TGIFF: Dragon Flimsy

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I’m not sure when I started this project, but I know that my husband chose the dragon fabric in the center in 2010, just after we moved to Vancouver, Washington from Reno, Nevada. I don’t think I cut into it until at least a year later, possibly two.

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Initially, I had trouble deciding what to do with it because of the way the dragons were spaced and oriented on the fabric. I couldn’t cut around a dragon, including seam allowances, without cutting into its neighbor. I considered cutting more closely around them and appliqueing them onto something else, but then I would have lost all the beautiful color and design in the dragon fabric itself.

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Once I determined how to handle the dragon fabric and created the center panel, I wanted to do something that would emphasize the beautiful colors without feeling “feminine.” The spikiness of triangles suited my purpose, but standard flying geese didn’t seem to fit the bill. Based on techniques I learned about ten years ago in a class taught by Joanne Belling, I varied both the center and outward points of the triangle in an attempt to evoke the movement of a dragon’s spine.

I love the way they turned out, but those geese took me FOREVER. I definitely learned a few things about designing my own quilts, such as to be grateful to all of those who do it professionally because it is HARD.

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Around the time I was half-way through making all those geese, my husband wandered into my sewing room and asked if it was going to be big enough for him to cuddle up in. Umm…NO! Based on the size of the panel I’d been able to create, I was aiming for something he could hang on the wall in his office. WHOOPS!!! So that explains the massive borders.Β  πŸ˜€

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He’s 6′ 4″ (193cm), so this thing is BIG. It’s about 85 by 102 inches right now. He doesn’t know I’ve finished it, so I’ll be excited to give it to him later this year once it’s complete. I had to utilize my intended backing fabric for the borders, so now I have to go fabric shopping. My stash doesn’t contain anywhere near enough coordinating yardage to back this bad boy.

The embroidered motifs are from Susan Briscoe’s book, “Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match.” I hope I haven’t committed any cultural faux pas, as I have no idea what–if any–region of the world the dragons are meant to be from. I just thought the motifs were beautiful and that my husband would like them.

I’ve lined up an awesome long-armer who is going to quilt dragons in the negative space for me. It will likely cost me an arm and a leg, but it will be worth it.

Linking up with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted this week by Mary at Fleur de Lis Quilts. She’s made the most unique and interesting sports uniform quilt I’ve ever seen! Have a great weekend!

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Color Challenge: Blue

colorwidgetThe Factotum of Arts challenge color for March is blue. My favorite(s). Blues of all shades, hues, and levels of saturation. Quilts I’ve made that don’t have blue in them are rare, and a fair percentage are dominated by blue, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to finish any of my existing WIPs for the challenge. Serendipity saved the day when a good friend tagged me in a Facebook post showing off the spring display window of a local antique shop. I plugged one of the photos into the palette builder at Play Crafts and came up with this:

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That same friend had a birthday on March 20, and I know she’s been crushing hard on similar palettes lately. So, I decided to kill two porcelain parakeets with one clumsy bump of the hip and made my first zipper pouch.

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I used the box pouch tutorial at The Seasoned Homemaker, although I increased the size to accommodate the paper pieced inserts I made.

The flying geese units finished at two inches wide by one inch high. I forgot to measure the size of the completed bag before gifting it to my friend, but I’m guesstimating 10.5 x 7 x 3 inches.

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I also forgot to take a picture with the zipper open to show off the lining fabric–a cream ground with light blue and lime green squiggle-stripes.

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If I were to make it again, I would make it a bit deeper, or take the dimensions back down to those recommended by the tutorial. At this size, the depth is a bit awkward. As my MIL said, it looks a bit like an old-fashioned tissue box cover. Haha! Also, I had never paper pieced anything this small. I feel like my seam allowances are disproportionately large and therefore noticeable in the finished product. It could just be due to the Pellon backing, but before I do it again, I will spend some time seeking out tips from people who frequently make small paper pieced things.

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Those small critiques aside, I am pleased with the result, and it was the perfect size for two bags of Dove chocolates and a birthday card. Priorities, people! Also, all the fabrics came from my stash, but I did have to buy a sky blue zipper.

Be sure to check out the color series at Factotum of Arts yourself, as well as the guest posts. This month’s is from Ants to Sugar, and I am completely in love with her Little Tents quilt. It has officially been added to my “must make” list.

 

Sunday Stash: I caved.

