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Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


You might remember my Choose Your own Design Adventure PC Ornament tutorial from a while back. Well, as I was working on that one, I came up with this little idea, and am finally getting around to writing it up. (Only took nearly a year!)

These cheerful little guys are super quick and fun to make. Use them as Halloween tree ornaments, if you have such an animal, or as party favors or gift tags. Or, just tack one to your bulletin board to make you smile!


You'll Need:

  • • 3" 10-count plastic canvas rounds (available in big-box craft stores, or online
  • • Scraps of worsted yarn in orange, black, and brown
  • • Scrap of embroidery floss in yellow
  • • Scrap of felt for backing
  • • Scrap of metallic embroidery floss for hanging loop
  • • Tapestry needle (big eye, dull point)
  • • Chenille needle (smaller eye, sharp point)
  • • Removable fabric marker
  • • Craft glue



OK, so first, we need a few callbacks. You might want to refer back to the Choose Your Own Design Adventure post to refresh yourself on how these 3" rounds are structured. And you might want to watch my videos on How to Start and End a Strand of Yarn, and How to Make a Whip Stitch Edging.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


Next, we need to talk a little about the vagaries of stitching along a curve. You'll basically need two kinds of stitches:

  • • A "straight" stitch, where the needle comes up through one hole and then goes back down through another hole that's lined up right below the first one.
  • • What I call a "V" stitch, which is where you make two straight stitches side by side, but the holes don't line up perfectly, so you have both stitches share the same hole at the bottom.



I'll tell you a bit about where to use straight stitches and where to use "V" stitches below, but please feel free to vary your stitching whenever you need to. The "V" stitch is basically a corrective stitch – if you made all straight stitches, the misalignment of holes in the PC would eventually cause them to slant. An occasional "V" stitch keeps everything looking like it's stitched straight out from center.

Don't worry; this will all make more sense shortly.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


Given that things are a little loosey-goosey with these stitches, I think it's easier to show you the stitch pattern in steps rather than trying to make a formal diagram out of it. So, begin by stitching a ring in the center. Start your stitches in the open center area, and end them four rows out. Stitch all the way around this ring, and as you go, you'll be kind of crowding the stitches into that center part. Don't worry too much about this; if you pull the stitches pretty snug, it'll all look just fine.

(Leave that center area with the crosshairs alone for the moment – we'll deal with it later.)


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial

Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


Now, we need to start a second ring, but the placement of the first stitches is important. So orient the crosshair in the center of the PC round so that it forms an "X". Then, work upward from that "X" and make four stitches. Start these stitches in the ring you just finished and end them two rows out.

For this little group of four stitches, make one straight stitch, one "V" stitch, and one more straight stitch.

After these four stitches, stop stitching. Let the orange yarn hang from your work, and thread your needle with some black yarn.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


Now, with the black yarn, Make two additional "V" stitches on either side of the four orange ones. These are your pumpkin's eyes.

Now let the black yarn hang, and thread the orange yarn back onto your needle.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


Stitch a little more of the ring with the orange. On each side of the eyes, make two straight stitches, then one "V" stitch, and then two more straight stitches.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


Then it's time to stitch up the mouth, so let that orange yarn hang again and thread the black back onto your needle. Continue stitching in the same ring, but make some stitches shorter, as shown above. I just did a repeating pattern here: make two regular-size stitches, followed by one shorter one and so on. That forms some little teeth.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


By all means, you can vary the way you stitch the mouth! For the pumpkin at right, I used a pattern of two long and two short stitches. It doesn't fit symmetrically into the area, but who cares? it's a funny, lopsided kind of grin. So feel free to make those teeth less evenly-spaced, or wider, or fewer!


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


…And while that black yarn is still on your needle, go ahead and stitch a cross stitch in that open center area. (If you want more coverage, stitch that cross stitch over a couple times.) Now your pumpkin has a nose. And with that done, you can end that black yarn strand.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


Then, thread up the orange one last time and stitch the outermost ring, filling in longer stitches anywhere you added teeth to the mouth.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial

Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


I really like this little stem detail, but fair warning: it wastes a fair amount of a PC round. If that bothers you, you can totally leave it out! (Or, if you make several pumpkins at once, you can cut all their stems from one PC round.)

