Tag Archives: aberrantcrochet

Twitter Lists – A Basic How-To Tutorial…


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Twitter has now come out with a new feature called Twitter Lists. It’s function is to create lists of folks (Tweeps) whom you follow on Twitter, by basically filing them into categories. You can create any category you want and even file your Tweeps into more than one category. It’s a great way to help you organize your follows, but also to allow others to follow your entire lists too.

The concept of filing people into categories is actually something that comes very natural to me. You see, my Rolodex at home is not filed strictly alphabetically. I file according to how I know people. Art folks here, home town folks there, parents of my kids’ friends in this spot, work contacts in that spot and distant relatives I barely know – over there. Drives my husband crazy, but I’m just not good at remembering every name I come in contact with, without a frame of reference as to how I know them. So the Twitter List concept works well for me.

For instance, I have several Twitter List categories including: Crochet/Ravelry folks, Austin folks, Crafting Resources, Fellow Artisans and even a category for Brightens My Day. Some of the Tweeps I know fall into more than one category, like Artisans who are also in the Austin area. So I put them in both.

Now, so what’s the advantage to all this “Twitter List stuff?”

Well for one, you can make your lists public so others can follow them. If someone else has a list for Crafting Resources, and I think it’s a good list, I can decide to follow their entire list, making it much less work for me to find all that great info! Which also means the folks in those lists automatically get more follows and coverage than they would have if they weren’t “Twitter Listed.”

Secondly, I can look at the updates from all my follows according to those categories I’ve set. So when I want to laugh, I click on my Humor list and see all the folks I put in that list all in one spot – without all the rest! When I want to see what’s up in Austin, I click on my Austin list and it’s nothing but Austin baby! This makes keeping up with the wide variety of folks and interests I’ve tapped in to via Twitter much easier!

Thirdly, anytime someone hits my Twitter Profile page @AberrantCrochet, They will also see how many lists I’ve been added to and in what categories. I think this gives me more exposure as well. Sure, I tweet about crochet, but I also tweet about other interests. And you’ll get to see where others file me in their Twitter Lists as well.

So how do you go about using these lists then?

If you go to your Twitter account, you’ll likely notice that there is a new box at the top of your screen that says:

“New! Lists. A great way to organize the people you follow and
discover new and interesting accounts. (BETA)

Lists are timelines you build yourself, consisting of friends, family, co-workers, you name it.”

You want to click on an icon that looks kinda like this:.

This is where you will create your initial List name, or category, to “file” your Tweeps into. Here you will also choose to either make the list public (so others can see and even follow it too) or private (no one will see it).

After this step, you will see a page that says: “Find people to add to your list – Search for a username, first or last name, business or brand.” You can either choose to search there, or you can click on your “Following” link and find folks you already follow there.

You will notice, next to each name in your following list, and on each Twitter profile you look at, that there is a new icon for Twitter Lists. When you click that icon, it will bring up a window of all the Twitter List categories you have created, as well as an option at the bottom of that pop-up that allows you to make a new list category.

Mark any Twitter List category that you wish to file your Tweep into. This could be one, or all of your categories. For instance, I have folks who are filed into the Austin as well as Crochet categories for my lists.

You can also add yourself to your lists! Which is great, so when folks follow one of your lists, they’ll follow you to. You took the time to create the list – you ought to benefit from it too! To add yourself to your list, go to your Twitter Profile link, and click on the list icon there. Check mark any categories you want to be included in.

And that’s pretty much it!

Unless you choose to keep them private, your Twitter Lists will show up on your profile page for others to see and check out. As they click on each one, they will be able to see the Twitter news feed for each category and may decide, if they enjoy it, to follow the entire list!

The new Twitter Lists is a useful tool to not only keep track of all the lovely Tweeps out there you want to hear from, but also it’s a great way to further your networking on Twitter!

I hope you found this basic Twitter List tutorial helpful! If you liked this article, please reTweet or link it to help others and if you have anything to add, please feel free to share in the comments below.

