Saturday, 24 June 2017

New Website

Hi Folks,

I have a new website where I will be posting all of my articles from now on. Please head on over to Relaxing With Yarn and subscribe for regular updates, discounts and new patterns.

I also have a Ravelry Store: Relaxing With Yarn Designs where you can view all of my free to download and purchasable patterns all in one place.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

How To Bind Off With Double Knitting

Simple Alternating Bind Off

A Guide To Binding Off For Beginners

There are multiple ways of binding off your work once you have completed your double knitted project and you may feel a little overwhelmeds with the variety of choice that you have. 

One of the easiest methods I have used creates a lovely alternating pattern on the bind off edge and is very similar to a regular bind off. If you are new to knitting and want to find out how to do a simple bind off first then please watch the "How Do I Bind Off?" video in my article Learn How To Knit.

The Simple Double Knitting Bind Off

So you've got through to the end of your project in one piece and you're now ready to take that cracking piece of work off the needles and get it into the world. But how do actually do that when working with two strands of yarn and potentially a pattern that you've been working with? Carry on reading to find out.

This simple alternating bind off works very well in conjunction with an alternating cast on as the two edges will reflect nicely.

The Set Up Stage 

The first thing you want to do - if your pattern doesn't already incorporate this - is make sure that you end your piece with two rows of stockinette to create a nice edge in which to work from. This is the easiest way to ensure that you will not be distracted by any patterns on either side of your project and you knit and purl with the respective colors when binding off.

It is possible to bind off in pattern but that is more complex than what we want to deal with here. If you feel confident that you will be able to keep track of which strand you will need to bind off in pattern then that's great and you should go ahead and do that to give your pattern the finished look you desire.

The second step in this stage is to do your first two stitches as you have been. In the photo you can see that I have done my knit and purl as normal and have paused before I actually start the bind off process.

The Bind Off Process

Now that you have done your set up rows and stitches you'll now begin the process of binding each stitch off the needles.

First Bind Off Stitch
1. From your first set up stitch (in this case the white stitch in the photo) insert your left needle into the front loop of the stitch and pull it over the second stitch (black stitch in the photo).

Purl Stitch On Bind Off

2. For your second stitch you'll need to bring both yarns to the front of your work as normal and purl the stitch in the normal way.

Bind Off Prep After Purl Stitch

3. Binding off after having done a purl stitch requires a change to your yarn positioning. Usually you would put both yarns to the back of your work however to get the nice symmetrical bind off you will only move the back yarn to the back. In the photo you can see that I have been working on the "white" side so I will keep the white yarn to the front and put the black yarn to the back before binding off.

Halfway Through Binding Off

4. Repeat the last three steps (of course remembering to do your knit stitch at the beginning) until you reach the end of your work. Your bind off will begin to look like the photo with an alternating color scheme and you will get have a lovely horizontal edge too (see first photo).

5. The final step for binding off is to pull the cut yarn through the final stitch to secure it and then weave in your ends.

Finishing Off

So now you'll have your work finally off the needles and you have a bind off the catches your cast on and now no one can tell the difference between each end which is especially good for scarves and things like dish scrubbies. I love this simple bind off for scarves especially as it ends up being a very stretchy bind off and it doesn't pucker the fabric at the end of the scarf.

More Information

Friday, 5 May 2017

How To Rip Out Knitting Without Losing Your Project

The Uh-Oh Moment

Spotting a mistake in your work can be a gut-wrenching moment, especially if you've carried on for a couple of inches and it has completely wrecked the pattern you've been working on. After you've settled down from the panic stations you'll realize that it is possible to fix! There are a few options available to you depending on what type of mistake has been made but the two methods I'll be talking about are Tink-ing (backwards knitting), Frogging (ripping that mess out), and The Life Line (similar to Frogging but with a different set up); the other options involve a crochet hook and I'll do a separate article for those.


This is a nice easy method of correcting mistakes if you have spotted it on the same row. Tink-ing is basically un-working your stitches until you reach the problem stitch. All you need to do is to pick up the stitch below on the right needle with your left needle and then pull out the yarn as you position the old stitch on the left needle. Repeat this process until you reach the offending stitch, correct the mistake and then carry on as normal. 

