Category Archives: Events

My Crochet Hook Experiment Will Be At Round Rock Mini-Maker Faire! Tomorrow!


Hey guys! Sorry for the late notice, but wanted to let you know that I will be at Mini-Maker Faire in Round Rock, TX tomorrow. This is in the Austin, TX area and entry is FREE – so if you’re in the area I’d love to see you!  I’ve been flying by the seat this week and was accepted at the last-minute, so bear with me!  But I’m really excited!

They edited some of it, but you can get more info about the event and see my intro/project description here: http://roundrockmakerfaire.com/call-for-makers/aberrant-crochet.

What am I doing? Well, you know Jimbo and I started a crochet hook experiment at the last Crochet Liberation Front Crochet at Cama Retreat. We carved up a bunch of hooks that all had variations in design. Long throats, short throats, narrow lips, wide lips, deep bowls and shallow wedges. And everything in between. Greenwoman and Cerdeb’s hubbies and others attending the retreat also helped us get these hooks carved up in time for us to try out the idea at the retreat. Maker Faire deleted part of my explanation of this story, but suffice to say, this is something Jimbo and I worked on together.

We were trying to see how folks would use them, which ones they might tend to like and frankly – just what if we’d learn something! And honestly, it’s not like we had a specific plan. We just made them, talked about them and then put them into people’s hands and asked for input. At the time, because we were showing these hooks to an audience as well, we decided to use large fat hooks so the differences would be accentuated.

However, this time, I want to do the experiment locally with much smaller hooks, more typical of what most crocheters might use. So between Jimbo and I, we’ve created more basic hooks from the smallest dowels we could find – about a J. And I have to thank Jimbo for his help here. I didn’t have enough time to carve them all myself, so he helped!

So here’s the deal – if you’re interested, I’ve love to watch you crochet, take some photos/video of your hands (with permission and model release) and get your input on the shapes we’ve come up with. I want to hear your story! How do you use your hands? what did you used to do before you crocheted? And tell me about any problems you’re experiencing with your hooks too!

Am I super planned with this? No not really. I hope you’ll be as laid back as I hope to be. I only just found out Maker Faire was coming to my town about 10 days ago. But it’s definitely a chance to reintroduce this project. I want to travel the world to meet women through crochet and to study their tools someday. That’s my big thing and this is a beginning part of that. Jimbo and I’d like to travel to other US areas with this and get some real input from real crocheters about the way they use their hooks. And then blog and write about it along the way.

I’ve also been asked to help cover for a table that will run out of materials and close early, so I’ve added finger knitting to the list of activities for young kids, and have plenty of yarn. I have no idea what kind of crowds to expect, but if you are in the area and feel like hanging out, I wouldn’t mind an extra hand. 🙂 Just let me know.

There will be a little seating area near my table so the kids can sit to finger knit, but feel free to sit awhile and crochet if there’s room!
My daughter also plans to be in costume tomorrow and will show off the wood anime sword she made for Halloween last year.  It’s really something, so do come see it in person if you are interested!

😀


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Filed under Artist Information & Notes, Education, Events, Make Faire

Saturday Recap For E.A.S.T. #67


Well, it was a lovely day out at the E.A.S.T. #67 location at Flat Fork Studios.  I was a little worried at first with the wind picking up this morning.  Luckily it calmed down a bit later.  There were lots of gracious people and fellow artists and artisans. And I really enjoyed talking to some aspiring crocheters and other fiber artisans, including a shy spinner/weaver.  Maybe, just maybe, I talked him into posting photos of his work somewhere publicly.  (Let me know dude, ‘cuz I’d love to see! I wasn’t joking!)

Flapper Purse in BLue for Cindy

Flapper Purse in Silk and Rust

It was also nice to talk to more traditional media artists who got some of my quirky ways of looking at texture and design and even got excited with me about what I was doing.  Awesome!  Different worlds, but maybe not so much.  I brought the purses out to show-n-tell and promised to blog more about them as I finish my work on them.  Nothing like a gentle prod to help me stay in gear.  I still need to make a trip to find the blue silk to line the blue one though.

