Travel knitting

Yesterday, I was in Munich.  Today I am in England.  Tomorrow I will be in Johannesburg. After that, I will head to Vancouver.  I am in heavy travel mode.  What does that mean? Travel knitting of course; the thing that knitters most obsess about when packing a bag.

I have decided to have two projects with me, so that I can alternate between them. First, I am going to knit Cullum, a linen t-shirt with a touch of lace, designed by Isabell Kraemer:

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© Pam Allen

I am using the very same yarn used in the photo, a gorgeous deep grey shade of Quince & Co Sparrow called Eclipse.  Sparrow is a 100% organic linen yarn.  It is luminous:

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My second project will be the Hanne Falkenberg jacket I discussed in my last post.  I clearly was experiencing technical difficulties on that morning, as I couldn’t read Hanne’s pattern.  When she sent me instructions for a swatch, I realised that I had completely mis-read the instructions for the jacket.  I even went back and checked, so convinced I was right, but no, the instructions were perfect and it was me that was lacking. Here is the swatch:

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I love this!  The photo is lovely, but it is far better to hold it in your hand! It is so soft, yet wool-y, and light like a feather.  (Unlike the Sparrow, which is a bit rough on the hands; I know from experience that it will block into a very soft, drapey fabric, however.)

This is a run-by post as I am heading for the airport. Good knitting everyone!

 

Notes from a Hanne Falkenberg fangirl

When I was in Denmark recently, I tried on a beautiful Hanne Falkenberg jacket at a Copenhagen yarn shop.  (I blogged about the yarn shop visit here.)  I have knitted two of Hanne’s pattern before, one for me and one for my husband Doug.  (You can see them both, plus lots of personal knitting history, in this post.)  I was quite taken with this jacket, which was knit with a combination of two yarns: a lovely Shetland wool and a blend of cotton and linen.  I have been trying to find garments which will look both smart as a work garment, but which would also let me look like “me” and not like a banker.  I promptly ordered the kit:

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On the weekend, I decided to swatch the garment.  I am leaving for a trip to South Africa soon and thought this would make good travel knitting.  Unfortunately, I was stymied by the swatch.  The pattern instructions are written out for the whole garment, and I was having trouble sizing down the pattern repeat properly for a swatch-size.  In particular, I couldn’t tell how to line up the reverse rows over a smaller section, and I wanted to see the distribution of the knit and purl stitches over the main colour.  I couldn’t see this from the photo included in the pattern, in part due to the main colour being quite dark. This inability may be due to stupidity on my part, or the lack of sufficient coffee at that point in the morning, but in any case after a number of fruitless attempts, I wrote a letter to Hanne explaining my problem.

This morning I received a lovely letter by email from Hanne, which I reproduce here:

Dear Kelly

Thank you for your message and the interest in my design. I will try and help you. I have never received any questions about  this sample before.

I have scanned one of my small colour samples, which shows some of the pattern, and I have added the instruction for these  rows. The pattern is so easy to work once you get started and you will spot any “faults”/mistakes right away. Only make sure you mark the “side seams” and center back  when you place the pattern on the actual  garment.

I do not have a garment here at home, the many examples are out in the shops for display.

You are welcome to write to me again on this address

Best Regards

Hanne Falkenberg

Included with the letter was a close-up photo of the stitch pattern knitted up, and clear and detailed instructions for knitting a swatch!  This was exactly what I needed!  Not only that, but Hanne had reversed the colour of the yarns for the knitted swatch photo so that I could clearly see the patterning of the background colour.

I love the knitting community!  Thank you to Hanne, who not only makes beautiful designs but also makes me happy to be a knitter.

A pattern to celebrate my 300th post!

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This is my 300th post on this blog!  I am very excited to still be writing the blog, and happy that people keep reading it.

To celebrate my 300th post, I designed and knit a beautiful, colourful shawl and have posted the pattern here for you.

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I had three goals in mind with this pattern:

  1. It had to be in garter stitch. (Mindless knitting, yeah!)
  2. It had to use yarn already in my stash. (Limited funds, boo!)
  3. It had to match my COOL BOOTS! (Cool boots, yeah!)

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(The boots are from Camper.)

Here is a photo of it laid flat:

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I love this shawl.  It is a deceptively simple pattern, composed of long, thin triangles, but once it’s off the needles it has fabulous drape and the colour pops!

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Please enjoy the pattern.