Tink-ing is a very handy process for catching these early mistakes and I find myself doing it quite a lot in complicated patterns, especially with double knitting or color work. A quick tip I would like to share is to also use a stitch marker to mark the wrong stitch and I place it just to the right of the stitch so that I definitely unpick that stitch and don't go too far. 


This method is useful when you need to take out a larger portion of your work and it will take far too long to do it via Tink-ing. The reason this method is called Frogging is because you are "ripping" the work out and the rip, rip, rip, of the yarn sound like a frog.

To start frogging your work you'll first need to find a section of your knitting that you will be happy to pick up your stitches from. You'll then want to select a slightly smaller needle or a tapestry needle so that you can easily pick up the stitches from the fabric. I personally like to pick up my stitches from the knit side (if it's not reversible) so make sure that you pick up from left to right.

Once you have got these stitches picked up then you can take your live stitches off the needle and then start ripping the yarn back until you get to the stitches on the needle. When you are ripping back the stitches I find that keeping a medium tension throughout allows you to wrap up your yarn into a ball, or around the existing one, to keep everything neat. You may find that some stitches get stuck, you may have a "sticky" yarn fiber or accidentally split a stitch while knitting so if this happens use the Tink-ing method above to work out the stitches without having to cut or break the yarn.

After you have Frogged back to the stitches on the needle if you find that you have picked them up from the wrong side then simply transfer them over to the other needle. Another way to pick up is to use a longer double pointed needle that way you can start knitting from either side without having to worry about transferring those stitches.

The Life Line

This is exactly what is sounds like; if you have a difficult or new pattern that you are following and you want a bit of safety if you make a mistake then The Life Line is for you. The whole process is similar to Frogging but you actually put in a piece of spare yarn across your work at a point you would be happy to rip back to if you were to make a mistake.

The beauty about The Life Line is that you can put multiple reference points in or simply take out the previous reference yarn and put it in the new section whenever you need some reassurance; just think of it being your own little knitting insurance policy.

I also use The Life Line as a progress keeper as well. For larger projects such as the Drop-Shoulder Jumper shown in the photo you need to knit for a long time to get the length right and it's often easier to make a note of where you stopped last time (the orange yarn reference) and measure from there. I find this method a lot easier as it's sometimes difficult to lay out your project and measure it when you're on the go (such as commuting) but just doing the top bit of your work is so much easier.

Beginner Knitters

Those who are new to knitting will probably find that they need to use these two methods quite often but don't fret, as you get more practice at knitting different projects, styles and patterns you'll find yourself making fewer mistakes. 

If you don't know how to knit and would like to start then check out my article Learn How To Knit.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Therapeutic Knitting

Knitting For Reducing Stress

In the hubbub of everyday life I find that when I pick up my knitting, crochet project, or any other craft I have on the go, I instantly go into my own little world where everything is okay or will shortly work out on its own. Knitting has the strongest relaxation effect for me as I find it the easiest to pick up at any given time and focus on creating a beautiful piece of work when the stressed out side of my brain is about to explode from all of the outside interference.

Why I Use Knitting As Therapy

As with most people I have a lot going on in my life inside and outside of work, however my biggest stress inducer is my workplace. I work in a customer facing role in banking and I find it to be a very demanding and emotionally draining job given the customers I interact with. Over time, along with other aspects that I wont go into, this has led to a very stressful environment which has caused myself and my colleagues to search out some stress relief. 

Another reason that I knit is for managing my chronic pain. A few years ago I had a massive deep-vein thrombosis that left me in hospital for months, and now ongoing DVT pain that is difficult to control with pain killers. When my pain killers are not doing the job or reducing my pain to a manageable level I find that the meditative state and repetitive movements of knitting helps to take the edge off as I become absorbed in my project. If you would like to read more about my condition and experiences then feel free to head over to my blog Living With Factor V Leiden.

Stress and pain relief comes in many forms but as I mentioned before yarn and crafting are my sanctuaries I can always rely on when needed. I always have at least one small project on the go so that it will easily fit into my bag and I can bring it out as and when I either need it or I have some down time.

