took in Ontario of the first half, hopefully I’ll get some new ones of the finished shawl from my Aunt for whom it was a gift.

And I’ve been quilting up a storm.  With a few baby quilts, more super hero blocks, and a sewing machine cover for my new sewing machine (nothing special a Wal-mart Brother with quilting attachments, but she runs smooth and has a walking foot and can wind bobbins so I’m in heaven).

My current mega quilt project is a Churn Dash quilt as part of the 100 Club at the LQS Fabric Cupboard.  The Club works like this… there are (roughly) 100 spaces available you pay a nominal amount for one of those spots then each month you have to show up to the store yourself to pick up the fabric for a set of blocks – when all is said and done you would have a twin-ish size top for $15 – but of course the chances of you going back to the store once a month at least for months and only getting the kit are slim to noneish, especially with the coupons included with the kit (I’m thinking my first one might be a rotating mat…).  This is a brilliant small business idea, I applaud the owner for it and will happily participate and dutifully pick up random things when I go in for my kits.  Also you can get extra kits to make the top larger (queen size) and a border – which I will also be getting.

Anyway, I was reading the other day a blog post extolling the virtues of discussing process so I figured I’d outline here how I’m making my blocks (which I am pleased and shocked to say are turning out rather nicely).

For those of you who might not know, this is a Churn Dash block. Each block in the quilt I’m making consists of a cream centre square; 4 squares made of rectangles of each colour, and 4 half square triangle units.

it might make more sense this way, centre square, on the crossways are the squares of rectangles, and the half square triangles are in the corners

I didn’t include pictures of the cutting process, because that was done already before I decided to do so. However, my process for that is to find out how much fabric I have and then make a cutting guide on graph paper.  This helps me to make best use of fabric and to see that everything will fit.  As much as possible I like to make strips and cut from there.

Then I make stacks of the pieces needed for each block and pin those together in little packets – this gives me a second chance to count everything and make sure it is all ready to go when I get to sewing.

Then I take one packet and lay out the pieces.  In this case 4 rectangles (1.5 x 2.5 in) of cream and 4 of the colour together for sewing, the centre square (2.5 x 2.5 in) on its own for now, and the 2 of each fabric of the larger (3.24 x 3.25 in) squares together.  First I press a crease on the diagonal on each of the cream squares and these ones I pin, whereas I don’t pin the rectangles.
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Then I chain piece all the units together going up one side of the diagonals and down the other on the large squares.
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Then I snip them all apart and use my rotary cutter to cut the large squares into half square triangle units – and then go press everything open, to the dark side.
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Then I come back to the desk and trim up the HST so that they make a 2.5 x 2.5 in square.

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this got a lot easier when I got a square bias ruler, I was starting to wear a rut into the mat in this corner

Next lay out the pieces where they go in the block and start to sew the rows together – more chain piecing involved, then snip and press again.
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Then I sew the rows together, one at a time, and these I do pin and I pin on the side with the angles (I have it in my head that my most wonky block is that way because I pinned on the side of the straight seams…).
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back view – look at those seams all pressed and such, you’d almost think I knew what I was doing

Then one last press, then trim and ta-da Churn Dash blocks.

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these are displayed on point which is how I’m thinking of putting the quilt together, I kind of like the look better

I got quite the rhythm down with them and finished all of this month’s in 2 days (would have been sooner but I had to go back to the shop for more cream – slight boo boo in the first few kits – which I anticipated due to my lovely graphs in step one, but the shop was already closed … still 12 blocks in 2 days isn’t so bad for a total noob.)

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This is the finished top from the Dino quilt from… last year…

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Here is the Dino quilt in action fully quilted

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this one is also from last year and is the top of a quilt I made for my brother and sister in law

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this one is new! baby quilt with half of a Ticklish jelly roll (there is a matching one with the other half but I don’t have pictures)

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Also new, a pillow case – one of two – love these and have plans for lots more

Ohhhh Shinny!

My Connecting Threads order arrived :)

   
Charm packs of: Little Stars, Classic dots, Solid Soft Rainbow, and Smooth Sailing

And I have already cut and pieced most of the quilt top for the Baby Dino quilt I’m making for my new nephew.

Here is the fabric for the Dino quilt, I’ve decided not to use the brown stripes.