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About Doing Craft Shows: Observations, Likes and Advantages…


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Almost my entire background in business is from doing face-to-face sales at shows. In all honesty, I prefer it, as being seen on Etsyand other online markets can be rather difficult to achieve.

Seeing is Believing

I find that with some items, like my crochet designs for instance, that being able to touch what I make, and see in person how I do what I do, makes all the difference in the world. No one can tell from my photos just how soft my garments are. But in person, if I don’t watch it, I’ll have people hanging out in my booth just to “pet” my items. “Err, yes… ma’am…? If you don’t mind, please don’t rub it on your face unless you’re buying….” There is also only so much texture you can bring out in a photo as well.

Demos Add Interest

I’m also a teacher by nature and so I constantly demo my work at every show. I let people watch me work and even show them my tools, how they work, tell them about the custom makers behind my tools, show them the techniques I’m using, ask their opinions even. It’s very experiential, or at least I try to be on a positive scale. People are not just shoppers in my booth. They usually become contacts. When people get to observe you as you work, and you stop focussing on selling to them, and focus more on enjoying yourself, them having a good time and maybe even helping them out (I share my favorite yarn shops and online resources all the time), they are then allowed to relax and simply enjoy themselves. I find that people often buy not just because they like the item, but because they enjoyed the experience and because they are buying a piece of you. And they remember and come back too.

Missed Marketing

It depends somewhat on your product, but I also try not to forget men and children at shows, as they are the most missed sales potential for most shows. It’s true that the majority of shoppers are women, but skipping men and children altogether is a miss! Guess who’s usually tagging along (often bored to death)? If you plan to have at least a couple items geared towards these neglected markets in your booth, you just might make sales you wouldn’t have otherwise caught! And besides, there’s less saturation and competition while most booths neglect this market! For instance, being an artist of fine pottery is great and most of your customers will be adults, but just imagine a couple bits of miniatures for “kids,” even if they are higher priced. You’d be surprised who just might have to snatch it up!

Outdoor Shows

When it comes to equipment for outdoor shows, I highly recommend EzUp. Not only have I found them to be generally much better quality, but they were highly recommended to me by several seasoned artists years ago. I have also seen several lesser grade tents mangled in just a few gusts of wind. It can even be shocking how quickly a poor quality tent can be turned to rubble. This is an area where you really do get what you pay for. I don’t care how lightweight and easy aluminum frames may seem – they just do not hold up very long. And since many outdoor shows are set up near busy roads, between buildings and other structures, wind can really tunnel through such areas in a very focussed manner. May not seem like much on the street, but in a virtual tunnel and a tent full of your wares involved, it can be gustier than people realize and even devastating. Many event planners are not artists themselves and may or may not have ever set up at a show themselves, so these types of details are not always noticed or planned for.

The best affordable EzUp in my opinion is the “Express” model which has a steel frame that uses an entire support system “web” inside the tent canopy. You can see the Express model here. They are much stronger and will – with proper weighting and/or staking – last much longer should windy conditions develop (and they do).

Also, most long-standing outdoor shows will usually require white top or blue top tents. White is generally always safe. Check with shows in your area to be sure.

Even though your tent will come with stakes, good (heavy) weights on all four legs are a must. This, of course is to keep your tent anchored down and from blowing away. Many shows will actually fine artists whose tents disrupt, or cause damage, at a show. Plus you’ll be held responsible for paying for the damage to other artists’ stuff that your tent may have caused. Also, weights are doubly important as a part of your arsenal of tools because some shows do not allow staking.

Know Your Surroundings

I just want to also mention here to watch out for hidden holes, spaces with trees where birds roost and leaky plumbing, etc.. Like I mentioned before – event planners are not often artists themselves. They may put together an event, but may not have actually ever set up at one themselves and they just may not be aware of all the things to look for. I’ve attended a couple events where everything looked like a great spot for a little market, only to find out oops! – that’s the “bird poop” tree or the building next door channels water off the roof right there, etc.. This is especially important when trying out a newly created market event. Usually the long-time shows have figured this stuff out.