I had not purchased any fabric since before Christmas. I had been tempted many times but resisted. I was kind of proud of myself. Then I had the opportunity to join the Portland Modern Quilt Guild (Yay! I’m so excited that my work schedule finally allows for this!), and while killing time before the start of my first meeting, I wandered into Modern Domestic, an LQS down the street. When I learned that they offer a 20% discount to members on meeting days, I was done for.

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I grabbed a couple of fat quarters from Anna Maria Horner’s Fib’s and Fables line, to use in the planned quilt I wrote of in my last Sunday Stash post. I chose the Pegasus in aqua, well, because it’s Pegasus in aqua.Β  πŸ˜‰ I chose the second for the colors and that lovely little threaded needle. I’ll have to be sure not to chop it up.

I did exhibit more restraint than is my norm, especially given that I’d been “fasting” for more than two months. I need to get comfortable with restraint, though, given that I’m no longer working full time while Little WIP is still a baby. The simple fact is that I don’t have the fabric budget that I used to.

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I picked up half-yard cuts of these two fabrics from my yellow mosaic in February. I’ve decided to make the quilt, though I haven’t chosen a design yet. Lower left is Drift in Pink from Rain Walk by Anna Graham for Cloud 9. Upper right is Village in Mustard from Alison Glass’ Abacus collection.

Though it’s not like I don’t have plenty of lovely stuff to work from in my stash already. I was already thinking along these lines when I stumbled across the Stash Manifesto at A Quarter Inch from the Edge back in January. While I doubt that I will put a manifesto of my own in writing, I am trying to be mindful of things like Jenn’s Articles 3 and 4 each time I think about buying fabric. In essence, using what I have to start new projects, and reining in my “recreational fabric shopping.”

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My low-volume stash is small and lacks variety. It consists of mostly grey on white or white on grey. These are an attempt to remedy that without going overboard: Two more Alison Glass prints (Mercury in Cobalt and Grow in Sky) and one Jennifer Sampou from her Studio Stash 3 collection. Going overboard would be purchasing Grow in every color. I love it so much. It speaks to the biologist in me.

Another concept that is part of my unwritten manifesto is that I hope to actually get started–and maybe finish!–many of the projects that are already fully formed ideas. By this I mean I’ve already settled on the quilt design and pulled the fabrics I want to use and they are sitting in pretty piles waiting for some attention from my rotary cutter and sewing machine. Sigh.

Linking up with Sunday Stash, hosted this week by Patchwork and Pastry. Oh, and a pic of Little WIP because some days I just can’t resist. πŸ˜‰

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Sunday Stash: AMH Mystery Bundle

Although I am trying really, really hard right now to resist buying fabric, I acquired quite a bit of lovely stuff during all that time off from blogging. So in order to have an excuse to participate in the link-up, I thought I’d share one of the more recent and (to my mind) interesting purchases I made. At least there’s more of a story behind the purchase than my usual, “I saw it. I thought it was pretty. I bought it.”

Craftsy usually has designer “mystery bundles” available for a pretty darned good price if you’re willing to take the risk. I thought about it for a looong time before doing it myself. What prompted me was this quilt, and a desire to challenge myself in terms of color and print choices. I have been following Little Island Quilting since before I started my own blog, and I LOVE how she puts fabrics together in ways that are so, so different from the way I do. But I’m kind of scared to try and imitate it.

Well, my experience in other parts of my life is that I learn and grow the most from experiences that are hard or scary. So it should work out that way with quilting, too, right? If I want to continue learning and improving, I’d better push myself! And what better way to do that than with a fabric selection that won’t allow me to fall into old habits?

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This group is actually right in my wheelhouse.Β  πŸ™‚

So, after being amazed by Alison’s quilt, I ordered the pattern and purchased the Anna Maria Horner fat quarter mystery bundle. (Craftsy doesn’t have any right now, but they have other designers available.) While AMH designs some fabrics that intoxicate me, she also puts together some color combos that are about as far out of my comfort zone as you can get, so I felt a mystery pack of her fabrics would offer the kind of challenge I was looking for.

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I like three of these prints. I think the deer are weird. The colors, however, are NOT me. Perfect.

And I was right.

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With these three, the roses remind me of my grandma, and I am not a fan of hearts, but again, the colors are right up my alley.

The mystery pack contained a good combination of prints and colors that I am always attracted to with others that I would otherwise never purchase or use.