I still need to figure out how I want to do the dino applique (I am leaning towards a Heat n Bond approach) and I need to get more fabric for the backing.  I have almost enough of the brown polka dots (which were originally going to be for a border but I don’t think it works with my other modifications, I’m now thinking I’ll use it for binding).  I’m inclined to order more of the Ocean Mist City Blocks (which is what the dinosaur is going to be made out of) and use that for the back.

Quilt Top! (sans Dinosaur)

In the meantime I’ve got cutting and piecing (and more applique figuring out) to do for the quilt for my brother, which has yet to be titled.  That one I should have everything I need fabric wise for top and back, but I will need batting.  From what I’ve seen, I’ll be going to Connecting Threads for that too… It is basically this pattern x 4… and I invented a backing for it (we’ll see how that works out).  I’m doing it in blues with a little teal on white background.  My modifications call for 117  2.5×2.5 inch squares, cutting those out should keep me busy for a little while.

The fabrics for my brother’s quilt, I’ll also be using some of the squares from the charm packs in matching blues and teals.

Another day, another quilt block – this time the Master of Magnetism himself Magneto.  He is 14 x15 inches and obviously represents the letter M.

I have the Flash lined up and ready to start sewing. Should have just enough of all of these prepared to last me until my other fabric arrives in the mail.

I was looking through one of the boxes of sewing stuff of my Aunt’s and found the following two items among the items therein (which also included lots of straight pins, a couple of thimbles, a can of air, a flashlight, and a bunch of elastic).

This first is really quite cool, I assume it is for measuring seams and other short distances relating to sewing.  (From which I learned that I have been sewing .25 inch seams on the superheroes, however this seems to be working just fine so I’ll stick with it.)


 

The other is machine presser foot.  I think it might be an embroidery or a darning foot.  There was also a small embroidery hoop with a handle that appears to fit into a hole on the sewing machine, I’m hoping the two things were meant to go together, because if they do then I might actually have the equipment necessary for free motion quilting.  I will have to find some scraps and see what I can do.  I may also do a little googling and see what I can learn (there isn’t much to go on… plastic presser foot/attachment that says “unique” on it…)  My other thought is that it might be some kind of zipper foot (that it goes over the zipper and the hole is for seeing the zipper and that you are supposed to slide it so the needle goes to the side).  I’m leaning more in this direction, but still hoping to make the other work.  I might have to go through a few more boxes at Mom’s to see what I can find. Thoughts?

Snikt

W is for Wolverine, really what else could it be?!  (Sorry Wonder Woman, you didn’t stand a chance.)

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Work really cuts down on my sewing time, so while I did get 5 characters cut and prepared, I only got the one sewn up.  Wolvie is about 15 x 14.5 inches, I am getting better at them (and it is faster when I don’t stop to press between each seam/row of seams).

I have Jean, Flash, Magneto, and Spiderman ready to go and Yellowjacket needs a little more black cut before all his little squares are ready (but I think I’ll wait to do that until a couple more characters are finished).  There is ending up being quite a variance in the size of the finished blocks so piecing it will prove very interesting I’m sure.  At the moment I am still contemplating turning it into a poster floor alphabet book rather than a quilt – either one will be enormous…

My first Connecting Threads order has entered the Canadian postal system, so it should be here soon – I’d like to say this week (and when I was in Brampton my KnitPicks order usually arrived the same day as the Canadian postal notice) but mail here is … less prompt…  I am excited to unpack that and have another order in the works, looks like that will probably be the source for more of my super heroes and I also need batting for the quilts I have in the works and haven’t been able to find what I want as far as the other fabric for the dino quilt so I may have to order some more….

Speaking of the mail… I just got this super cute fat quarter in the mail!! I won it from Jennifer over at the Sewhooked blog (go check her out).  She has (among many many other things) a really cool oven mitt tutorial that I plan to make and it was from that post that I won the fabric.  (Did I mention I may now be hooked on quilting blogs too…. oh dear…).

The are a hoot! (sorry I just could not resist) 

I have though actually finished a knitting project as well!!  Here are the specs.

Title: Snuggly Penguin
Pattern: Baby Tux Illusion Blanket
Designer: Steve Plummer
Source: World of Illusion or Ravelry download
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Winter Night and Bare
Needle Size: 3.25 mm
Start Date: Feb. 10.2012
End Date: late Mar. 2012 (some how managed to not record the date…)
Notes: loved it, my very first illusion knitting it took some getting used to but really was very easy and lots of fun and the blanket looks very cool.  I found that it was easiest to knit from my computer screen and bring the window bottom in to eliminate the row last knit, keeping track of it on paper was way too unwieldy. I made it for my (first) little nephew.

