App Review of StitchSketch LE. Designing Your Own Patterns Is Easier than Ever!

For today’s edition of Yarn Addiction Thursday, I’m reviewing With StitchSketch LE. You can create your own knit, cross-stitch, beadwork designs, or pixel art on your iPad or iPhone with ease.

In the past, if you wanted to design a knitting pattern, you  needed graph paper or to draw out your pattern. Each block got its own color, just like pixel art. If you were doing it freehand, no worries. A photo was a lot tougher.  It was tough to copy a photo onto graph paper, so you could use a light table or transparancy. Not convenient but doable.

So all is good, until you knit out your design and find that the gauge of your yarn makes a unit block of the design more rectangular than square. Your end result ends up looking stretched if the stitch is more upright rectangular and squashed if the stitch was wider.

How to make sure your design doesn’t go wonky? One solution was to find knitting graph paper with different gauge. I didn’t even know that existed until recently. Or you could use an Excel spreadsheet to make your graph paper by adjusting the column and row sizes according to gauge. So all that work and you still need to get your image on the paper. Yikes.

StitchSketch LE makes things  a lot easier. Use your iPad or your iPhone to create wherever you are.

20141113-132835-48515356.jpg1. You select your medium (stitching, knitting, beading, pixel art) which will have symbols or colors depending on your choice.
2. Input the size of the work and the gauge of the yarn
3. Create your image. Draw in the app or import.


4. Save the work
You can save work in the app gallery, your camera roll or generate a PDF. Outside the app gallery, saving as a PDF gets you the maximum amount of information. Saving to your camera roll gets you a chart but no row counts or color info.
5. Generate a PDF.
Check your settings carefully. You might save without the graph lines which makes it very difficult to use. But don’t close this PDF. You need to click the icon on the top right to move the generated PDF into another app to save it or send it. By doing this you get a file row counts and a list of colors in RGB and hexadecimal (for coding). If you buy the full app, you get color references for the brands they use.

I drew the image below in the app. I posted some versions using different media available in StitchSketchLE. I wonder if one could do pixel art for Minecraft in this app?

Some examples of stitch symbols

For knitters who design with stitches more than color
There is also a selection for knitting symbols. I don’t do a lot of knitting with stitch symbols so I’m not familiar with the meanings and the effects. I played with the symbols to show some of them. I’m pretty sure this would not actually make anything.

Some tips
1. This is basically pixel art so the finer your gauge, the more refined your design will look.
2. Test knit a swatch and count your rows and stitches then enter: this way you can be sure your design doesn’t suffer from stretch or squashiness

Conclusion: 5 Stars
I really like the app on my iPad. It removes the grunt work (finding paper, creating a graph, transferring the image to paper) from making a design and allows you to focus on making your vision a reality. I downloaded the free version but haven’t upgraded to the full version. Currently, the LE version fills all my needs very well. I find $6.99 a bit spendy for the full version, but the tracing paper mode does entice me. If I did complicated color work or made kits for people, I would definitely get the full version so I could get a color list of manufacturers’ flosses or beads.

StitchSketch LE by Keiji Ikuta is a free app for the basic and $6.99 for full app.


Yarn Addiction Thursday: All About the Learning

Mock SUnkey wants to be in charge of writing this post. I told him, "No!"
Mock SUnkey wants to be in charge of writing this post. I told him, “No!”

I missed a couple yarn addiction Thursdays due to my book making frenzy for the Tokyo Art Book Fair. I actually have had no time to be addicted to yarn. And now that I’m in book making mode, I’m not really keen to get back to fibers. There are two reasons for this. I do not want to spend more money. I want to use my fiber stash but that means experimenting. The second is that I have a number of other projects to complete so that means I don’t have time to experiment.

I did do some thinking about what I could do with my stash and I realized I had some knowledge gaps that prevented me from designing effectively.

So today’s post is a list of yarn-y things I want to learn.

Understanding yarn weights and
wraps per inch.
This is a big gap in my understanding of yarn as a textile. I need to know more about how this affects the results of my designs and buying effectively.
 Estimating how much yarn I need.  Relates to the problem above and below.
How to design a pattern for a sweater. Understanding drape and fit. It’s such a huge thing to learn but I’m interested.
 How to piece things together.  I get the concept of blocking, but my sewing is kind of rubbish. I want to know more than one way to join pieces.
How to do 3 color knitting without getting a weird pull on the stitch I can do a great job with 2 colors. 3? Forget about it.
How to design and knit shapes to make plushies. I think this is a great way to use up stash and I love creating toys.
Finding or making more stash busting patterns  My stash busting always ends up making me buy more yarn. SOooooo not the point.