Sunny Bear Hat For Lola

People were having a good time.  Lots of babies and kids.  Lola was there with her famous gumbo and kind, motherly smile.  She made me feel special telling me she looks forward to seeing me every year and that she still loves her hat from two winters ago.  I love you too Lola!

Purple Eggplant with Vintage Button Pin

I also had a customer from last year drop by.  She bought my Purple Eggplant hat last year and has since moved to the Rockies where she says she absolutely loves it and that she gets so many compliments.  And another let me know that she took her hat on a ski trip and stayed incredibly warm and comfortable.  That was so awesome to hear.  I don’t often have the privilege of hearing “where they are now” and it’s a treat.  I have to really thank everyone who supported my work today.  I’ll keep going because of you. Thanks for sharing my excitement and vision! 😀

Teeter Totter and Fun

Wondering who’s out there this weekend?  Well, here are my colleagues.  (You can find info about the other artists and bands in studio here.)

Craft Riot Team Members at E.A.S.T. stop #67:
Nepenthes Bathtime – artisan Soap & bath products
Robo Roku – art, apparel, accessories
Gem Junkie – jewelry for the go
R + R Design – recycled & re-purposed jewelry & home accessories
Sweetwolf – facio, ero sum
This Creative Life – paintings, prints, & apparel
Pixie Worx! & Aberrant Crochet – crochet designer, fabric artist + hand-carved crochet hooks and shawl pins

All in all, a pleasant day.  I look forward to tomorrow.

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Meet Obey Crochet! – Blog Interview


I want to introduce you to someone I know you will enjoy!

Way back in late spring I came across one of Obey Crochet’s cartoons on Flickr and was literally hooked! I felt like she had crawled into my mind and pulled out my most obscure thoughts of crochet madness and made them funny!

Immediately I just had to get to know this fellow Texan crocheting chic and talk her into making a t-shirt! I didn’t care if anyone else wanted one – I wanted it for me! Stationary too! Like yesterday already!  crochet joy

She only had a handful of drawings up, but darn it if I wasn’t already a fan, hook-line-and-sinker.  I dragged her onto Ravelry and told all my friends (even the ones who just don’t understand this crochet thing I’ve got goin’ on).  I just loved her and wanted everyone else to as well.  She even drew something I could use for one of my previous blog posts this summer “Tech Help For Crafters.”  I also put her in touch with Laurie and she designed the Mascot for the Crochet Liberation Front “Crochet @Cama” 2011 Retreat!

I knew immediately the day I found her drawings that I wanted to interview this chic.  Finally I asked and graciously she accepted.

I’ve been saving this blog interview, waiting for the right moment to share her with the world, when she wouldn’t have to share the pedestal with someone else or some other event.  But now it’s time!

So with the enthusiasm of Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear, here she is ladies and gentlemen – I know you’ll love her too!  Ms. Stephanie Toppin!  a.k.a. Obey Crochet!


Ms. Obey Crochet

1. How did you get into crochet?

My mother, who does not consider all the things she does a skill, but just a basic knowledge. I was about 8 when she showed me crochet and it awakened in me three years ago for fun and a determination to learn patterns and not just wing it.

2. What is the story behind your website Obey Crochet and your crochet drawings?

Frustration. Mostly frustration. I felt the pains of being a second class citizen while creating a public art project using crochet. People were allowed to come and watch as we labored for art and many expressed their love for my choice of craft which they all assumed was knitting. For everyone to admire what you do and then call it something else, it’s like a gorilla tap dancing on your forehead, über annoying. Off to the internet for some type of rescue to show off my crochet pride!

The crochet community existed but there was nothing that suited my dry, tongue in cheek, silly behavior. “I heart crochet” was not going to cut it. I had the idea of “Codependent” and on a Friday night I sketched, on a Saturday morning I drew what turned into 12 drawings. I uploaded them to my Flickr and ideas kept flooding me so I indulged them.

Obey Crochet was born in less than a fortnight as the first website I constructed. I bought a tote bag and some iron on sheets and made a bag that I still carry. It happened so sudden and it’s less than a year old but it was the first thing that just clicked and I never questioned. Fun factor for me? Bajillion times awesome.