Second block done in the Epic Superhero Project, I present to you E for Electra.

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E is for Electra 2/26

Electra worked out better, having every individual square was much better, more cutting (less planing) and more sewing but more even and better presentation.  I will be going with this approach going forward.

She is roughly 13×15 inches (each square is cut at 1.2 inches and sewn together with .25 inch seams leaving – in theory at least – each square 1 inch); made up of 45 of her skin, 51 black, 45 red, and 41 white squares.  

I cut little piles of the squares of each colour all together and then lay out each row according to the “pattern” (aka little pencil crayoned graph paper picture) and then make a pile of those.  I then sewed each one together (and man am I loving the idea of chain piecing – cutting all the threads at the end of the row is so much better than cutting each one – I did mention that seams are a whopping 1.5 inches long…), press the seams all to one side and then do the next pile/row pressing seams to the other side.  Once every row is pieced and pressed then I sew them together pressing all the seams the same direction – essentially I’m using the postal stamp construction (such as is found here – nice to know what I was doing as a name…).  It works up quite quickly and is very orderly in its progression – which is appealing to me at this juncture.

Next I need to cut more red and white, the Flash awaits.

**Caution- possible enabling – you have been warned**

I have finally finished up my fiber room (I’ve been in the house almost a year now). I built this giant wall unit of shelves, and well… I didn’t put in quite enough span supports so it kind of sags. As a result I had left it alone, waiting for me to “fix it.” So my craft stuff stayed on the floor of the library and my craft room remained empty (save for my enormous saggy bookshelf). My boyfriend changed all that, he didn’t care about the saggy (the thing isn’t going to fall over) and so for my birthday moved all the craft stuff he could identify into the craft room and put it on shelves for me as a surprise.

So a few weeks ago I finally got around to moving in the rest of the craft stuff and picking up more from my parents. I had with me most of my yarn and most of my leather and beading stuff. I had none of my fabric. Now I have fabric, my great Aunt’s* sewing machine, and whatever sewing notions and tools I wanted from mine and my great Aunt’s stash in the furnace room at my parents, where all such things are living right now. I also got one of the fantastic super plain Ikea desks that my family has had for what seems like forever, which are perfect for crafting on. So now my craft room is usable (if a bit cramped, maybe putting the futon up in here – when I was ignoring the saggy bookshelf – wasn’t such a great idea after all…). And use it, I have!

Bear with me as I jump thought tracks for a second, I promise it will make sense eventually. So my dear friend J. instructed me to sign up for pinterest.com roughly a month ago. For those of you who don’t know – pinterest is essentially a site of photo links that you can organize to your heart’s content and where you can see what other people are saving. (No more folders full of links I don’t remember why I saved). There are many cool and wonderful things that I have been “pinning” there – like shoes, recipes, and amusing geekiness – but mostly I discovered that knitters aren’t the only ones jamming up the interwebs – quilters are a force to be reckoned with. And as I found more and more beautiful and cool things that were quilted I found myself suddenly interested in quilting.

The fact that I got started I’m going to blame on my boyfriend. As I purused the many quilting wonders I found one that looked super easy and said to him “this looks like it would be really easy.” To which he responded that he has always loved quilts and would be very very happy if I made him one of his very own. Now I have been very good about not making him a sweater (which he accepts but only grudgingly) in accordance with the age old supersition about boyfriend sweaters, he has a hat, mitts, slippers, and two pairs of socks, but no sweaters. Now to my knowledge there is no such thing as a quilt curse (and if there is, I didn’t know about it so it can’t apply… or if it does the results should be light in proportion to my guilt) and he is very very supportive of my crazy fiber crafts and he has quit smoking for me, so… next thing I knew I was at Walmart buying a couple of flat sheets and a blanket.  And over the next few days I made a rather messy monstrosity.  I consider it my pre-quilt, it is a quilt in the technical sense of multiple layers of fabric stitched together in the centre.  It is not a quilt in that, 1. it is very poorly done, 2. it is not finished (you can see in the picture that there is no binding) and 3. two sheets and a blanket is kind of a weak excuse for a quilt when one considers what is out there and I’d rather not offend the real quilts (and quilters) of the world by holding this item up as a quilt.  That said, the Boyfriend loves it.  And it emboldened and challenged me to make a “real” quilt.

The back is plain black, here you can see my horrid quilting and lack of binding.