So this is my list. It is rather huge but I think it is a good point to guide me for the next 6 months or so.

If you have any good tips, good sites or some suggestions for other things I need to learn, please let me know in the comments. I’d love some help on this.

Happy stitching everyone.

Mock SUnkey is ready to go yarn shopping.
Mock SUnkey is ready to go yarn shopping.

Note: Mock Sunkey is made from a kit I bought in Tokyo that included the socks. I did not knit him.

Yarn Addiction Thursday: BLANKEY!

When does stash busting become stash stuffing? When you decide to make a blanket from stash and you realize some yarn is just not quite the right color. I decided to make a blanket from an old project that wasn’t working for me.

I had an i-cord scarf that I started last winter. After finishing the dot scarf and the beads and pendant scarf, I no longer had the mental energy to join up all the i-cords I’d made.
LEARNING POINT: I could make i-cord all day with the little i-cord machine. Doing something with the i-cord is much more tiring.

So I had bunches of strings in a basket that just sat there. And how many scarves do I need anyway? I thought I’d unravel the i-cord and make a granny square blanket. Nothing too ambitious. Just a lap blanket. After starting I realized I didn’t have enough stash to do a whole blanket, but I had enough to do a nice border with a larger middle panel.
Stash projects require a lot of fiddling and problem solving.

Once I’d made as many granny squares as I could, I laid them out to create a border. And then yes, the problem solving began.


1. What granny square motif?
A: I have a Japanese crochet book. I used one of the motif patterns. I liked the motif but not the project.

2. What kind of stitch for the middle panel?
A: I looked at a stitch bible and chose a double crochet v-stitch that stacked on top rather than had the next row in the gap.

3. How to join the granny squares.
A: I used a chaining method. I didn’t think it would be strong enough but it was ok. I went around each panel with dc to increase the size of the border and my blanket.

4. How many stitches across for the centre panel?
A: This required a lot of do-overs. Just counting the number of stitches in the border didn’t work. It made the middle panel too large. I ended up counting the stitches in 10 cm and then calculating for my length.

5. If I double crochet around the border instead of the blanket, how can I get the corners right?
A: I realize I did this backwards. But I solved it by doing a DC border around the corner squares and that made all the panels match up

6. How long to make the panel?
A: Same problem. The sides matched up better. Two border stitches per dc on the side. But I thought I was done several times and I wasn’t.
A: I sewed up most of the border panel before finishing the final rows of the centre panel. Once I only had two stitches left of the border panel to attach I knew I was on the final row of the centre.

7. How to join the borders and the centre panel?

zipper stitch joining dc and sc rows.
zipper stitch joining dc and sc rows.

A: I found this stitch called the zipper stitch that worked to join the pieces together without creating a ridge. It took me a while to figure out how to do it. For some reason, it took me forever to realize I was joining the two closest loops that on the “back” of the work. LookatWhatImade did a great tutorial. The problem was all on my end.

So did I win the stash-busting war? I have new 2 balls left over from the blanket project but  I used up half of that old scarf project. My original plan was to use more of the wool from the scarf project but the original raspberry was more orange-tinted than I liked. I’m happy to find a raspberry I liked better. And I love the blanket. I’m calling it a win.

Yarn Addiction Thursday: More I-cord

view of whole scarfSince I found it so relaxing to make i-cord with the mill, I decided to make another scarf. It’s based on the same La Droguerie project. This time, instead of using pom poms, I sewed tiny beads between the cords to join the strands. I used old beads and pendants that I had left over from my abandoned attempts at jewelry making. The pompoms were fun, but I like this project, too. I feel like I’m wearing a piece of jewelry.

Knotted scarf detailing beaded joinsMostly I used stash wool, but I picked up some more at La Droguerie. Sigh… I’m such a wool addict. But at least 60% of the wool is from stuff I already had. I think this scarf is a lot more elegant than the pom-pom scarf. Using beads instead of pompoms is more subtle anyway. Another change I made was to sew the beads closer together than the pompoms so that the gaps between strings are smaller. As much as I enjoy making the cord, I’m starting to find the sewing up part tedious. This is a problem since I already made more i-cords for another scarf. I suppose it’s now a problem for later.