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I am captivated by the “Sinister Swarm” print in the upper right corner. I even tracked down some additional yardage. The other three, however, I would never have purchased. I like the upper left but wouldn’t have had ideas about how to use it. The other two? I wouldn’t have even stopped to fondle them on the bolt.

Since I don’t expect these fat quarters to be enough to make the whole quilt, I also ordered the Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton (Dark) fat quarter bundle, and will select some fat quarters from it to make up the difference in required yardage. I have also pulled all of the AMH from my stash to incorporate as necessary. (There isn’t a ton of it for the reason I mentioned above.) I admit, it’s a safety net to ensure that I will actually like the end product, but making a quilt you don’t like is no fun. I’ll push my boundaries a little further next time. πŸ˜‰

Late to the party, but linking up with Sunday Stash, hosted this week by Ms. Midge. Because Molli’s busy posing for the paparazzi, y’all.

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TGIFF: Grow

I first mentioned this quilt as a WIP here, here, and here. It is the Beanstalks pattern from the book “Quilts from the House of Tula Pink.” In fact, it’s on the cover.

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Apologies for the lighting. It’s been pouring rain for days.

It is for a very dear friend of nearly thirty (!!!) years, though we don’t get to see each other much since she lives in Brazil and I am in the United States. I met her during my junior year in high school as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. She worked as the maid/caretaker for one of my host grandmothers. She taught me how to speak her language so well that I confused people: “You have the face of an American, but you sound like a Brazilian!” She is a master at appreciating what she has while working toward something better. She loves her family and friends with zero reservations or judgements. She is one of the best examples of a human that I have ever met, and I am so glad she is my friend.

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She also introduced me to ripe papaya, fresh off the tree.

Two years ago, she won a house. You read that right. She WON. A. HOUSE! This quilt was supposed to be a housewarming gift, but due to life and stuff, it’s taken me a long-ass time to get it done.

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As with most of my quilts, the fabrics in this one are a mix of new purchases and things that had been in my stash for up to 15 years. The background is Moda Marble Dots in Natural. It’s quilted with a hot pink and yellow variegated thread in a floral motif. Originally I wanted butterflies in either a cream or variegated orange thread, but the butterflies I found were too juvenile, and the other threads seemed boring.

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Notes for Next Time:

  1. Select the recommended quantities of fabric in the pattern, but begin by only cutting and making the.Β  strip sets and wedges from about two thirds of it. With this quilt, I cut all of my strips at once, and once they were stitched together I cut them all into wedges. This created two problems for me. First, as the long wedge assemblies grew, I sometimes found it difficult to keep them straight-ish and wished that I had set some strip sets aside where I could cut a wedge with the angle I needed to re-align things. Second, in spite of re-reading the instructions several times to make sure I was doing it right, I ended up with a huge number of extra wedges. I see this as fabric wasted, and that makes me sad. I did employ a good number of them on the back, but what you see in the flower/sunburst is less than half of the excess wedges. Again–sad. 027
  2. I would also increase the size of my wedges. The pattern recommends a minimum of 1.5 inches for the narrow end and a maximum of 4.5 inches for the wide end. I would bump this to at least 2 and 5 inches, and I’d cut a few as wide as 6 at the wide end. Variety is good.
  3. Finally, I would select a center stalk fabric that was more similar in value to the fabrics in my wedges. I love that green, but it’s stronger than I wanted it to be in this setting.

Do you own this book? Have you made any of the quilts? What was your experience with the pattern/instructions? There are several more I’d like to tackle, but my stack of ideas is already as big as my WIP list. You can relate, right? πŸ˜‰

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“Grow” finished at 74 inches by 87 inches prior to quilting and washing. It is now 72 by 84.

Linking up to Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted this week by Sunlight in Winter Quilts.

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Color Challenge: Yellow

Provided my little WIP “allows” it, I hope to participate in all of the Colour Blog Series challenges this year at Factotum of Arts.

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This month is yellow, and the challenge is to create a mosaic of nine prints that are at least 1/3 yellow. I had never created a mosaic before, so it’s good that Michelle provided a link and instructions for the tool she uses.

“I find yellow one of the hardest prints to buy online, as it varies greatly. Is it bright yellow or mustard or ochre?? It’s also hard to find a good bright yellow print.”

This opening statement of her Yellow post is exactly my experience in purchasing yellow fabrics online. Luckily, as my color confidence grows, so does my view of the potential in a yellow fabric.