I’m going to also blame this on my sister. She just had a baby. And let me tell you the internet is full of awesome baby quilts. However, I couldn’t make one for her until after the baby was born since cute fabrics are much less neutral (at least the ones I had ready access too) than the sweet blue and white penguin blanket I knitted for her.  And I really wasn’t interested in a neutral project (hello, already made the penguin), so I waited and collected more and more pins for quilts.  But I am not a patient woman by nature and conveniently my boss was having a baby boy, so I figured I could try out more of this quilting thing, with this project, some fabric from the local quilt shop (btw – why are there two quilting shops in the GTM?!) and some of the supplies from my great Aunt’s stash (she had batting or fleece that works for batting in her stash, I say had, because I have now used it all up…).  The results were surprisingly good for this beta project and, well, I was hooked.

All of supplies gathered, the dark blue are the batting.

Here is whole thing pieced together, not all of the flaps are sewn down.  I learned after I had made this that there is a tool for marking circles for this kind of quilt – would have come in handy and made things much more even.

Then I wrote an exam (for a work related certification), I felt very defeated after the exam.  This lead to a little bit of crying, the Boyfriend being very supportive and wonderful, and a late night trip to Walmart, this time to the quilting section because dammit I needed to do something dramatic to tell the world I was still awesome and could do meaningful and useful things. (As a side note I did pass the test, and have been reminded that my normal standard for scoring on a test has only a passing acquaintance with any reasonable or sane measure.)  So I returned from Walmart on Mar 27 with the necessary supplies and on Apr 8 I finished the binding on my first “real” quilt.

Here are the supplies – and I now have a scrap stash heavily weighted to pink and brown…

I used this pattern/tutorial for a nine patch latice quilt from Elizabeth Hartman (just FYI she has a great selection of basic quilting tutorials and I think I’ve used almost every one of them, and also some really wonderful patterns and tutorials – my humble noob thanks).  So here are some specs.  I used 9 fat quarters in pinks, browns, and black, 1 18 x42 precut of the pink harlequin, and 2 2yd mini bolts of magenta and brown from which I cut the back/border and the binding respectively.  I used batting from the stash and have no idea what it was made of, I assume polyester. I measured my lines totally wrong on the sewing machine and as a result sewed .5 inch rather than .25 inch seams so the finished  42 inches wide x 56 inches long is smaller than it should be.  I cut the needed strips using my rotary cutters (handy leather working tools re-purposed) and pieced the top and back on the machine (my inherited Bernia 1001, which in many ways I truly truly hate, but which I will not replace until I find just the right -most likely very expensive- machine as the Bernia does the trick).  I tried to machine quilt it, but it just didn’t work; the sewing machine couldn’t handle the quilt sandwich. Instead, I hand quilted it, in the ditch along the patch work lattice strips (ie. no quilting in the harlequin blocks) and border pieces.  The binding is straight cut, but with mitered joins, and was applied using this method (though I think I should have machine sewn it to the front and then hand tacked it to the back instead of the other way around).  All that is left now (it having been photographed and blogged) is to attach a label and toss it in the washing machine.

Finished quilt.

Back side.

It turned out wonderfully and I’m still deciding exactly what to do with it (or who to give it to).  I found this pattern a while back and knew it would be the first quilt for my new niece or nephew and didn’t my sister go and have a boy (yeah!) so I have drawn up some modifications to the pattern, more on that in a second, and am currently awaiting fabric to get started.  [DID YOU KNOW KNITPICKS HAS A SISTER QUILTING SHOP?!?!?! I am so screwed.]  And while looking for fabric for that I decided that I needed to make something for my brother’s first anniversary (since with all the crazy last year I didn’t get to make him anything for the wedding), so I subjected this pattern to modification as well and ordered that fabric too.  I am going to have a very happy mail day in a week or two.  (As a side note, the site I got the patterns from has a great variety of fabrics and I’m anxiously awaiting the Super Hero Squad fabrics – there will be cute little Wolverine and Captain America quilts in my future!!)

Here are a few of the great things about quilting:

1. Instant gratification – I can quilt much faster than I can knit a blanket.

2. Make use of cool tools I’ve got kicking around: my cutting mats, sewing rulers, rotary cutters, etc.  And things like my zillion pairs of scissors and the sewing machine and iron and ironing board and cool sewing room.