Scarf tip details
Scarf tip details

Another great stash-busting factor were the silver beads I used for the ends. I had to buy a few more blue beads, but I really tried to use up what I had. As a stash project, this worked out not too badly.  The finished product is a bit heavier so I was a bit worried my hard work was for naught. I hate even a slight pull around my neck so I was relieved to find that if I took a bit of care on how I wrapped it, I didn’t fell any pull.  

Cashmere 95%/nylon5%: Cashmere Gold by Rich More (stash)
Alpaca 100%: Alpaga Teint by La Droguerie (1/2 stash, 1/2 new
Silk 50%/alpaca 50%:  Soyeuse by La Droguerie (stash)
Merino: Daily by Okadaya (stash)
End Beads:
silver and moonstone, old single earrings or bought randomly over the years
Other Beads: La Droguerie and stash
Connecting Beads:  La Droguerie (new)

Mission Yarnpossible: Calgary

Since my European Yarnpossible missions, the wristwarmers,  and Argie I hadn’t made anything for months. From late March, I’d been working on a writing project and a photography project which took up all my time. In May I went to the Romantic Times Book Lovers’ Conference in New Orleans and visited my family in Canada. It was lots of work and lots of fun. But I was going into maker withdrawal. Making something from yarn is like a kind of meditation for me with the bonus that I have some product to show for my time. Still, I don’t live in Calgary anymore so I don’t know any knitting stores there.

My mom gave me five balls of Sirdar Denim Tweed DK that she found during a cleaning binge. I thought, “Hey great! Free yarn.” But then the yarn sat there, and it just begged to be made into something. But I don’t have a crochet hook. Then I think, “Hey! I could maybe buy some Noro books in English.” Remember that Phildar pattern I liked? Noro Love has a pattern called Aimee that is similar. I know you can order books online, but I’ve been burned too many times before on craft, crochet and knitting books. Just because the picture is great, doesn’t mean that the book is going to work for YOU. I need to hold that book in my hands and check all the patterns and the instructions before I spend my money.

Gina Brown’s
Happily, Gina Brown’s has a great Noro selection and a great selection of Noro pattern books. I also wanted to consult someone because I’d need to adapt it to make it longer and I need advice on the wool. The pattern calls for Kochoran, a wool that Noro discontinued. There is no substitute for talking to experienced staff at a knitting store when it comes to swapping out wool.

diamond_woolI promptly got the Noro Love book and then talked yarn with the staff. She recommended I try Malabrigo Chunky or Diamond alpaca wool.

I loved the feel and colors of Diamond alpaca. I wasn’t sure about my tension, so I bought a ball to try it out. I knew right away I wasn’t going to be my sweater. It was soft, colorful, quick to knit but I forgot how much alpaca sheds. I gave up on the swatch but decided to use up the yarn by making a pair of slippers which would be far from my face in daily life. I took a look at some slipper patterns then decided to try my hand at making my own pattern. Luckily I used just under one ball, plus a contrasting trim to make up the slippers. It took about two days to make them, including start, restarts and shopping. Everything was great but the shedding! I was covered in blue hair. It looked like I was owned by a big blue dog.

Super warm, felted slippers from Estonia
Even super warm, felted slippers from Estonia are no match for chilly ceramic tiles

The idea to make slippers was no doubt was inspired by the glacial temperatures of the ceramic tiles on my parents’ floor. Even my super slippers Ratti and Ratto couldn’t protect me from chills. It turns out that my new alpaca slippers make great inserts for Ratti and Ratto. The extra layer of alpaca is like a massage for my feet.

While shopping at Gina Browns’ I nabbed a fun book, Monkey Around by Patons for knitting or crocheting various kinds of sock monkey toys and accessories. I promptly bought more wool to complement the my recently acquired denim tweed to make a sock monkey cosy. I post about the sock monkey cup holders in next week’s Yarn Addiction Thursday.

Gina Brown’s has lots of lovely fibers in some of my favorite brands, Malabrigo, Noro and Cascade. The staff was lovely and I got lots of great advice. They also showed me a pair of magical knitting needles. Check them out in an upcoming Yarn Addiction Thursday post.