3. I hear you’re from Houston, TX! How would you describe the Houston craft scene?

I’m new to the “craft scene”, most people know me as a painter. I have always been crafty but it was more for hanging out at craft fairs, things for friend’s birthdays, Christmas, and junk to spoil their kids with some handmade goodness. It was just a personal release. From what I have come across now after getting more involved, it seems to be huge. I have heard of dozens of craft groups and I think the only down fall is that they don’t know about each other. Houston is a huge city, it’s sometimes tricky to make bridges beyond your area.

4. Can you tell me about your day? What other hats besides “Obey Crochet” do you wear?

Up at 6:30a. Lay in bed, check email, twitter, WordPress from phone. Shower, dress, eat at work. I work at a small local IT company, all guys except my boss. I do graphic design, HR, assistance, work with soap, random tasks while tolerating my male coworkers. I mostly eat cereal and yogurt with local honey. I have allergies. I go home 6ish, sometimes later. Come home, draw, take photos, scan. I paint, or make banners, work on cake sketches, upload an Obey Crochet drawing, work on my other blogs (Fabricandlines, Art Keeps Me Poor) do a proposals for art galleries while listening to podcasts, over 80 of them. I stay up until midnight/1ish most days. And then do it again. I volunteer, I drink beer, I use to ride my bike more, I thrift in my spare time for awesome things like huge brides maids skirts.

5. Quick! What are 5 random things about yourself that others might not know?

I have an afro, I love it. I’m making a unicorn cake for a soon to be 6 year old (hope that’s right). My family is West Indian. I never use LOL. I don’t know how to follow directions.

6. What’s your favorite drawing and/or crochet project so far? A favorite yarn or hook?

I really like roving yarn, I love the way it feels and looks. My heart leaps for it. Hooks? I like the way wooden ones feel more than metal, although when my hands get sweaty the cool metal is nice (sorry, too much info).

Favorite drawing…? “My shadow puppet is better than yours.” It’s silly and ridiculous; it was one of the firsts that were on Flickr. It makes me laugh really hard which is weird and awkward and awesome. I tend to use awesome too much. And to ramble.

7. Artists and crafters seem to be in constant pursuit of the perfect work-room! What is one thing about your current work space now that you like and what is one thing you would wish for in a dream work space?

I like that I have a workspace. I just moved and the old digs had my workspace as my bed in a 9 x9 room. Now I have a spare room and I love that it has French Doors, but I love more that it is a room without my bed in it. For the space, I really wish I had shelves. There is no point grudgingly wishing for grand things when all I need are some shelves.  Cinder blocks and wood would be grand. Everything on the floor is really not assisting the flow.

8. Where can people buy your stuff and/or meet you? Shows, venues, etc.? Are t-shirts available yet?

I’m mostly at a taco truck near Shepherd and Alabama in Houston, but I am usually at a craft store somewhere in the loop. If you are local, you know what that means. I plan to go to all the upcoming craft fairs in Austin and the quilt show in Houston. No booths, just me, I have big hair, I’m easy to spot. I’ll give you a free button or a rub on tattoo.

[She’s going to be at Austin Craft Riot a week from today, along with the yarn bombing freebies she donated!]

I currently have a Cafepress store and yes we have shirts, we even have shot glasses. My goal is to get all the drawings on some type of item in the upcoming weeks. Check back for new uploads all the time.

9. Would you share with readers one valuable piece of advice someone gave you that has helped you or one that you have gained from hands-on experience yourself?

My boss shared what a professor once told her: 
Talent is not that rare. Discipline is rare. The will and determination to get up and write that paper, look for that opportunity, save instead of blowing it all on beer, is rare.

I know that being self-motivated is tough. To craft a life of the things you want to actually be doing is nothing short of the most insane schedule and complicated game plan you will ever set out to do. And no one will write it. It’s yours to fumble and attack and concur every day.

My advice is: Do it.

My fear in life is to be that person who has a million ideas, dreams, and wishes for the rest of their being. Write them all down no matter what you feel about them and do them today or tomorrow or next week, but just make sure you actually do them. Don’t share all of your dreams. Sometimes people can erode an idea before it has even taken its first breath. Sometimes you don’t need the reality check to stop you before you start. You never know until you have it down, it’s solid and real.