Creative Display

Almost anything can be turned into a display tool. Shutters and fireplace screens can display jewelry, small bookcases can add height, plant hangers and hooks can hang from your tent, decorative candelabrum with flat style holders can be used to display clusters of smaller items, etc..

I’ve seen some artists use gridwall to anchor in the center of their tent and display clothing and other items on that (which also provides extra anchoring weight.) I bought a used hat tree for my crochet hat designs and it was a life saver. Because before I had that, sometimes my styrofoam heads, in spite of my efforts, would catch a gust of wind and there’d go flying a head across the place with my crochet along with it.

Leeping_Deer_Tapestry_Crochet

My tapestry crochet piece. It’s about 5 feet square. This design was adapted from the work of Catherine Cartwright-Jones and her machine knitting book called “Enchanted Knitting.” This motif was originally designed for a hat and came from a tattoo design found on an ice princess mummy. An anniversary gift to my mother-in-law.

Don’t forget the power of PVC pipe. You can see the roughly 6 foot frame my husband made for me to display a 5 foot square tapestry crochet piece here.

It’s very sturdy and “modular’ as it can be completely dismantled and stored in an old lawn chair bag.

I have also seen (believe it or not) stained glass hung from pvc pipe frame that was wired to a tent frame. This was done indoors, using a tent frame with the canopy removed. (See, even if you’re not doing an outdoor show, a tent frame can still be very useful.)

Networking to Find Shows and Improve Experience

Get to know other seasoned artists and artisans. Most people are good people and most want to be helpful and help others on their path to success at shows. And in all honesty, it makes for a better show experience all the way around, if everyone is helpful to each other and helps the newbies learn the ropes. Seriously! I can’t tell you how many wonderful and seasoned artists have helped me out over the years, giving me insight that can only come from years of experience, saving me some serious headaches and helping me make good decisions too. It doesn’t matter if they are in your exact field or not. There are many things about shows that are all the same. And these folks can tell you where to get the best equipment, the best prices, and even what’s a good compromise and what’s not and to stand up for yourself as an artist. Likewise, if someone steps out to help you, be sure to appreciate them back!

Depending on your market, check with local cities (most have at least an annual event), schools and art/craft clubs. If there is an Etsy Street Team in your area, I highly recommend joining it. Or find a local art or craft group and join it. Many of the better groups are juried, so do keep that in mind. A juried group means you have to pass the muster before you can join. And you may find shows that are juried as well. This is a way to keep the quality and standards high, as well as maintain the integrity of the market – which in the long run spells success for its participants. Even 6 months or a year with a group like one of these will be invaluable for the information, experience, opportunities, and relationships you will gain. Plus it’s always nice to do a show with folks you know who can watch your back and support your work.

Advantages to Help During a Show

I personally feel if you can get help to run your booth, it’s well worth doing and the bigger the show, perhaps the more helpful additional hands are if you can get them. Two people to run a booth is good to start until you get to know your venues. However, when I did a couple shows with our Etsy Austin Street Team, several of us shared a single booth space to help gain exposure for the team as well as each of us. And it was (surprisingly) a very nice experience in that there were several of us available to help sell everyone’s items, watch the crowds and handle the credit card sales, etc..

Getting help with your booth is especially good if your helper(s) can offset any weaknesses you might have in public presentation. If you’re not so great with how to arrange your set up, maybe your helper has more the eye for how to arrange the booth to be a pleasant space people want to stay in and not feel like they’re about to be trapped. Or, if you’re like me – good at the talking, but less good at handling multiple points of sales at the same time, a helper would be great to help handle extra customers or paperwork stuff while you focus on your presentation. The “expert” and the “support” person makes a great basic team.

Confidence in Numbers

Another good reason to have help is strength in numbers or just support when you’re not sure what to do. I personally still struggle with what to do with bad situations with ugly competitors. Truly I just want everyone to be nice and I don’t personally know how to be mean on purpose when you need to. For instance, at a *juried* show I did last year (which was surprising because usually juried shows also mean better manners all around), I ended up with a competing hat maker’s husband standing in front of my booth, wearing her hats. Before I realized what was really going on, he started annoying people and blocking folks from being able to walk into my booth. It took a friend of mine coming over from her booth to say something to him before I could figure out how to politely get the guy away from my traffic. That was one of those situations where I really could have used my own husband or someone to help me with that one. I’m just not geared to be mean, nor able to be very confrontational in my own booth space.