Trim out a section like this: four squares wide by four squares tall. Then stitch nine continental stitches in brown to fill it in.

Edge both the pumpkin and stem with a black whip stitch.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial

Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial

Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


We'll attach the stem to the pumpkin with a back stitch. Thread some black yarn onto your needle and tie a knot in the end. Place the stem at the top of the pumpkin, overlapping the two pieces by one row of squares.

Bring the needle up through both layers, two holes from the right-hand edge of the stem. Pull the yarn all the way through until the knot catches. And then pass the needle back down through both layers at the right-most square of the stem. That forms the first back stitch.

You'll make three back stitches across the stem, and as you can see above, these lay right next to the whip stitched edging, so they end up being invisible. Pull these stitches nice and tight so the stem is firm and doesn't move around.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


An optional detail: Thread some yellow floss onto a chenille needle and take several little stitches into the eye areas to make highlights. (You could also glue on a couple sequins, or cut some little highlights from felt and glue them on.)


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


Now, use a removable fabric marker to trace the pumpkin, stem and all, onto a piece of felt. Cut the felt out.

Take about 6" of metallic floss and tie the ends into a knot, as shown here. Put some craft glue on the felt , and then place the hanging loop in the glue. Then, stick the whole thing to the back of the pumpkin.


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial


Place the finished ornament under a book for an hour or so to dry. And you're done!


Plastic Canvas Pumpkin Tutorial

Halloween Tutorials


I am more than happy to see this summer come to an end, and celebrating all things autumnal. So here, just for fun, is a little roundup of some Halloween projects I've done in my deep, murky past – hopefully some of them are new-to-you!



…And as if that weren't enough, here's a video tutorial I did for making scary Scooby Doo-type glowing eyes. (Bonus with this video: hilarious mid-growing-out hair!)

(Sorry - if you're an email subscriber, you'll need to click through to the post to see the video embed. Worth it, though... if you ask me.)

T-shirt Quilting Class Rebroadcast


Happy Friday, all! In case you're looking for something creative to do this weekend, I'll let you know that my recent T-shirt quilting class with CreativeLIVE is rebroadcasting this Sunday and Monday. You can watch the whole thing for free! Just go to the CreativeLIVE homepage starting at 9:00am, and click the "Watch Now FREE" tab at the top of the screen.

If you want to know what I'm covering in the class, you can check out the bottom of the course page to see the topic list.

(And if you're busy this weekend, the class will be showing again on September 24-25.)

Bonus Projects from my T-shirt Quilting Class



I don't think I ever showed you guys these, but here are some bonus patterns I made – these come with purchase of the class. All of them great for using up the t-shirt scraps you'll have leftover from making your quilt. There's a pillow designed to use up those smaller-size "pocket graphics" from the front of your t-shirts, a trivet, and a pet quilt.*


*Pet not included, but he will smile upon you from afar.

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Modern Quilt Perspectives Review


My tastes have been evolving away from project-based craft books for some time now. I mean, I can usually get deeper technique instruction by hunting around the internet, and even the smallest Google search will bury me in project ideas and instructions. So what are craft books for these days? Well, lately the craft books I've been enjoying most contain an element of philosophy – of examining the deeper ideas contained in a craft, and finding personal and global meanings there.

Thomas Knauer's Modern Quilt Perspectives is one such book. Thomas designs quilts conceptually, starting with a big idea he wants to explore, and then finding the shapes, colors, and construction techniques that will convey that idea. And he writes about the progression of this ideas so beautifully.

Modern Quilt Perspectives Review



This book is structured around 12 projects, but not in that way we're used to seeing, where the projects are clustered around some visual theme and beauty is their key distinction. Each of the projects in this book has a really interesting story to tell.