Health Benefits Of Knitting

If you suffer from any of the following symptoms (or just a general malady you can't pinpoint) and you're looking for a creative outlet then I can highly recommend knitting (or any other craft) as a therapy option:
  • Low mood
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Stress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Dementia or other mental capacity problems

How Will You Benefit

There have been numerous studies (see below for a list of sources) that have noted how knitting stimulates the brain into producing more serotonin and putting you into a calmer frame of mind and therefore you will be able to think clearly about the problem you are worried about. 

For those like myself who find that your mind continues to jump around and you have difficulty settling on a particular problem or topic that needs your attention, then knitting will help you to train your mind to focus on fewer things at a time. Knitting provides an interactive activity that has repetitive motions that cause you to focus on one or two instructions over a short period of time (however long your row takes) before you then have to refocus and set up for the next row or section. Once you have done this for a little while your brain will begin to associate this behavior with being at rest and mindful so you may end up feeling a buzz, have more energy and thinking clearer after a knitting session - I experience a meditative like sensation after approximately 30 minutes of knitting and I find it so much easier to knit than to sit down and actually meditate. 

Knitting will also allow you to experience new projects and keep you on a continuous learning curve which is great for keeping you sharp and on the ball. Many people who are suffering from diseases such as Dementia will often find that knitting helps to slow the progression of their disease and relieve some of their symptoms and isolation that they may be feeling.

What Should You Knit?

This answer is simple: knit whatever it is that you desire. If you want to start with squares for a blanket or dive straight into a complex lace pattern shawl then that's absolutely fine. Different people have different needs and various levels of engagement when it comes to gaining the benefits of knitting.

What I would personally recommend is to have a series of projects on the go that range from simple to complex so that you can pick up any projects and enjoy what you're working on. The "system" that I use is to have small projects such as socks or gloves in my bag so that I can pick them up and work on them from memory if I need a short time-out in the day, that way I don't have to really think about the pattern and I can switch my brain off and re-boot it. I then have more complex projects that run the gambit from toys, jumpers, and double knitted scarves that I tend to use as a distraction from pain. With these more complex projects I can lose myself in the intricate designs and concentrate on my knitting instead of the pain in my leg until it passes, and quite the pain will eventually pass but I be so engrossed that I will carry on until a new section is completed.

I Don't Know How To Knit!

Don't fret if you don't know how to knit but would like learn and use it to bring joy into your life. Given the range of tutorials on the internet you'll have no problem finding any number of resources, however I have compiled a handy set of tutorials on how to get started and some nice easy projects to get stuck into. Feel free to check the article out and the starter knits below: Learn How To Knit


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Staggered Moss Stitch Sock

Having made some vanilla socks and also Hermione's Everyday Sock I have decided to have a go at making my very own sock design. I'm fairly sure that this design has been made before as it is simply based on the Moss Stitch but as I couldn't find any readily available patterns to work from I have made my own. I will be publishing a pattern for the socks so watch this space!


Knitting Needles

I have used my brand new tiny needles which are the Addi 20cm 2.5mm circular needles and they are a delight to knit with. I found that with my larger needles I have to use the Magic Loop method which can sometimes interrupt the flow of knitting as I have to adjust my needle position each time. When doing Magic Loop with socks you'll find that you are generally working with 30-50 stitches (depending on leg/foot size) on each needle and you'll soon be adjusting that needle just as you are getting into a rhythm. However, with these tiny needles there's no need to make those adjustments and those stitches sit perfectly when working in the round.

The only issue I had when working on the socks was that when it came to picking up stitches for the gusset and working the final decreases for the toe was that they were a tad too small for the job. I was able to do both of these sections without having to switch to DPNs momentarily with a bit of dexterity but for those who maybe suffer from joint pain/problems or who are naturally not that dexterous I would recommend a couple of DPNs so assist you in those areas.


I popped into my hidden yarn stash and dug out this wonderful skein by Debbie Bliss. The dye lot I used was in the Rialto Luxury Sock 4 ply yarn and it is so soft to wear. I was expecting this yarn to be too delicate to make socks with however it is stronger that it looks as it has a good weave with the individual strands. I have worn these socks a couple of times now and they are a delight to have in the Spring as they let my feet breath when it gets warm.