What do you want people to say about you on your 75th birthday? Okay. Good. Now go at it and good luck.


So there you have it! Obey Crochet! Go check out her site and subscribe – it’ll do your crochety heart good!

Thank you to Stephanie for agreeing to be featured on my blog! Love ya gal!


Go ahead and click a link below to “share this.”  You know you want to!  : )

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Crochet At Cama 2011 Happening Now – What You’re Missing!


So I’m here at Cama Beach in Washington State for Crochet at Cama 2011 Retreat!  Want to know what you’re missing?  I thought I’d make a point of sharing with you what we’re up to as best I can.  It’ll be mostly photos for now.  I can write (and format the photos) more later.  But here’s a peek at the Crochet Liberation Front Retreat right now!  (You can watch the video I created from last year’s memories here.)

Meeting at the new hall

The cabin

View out the kitchen window

The new hall and stone fireplace

Cama Beach Check in Station

The view at Cama Beach

Cabins right on the water

Everyone's gathering for the opening night

There's Karen Whooley with her cast and a cane Jimbo made her.

Jimbo made Karen a crochet hook cane!

Let the yarn tasting begin!

The view this morning

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Crochet At Cama 2010 Memories


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The 2011 Flamies Crochet Awards Live in Georgetown, TX!


The Crochet Liberation Front’s Annual Flamies Crochet Awards are coming live to Georgetown, TX April 18th, with classes from Crochet Liberation Front founder, Laurie Wheeler and designer Karen Whooley in the Austin area all weekend. This is part of what’s been keeping me busy lately!   😀  I’m really excited!  Some of you are probably going to wonder what all this is about, so I’ll try to explain and tell a bit of the story.  Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com to register for the event though!

What on earth did Julia get involved with? 

Well, here’s the back story – as told by me!

If you’re here, then you already know I’m a crochet designer/artist. My main work is in the arena of One of a Kinds (OOAK).  And though each year I tend to make mainly what I’m asked to (more hats than anything else), I don’t really align myself with any one specific crochet medium either.  Clothing, throws, jewelry, miniature, free-form or tapestry crochet (not to mention my fascination for spider webs and love of hook carving) – whatever catches my whim is what I work on.

I have one main rule, that crochet is a love for me and it’s gotta stay fun, because honestly, that’s where the creativity comes in.  If my heart and passion isn’t in it, then frankly, it won’t be nearly as good and I don’t want to burn out on something that I find largely meditative and expressive.  It’s one of the few escapes I can take with me just about anywhere.  So no – I don’t really want to lose that.  The fact that my crochet creations ever turned into something people were interested in buying was a complete surprise to me and as far as I’m concerned it’s a bonus.  Like any art, you have to do it for love, in spite of everything else.  I crochet whether anyone buys it or whether I donate it for cancer or not, and so if someone loves what I make enough to buy it, kudos to me for being able to justify my obsessions.  I say we all have a “madness” or two of some sort, and crochet just happens to be one of mine.  All that being said, no where in all my talk about loving the creative process am I supporting under-valuing one’s work, time or expertise.  Better believe I charge for my skill and time.  I’ll save more about this sad occurrence of under-valuation for a future blog post.

“What is the Crochet Liberation Front – some sort of hook wielding terrorist organization?”

I hear such comments from time to time when I mention The Crochet Liberation Front.  And I just chuckle, because it’s nothing of the sort and all in fun.

There was a time it would never have occurred to me to look for crocheters online.  Largely because I’m not a joiner by nature.  Oh I’m social, but just not into memberships and clubs much.  I spent a lot of time at shows lecturing and demoing about crochet and expanding the horizons of the masses when it came to the possibilities of crochet.  Some of you met me that way.  Maker Faire Austin was my absolute favorite experience, setting up a nook for kids and adults to just hang out to learn and crochet or finger knit with each other.  I was there both years it came to Austin and really missed it when it couldn’t come back.  That perfectly suited my personality, being absorbed by the simple joy of making.  No labels, no judgments, no “right” way. (I’m really not into drama and politics. As far as I’m concerned it gets in the way of true creative joy.)