So, if you have a hard time with stuff like that, having help with you who can run interference for you can be invaluable.

So What’s Holding You Back!

These are just some observations from my own experiences over the years. I hope you find them helpful in your own quest to branch out and sell face-to-face at shows. I’ll write a Part II to go with this at some point, as there’s certainly a lot that can go into being prepared for a show. So let me know if you liked this article and would like to see more.

In the mean time, if you have some ideas you think will help others – feel free to post them in the comments below!

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Filed under Business, crochet, Doing the Show Circuit

My Latest Crochet Collection – Teddy Bear Hats for Toddlers….


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Well, I figured I’d share with you guys the collection of crochet I’ve been working on of late. These are my latest designs specifically for the toddler/preschool sized head. I’m putting together a collection of items to go in a local gift store and I have a custom order with some special considerations, so it was good timing for the two right now. These are all created from some of the softest fibers I’ve worked with and with the exception of one hat in this collection so far, out of fibers that are no longer available. The bows you see are not permanently attached to the hats yet, just in case my customers do not want a bow, with the exception of the orange hat, which I have already permanently secured. It has a blend made with a very unusual fiber that happens to be the softest of the bunch. The glass globe you see is the perfect size to display these.

Hopefully these designs will be just the thing for each of my customers!

Baby Blue Bear Pink Bow 2 Baby Blue Bear Pink Bow

Black Brown Bear 2

Black Brown Bear 3

Blue White Green Pink Bear 2

Blue White Green Pink Bear

Orange Bear Pink Bow 2

Orange Bear Pink Bow

Pink Green White Bear Pink Bow 2

Pink Green White Bear Pink Bow

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What Yarns Are Best for Crochet…?


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This was a question asked on one of the crochet forums I’m on. Thought I’d share my response here. Feel free to add your input in the comments to help others!

I would say that what yarn you use depends on project and attitude actually. I know everyone has an opinion and there are various camps of thought. But my take is more of a unifier of worlds. I’m a true Libran – I dislike division.

You can crochet with anything. Seriously. And I’ve done it. I’ve mixed all sorts of fibers (some things not even considered “fiber”) and broken most taboos out there. And what I haven’t broken yet, I will endeavor to before I die. You can’t focus on being able to see. This is the eternal quip between my grandmothers and I. “But grandma, if you really know how to crochet, you don’t have to see your stitches, right?” It’s our private little laugh between us. But it’s true. I’ve used lots of stuff people didn’t think you could crochet with. But I also find that people get in a rut with fibers because they only use one type of hook or tool. Hooks can make an incredible difference in the variety of things you can create. Certain ones are better for certain things.

Only once have I come across a fiber that I felt was the spawn of satan and that I refused to try again and actually threw it away. Something called whirly-gig. And the monstrosity was difficult to use because it falls apart. Shouldn’t have been called yarn! In my experience, as long as it doesn’t fall apart, it can be crocheted!

I find most yarns do not meet people’s expectations because they approach it either with preconceived notions or one hook fits all approach. And that’s OK. Specialization is important too. Let the fibers speak to you and you’ll figure out how they best like to be used.  It’s like anything in life, you learn how it works. All fibers have a personality of sorts and a way they “prefer” to be handled. All you do is just figure that out.

I say take the fear and hesitation out of it and just let go. Get some paint and splash it on that canvas and see what you get.

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Fair Trade Chocolate…


Not really related to crochet, but then again, who isn’t inspired by chocolate from time to time….! (Except for you strange non-chocolate fans out there……) ;)  Thought I’d share…..