Cool Boots: a shawl pattern by Kelly Sloan

The shawl is knit lengthwise in garter stitch, with six very long triangles formed with short rows.  Please read the pattern through before knitting, particularly the Notes at the end.  You should review the instructions for German short rows in garter stitch (which you can find in this post on the blog).

Size: Approximately 18” x 70”

Yarn: Fingering weight wool in three colours; approximately 70 grams (350 meters/383 yards) of each colour.  For this shawl I used Tvinni Tweed by Isager in shades 17S, 28S, and 32S.  These are 100% wool tweed yarns in shades of red, coral and fuchsia, with a grey tweed undertone.

Needles: US 4 (for the shawl); US 6 (for casting on and binding off)

Gauge:  24 stitches and 48 rows (24 garter ridges); very lightly blocked.

When I took the shawl off the needles, it measured 16.5″ x 64″.  I very lightly wet blocked it to 18″ x 70″.

 

Directions.

With Colour A and US 6 needles, cast on 380 stitches.

Switch to US 4 needles.

Triangle 1:

Row 1 (RS) – knit 2 rows.  (You will have one garter ridge on RS of work).

Row 3 (RS) – knit to 12 stitches from end, turn work.

Row 4 (WS) and each remaining (WS) row – slip first st as if to purl, pull yarn to the back, knit across all remaining stitches (you have thus performed a German short row; see Notes).

Row 5 and RS rows: Knit until 12 stitches from the last German short row (indicated by the “double stitch”), turn work.

Continue until 18 stitches remain before the last German short row.  (This number could vary depending on how you count your short rows.  Continue until you have between 12 and 24 stitches before last short row.)

Next row (RS) – knit all the way across, knitting each ‘double stitch’ together as one stitch. (See Notes for German short row.)

Next row (WS) – knit all stitches

You should now have two garter ridges at the narrowest edge of the triangle with the right side facing you.  At the wide edge, you should have 32 garter ridges (note that this number is not important, but it should be the same for each triangle.)

Triangle 2:

Change to Colour B.  Knit 3 rows, ending with a RS row.  You should have one garter ridge with Colour B with the right side facing.

Row 4 (WS) – Knit to 12 stitches from end, turn work.

Row 5 (RS) and each remaining (RS) row – slip first st as if to purl, pull yarn to the back, knit across all remaining stitches (you have thus performed a German short row; see Notes)

Row 6 and WS rows: Knit until 12 stitches from the last German short row (indicated by the “double stitch”), turn work.

Continue until 18 stitches remain before last short row (or same number of stitches as for last triangle).

Next row (WS): knit across all stitches, knitting each ‘double stitch’ together as one stitch.

You should now have two garter ridges at the narrowest part of triangle 2, when viewed from the right side.

Repeat these instructions twice more, thus making a total of 6 triangles, changing colours as indicated in the chart.

schema for cool boots pattern

With RS facing, and using a US6 needle, cast off all stitches.

Finishing: Weave in ends.  Wash and block lightly.

 

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Notes

Note 1.  Weigh your yarn.  At the end of the first triangle, weigh remaining yarn of Colour A.  You will need enough yarn for two triangles in each of the three shades.

Note 2.  In the beginning, mark the right side (RS) of work with a removable stitch marker.

Note 3. All colour changes are made at the beginning of a RS row.

Note 4.  The narrow edge of each triangle has two garter ridges.  The first of these is made before you begin the short rows; the second garter ridge is made at the end of the triangle, after the short rows, when you knit across all of the stitches.

Note 5. On the first, third and fifth triangle, the short rows are made (the work is turned before the end of the row) on the RS rows; on the second, fourth, and sixth triangles, the short rows are made on the WS rows.

Note 6.  There is a photo tutorial of how to do German Short Rows in garter stitch on my blog.  You can find it in this post.  This is by far the easiest way to make short rows in garter stitch, and should not leave any holes in your work.

Note 7.  Put a removable stitch marker into the ‘double stitch’ formed by the German short row.  After each short row, you can move the marker, so it always marks the last short row knitted.  This makes it easier to know when to turn on the next turn row.

Note 8.  When counting the 12 stitches between short rows, I counted the ‘double stitch’ from the previous short row as stitch number 1.  This is illustrated here:

short row fo cool boots pattern

Note 9. You can make the shawl shorter or longer by casting on fewer or more stitches, respectively.  You can change the width of the shawl by increasing or decreasing the number of stitches between each short row (the more stitches between short rows the “narrower” the triangle will be).