However, three years ago I found a group that worked for my individualistic personality.  I became a member of the Crochet Liberation Front (CLF) about six months after it began, helping to promote and preserve the last fiber art left that cannot be replicated by machine.  They shared the same passion for innovation and preservation I already had and I found friendly camaraderie without expectation or labels.  I had spent a lot of time feeling like a lonely voice when it came to education and pushing the boundaries of expectations in crochet.  It was amazing to find others “like me.”  How could I not?

At its heart and intention, the CLF is a bunch of crocheters who just want to have fun, complete with a sense of humor to go along with it.  We do however seek to broaden the horizons in our industry, and promote the beauty and innovation present everywhere in crochet.  Many of us have felt general dissatisfaction with attitudes, industry dynamics, treatment of crochet designers and patterns available, especially in the US.  I’m not super in touch with the common industry at large because it usually fails to supply much of anything innovative, technical or unusual enough for my tastes. Not to mention the fact that I do not use patterns. And besides, after all, I AM Aberrant Crochet and it wouldn’t be much in keeping with my personality to be keeping step with the Jones. That makes me a little different, because personally, if everyone else is doing it, I’m much less interested.  Even if I started it.  Seriously, if the world starts obsessing over crochet spider webs, I will be the first to lose interest.

However, all that being said, even I have noticed what seems to me an odd perception that crochet is only beautiful if it’s from somewhere else, like Russia.  As if the only thing that exists in the US are granny squares, shawls and doilies.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a very healthy respect for the history of crochet and its development.  And granny squares, etc. can be awesome.  However there is so much more to our fiber art.  And I know I don’t appreciate being pigeon-holed as to what my art is supposed to look like.  If you’ve seen photos of my work, you can totally get where I’m coming from.  I’m pretty proud of the fact that customers at shows so often marvel at my creations and the fact that they never thought crochet “could look or feel that way.”  Education at its finest!

Die-hard crocheters seek to preserve this art and promote its continued genius and development.  Crochet is the very last fiber art left that cannot be replicated by machine.  At all.  Not one iota (yet).  I kid you not.  Google “crochet machine” and you will find machines made in China that knit a chain, but they use the term “crochet” interchangeably.  However, crochet is purely and always created by a hand and a hook.  No machines.  There is always a cap on just how much one pair of hands can create at any one time.  Even that mass produced crochet you see at the store?  All of it was created with a human hand and a hook, and all too often by children.  (I’ll save the subject of repetitive motion injuries in children for yet another blog post.)  You can see a bit of where our passion for our craft comes from.

OK, what’s the deal about the “Flamies?” How does that fit in with crochet? Did it simply catch fire?

The Flamies” are a grass-roots (I almost typed a grass-fire!) style annual crochet awards that we started some three years ago, and their popularity has grown by leaps and bounds. The CLF itself was started somewhat as a joke by Laurie Wheeler (we call her Fearless Leader), looking to provide a fun home for crocheters around the world to commune, talk shop and celebrate crochet. Something different and outside of the usual boxes available to folks out there.  And BOY do we have fun! Well, the group took off.   And not too long after, due to disenchantment with the yarn industry’s lack of support or celebration for innovative crochet (in the US in particular), it was decided to create our own awards – the Flamies.

The Flamies, you ask? Umm, yeah. Kind of a long story, but it’s a reference to the Flaming Crochet Hook of Justice, which has been waved liberally over the years.  And yes  – the Flamies are a nod of fun to the Emmys and Grammys as well.  In fact, my tapestry crochet charted pattern for my Flaming Crochet Hook design was published in the Crochet Liberation Front: First Ever Book.

Long story short, a bunch of us decided to stop waiting for the industry to provide what we wanted and we began creating it ourselves. We even created our own crochet awards.  And you know what happened? IT TOOK OFF! Today, yarn companies, magazines and designers are competing for the Flamie crochet awards and this year a whopping 30,000+ turned out for voting! The winners will be announced live this year!  Talk about becoming the change that you seek in the world! 