3. Creativity.  I’m not sure why but quilting has inspired me to go my own way much more than anything else I’ve done.  I’ve modified each of the quilt projects that I’m undertaking (beyond the basic colour changes – from adding a boarder to using the pattern motif as the basis of a completely different structure).  And then there is what I’m calling the Epic Superhero Project.  Inspired by the superhero alphabet cross-stitch samplers I’ve seen online I decided it would be cool to quilt a superhero alphabet.  Yes that’s right 26 characters quilted.  Armed with graph paper, pencil crayons, the internet, and the determination that this should be done I came up with a plan.

Here are all the characters (clearly not in alphabetical order).  If you count you’ll see there are 28, I will be leaving out Cap and Robin in favour of Cyclops and Rogue – I’m an X-men girl at heart.  But I’ll find a way to use them at the very least Cap, maybe on the back.  

Last night I made my first hero.  I started with Ironman – he’s only 3 colours and I don’t much like him so if I screwed him up, no big loss :)  And it turned out not too bad, if I do say so myself.  I think I will make the rest out of all squares – I thought I’d save on cutting but really its only asking for trouble as my seams aren’t perfect. So next on the list: E for Electra.

Here is Ironman, 1/26.  A good start.

So until next time, let this be a cautionary tale – be very careful around anything that involves fiber and needles… its addictive stuff.  And if you glance above at all the pretty graph paper, you’ll see what your brain looks like on quilting…

*My mom’s Aunt Shirley passed away a number of years ago and mom inherited most of her crafting stuff. Aunt Shirley had remarkably diverse crafting interests and I have benefited from the knitting and sewing ones, since my mom is not a knitter and she has her own sewing things (most of which she isn’t using at all), so I can lay claim to whatever strikes my fancy from this wonderful treasure trove.

New Leaves

WOW, it’s been nearly 2 years since my last post!! Hard to believe it was that long ago, but then on the other hand it feels like ages…so much has happened since then, on the non-fibery front (thankfully knitting and spinning don’t change much – very comforting that…).

Where to start? Things progress at work. The jeep (Bruce of the last post) is much less new. Lost a ton of weight (gained back a bunch – more on that after). Played in my very first home and away derby bouts. I bought a house (!) Got a dog (!?) Started dating my Alberta boy. Began several friendships, ended a couple…

Last year was a mixed year for me (as I’m discovering most years will be…). I learned a lot from things that made me stronger (and possibly stranger) – things I wouldn’t do again if you paid me, but each of them had it’s own silver lining. I’ve gained a great deal of perspective and no small amount of humility, not to mention a real appreciation for true friends near and far, for the love of my family, and for God’s mercy.

So what’s the big thing that’s brought me bag to the blog-o-sphere? Well, in the last couple of years I’ve lost nearly 80lbs, in the last few months I’ve managed to gain back a nice chunk  – about 30lbs. It’s not surprising, really, since schedule and injury have prevented the substantial exercise I was doing before; combine that with a change in the stress from emotional personal distress to run of the mill work frustration stress took me from not eating to stress eating. As a result, I’ve come back to my blog to chronicle a different chapter in my life (one which will still have fibery content) and get myself back on track in the physical sense. So here’s what I’m facing, what I’m trying, and the goals and milestones I’m heading towards for 2012.

The situation:
– unexplained back and neck pain, that have sprung up rather suddenly
– gained back 30lbs recently lost
– boyfriend who is a wiz in the kitchen and is particularly fond of the deep fryer
– point one above and work/practice times not gelling are interfering with my roller derby habit

The plan:
– doctor and physio are taking care of my back/neck – or at least attending to it
– starting in the new year I’m going to give the Belly Fat Cure a try, my parents have been using it and are pleased with the results, and the Boyfriend will be trying it along with me (and starting to quit smoking – on that note if you wouldn’t mind mentioning him to whomever you pray to, it will be much appreciated… and needed)
– getting back to exercising again, some of this will depend on the approval of the aforementioned doctor and physio but my plan is to use some Jillian Michael’s dvds (which I have used before) and my Bowflex

The Goals:
– lose that 30lbs again and keep it off
– fit back into the jeans I bought last spring
– go to my cousin Samantha’s wedding in June looking (and feeling) fit and fabulous

Other Milestones for 2012:
– my 30th birthday is in February
– my first niece or nephew will be born in April
– I’ll be going back home for the first time since I moved down east

There’s one week left in 2011 and I’m going to spend it getting ready for 2012 and laying the groundwork for a great year, I mean, come on, you only turn 30 once :)

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