When I first started quilting (nearly 20 years ago), this was the color I most shied away from. I found it intimidating. Even once I realized that a little pop of yellow could really turn a design into something special, I still feared getting it “wrong.” I did manage to recognize, however that if I found a yellow I really loved, I should buy more of it. As a result, two particular lovelies have made appearances in quite a few quilts over the years. πŸ˜€

Good yellows are far more abundant now than they were back then (thank you, modern quilting movement), but online purchases are still a little scary. Most of the time I won’t do it unless I have seen the fabric in person. Before starting this habit, however, I wound up with several greenish yellows, mustards, and tan-golds when I thought I was buying yellow. I’m okay with it. I know I will use them eventually. In fact, I really like the fact that my yellow stash has such variety in it these days.

So, on to the challenge: One of the items on my quilting bucket list is to create a quilt based on some of Gustav Klimt’s work. Several of my favorite paintings of his have quite a lot of yellow and gold in them. However, when I selected what to my eye is the most yellow of Klimt’s paintings, the palette turned out far different from what I expected.

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“Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.” Palette generated using Moda Fabric’s palette builder. Suggested coordinating Bella solids include golden wheat, cheddar, burgundy, weathered teak, espresso, and peacoat.

Not what I needed for this challenge. So…what else? Daffodils and lemons are the first things I think of when I think of YELLOW. I thought I’d try using one of these as a jumping-off point for my collage and went a-browsing. Then I came across this seahorse fabric from Heather Ross’ upcoming Mendocino line, and lemons and daffodils went out the window. Because the ocean (and anything related to it) is my first love. And I came up with this:

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1. Drift in Pink from Cloud 9; 2. Sea Friends in Corn Yellow from Premier Prints; 3. Oval Elements in Golden from Art Gallery; 4. Ripples in River from Art Gallery; 5. Sea Horses in Cream Yellow from Windham; 6. Herringbone in Yellow from Free Spirit; 7. Crosshatch in Curry from Robert Kaufman; 8. Swim Class in Yellow from Windham; 9. Village in Mustard from Andover.

All but number two can be found at Hawthorne Threads and probably at your favorite online or local fabric haunt. Cotton Candy Fabrics (formerly tulafabrics.com) is a new favorite of mine. I found the starfish on fabric.com but didn’t realize it’s a home dec fabric until I’d completed the mosaic. I’ve seen a few quilts on blogs that use a variety of fabric types successfully but I’ve yet to try it. This Charlie Harper fabric (availability is still spotty–it just arrived in my favorite LQS) might be a good replacement.

With that as a caveat, I would love to make a quilt from these fabrics!Β  Throw in some solid white and a bit more hot pink, then back it and bind it with something like this or this or this. If I weren’t trying really hard to sew from my stash and only buy what I need for finishes, I’d buy these fabrics right now. Good thing Mendocino isn’t available yet. We’ll see if I can still resist it next month when I’m able to see it in person. πŸ˜€

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Factotum of Arts and Michelle’s Colour series. Maybe you can learn something new!

Oh, and here’s a shot of that little WIP I referred to. On a yellow quilt, no less. He’s just turned six months old and is strongly anti-nap.025

Ooooh! I just figured out that I can adjust the areas of the painting that the palette builder matches and got this:

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Suggested Bella solids are golden wheat, cheddar, longhorn, harvest gold, saffron, and yellow.

Now that’s more like it. For this challenge, however, I am happy with the seahorses. I will come back to Klimt another day.

 

A new finish, plus….

Today I will focus on my most recent finish, but I will also do a quick overview of my finishes during my year-and-a-half long blogging gap.

I think I mentioned in my last post that I know seven or eight women who were pregnant last year. And me. Thanks to gestational carpal tunnel syndrome, very few of the quilts for those women and their babies even made it past the planning stage, let alone got completed. My goal with these now is to have them completed by the time the babies are a year old.Β  πŸ˜€Β  My friends understand and are patient with me.

The baby that this quilt celebrates was born in July. It’s more of a family quilt, however, because her two big brothers didn’t get quilts from me and they would be jealous. Instead, my friend requested something that she could snuggle under on the couch with all three kids. Voila.