The Landmark Tavern - Georgetown, TX

The event? It’s happening a bit on the fly, but the Flamies are coming LIVE to Georgetown on Monday, April 18th. The editor of Interweave Crochet magazine, and designers from both coasts are flying in for this event, including Mary Beth Temple from Getty Loopy, along with Fearless Leader kicking off her US Tour here in Texas! Nothing like this has ever been done in our niche industry before. It might be just crochet to everyone else, but this is big for us!

Tickets are being sold to the live event held at the Landmark Tavern, (wonderful neighborhood wine bar) on the Georgetown Square where we will have a red-carpet event with photographers, April 18th 7-11pm. And I’m so lucky it’s right here practically in my own back yard.  If you want to come and hang out with crochet creative types (you don’t have to crochet, but you must be friendly), it’s $25 a ticket which includes a drink ticket and snacks.

This is a semi-formal event! Wear your best crochet if you have it! If not, wear your favorite fiber thing!  We’ll be walking the red carpet at The Landmark, so it’s a chance to dress-up. Businesses also have the opportunity to buy tickets to this events in blocks. For a minimum of 5 tickets, the price drops to $20 per ticket.  Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com for more details on registration for the event and about the CLF in general.

I hope we’ll see you there!


Calendar of Weekend Events:

April 16: 11am‐ 2pm Meet & Greet in Georgetown, Texas at Dukes BBQ (right on north bound I35): This is a family friendly event, free for crocheters to attend to meet up, admire each others’ crochet and organize local meetings and relationships. We’re expecting a lot of people to attend this event.

April 16: 7‐9pm Fearless Leader & Friend’s soiree at The Knitting Nest in Austin, Texas.
A more adult evening of wine and song. Promoting all that is crochet in one of the leading yarn destinations in Texas. So far at least 25 people confirmed.

April 18: 7‐11pm The Flamies LIVE! Red carpet event in Georgetown, Texas at the Landmark Tavern (a gorgeous wine bar). This year’s awards ceremony will take place as per tradition on the Getting Loopy Podcast with Mary Beth Temple, and at the live event which will be web cast so the millions of crochet fanatics around the globe can see the best of the best! Party goers will receive a drinks ticket, nibbles, goody bags and prizes! We have room for 120 guests!

Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com for more details on registration for the event and about the CLF in general.

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Eastside Knit Night – Nov. 16 for E.A.S.T.


You will find me here teaching crochet and talking about crochet hook design. Might even demo making crochet hooks out of chop sticks.

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Niki’s Hat – Lockhart Rites of Spring Festival 2009….


It was a pleasure to meet Niki and her husband at the Lockhart Rites of Spring 2009 Festival. I always bring work in progress’ to shows, because I’m usually teaching or demonstrating at shows too. And I rarely have less than 5 things going all at once. Plus it allows people to watch me work, and they know for certain that yes – I really do make everything I sell. And I can customize on the spot. Well, in all honesty, that’s where the story of Niki’s Hat begins….

Niki's Hat 2

Niki's Hat 2

Yep – see that bald styrofoam head in the background. It was wearing Niki’s hat, before it was finished. Sometimes I have projects that I initially visualize one way, but they evolve into something different. Niki’s hat is one of those examples. And while I was hanging out at the show, I was playing with that hat and trying out different flowers and motifs. Styrofoam heads are great for pinning hat pieces and motifs together when you’re trying to get ideas. And that’s when Niki discovered this hat….

Niki's Hat - Lockhart 2009 Spring Art Show

Niki's Hat - Lockhart 2009 Spring Art Show

Sure enough, at the end of the show I was working busily to finish off the flower motif. Luckily I still had some red chenile fibers handy, or that flower could not have been customized with a cherry red center! I always carry at least some yarn with me to shows, so I can get some work done or let customers get an idea of options for custom orders. But I do not carry by far the range of colors and fibers that I work with at home. It was kind of scary there for a moment, because the red pin I used to tack the flower for my brain storming made it quite clear that red was the perfect center!

Niki's Hat - Side view of bamboo flower

Niki's Hat - Side view of bamboo flower

All in all, it turned out wonderfully! Niki said she liked how light it was and she prefered me to leave the tails for the flower draping for her. So cute and Niki’s such a doll! Thanks to Niki, Abigail and Robert for making the show just a joy to be a part of!

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