Case in point: this quilt, which is called Cinderblock. Thomas designed this in response to the ever-popular Log Cabin block – which, as he says, is awesome, but "definitively a nineteenth-century reference; in the twenty-first century, log cabins are more a vanity than a necessity."

This cinderblock form represents more modern construction material, and also provides a gorgeous field for playing with color – which is something the Log Cabin block also does. See what I mean?


Modern Quilt Perspectives Review


The quilts are organzied into four thematic chapters: Conversations (quilts as connectors and collaborations), Identity, Social Commentary, and The Quilting Tradition (modern quilting in dialogue with the craft's historical context). Which gives me an opportunity to mention one of my very favorite elements of this book: its introductions. Thomas writes chapter and project introductions that ruminate on the concepts behind the work, illuminating his thought processes, but also giving you glimmers of your own.

I often keep craft books on my shelf with the intention to scan the pictures from time to time, drawing visual inspiration. I know I'll be keeping Modern Quilt Perspectives so I can re-read the writing and draw idealogical inspirations.


Modern Quilt Perspectives Review


Is this a beginner's book? Not in the sense of guiding you through the whole process of making a quilt. Refreshingly, Thomas posits that the internet is filled with basic sandwiching, quilting, and binding instruction, and he saves page space for content that's ultimately much more valuable. I applaud him and KP Craft for making this decision.

Definitely, though, these are quilts an adventurous advanced beginner could handle, with lots of straight-seam piecing. As Thomas says, "I am a big fan of using the simplest possible means to get an idea across, of letting the concept move to the foreground rather than be buried by technical wonders." (Amen!)

He does include a few well-photographed pages of special techniques that apply to the quilt projects, as shown above.


Modern Quilt Perspectives Review


I've been racking my brains for the right way to express how I feel about these quilts as… well, quilts. My usual pattern when I flip through any craft book is to look at the beauty shots and make snap decisions: "That's pretty… I don't like that one… That's a great color combo…" and so on. The quilts in this book demand more engagement than that.

For example: the quilt above is called Mitosis, after the process of cell-division that creates all living things. On the surface, it looks like a colorful modern quilt of squares. But in reality, the design is built on a progression of complexity – starting with a two-block set, which repeats itself in the next four-block set, and so on. As the sets of blocks get longer and longer, each one incorporates the colors that appeared in the previous sets, and adds new colors. Like the process of mitosis.

When you understand the ideas, it casts the design in a whole new light.

Modern Quilt Perspectives Review



…And every design in the book operates on this level – deceptively simple in visual terms, yet illustrating ideas powerfully. I keep asking myself whether I would make any of these patterns, and the answer I keep coming up with is this: instead of following any pattern exactly as written, I think I would take a cue from Thomas' writing, and find ways to tweak the project so it expresses my own take on the concept.

…Which, when you think about it, is a pretty awesome kind of inspiration for a craft book to deliver.

Modern Quilt Perspectives Review



Since we know I'm a big nerd about the instructional side of craft books, I'll just quickly mention that the presentation of pattern instructions here is organized and straightforward, with a few diagrams where needed but mostly text steps. Again, given the simplicity of construction here, and the fact that the book doesn't seek to be a beginner's manual, this presentation works just fine.


Modern Quilt Perspectives Review Modern Quilt Perspectives Review Modern Quilt Perspectives Review


I think this might be the first time I've ever said this about a craft book, but the sidebars are worth the price of admission by themselves. Thomas writes about broader themes in quilt-making, wrapping in elements from his life, his favorite tips and tricks, design concepts, and inspirations. All wonderful food for thought.


Modern Quilt Perspectives Review


I'll wrap up with this quilt, which is called In Defense of Handmade. Thomas was inspired by a factory-produced quilt from China that claimed to be made from a "handcrafted pattern." This got Thomas thinking about what "handmade" really means in this era, when the word evokes a look and a lifestyle as much as it does a technique.

If you find a copy of Modern Quilt Perspectives in your local bookstore, do yourself a favor and turn to page 72 and read the intro to this project. To me it encapsulates the particular value of this book – to provoke you to think about your craft more deeply, and to explore how you see the world, and how what you see might travel out through your hands and manifest as something amazing.