With this particular yarn type you can put it in the washing machine as it has 25% nylon mix so it will withstand the stress, however I hand-wash all my socks as a precaution anyway. I use a local supermarket detergent for all my hand-washes but I can highly recommend using this Lambland Woolwash for any delicate pieces you may have.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Double Knitting Tips For Beginners

Double Knit Star Wars Scarf by noticedragon
For the longest time I have been struggling to get into double knitting just because it looked so complicated to me. The fact that you are knitting two pieces of fabric together and at the same time, having to deal with at least two colors and having those two yarns to manage at the same time was daunting to say the least.

I decided a week back that I would finally take the plunge and knit a fantastic Star Wars Scarf by noticedragon on Ravelry (see picture). The pattern looks great and I had plenty of DK (double knit) yarn in black and white in my yarn stash. Plus, if I start it now and it takes me a while to get it done then I have at least six months before the weather starts getting colder again (I managed to get this scarf done in two months and it's now keeping me warm in the rainy May weather we have in the UK). 

How Do I Cast On When Double Knitting?

So having dived head first into the double knitting technique the first question I had after looking at the pattern was "how on earth do I cast on with two yarns at the same time?". Well, after doing a little research it's relatively easy. The simplest way I discovered was to cast on with your normal method but alternating the strands of yarn that you are using each time. You may have guessed that this will take double the amount of time so be sure to use stitch markers if you are going to be casting on a lot of stitches as it is easy to lose your count.

How Many Stitch Should I Cast On?

My next question was "how many stitches do I need?". It's all well and good reading your pattern and counting out how many stitches you need but that will only give you the count for one side so you need to double the amount. Initially it may look as if your project is going to be huge but after the first couple of rows everything aligns and goes back to the expected size so do not fear!

Doubling the stitches will work out how many you need for the pattern however if your pattern doesn't allow for an edge the you may want to add in an extra four stitches (two pairs) per edge to allow for those slip stitches to make a nice edge. In total you'll be adding on an additional eight stitches during the cast on stage.

Reading The Double Knit Pattern

As a knitter you will probably used to reading patterns so I wont go into how to read a pattern here. However, when you are setting up your project and you have cast on twice the number of stitches required you probably wont be sure what to do next. What a lot of patterns fail to mention is that for every knit stitch in your pattern you will need to do a purl stitch in the opposite color. By doing the purl straight after the knit stitch you will would have done the knit stitch on the opposite side of your work. Once you have done a couple of rows in the manner it will become clear on both sides that the patterns are forming.

Yarn Forward Or Back?

As I mentioned above you will be doing a knit and purl stitch for each stitch on your pattern but it's important to have your yarn in the right position otherwise you'll have the floats (yarn carrying over) on the wrong side. When doing the knit stitch you will want to have both of your working yarns in the back with. For creating your purl stitches you'll have both of your yarns in the front of your work and then move them to the back to set up for the knit stitch again

Two Stranded Tension

Yarn Tension

Getting the tension right can be difficult if you're not used to working with two strands of yarn or doing a style of knitting you're not really proficient in. Some of the issues that you may experience with multiple yarns is a lengthening or shortening of individual stitches which can then cause holes and puckering in your fabric. There are ways of neatening up these stitches once they have been knit but they are time consuming and tricky to do so you may be better off ripping out the problem area and starting again. Thankfully a little practice or adjustments to your yarn or needles can make your stitches nice and even so you get a consistent tension.

When I'm doing regular knitting I prefer to "throw" the yarn with my right-hand in the English style, however I couldn't get my tension right by having the two strands in my right-hand and I was getting longer stitches in the "front" yarn and my usual tension in the "back yarn". As I'm also a crocheter I decided to switch my yarns to my left-hand and  "pick up" the stitches in the Continental style.As you can see I now have a nice even tension in both stitches and my fabric is nice and smooth.

I would personally recommend trying both yarns in one hand or the other first and making a couple of swatches to see which one fits best. However, if you're still struggling with managing the two yarns in the same hand then you can switch to doing both Continental and English by having a strand in each hand.

Yarn Management

Yarn Management

Knitting with double the amount of yarn and having to cross over the working yarn occasionally can get really messy really quickly. The best way I have found is to cake up your yarn into a center-pull ball. My rolling your yarn into a ball this way you'll find that your yarn stays in one place and not all over the floor and getting tangled up together. 