For those who like chocolate, here’s a company who makes a very good high quality fair trade chocolate. Chocolate desserts are my other hobby and I’m very picky about chocolate.  In fact, I totally embrace and admit that I am a complete chocolate snob.  So really, this is pretty good chocolate!

http://www.divinechocolateusa.com

(Austinites – there are a few places in town selling Divine Chocolate so you don’t have to mail order if you don’t want!)

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Crochet Movie Titles Fun….


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We had a fun thread awhile back at The Crochet Liberation Front group on www.Ravelry.com (a crochet and knit community) about possible Crochet Movie Titles.

These are the ones I came up with – reposted here for your enjoyment! Feel free to participate and add yourself to the fun in the comments!

How to Lose a Hook in 10 Minutes

Last of the Mohair

Triple X-Stitch

Hot Yarn and Cold Feet

The Accidental Crocheter

What About Bullion?

Bullion 5 (Babylon 5)

Backstitch (Backdraft)

Balls of Furry

Attack of the Zombie Fiber Hookers (John suggested that one!)

101 Things to Do with a Naughty Skein (another John contribution!)

The Cable-Stitch Guy

Cast Away the Sticks!

Chasing Stitches

Chronicles of Intarsia (a technique in crochet)

Cirque du Filet

Clash of the Tritons (a shell stitch)

Code Name: Decrease

Cluster Theory

Cables Under Fire

The Craft (Hey I like it!)

The Hidden Lives of the CLF

Crazy Shell Dundee

Weaving in Ends

Cross Trebles Make Hidden Dragon

Saving Popcorn Stitch

Scary Mohair

The Stash

Star Stitch Troopers

Herringbone and the Half-Close Stitch

The Stitch-hiker’s Guide to the Marquerite (a star stitch)

House of Flying Picots

The Coffee Stain (I know I’m not the only one who has spilled coffee on a project!)

Tapestry C and the Hook of Destiny

That Darn Cat (need I say more?)

Triton A.E.

Basic Crochet 2: Risk Addiction

The Back Loop Killers

Ruffling Evil

OK I had some fun with this…..!  What about you? Add to the creative #crochet fun in the comments below!

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Halloween 20% off SALE! Time to Move On to Gifts!


As you guys already know: It’s Hubby’s and My Birthday Week! In celebration, enjoy 20% off discount on Halloween items! Go check it out! But hurry – this sale will end soon! I don’t do clearance!  www.PixieWorx.etsy.com

OK – that’s it now! Custom Halloween orders are cut off and no more Halloween items will be created for 2009. If I get a chance, I will list the last of the Halloween items left in my Etsy store. Or, you can always give me a call!

For next year, I have some great ideas in mind, including a special spider web design to be hung around a ceiling fan! It’ll be great! And I’ll be spending many months planning it out. Due to the intricacies and time involved, I expect that only a few will be made. But I think it will be so much fun to work on!

Now it is time for me to dedicate my full attention to my truest crochet love – designing hats and the stuff people like to go with them! Don’t worry – there will still be some jewelry! Watch my store and blogs for updates!

Spider_Web_Mini_Smaller_4
Dangling_Spider_smaller_2
Spider_web_Umbrella_Smaller_8radial_4
Spider_Web_Umbrella_smaller_5
Blue_Flower_Monster_5ChristmasSpiderWeb_157inch_9radial_SpiderWeb8_234inch_25radial_SpiderWeb_3 Green_Flower_Monster_3

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It’s My Birthday Week!


My dear hubby and I have birthdays in October that are only 6 days apart. So in our family, between our birthdays is “birthday week” and the weekend that falls in between we call our birthday weekend!

Once a year, I really try to step back from the craziness of Life a bit during that week, keeping it as “zen” as possible and do something personally meaningful that adds to my life experience and memories somehow. And together, we try to do something special every year on our birthday weekend. That and our anniversary near Christmas have been our main “date traditions” we strive to make sure we do something special and different for each year (going on 14 soon)!

So last night, my sister-in-law took the kids and we tried out a new wine bar/Italian cafe in town that we heard great reviews about. It’s called Pizzeria Corvina. It was soooooo goooood! Their coal fired pizza, chicken alfredo, wine and beer selection, desserts and coffee were just excellent! Not to mention the incredible atmosphere and open kitchen and the service was top notch! I could hang out there all day – just simply lovely and the staff are awesome! And open ’til midnight on Saturdays!

