Willow Mist Boutique

Name: Jennifer Gallentine
Business name: Willow Mist Acres Farm Boutique
Website(s): Willow Mist Acres
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I have been a local fiber artist for the past 4 years, I have an alpaca farm Willow Mist Acres, but I also have some llamas, an angora goat, and a dromedary camel.  I hand process all of my own fleeces, wash, dye, card, and spin them into functional art yarns, I also am a supplier of hand dyed sari silk ribbon yarns.
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I spin, weave, crochet, needle and wet felt and have tried every aspect of the fiber arts at least once… if I enjoyed it, twice.

I have recently opened up a small artisan boutique Willow Mist Boutique in Latrobe PA, that focuses heavily on the fiber arts.  I carry hand dyed and hand spun yarns and fiber from over 30 indie fiber artists from across the country and Canada. I am thoroughly enjoying the studio space in my shop and it’s such a zen feeling to get to work in this environment.
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I have been trying to organize some classes and workshops here at the shop in anything from crochet and knitting, to beading, essential oils, and a monthly pinterest craft!  Looking forward to seeing everyone at this year’s Indie Knit & Spin…willowmist1

Amelia and Wiggles

Names: Karen Cuffaro and Rebecca DeSensi
Business Name: Amelia and Wiggles – Farm Fresh Fibers
Website(s): Amelia and Wiggles Site
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What got you interested in your art of choice?
Rebecca and I got interested in our business from hearing fiber farmer’s concerns that they don’t have enough time after taking care of their animals to promote their fiber business. Also some farmers don’t have the time to deal with the fiber and make the choices they have to when processing it into consumer products. We want to help them with this process and grow their business.

What do you most enjoy about what you do?
We are just starting Amelia and Wiggles and the launch of our website will coincide with the Indie Knit and Spin event. Corresponding with all the different farmers and fiber artists around the county has been a pleasure. I have a much deeper appreciation of talent that exists in our country and the dedication towards their animals and the fiber arts.
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What most inspires you?
Promoting and selling unique yarn, roving and products that are produced in our country. Gathering unique fibers together in one place and the happy faces you see when someone finds a yarn or roving that inspires them.
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What makes your creations unique?
All products sold by Amelia and Wiggles are from American fiber farmers, family owned mini-mills and fiber artists. These products are like a vintage wine that can’t be reproduced exactly from year to year. Each year a fiber animal can produce a slightly different fiber. Diet, environment, weather and stress factors all play a role in the quality, quantity and color of the fiber.

What is something you strive to offer the fiber arts community?
To be a trusted company that the fiber consumer comes to for unique quality products that last generations and will be passed down to family members.
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How is the fiber arts world different for you today than it was five years ago?
So much has happened in the last 5 years. We have met so many artistic and talented fiber artists. The fiber crafts have grown and we have seen more people renewing or learning a fiber craft. More men are participating in knitting, crocheting and designing. Which is adding diversity to the choice in patterns? Businesses have blossomed providing income for families and a way for Mom to stay home and take care of her kids. There is more interest in specialty yarn. Fiber artists are moving away from the big box craft stores and trying different yarn fibers either purchased at their local yarn store or on the Internet.
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Gwen Erin Natural Fibers

Name :Gwen Brown
Business Name: Gwen Erin Natural Fibers
website(s): Gwen Erin Natural Fibers Shop, Website
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What kind of items do you make?
On some level I feel like I don’t “make” anything. The sheep do the real work, growing all that wool! But I take it when they are done and make it available to other fiber enthusiasts, both in natural and handdyed colors. I work with the fleeces at every stage. Locks, simply washed and dyed. Roving or combed top, cleaned, processed, and dyed. Batts, many fibers carded and blended. Yarn, dyed and handspun. At the top of the pyramid I have some finished goods, such as mittens and jewelry. But my primary focus is the fiber and its potential.

How long have you been in indie artist?