One yarn management technique I have used is to simply separate your yarn balls as much as possible. When I'm sitting at home knitting I will have one ball to each side of me with both working strands meeting in the middle where it connects to the fabric. If I am travelling when knitting then I will have one ball on my lap and the other in my bag, that way they cannot get crossed during transit.

How Do I Bind Off When Doing Double Knitting?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to binding off and it is completely down to your own personal preferences.
  1. Pick one of your colors and bind off in the usual way
  2. By using both of your colors bind off "in pattern"; by doing your first knit stitch, then purl stitch in the other color and then bind off, repeat as required.
For more detailed instruction for binding off please read How To Bind Off With Double Knitting.

If you are completely new to knitting then please check out my article Learn How To Knit.

Related Products

Monday, 27 March 2017

Crochet Easter Chicken

Courtesy of Top Crochet Patterns
With Easter soon on the horizon I have started to think about gifts for the family. I came across this lovely pattern on Pinterest from Top Crochet Patterns. As I usually knit I also fancied a bit of a change and dug out my crochet hooks and my small balls of yarn and got to work.

From start to finish I spread this out over 2 days but I would estimate that an afternoon of solid work would allow you to complete it. If you are a faster crocheter I would estimate approximately 3-4 hours rather than my 6-7 hours.

Yarn and Notions

As I classed this project as a yarn buster the most you'll need of any color (mostly the body and nest) is 25 grams, the rest I would estimate at under 15 grams for completion.

I'm not able to tell you the exact yarns I used as they were all from the spare yarn stash but they were all Double Knit weight in the following colors:
  • Raspberry Pink
  • Kiwi Green
  • Banana Yellow
  • Blood Orange
I also used my 5 mm ergonomic crochet hook originally purchased from Knit Picks, a darning needle, stitch marker, and scissors. You will also need something to make the eyes with; the pattern calls for 9 mm safety eyes but I only had 5 mms in stock but you could also used yarn or embroidery thread if you wanted to.

Thoughts On Making The Chicken

I really enjoyed making this chicken as it quickly comes together and there are not too many pieces that need assembling together. I have had some previous experience with making soft toys and have found them tricky to work with but this was a much nicer project to complete. 

In this construction I decided to make all of the components and then pin them all together before making any permanent fixtures. I prefer doing it this way as you can get an idea of the character you want your chicken to be displaying, it's wonderful the range of "expressions" you can come up with just by placing a beak or comb higher or lower on the face. In the end I went with the recommended placements provided in the pattern and sewed the pieces together with matching thread. I was contemplating using my hot glue gun but as the toy is going to a toddler sewing is the better option as it may end up going in the washing machine in the future.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Cabled Cushion Cover

Cable Pattern
Cable Knit

For Mothers' Day I have made my Mom a custom Cabled Cushion Cover by Angela Chick and the pattern can easily be found for free on Ravelry.

I was amazed at how quickly this project flew off my needles. It has a simple 20 row repeat that you can soon memorize and you only need to make two pieces before sewing them together.

The needles that I'm using were handed down to me by my Grandma so I'm afraid I don't have a name for the manufacturer but they are in a US size 11 or 8.0 mm gauge. 
First half of the cushion front

The yarn I chose was James Brett's Marbled Chunky Yarn which I still have plenty of left over. I used approximately 1/2 of the skein so I will look at using the rest in either a blanket or making some wash clothes out of.

You can see in the photo above that the two halves of the cushion cover are different sizes, this is so that when you put it together it will create a "lip" to close up the cushion with the buttons (see below). 
I definitely needed to block the two pieces as the edges were curling in on themselves due to the stockinette edging. This is a common problem with these types of pieces however, blocking them certainly got the job done. 

When it came to actually getting the pieces blocked I decided to take a risk and pop them into the washing machine on a delicate wool hand wash setting as I didn't really have the time to do it by hand. I'm so glad that I made the decision with this wool because by the time it came out of the washing machine it had already stretched and relaxed a little which made pinning the pieces to my sofa so much easier. I left the two pieces there to dry overnight and then the next day I sew them together and added some buttons.
Finished but not stuffed
I decided not to provide a cushion casing for this project as my Mom already has plenty of cushions she can swap around. However, in the future if I want to give a cushion I would whip up (in some cotton fabric) an internal case for the cushion to live in and then stuff that with polyester toy stuffing that I got from my local yarn shop.