That seems like a lot of Notes, but the pattern is very intuitive and easy peasy.  Please enjoy!

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This shawl has not been test knitted.  If you find any mistakes, or have trouble understanding any part of it, please let me know.  You can leave a question on the blog, or you can write to me on Ravelry (my Rav name is kellydawn).

A final note: Please respect my copyright.  Do not reproduce or publish any part of this pattern without my permission.

A baker’s dozen of men’s knitted vest patterns

My last post was a whimsical look at men’s sweater patterns from the early 70s including some wild vests. I have been wanting to knit a vest for Doug for some time now, but find that I can never find the perfect pattern. (Note that I am using “vest” in the American sense here. I will continue to spell colour with a “u” thus confusing those who want to categorize me.) While there are some fabulous patterns out there, I find that most of them fall short on one dimension or another.  In particular, they are (1) designed for someone considerably thinner, considerably younger (or both) than Doug, (2) they are made with a thicker weight wool, such as worsted or aran, and/or (3) they are boring. This last must be commented on:  I am told time and time again that men want boring. My man doesn’t.  As evidence of this, have a look at the last sweater I knit for him.

Doug wants a vest that he can wear to work with a shirt and tie, that he can put a sports jacket over comfortably, that has color and ‘pops’.  He also says he wants it to have buttons so that he can take it on or off during the day (but he could overcome this for the right pattern).  I want a vest which is fun to knit, which is challenging but not scary, and preferably not with steeks (but I can overcome this for the right pattern).  I also think that it would be better in fingering weight yarn to cut down on bulk.  Here are a baker’s dozen of great men’s vest patterns.  None of them seems to hit all of the requirements.  But they come pretty close.

We’ll start with a few vests knit in aran or worsted weight wool, move on to some fancy colourwork projects and end with some fantastic fairisle. (All links are to the Ravelry page.)

1. Laredo by Angela Hahn

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© Jamie Dixon

I seriously love this vest.   Angela is a great technical designer and she charts this out in three lengths so that the pattern starts and ends on appropriate rows.  I keep seeing it in a rich colour, perhaps a strong gold or deep purple.  But it is made with an aran weight wool and isn’t the office-appropriate vest I am searching for.  When Doug needs a vest to go on safari, however, this one is so there.

2. Dr. G’s Memory vest by Kirsten Kapur

Dr G's memory vest

by throughtheloops

This is a fantastic vest.  It is knit in a worsted weight wool, but I also think it would look great with a sports coat. I love how the ribbing on the sleeves matches the pattern running up the side of the fronts, and how the two patterns come together and then separate at the shoulder to provide shaping.  Oh, the technical deliciousness of this pattern is so appealing! Every feature is so beautifully thought out. Kirsten designed this in memory of her father, Dr. G, who suffered from vascular dementia.  In order to receive the pattern, one must donate to dementia research, as detailed on Kirsten’s blog here. So, a gorgeous design and a good cause.  (I already have the pattern and it is definitely in my queue.)

3. Argyle Vest by Veronik Avery

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by Veronik

This is an old one from Veronik, dating from 2007, well before her Brooklyn Tweed collaboration. It is found in her book, Knitting Classic Style: 35 Modern Designs Inspired by Fashion’s Archives.  I already own the book, which puts it in the plus column.  I love argyle, and I think this design uses it to its best – it is a strong motif, but doesn’t overpower the vest.  I love these colours but can imagine all sorts of options from subdued to wild.  The problem once again is the yarn weight – it’s knit in aran.  Plus – intarsia – not quite in my comfort zone. But it’s pretty huh?  Especially when worn with a pout, like the model kindly demonstrates.

4. Drew’s sweater vest by Marly Bird

Drew's sweater vest

© Marly Bird

I love this vest! First of all, it buttons, unlike most of those I am reviewing here.  But it also has great features: the shawl collar, the twisted garter rib stitch, the beautiful fan pattern that goes up the middle fronts and around the collar.  It also is charted in a huge range of sizes – from 36.5″ to 60.5″!  You would be astonished (or maybe not) at how many vest patterns end at a size 48″.   Not only that, but it looks like a vest which would actually look good on big men.  I think this one will end up in my queue.  The problems – it’s knit in aran wool, and the shawl collar means no jacket.