5718 1A Street SW
Calgary, AB T2H 0E8
Phone number
(403) 255-2200

Pudding Yarn
I just happened on Pudding Yarn when I took my mom out for lunch on 17th Avenue. We parked the car and right outside was a yarn store I’d never heard of. It’s been there for a while, but I no longer live in Calgary I’m out of touch with shops. It was also perfect timing because I had just decided that the lime green cascade yarn I had for the sock monkey cup was a great contrast color for the slippers but the size just looked too awkward. My attempt at amore delicate edging failed miserably. The woman who worked at Pudding Yarn was helpful and the store has a lot of nice, luxurious yarns. I was able to get a really nice yarn (Phildar, coincidentally) in a lovely deep magenta to trim the slippers.

1516 6 St SW, Calgary AB T2R 0Z8
(403) 244-2996

It’s interesting how my memory of yarn shops in Calgary has changed, or perhaps knitting in Canada has changed. When I was just starting to knit in high school, most of the patterns were Patons or Beehive with the occassional exotic French patterns. The yarn was ok, but not particularly amazing compared to the wonderful array of colors, textures and materials available today.

Mission Yarnpossible: Paris

I think this pattern must be vintage by now.
I think this pattern must be vintage by now.

I had two ideas about yarn in Paris before I started research: La Droguerie and Phildar. La Droguerie has become my go-to store in Tokyo for beautifully colored yarn, fibers and notions. Now I was going to get a chance to see where it started. Phildar is a French yarn company. I have a decades old pattern for Phildar yarn that I always liked but could never find the yarn. This trip might see that sweater become a reality.

There are quite a few blogs about knitting and crafting in Paris. My favorite was The blog is a fun read and has a great list of stores to check out. I was most keen on Lil Weasel and added it to my list.

The Search for Phildar:
It seems like this brand is less popular than it used to be and it was hard to find. I found some Phildar in a little corner in Printemps department store but didn’t find the yarn from the pattern. Not only that, the yarn section was kind of an afterthought of a corner and wasn’t really that interesting. I think I’m not going to pursue this sweater. I love the design but the pattern isn’t easy to read and finding a replacement yarn will be tough in Japan because of language. There are easier things to spend time on and now I can move on from that idea.

La Drougerie

Going to La Drougerie is like heaven for yarn lovers and jewelry makers. I often go to the one in Shibuya. So going to the one in Paris was a no brainer. All La Drougerie stores are beautiful, full of great notions, yarns and colors. Lots of great examples cover the walls. If you aren’t inspired to make something when you walk into a La Drougerie then I don’t know what to say.

Despite the awe of color and ideas, visiting the Paris store was a bit disappointing. I didn’t see anything I couldn’t get in Tokyo and it’s not easy to buy stuff at this location. There is a ticket system for customer service that was hard to figure out. Normally, I’m all for systems that keep things organized but when I asked tried to ask for help with my poor French, I got completely ignored. There’s no photography in the store but my husband took a few shots from the outside because after all the effort of getting there, he wasn’t leaving without any.
Address: 9 et 11 rue du Jour, 75001 PARIS
Tél: 01 45 08 93 27/ Fax: 01 42 36 30 80
Heures d’ouverture:
Le lundi de 14h00 à 19h00
Du mardi au samedi de 10h00 à 19h00

At the entrance of the Passage. Photo by H.O.

Lil Weasel
Onemancrochet had a great post about wool shops to check out in Paris. I only went to Lil Weasel and it was a highlight of my trip. The store is located in Passage de Grand Cerf which is in the 2nd Arrondisement, the Montorgueil quarter, with entrances on the Rue Saint-Denis and Place Goldoni. This arcade is filled with stores selling antiques, art and artisanal objects so Lil Weasel fits right in. Even my husband found shops to interest him.

Lil Weasel is everything you would want for buying yarn. Just looking in the window is a visual treat. Super friendly staff, who speak English, are willing to talk to you about what you want to do and to help you make it. They have a fabulous selection of materials and yarns. They organize the things by color instead of brand or size. I’ve never seen this organization but I love it. I asked if I could take pictures and the staff seem surprised by the request and encouraged me to take photos.