Modern Quilt Perspectives Review



This has been a long review, I know. I'm so glad to see thoughtful books like this emerging from the quilting community. Don't you think this kind of depth is also possible in, say, papercraft books? Jewelry-making? Garment sewing? I would love to see many more books like this one.


Disclosures: KP Craft sent me a review copy, and the title links above are affiliate links. Whew!

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watch-while-stitching2


I've been stitching up a storm lately – there are no fewer than five EPP projects in progress around here right now. So what better time to share some more good stuff to watch while you stitch?

(If you're an email subscriber, then I'm afraid you'll need to click over to the actual post to see these video embeds. Sorry!)


Star Trek Continues

I have a deep and unreasonable love for this web series, which is a fan-made homage Star Trek's original series. Before you scoff, you should know that these fans are also talented industry professionals, completely dedicated to honoring the legacy.

The work they've done with lighting and costuming alone is worth a look. And it takes no time at all to get used to seeing different actors in the iconic roles. The've written original scripts that play brilliantly off episodes from the original series. If you're any kind of Trek fan, do not miss this. There are three episodes in this playlist.


Kid President

This video has been around, so if you've seen it, you can check out a whole playlist of other awesome videos with this amazing kid.

I watch Kid President every time I need a dose of positivity. His real name is Robby, and he makes videos with filmmaker Bran Montague. Their mission: to change the world by spreading hope and love, and to make being a grown-up less boring. I ratify this mission wholeheartedly.

Their whole story is here. I dare you not to be cheered up watching this stuff – it's simple laws of physics.


Black Forest Cake

When do we not need a dose of crafty stop-motion? This film was Madrid student Maron Ber's graduation project for her Textile Arts degree. You'll see knitting, crochet, and pom-poms in action, and it's 100% charming. And now I want some cake.


The Night Rail Before Christmas

Okay admittedly, if you don't know anything about Minecraft, this video won't impress you that much. If you play Minecraft or have kids who do, then this thing will blow your freaking mind. It's a ride through the most incredible game environment I've ever seen. I can't imagine how long it took these kids to build all this.

(Also, it's a wee dose of Halloween, and aren't we all pretty much ready to go there now?)


Happy Watching and Stitching, my friends! (You may notice that this little series has its own category link now, so you can refer back to older collections.)

Craftivism Book Review


Quick Note: During my recent blogging hiatus, I got waaaaaaay behind on reviewing craft books. I have a big backlog, so reviews will be more frequent than usual around here for a bit. Hopefully you won't mind – they're all awesome books!


Betsy Greer has been thinking and writing about the intersection between crafts and activism for a while now - her blog, Craftivism, was one of the first blogs I read when I embarked on my online journey. Betsy is thoughtful and gently incisive, and time and again her writing has opened up new pathways of understanding for me.


Craftivism Book Review


Her newest book, Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism is a collection of essays exploring this intersection from several angles. And it's the kind of book that will make you think differently about what crafting means to you.


Craftivism Book Review


Betsy expresses things much better than I do, so let me quote her from the introduction:

"The very essence of craftivism lies in creating something that gets people to ask questions; we invite others to join a conversation about the social and political intent of our creations. Unlike more traditional forms of activism, which can be polarizing, there is a back-and-forth in craftivism. As craftivists, we foment dialogue and thus help the world become a better place, albeit on a smaller scale than activists who organize mass demonstrations."



Craftivism Book Review


You'll find many examples of this personal, one-on-one style of activism in this book. I loved the story of Sayraphim Lothian, who practices random acts of "guerilla kindness" by leaving small handmade gifts in cities all over the world, so someone might find one, have their mood lifted, and hopefully then ripple that kindness outward.

I also love Kim Werker's story of Mighty Ugly, her mission to get people making ugly things. It's a way to get past their fears about not making "correctly," so they can begin to enjoy the real benefits of making, which are in the process rather than the product.