5. #19 Men’s Houndstooth Vest by Josh Bennet

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© Vogue Knitting, Winter 2009/10 Photo by Rose Callahan

I love houndstooth, and this one is scrumptious! Really, this is a lovely vest, elegant and totally office-worthy (especially if not paired with this shirt).  However, it is knit in DK weight wool, STRANDED, which means this has some serious weight to it. Only a guy with rock solid abs and a tendency to be cold all of the time could get away with this one.  (Imagine trying to pull it off when the office heater was set too high.) If you look like the model, I urge you to knit this vest! I wouldn’t steer you wrong. Otherwise, I would suggest that a pair of houndstooth mittens might help ease the pain.

6. #8 Fitted Waistcoat by Franklin Habit

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© Soho Publishing

I’ve featured this waistcoat on the blog before.  I think it is totally beautiful.  It is definitely on my radar, but I am waiting to see a few more projects pop on on Ravelry. I want to see what it looks like in real life on people who don’t wear a size small like this model.  I am worried that its cut, not only the trim waist, but also the deep arm scythe and the narrow shoulders, won’t suit Doug’s shape.  But someday, maybe….

7. Estefan by Brandon Mably

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© Rowan Yarns, 2014

This is another vest that I’ve featured before on the blog.  (Oh no! Have I become hopelessly repetitive and redundant?)  Abstract away from the fantastic tile background, and from the attractive model staring at you with smouldering eyes and come-hither look, and ….you still have a great vest. Brandon Mably is a colour wizard.  This is knit in cotton, in a sport weight.  I don’t really see myself doing this kind of colourwork in cotton, but I can imagine knitting it in wool.

8. Lean on me by Anna Maltz

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© Anna Maltz

This is a pretty pattern published in the Winter 2014 edition of Knitty magazine (this means it is free as well!). I love its use of colour and pattern, particularly paired with this shirt! Like the Houndstooth vest above, however, it is knit stranded with DK yarn, which will produce a heavy fabric.  That, and the way the stitch pattern biases, leads me to suspect that if you are carrying some extra weight around your middle, this vest will highlight it.  On the other hand, it is awfully pretty and there are endless options for playing with colour.

9. Order of the Phoenix Winged Vest by Kyle Kunnecke

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© Interweave & ©Harper Point Photography

I think Kyle Kunnecke is a great designer; he is so clever and has such a sense of fun in his designs.  You don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan to think this is one seriously cool design.  One of the best things about it is that from the front it looks like a completely straight, classic v-neck vest that would like right at home with a jacket and tie; then you turn around and kazaam! I’m not sure this has “Doug” written on it, but if he has a (late) mid-life crisis and buys a Harley, this is going on the needles.

10. Carraig Fhada by Kate Davies

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© Kate Davies Designs

Kate’s recent collection, Inspired by Islay, contains a few very nice pieces for men.  This vest can be made with either a crew or v-neck style (it is designed as a unisex piece and has directions for both men’s and women’s versions).  There is a huge range of sizes, from 32 to 60 inches.  It is knit up in her new signature yarn, Buachaille, a sport-weight wool.  I love this yarn, which feels good on the hands and takes to cables or colourwork really well.  If you follow the link, you can see one done in shades of grey with a very thin green stripe (in place of the yellow here) that is equally lovely.  I think that single row of a bright, contrast colour really makes this pattern pop.

11. Fall River Vest by Mary Jane Mucklestone

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© Interweave Knits

I love this Fairisle Vest designed in natural shades by Mary Jane Mucklestone.  This is the first vest in this post that is knit in fingering weight wool.  (I can see why you might think that fingering weight would be a slog for a man’s sweater; but for a vest – no sleeves!  A vest seems like a reasonably-sized canvas for some fingering weight colourwork with no chance to get marooned on sleeve island.)  This is a fairly standard Fairisle man’s vest, but an especially lovely one I think.  This uses seven gorgeous muted shades that really work together to add richness.

12. Luke’s Diced Vest by Mary Jane Mucklestone

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© caroline bergeron

This is a great vest.  I am clearly attracted to designs in which different patterns play off against each other.  And it buttons down the front.  But it is knit in sportsweight wool. And it looks hard to me.  (And the model looks to be about 15 to me.  I know this is a very nit-picky complaint; I am showing my age.)

13. Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover by Susan Crawford

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© Susan Crawford

This vest has an interesting story.  From the pattern description: “In the wake of the popular Wartime Farm BBC TV series, you can now knit your very own authentic Fair Isle Sleeveless Pullover, modelled on a 1938 original and as worn by Alex Langlands no less!  For each pattern sold, a £2.50 donation will be made to the Women’s Land Army Tribute Campaign to help raise money for a permanent memorial to these forgotten ladies and their untold toil during the World Wars.”  This is knit in fingering weight wool, and is not steeked (it is knit in one piece to the arms and then knit back and forth). I think that it is fantastic.