We tried to get a photo of us together with the wine in the background, but alas! My camera seems to be on the fritz and it was impossible to get a clear shot! Ack!

Still I think you will like it – go check it out!

Blurry John and I at Pizzeria Corvina For Birthday Weekend!

Blurry Shot at Pizzeria Corvina For Birthday Weekend!

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Giant Crochet Spider Web Pattern…


I am working on my Giant Crochet Spider Web pattern for you folks. This is the kind that can be made up to many feet wide to display in your yard, or a large space. I hope to have it ready to list in my Etsy store this weekend.

Advantages to this design are its durability over most crochet designs, while at the same time, not becoming too bulky or using mass amounts of yarn to achieve this strength.

This spider web pattern utilizes unconventional stitches outside mainstream crochet, which will likely cause it to have an “advanced” crochet skill rating according to the international standard guidelines. However, I believe these unconventional stitches will be easy enough to learn for most folks and are somewhat repetitious.

So stayed tuned for photos and the pattern listing!

Also, watch for a series of spider web umbrellas to be released as well! These umbrellas are a limited run. (I only have so many umbrellas to make these with and only so many webs can be made per week anyway!) So once they are up, grab what you want, because they will be limited this year. Price range for spider web umbrellas depend largely on complexity of the web design and time involved, after consideration of supply cost for the umbrellas themselves. Average time to create a single fairly straight forward spider web umbrella is about 3 hours. Careful handwork in securing the spider web to the umbrella and weaving in several feet of ends is a significant part of the time in my process as well, again depending on complexity of the design. I like to leave several feet for the tails to add to the durability and long-term strength of my crochet webs.

UPDATE: You can find my regular spider web pattern (pdf file) for sale in my Etsy store here:  https://www.etsy.com/listing/82366585/6-foot-spider-web-crochet-pattern.

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I’ve been playing with a new toy called Animoto….



* Fair warning, I’ve noticed that the Animoto videos sometimes play the music twice in a row, even though the video portion is done. So wait for the music to stop before clicking on the 2nd video, or they’ll both play at once.

10 foot Spider Web attached to the side of my tent

10 foot Spider Web attached to the side of my tent

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Getting the Most Out of Your Fiber Blends – The “Half-Stitch” Technique…


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This is an article I wrote over a year ago for potential use on Ravelry or for The Crochet Liberation Front First Ever Book.  Thought I’d reprint it here for your reference.

Getting the Most Out of Your Fiber Blends
The “Half-Stitch” Technique

by Julia Meek Chambers – Aberrant Crochet ™

 Fiber blending in crochet is when we use more than one color and/or fiber in a project at the same time.  Many people have crocheted with at least two fibers at a time to increase the gage of the stitch or add variety to the colors and shading in a product.  It is a great way to add extra dimension to any look.

 Sometimes, in our work, we assemble the perfect combination of colors and textures for a project, only to discover that there’s not enough of one of the fibers to complete it as envisioned.  Whether the lack of yardage is due to budget constraints or because the fiber itself is simply discontinued or otherwise unattainable, this limitation does not have to mean a disappointing dead-end to an otherwise fantastic fiber combination. 

 Why not try using the determinate fiber for partial stitches only?  I call this the “Half-Stitch Technique.”  This technique is accomplished by using the fiber in question for only some loops of a given stitch, but not others in the same stitch. 

 For instance, a single crochet stitch is accomplished in two steps.  If you don’t have enough of a fiber to complete an entire project or section of single crochet, then with the Half-Stitch technique, you would instead use the fiber in only one half of each stitch and then drop it for the second half of each stitch.  Though more understated than being used in a full stitch, this allows the color and texture of your limited fiber to still be present in the project. 

 Remember, there really are no rules in crochet other than the use of a hook, so give it a whirl and see what this technique can do for you!

  Copyright © 2003 – 2009 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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