Craftivism Book Review


My favorite chapter has to be the one titled Refashioning Craft, which explores the craftivist potential in the things we wear. Mila Burcikova explores "fashion as experience and service, rather than as object or product." She makes garments from reclaimed fabrics, or pieces of other garments, and her essay about the role clothng plays in our lives and the waste created by much of the fashion industry helped me reframe the constant anxiety I feel about wardobe.


Craftivism Book Review


It's difficult, in the context of one review, to tell you about each and every essay that transformed my thinking, or got my wheels turning in a new way. So instead I'll tell you that the essays are divided in four sections: Personal Threads (personal activism), Refashioning Craft (garment activism), Craft as Political Mouthpiece, and Activating Communities.

What's really wonderful here is that each us has our own pathways into activism, and within this book you're sure to find stories that fit your idea of activism – and stories that challenge it, too. But within this context of craft, those challenges are gentle ones, and you're invited rather than challenged to think in new ways.


Craftivism Book Review


Along this journey, you'll also see a wide variety of crafts at work – activism in the form of quilting, embroidery, knitting, sewing, and crochet. The essays are illustrated with beautiful photos showing all these styles of activism at work – not the kind of pristine, aspirational "beauty shots" you're used to seeing of finished items, but shots of people wrapped up in the process of making in service to big ideas.

I think it's also worth mentioning that Betsy's curation of craftivist projects here is very thoughtful and deep. I do think craft publishing sometimes becomes an echo chamber of sorts, showing us the same people over and over. But through this book I "met" so many people and projects I'd never encountered online before. In many ways, this is like a whole new world in book form.


(Usual disclosures: I received a review copy from Arsenal Pulp Press, and the title links above are affiliate links.)

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Half Hexie Star Table Runner


A Little Note: This tutorial is my entry in the now-concluded 12 Hexies or Less Blog Hop. I was finishing it up on the morning everything changed. Now that things are beginning their slow march toward almost-normal, I wanted to share this how-to. It's a project I'm really happy with, and I wanted to be part of this hop, even extremely late! Do take a look at the linky at the bottom of this post to see the awesome 12-hexie projects the other blog-hoppers made.


For my entry in the 12 Hexies or Less Blog Hop, I initially decided I wanted to do something with quite-large hexies. But after a lot of sketching and finagling, I decided to cut my hexies in half. That way, I could re-arrange them into star shapes.

(I loves me some half hexies. You can do so many cool things with them.)


Half Hexie Star Table Runner


You'll Need:

  • Downloadable template (or die-cutter, see below)
  • 4 fat eighths of coordinating prints (stars)
  • 1/3 yard of Fabric A (center of top)
  • 1/8 yard of Fabric B (inner border)
  • 1/8 yard of Fabric C (outer border)
  • 1/2 yard of Fabric D (backing)
  • 1/4 yard of binding fabric
  • 15" x 35" piece of batting
  • Coordinating thread



Finished size: 12" x 31 1/2"



Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial


I used my Sizzix Fabi and their 2" hexie die to cut some templates from freezer paper. This was great, because usually I have to trace a shape over and over on the freezer paper and cut them out one by one. Here, I just hacked my freezer paper into twelve pieces and ran them through the Sizzix. Then I used a ruler and craft knife to cut each hexie in half from point to point. That kind of accuracy makes a huge difference when you're working with this EPP star shape.

(I also made you a downloadable template in case you don't have a die cutter.)

Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial



Freezer paper templates are wonderful when you're working with larger shapes in EPP. You just place the shiny side of the paper against the wrong side of the fabric and press it with an iron. That lightly fuses the paper and fabric together, and then you just trim the fabric so there's about a 3/8" margin all the way around.


Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial


For basting, I just have one little tricky-trick for you, and then things are pretty straightforward. Before you baste, take a moment and press one corner of each fabric shape down, like you see here. Orient your patches with the long edge at the top, and then press the right-hand corner. Make sure all your templates are oriented like this, and make sure you're always pressing that same corner. That'll make sense in a moment, I promise.


Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial


For templates this size, I always baste through both the paper and fabric, using fairly long stitches. You don't need any precise arrangement of stitches here; just make sure you get a stitch at each corner to hold the fabric edges down, and add an extra stitch or two along the long edges.

You can see this kind of basting in action in this video if you skip ahead to the 3:57 mark.


Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial


Now, remember that one corner we pressed down? When you baste that corner, fold the two edges of the fabric over the pressed part, as shown here. Secure the two edges with a basting stitch. This creates a nice, finished corner, which we'll place at the outer edges of each star.

Here's a fully-basted patch. See how one corner is finished, and the other has a "flag" of fabric sticking out of it? Good! This is what you want.


Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial

Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial

Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial


Sew the patches together with a whip stitch. (I have a sewing basics video over here.) There's one really important trick to making these half-hexie stars, and here it is:

Each star has to be assembled in exactly the same way, or your stars won't nest together. I strongly recommend that you make your first star, and then keep it in front of you as you make the others. so you can make 100% sure that all those half-hexies are facing in exactly the same direction.


Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial



Just to illustrate what can go wrong - see how I made these two stars with the patches facing in different directions? They won't fit together now.






As you sew the finished stars together, it's easiest to start by nesting them together on your work surface, and then flip one over the other so their right sides are together and the edge you need to sew is lined up. It's easiest to show you this in motion, so I made an animated GIF (above). If you're reading this via email subscription or RSS reader, it's possible that you might need to click through to the post to see the animation. (And you really should, because I'm pretty dang proud of it!)

You can also see here how, as I assembled my stars, I made sure that those finished corners faced to the outer edges of the star, and the corners with "flags" aimed toward the center. See how those little flags all nest together at the center?


Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial


Feel free to fold the stars any way you need to so you can reach these tricky little internal seams. You can't hurt the pieces, and the freezer paper handles folding and unfolding like a champ.


Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial

Half Hexie Star Table Runner Tutorial


I find it easiest to approach the star-joining in two steps, like this.

My table runner has four stars in it, in keeping with the 12 hexie limit of this blog hop. If you wanted a longer runner, you could always add more stars. Each star requires three hexagons, each cut in half.

With all the stars sewn together, you have a nice, big applique unit. Go ahead and press the whole thing, take out all the basting stitches, and peel out the paper templates. Then press the whole thing again, making sure all the seam allowances are flat and none are visible from the front side.

(There's a video on removing the basting and templates over here.)


Half Hexie Star Table Runner


Here are the rest of the pieces to cut for the runner. You'll also need 1/4 yard of binding fabric.



Half Hexie Star Table Runner

Center your star applique on the Fabric A piece and pin it all over. (I like to use short applique pins so I don't have to move them around as I sew.) Sew 1/8" from all edges.

Some presser feet have handy guide lines on them so you can easily line up that 1/8" seam. If yours doesn't, I highly recommend drawing one on with a fine-point Sharpie, as I've done here. Just put your needle in the edge of the fabric where you need it, make sure it's straight, and then carefully draw a line on your presser foot that matches the edge of the fabric, as shown above. (Later, when you're done sewing, that line will come right off with some rubbing alcohol.)


Half Hexie Star Table Runner


Because of the starry shape of this applique, you'll be sewing a twisty, turny seam. At each corner, stop sewing 1/8" from the corner or point, making sure your needle is in the fabric. Then lift the presser foot and pivot the project so you can line that guide line on your presser foot with the next edge of the fabric. Then drop the presser foot again and continue sewing. Take your time, and if your machine has a sewing speed control, you might want to crank it down to a slow setting.


Half Hexie Star Table Runner


The rest of the runner top goes together like this. 1/4" seam allowances, of course.


Half Hexie Star Table Runner


From there, sandwich the top, batting, and backing together and baste them with either safety pins or long hand stitches. Quilt the whole thing as you like. I used some simple, slightly wavy lines following the length of the runner. Then square the whole thing and add a binding.

...And you're done! Have fun with your hexies – below are a bunch of other quick projects to try out:


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