They helped me pick out some colors to make some granny squares. We agreed on the green being a more interesting contrast color than dark gray but now I’m chicken about the green.
Address:1 Passage du Grand Cerf, 75002 Paris, France
Tél:+33 1 73 71 70 48
du Mardi au Samedi de 10h30 à 19h00

Things I made with yarn from Lil Weasel:
Valentine wrist warmers
Hello Kitty cup holder (debuting in a few weeks)

Mission Yarnpossible: Helsinki

So the next Yarnpossible mission in my European adventure was to find some yarn in Helsinki. Thank heavens for ex-pat sites and blogs. If you are travelling to a foreign country, I really recommend checking out some ex-pat sites. was a great help. I spent a lot of time looking at this world-wide knitting store database. When searching for stores I discovered Riihivilla sells through an online shop  and at Kauppatori Market in Helsinki. It is a family business which produces and dye their own wool and make gorgeous kits. I didn’t go but it is definitely worth mentioning because this shop really represents Finnish yarn and knitting to me.

On January 2nd, I went to Lanka Deli by Novita.  I enjoyed the shop but the women who worked there were polite, they weren’t as chatty as staff at other stores I’ve been to or other Finnish people I met. I think there was a language barrier.

I found a felting wool which I later used to make my  felted iPhone case. The yarn is called Huopanen. It was interesting to work with a wool specifically for felting after knitting. It works up easily and I din’t have problems with splitting the yarn.


I also bought some wool to make some mittens. Florica by Novita is a 5-ply sport weight. It seems similar to the craft-boutique wool I saw in Tallinn. It was a bit softer and I had a chance of ordering more if I liked it. My color choices were inspired by Marimekko designs and Italla tableware, and Dick Bruna’s Miffy. Bruna is one of my favorite illustrators.

Lanka Deli by Novita.
Malminrinne 1 B, Helsinki, Finland 00180 Finland
(09) 673 246

Yarn Addiction Thursday: I-cord Scarf Frenzy

Adapted from a La Droguerie pattern
Adapted from a La Droguerie pattern

On a visit to La Droguerie in Shibuya Seibu, I saw an interesting scarf made of i-cord, pompoms and flowers made of felt cut-outs. The title on the pattern is “l’écharpe” which I think just means scarf. Not so helpful as a title perhaps. To make the scarf you use an i-cord knitting mill. The one I bought at La Droguerie came in a plain brown box, so while I can’t be sure about the brand, it looks like the Prym Knitting Mill.

I couldn’t find enough felt flower cut outs to match the wool colors I chose so I decided to change the pattern from flowers to dots, polka-dots and spheres.

I found little felted balls of wool at Okadaya and bought some to give more color variety and because they were cheaper than the ones I got at La Droguerie. I also bought a felt ball maker so that I could make a variety of sizes of felt balls for the ends of the strings. Not surprisingly, making felt spheres got old really fast. I suppose the method is less painful that needle felting (ha ha, there’s some kind of pun in there) but work is work and time is time.When I finally had all my pieces made, I safety pinned it together and started sewing. I sewed each pompom on individually. It might have taken less work to run the thread through the strings, but I felt that would limit the amount of stretch inherent in the yarn. Again, after a while, it became tedious. It helped that I was able to take it in the car and work on it during road-trips.

Finishing touches on the ends of the strings. Felt discs were glued on to two discs sandwiching the string end and sewn shut.
Finishing touches on the ends of the strings. Felt discs were glued on to two discs sandwiching the string end and sewn shut.

I always think that adding embellishments will be the fun part. And when I get to that stage and I’m just impatient for it to be done. I did enjoy doing to color selection and organization for the felt circles and spheres for the string ends. I think it gets stressful because at this stage, even tiny mistakes affects how the work looks. I’m not great with a needle and thread so I had to redo this part often to get even stitches.

But then, voila! Finally, it is done.

i-cord knitting mill
felt-ball maker (Okadaya)
fabric glue
felting wool 100% Merino
Velvet pompoms (from La Droguerie)
wool pompoms
thread and needle
felt circle cut outs

Felting an iPhone Case

Estello's Felted Phone CaseThis felted iPhone cover is one of the things I made with the yarn I bought in Helsinki. Instead of the traditional souvenir, I thought I’d buy wool and make my own. I already made wrist-warmers from wool I bought from Lil Weasel in Paris. This wool is called Huopanen by Novita. I bought it at A store in Helsinki. It’s felting wool. It’s a super-bulky plied texture, suitable for 8-10 mm needlesIt was fairly easy to knit up but I wasn’t sure how it was going to felt and shrink.