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Planning this quilt was a challenge, as the mom is probably my pickiest friend. Yet, when I asked her questions like, “What’s your favorite color?” and “What’s your husband’s favorite color?” and “What are the boys’ favorite colors?” her response was, “I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it.” WHAT!? Who doesn’t ever think about color? Is it just because I’m a quilter that this idea is so completely and absolutely bizarre to me?

So I thought and thought and then told her that the only colors I’d ever seen her wear to work were blues, greys, and reds. Unless she objected, I would make her family a quilt using those colors. She did not. So last February I selected fabrics and began making blocks. (Mind you this was only after texting her a photo of the fabric pull and receiving her approval.)

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I didn’t have quite enough of either of the Lotta Jansdotter prints at the bottom to make all of the blocks, so I used both.

The rectangle-within-a-rectangle blocks were made last fall while my newborn slept.

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I loved both block sets. Then I started laying them out…

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and didn’t like them together. Too busy.

I considered swapping out the RWAR blocks for simple rectangles of the red and grey fabrics, but didn’t have enough remaining yardage of my favorites. Also, I reminded myself that this quilt is meant to be snuggled under and viewed in lap-sized chunks. It is not wall art to be viewed all at once. With that in mind I stitched them together and started on the back. I delivered it to, and and got it back from, the long-armer before Christmas, but only found time to bind it last week.

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I still think some of the block combinations are far more successful than others. I realized somewhere during the process that I had never worked with so many high-contrast fabrics before, which contributed significantly to the overall busy-ness.

Lesson learned, but I hope that this feature will be appreciated by the kids in the family, as it gives them a lot to look at. Here’s the back:

As for the design, I had been scouring the blogosphere for ideas and saw something similar that stuck in my brain, with the exception of where I saw it. So I re-created it from memory. If it was yours or someone you know, my apologies! Let me know in the comments so that I can give appropriate credit.

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Quilt stats: “Clark,” by Toni Davis, completed February 2016. Finished block size is 6Β  inches x 12 inches, finished quilt size pre-wash is 54 inches x 72 inches. At least five Lotta Jansdotter prints are in there, as well as a Violet Craft in the blue blocks and binding. The solids are American Made Brand and were an absolute dream to work with. I’ll be buying more of those. The predominant fabric on the back is from Angela Walters’ Drift collection. The remainder are from my stash. One is approximately 15 years old!

Okay, now for the quick-and-dirty on the finishes (there are only four) during my bloggy hiatus:

This first was a request from a former co-worker for her niece. She was pretty specific about what she wanted, so this is an uber-simple crib-sized quilt. The only thing I added was the applique elephant. It was the first time I worked with flannel, though, and I know I learned a few things but since I didn’t take the time to blog about it, I’ve forgotten and will have to re-learn them the next time I do a flannel project.

I’d been wanting to make some feathers for awhile, so when a former classmate whose last name translates as “birdsong” announced her pregnancy, I knew the time had come. I used the free pattern from Anna Maria Horner’s website, and a selection of purples, lavenders, and mint greens from my scrap bin. When I took it to my long-armer, I just had some generic birds in mind, but everything was eagles, ducks, chickens, etc. We ultimately stumbled across this little panto that was juvenile enough for a baby, and she stitched it for me in a lovely variegated purple.

I finished a Very Old WIP for one of my aunts. This one was especially satisfying, as I was able to thank her for some really great stuff she’d done for me, and move a long-ago stalled project out of my WIP bins and into the home of someone who loves it, making room for something that appeals more to my current quilting tastes. I still love many of the fabrics and blocks, but if I were to begin this project now, I would utilize them all very differently. Does this happen to you? Where you still love pieces of a project, but you’ve fallen out of love with the whole so it sits in a closet, waiting?

Finally, even though I had WIPs going for some of those other babies mentioned above, I chose to let my own “cut in line” and made one for him. It’s from Sunday Morning Quilts by Cheryl Arkison and Amanda Jean Nyberg. The pattern is called Gumdrops. I chose not to use the templates. The average size of my drops turned out larger than suggested and so I cut my background strips a little wider to accommodate. Also I didn’t have enough yardage of any one fabric I liked for the background, so it’s a combination of Architextures Crosshatch, Pearl Bracelets, and a solid white. I quilted it in a blue thread I had on hand and it’s backed with a great monster fabric from Thousands of Bolts. The baby loves all the color and the texture of the raw edges.

With some cooperation from little Mr. WIP, it won’t be nearly so long before I have another finish to share. Linking up with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted this week by the Devoted Quilter.

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