Where Can I Learn To Knit?

I have recently published an article about learning the basics and included an easy pattern for you to get started with. Simply visit Learn To Knit and get your yarn on!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Hermione's Everyday Socks

I had calling to cast on another pair of socks today so I had a good look through my Ravelry library and yarn stash and found this great pattern called Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder. 

I've made plain old vanilla socks a few times now and I've got these down to a fine art but this time I wanted a challenge. This pattern has got a wonderful knit and purl combination that's nice and easy to remember and run through without a lot of thought which is perfect for me as I often knit while doing something else like watching TV or talking with friends. I'll also be doing a different type of heel flap that I've never done before which is an adapted Eye of Partridge Heel so I'm excited about trying something new!

The cuff and start of leg pattern you can see in the photo only took me a couple of hours to do. I do a lot of my knitting while I'm either waiting somewhere (like picking up the other half or at the doctors office) and I had quite a bit of down time hence the great progress I made.

Ribbed Sock Cuff
Cuff and start of leg pattern
The needles that I'm using are my KnitPro 3mm Symfonie interchangeable circular needles. I love these knitting needles as they are very smooth and the join itself is not noticeable as long as you have a good cable too.

The yarn that I am using Sirdar (Hayfield) Bonus DK 100g in Orchid Pink and is one of my yarns I found hidden in my stash. I acquired this yarn in Christmas 2016 when a certain Secret Santa gifted me this along with a bunch of mini skeins. The yarn is a little rough to knit with so I'm hoping that it will soften up after blocking but I'm also OK if it doesn't because it will last even longer. I'm thinking of doing the toe in a contrasting color but I haven't yet made any decisions around that yet (stay tuned for more).

Heel flap and turn
Adapted Partridge Heel Flap
As you can see in the photo above I have been able to easily complete the heel flap and I'm about to set up the heel turn. The heel turn is an adapted version of the partridge heel flap and turn and I found it very easy and fun to get done. As I was only working on one side of the sock in flat knitting the heel was done very quickly and I was able to whip up the gusset and go on to do the toe decreases.

Second sock syndrome
Completed first sock
Sock number one is shown above in all of its unblocked glory. I fancied a contrasting color in the toe so I have used some spare Merino 2ply wool. Even though the Merino is 2ply and the Orchid Pink is 3ply for me there is no real difference (at least that my toes can tell) in gauge and it fits absolutely fine.

Now on to sock two!

Where Can I Learn To Knit?

I have issued a new article called Learn How To Knit which covers off all the basic with knitting to get you going on a number of simple projects. If socks are a bit to ambitious for you then have a look at the article and see my super easy beginner scarf pattern.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Bank-Head Beanie Hat

Handmade knitted hat
Finished Beanie
As the weather has been colder than normal I thought I would treat myself to a new beanie. This pattern is called Bankhead by Susie Gorlay and was inspired by her favorite ghost town Bankhead in the Banff National Park. This great pattern can be found on Ravelry.

This is my very first hat and I'm so pleased with how it turned out and it fits great. I used my favorite interchangeable nickle plated circular needles by Addi from a set that I got for Christmas. For this pattern I used the 4.5 mm needles on a 60 cm cable using the magic loop method. The yarn I'm using is a chunky marble acrylic based yarn I found in my local yarn store. The acrylic based yarn was chosen for it's hard-wearing properties as I plan on wearing this a lot and it will more than likely get popped in the wash a few times too.

Casting on my hat was straight forward and I used an extra stitch to bind-off with the first stitch on the left needle to join in the round: I found this method eliminates the small "step" when joining in the round and makes a nice smooth join. 
Rib knit
Completed Ribbing
The pattern itself is very easy to read and also to work out what size hat you need to make. I chose the medium adult size and it's just snug enough. I was expecting this hat to take a couple of days to knit up (based on my knitting schedule), however I was pleasantly surprised when I was suddenly mid-way though the pattern and about to get into the decreases to make the crown of the hat. As I was flying along this hat I was able to get everything done in one day, including weaving in and blocking.

Mid-way stockinette

I am certainly going to be making more of these hats as gifts for next Christmas and bust through some of my stash that is beginning to over flow the living room.

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