It didn’t occur to me until yesterday to look Novita up on Ravelry. I learned that Huopanen has  about 40% shrinkage done in a 40 degree celcius wash cycle. My machine (in Japan) only does cold water so I washed it with some towels to make it matt-up a bit more.

20140614-201345-72825429.jpgWhen I started, I wasn’t sure what kind of decoration I was going to do. I just decided to start and see what happens. I made a piece 38 stitches wide, about 40 rows high and then sewed it up. Pre-felting, the fabric extended 2 cm above my iPhone. Post-felting, it came up 1 cm short. That’s not such a big problem as this is only a proto-type. I fully expected to have to do it more than once. Still, it would have been nice for it to work, first thing.

design ideas for felt case

So even though it was small, I decided to make the prototype anyway. The design I decided on was Estello. Estello is a character I created for photography and designs. Estello has his own blog and even a Facebook page. Please like or follow Estello. Estello always likes likes.

One of my friends said he likes my design sketches as much as he likes my products so I thought I’d post my brainstorming this time. I wanted to do something French-themed even though this wool in from Finland. I sketched out an Eiffel Tower but I couldn’t needle felt it at this size in a way I liked. Somehow the shape reminded me of an umbrella, and it did rain quite a bit on our trip. So umbrella time! I like the idea of the umbrella and the cover being cloudy and revealing a sun on the inside. I still like Estello in the hat and shirt. Maybe another project.

For Estello, I used felting wool I already had (yay for stashbusting!) and needlefelted the Estello design. I hand-painted the fabric. I’m not sure if I like the painting. I prefer the cloud to the sun.

Clip attached to case body

I tried this clip first. I couldn’t do the leather stitching nicely. It’s my first time to do leather. This clip is heavy and looks icky. I got it in the hardware section. I don’t know what it’s called.  I took it off and tried again.

Back of Case

This time I found a flat-ish, light carabiner clip. My stitching was better this time. It looks better but the balance is still off. It’s because the fabric is too, low and not at the top of the phone. I compensated by making the cloud cover more of the phone rather than just being a flip over the top.

Solutions For Next Time:
Make the fabric longer and a couple stitches tighter.
Place the clip on the top of the cover
I upgraded to iPhone 5 so now I have a design problem. The earphone jack is at the bottom not the top as I designed.



Yarn Addiction Thursday: Crochet Bracelets with Beads

Last year I was feeling kind of stressed and needed a distraction. My friend Deanna of Deanna Kobou Studio does great crochet work and she really inspired me to try it. Crochet looked like something that would distract me and, at the end, I’d have some kind of product. The plan worked really well. Crochet required enough focus that I didn’t think about my problems, and I chose simple stitches that weren’t overwhelming.

Beads and crochet bracelet.This bracelet was my first finished crochet project after playing with flower motifs. I had first started a free-form plushy I called Doubty Dragon, but Doubty took longer to finish. I used Noro Kureyon Sock (70% wool, 30% nylon) which I bought at Yuzawaya.  I like Kureyon Sock because its colorway gives a lot of different colors in a single skein. It turns out that it is great for making flower motifs of different colors. The bracelet is two crochet strings with leaves, attached by beads acting as bars connecting the strings. I added the flower motif that I learned, attached a clasp and voila! I gave the bracelet to a friend.

Use 'em or trash 'em! I found these sakura I made years ago in an old box.
Use ’em or trash ’em! I found these sakura I made years ago in an old box.

The bracelet  below is a product of some stash-busting I did a while ago. I was going through my stuff trying to figure out exactly what I had. I wanted to use things or get rid of them. I found these flowers that I must have made years ago. I have a vague recollection of thinking I could make a sakura necklace from beads. I love beads but I’m not so great at beading so it was nice to make something out of this.

20140501-232304.jpgI thought about doing the double string like the first bracelet. I like the effect but not the work. This was a simple string with leaves, attaching the sakura, the bird, and the clasp. I thought it made a nice accessory for Spring or Summer.


What kind of crochet accessories do you like? Recommendations are always appreciated.


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