These are all great vests, but I am still wavering.  I have three other options to consider.  I can (1) design my own, (2) modify a women’s vest pattern, or (3) modify a men’s sweater pattern and knit it as a vest.  I have lots of ideas about each of these, and may blog about them soon.

 

Vintage knitting patterns: the men’s edition

I have been thinking for a long time about knitting a vest or waistcoat for Doug.  This is for two reasons.  First, Doug keeps asking me to knit him a vest or waistcoat.  Second, and this should be obvious – no sleeves.  (I once wrote a post called “Do you love your husband enough to knit the sleeves?”) As a result, I have been keeping a close eye on men’s knitting patterns and specifically on vests.  I will write more about this in a future post.

Today, however, the subject of men’s vests came to mind (for all of the wrong reasons) while I was perusing through some of my rather large collection of knitting pattern books.  I stumbled upon this:

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It is vol. 713 of brunswick mostly male.  I cannot believe that these pamphlets were released without dates, but I would guess this one was produced sometime around 1972. In it, one can find some wonders, like this knitted 2-piece pantsuit:

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Or this amazing purple ribbed pullover (paired with spectacular swim trunks!):

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The photos often include drinking (anyone venture to guess what this manly drink is?):

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And smoking:

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And smoking and drinking at the same time:

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And yes, there are also vests.  I love this blue one.  The pose just cracks me up: look at that hair!  The scarf!  The pine tree he is mysteriously hovering over!

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Then there is this tiger-striped vest with the belt loops.  How suave!

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My favorite is this one:

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“What,” I asked Doug, “is that belt made of?”  “Those are bullet casings,” Doug replies “with one bullet pointing at his d*ick.”  Hmm…..perhaps my long search for a pattern to knit for Doug is over.

Skip right to the knitting content

Today is the first of April.  I woke up this morning thinking that I might write a silly post for April Fool’s Day.  Then I started thinking that, in the Age of Trump and Brexit, April Fool’s Day is likely dead.  We probably wouldn’t notice an April Fool’s Day news story because the real news is so surreal these days.

So, instead, I will skip right to the (admittedly sparse) knitting content:

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This is a teaser photo of my new project.  It is in lovely fingering weight wool by Isager in brilliant shades of red, coral, and fuschia, and has miles and miles of garter stitch. I am finding it rather addicting.  And these fabulous colours are very cheerful and perfect for springtime knitting.  What is it? You will have to wait and see, but it is something I am designing myself.

Silk and sunshine

Some time ago, I bought myself a single skein of Shibui Knits Silk Cloud, a mohair and silk blend lace-weight yarn in the brilliant shade called Tango.

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I am a big fan of Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze and have knit many things with it.  But I was curious about the Silk Cloud.  The Silk Cloud is more expensive. However, it has a higher silk content – 40% in the Silk Cloud compared to 30% for Kidsilk Haze. Most important to me, the colours of the Silk Cloud are glorious – brilliant, richly saturated tones.  Kidsilk changes its colours frequently and the last time I checked I found their palette to be rather pale and uninspiring.

I decided to knit a little cowl using a free pattern available on Ravelry called the Madita Cowl, designed by spacecurry.

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This was an airplane knitting project, knit entirely while in the air (or the airport lounge). I used plastic needles (so as not to upset security), and the whole project was so small and lightweight that it fit easily into a pocket.  I actually did not enjoy knitting it, although not for the reasons you might suspect.  The yarn is lovely, as is the pattern; the truth is that I hate knitting with laceweight yarn on big needles (a US9).  I complained about this on these pages before, when knitting the beautiful Smoulder sweater for Emma, which uses a double strand of Kidsilk Haze but it is knit in part with size 15 needles. I think perhaps continental knitters might find this easier, but as a thrower, I find it very awkward.

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The cowl itself is gorgeous, although a bit of an enigma.  You see, it is too short to wrap around the neck twice, and too long to provide any actual warmth to the neck.  This makes it essentially a bit of frippery (although a pretty one at that).  I believe that if I were to knit it again, I would make it longer, so that it could be wrapped twice.

Now that I have had my little experiment, I can say that there will be more Silk Cloud in my future. The only difficult task will be not buying one of every shade.

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