I began selling during the holiday season of 2006. In my naivety I only brought five pairs of fingerless mittens with me to the craft show along with a few other items. I quickly learned you can never have enough. Over the course of several years, I slowly began attending more and more fiber shows, all the while adding new items to my inventory. The past two years my event schedule has included 8-10 different festivals. I work primarily in northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, however this year I have expanded into New York.
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What do you most enjoy about what you do?
There are a lot of things to love about working with fiber and in the fiber arts industry. It’s constantly changing – there are always new things on the market. It can be difficult and overwhelming trying to keep up with what is new and current, who is the popular designer or dyer of the moment. I do like the variety, but I would say I have stayed in a fairly traditional box. If you are looking for something new, it isn’t necessary to add cassette tape or bolts to your yarn. There are so many beautiful options just within the natural world. I love exploring the many breeds of sheep and I try to keep a good variety for my customers who are also attracted to that aspect of the craft. When it comes to the dyeing part, I really enjoy the unpredictably of it. I know there are other dyers who follow very scientific and repeatable processes, but I simply cannot work that way. When I stand there in the kitchen, with my jars of dye in front of me, I can’t plan it. The end result is whatever it will be.
The chaos I force upon everyone else. Woolly explosion!

Fibernymph Dye Works

Name: Lisa Beamer
Business: Fibernymph Dye Works
Website(s): Fibernymph Blog, Fibernymph Shop
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What kind of items do you make?
I specialize in dyeing self-striping yarn and gradient-dyed yarns and spinning fiber.

How long have you been in indie artist?
I’ve been dyeing for close to three years now, though I was designing knit patterns prior to that.
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What got you interested in your art of choice?
As an avid knitter, I loved using interesting and unique yarns for my projects. I decided it would be fun to channel my creativity in the direction of making my own yarns for other crafters to enjoy!

What do you most enjoy about what you do?
The creative nature of it. I love playing with colors and patterns. When I’m dyeing, I go into a different place and the process just takes over. It’s wonderful!

What most inspires you?
Color. I love color.
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What makes your creations unique?
They’re unique because they come from me and my own creative spirit. I don’t try to recreate things I’ve seen, but rather I am constantly thinking of new ways to tweak striping patterns and apply them to the items I sell.

Do you have a favorite item or colorway?
I pretty much love all of my babies, LOL, but right now I have to say I’m having a lot of fun creating my Inversibles Sets. I originally created them with socks in mind, but I’ve seen some really innovative finished objects that people have made with them, and it thrills me that they’re taking them and using them in such outside-of-the-box ways.
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What is something you strive to offer the fiber arts community?
High quality yarn and fiber products along with excellent service.

Does being an indie fiber artist affect other aspects of your life?
Yes. My work is closely integrated to my own hobbies as well – knitting, spinning, and most recently weaving – that it is hard to draw a line between work and play. Plus, I work from home. My studio is here, where I live, so I’m pretty much always at work in some ways (thankfully I enjoy it!). My kids have been a part of my business from the start, and now that they’re getting older and moving on to their own paths in life, I’ve been able to involve some friends in my business who have been invaluable to me, and it’s given me a chance to share my passion with them, as well as provide opportunities for them at times when they needed them. I really love the holistic nature of what I do.
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HipStrings

Name: Jill & Nicolas Duarte
Business name: HipStrings
Website(s): HipStrings Website, HipStrings Shop
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What kind of items do you make?
We make support spindles, fiber tools, and offer a variety of natural and handdyed fiber (and even a little yarn!).

How long have you been in indie artist?
This is our first year, and our first show – be nice!

What got you interested in your art of choice?
When I first started spinning, I fell in love with spinning cotton with Tahkli-style spindles, but I was dreadfully jealous of all the other beautiful spindles out there. When Techshop opened in Pittsburgh, I got the inspiration to use modern materials that could be etched to make a superior Tahkli-style spindle – and HipStrings was born. I am also interested in naturally colored and dyeing with natural and organic dyes because I’m allergic to some dyes and it’s kept me from being to enjoy many of the beautiful hand-dyed fiber available. I love working with fiber that spins well on my spindles, and sharing it with others.
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What do you most enjoy about what you do?
I love creating things that I immensely enjoy and being able to share that with other people. That our work brings joy to other people is the icing on the cake. I love trying out new things that aren’t necessarily the typical offerings in the marketplace and breaking fiber stereotypes – like spinning cotton is hard.

What most inspires you?
We are both greatly inspired by Art Nouveau and mid century modern design. It is also inspiring to mix new technology (laser cutter/3D printing/carbon fiber/etc) with “old” technology (spindles, handspinning, dyeing).

What makes your creations unique?
Our spindles are unlike anything on the market, making use of “modern” materials such as acrylic and carbon fiber to improve the performance of ancient technology – spindles. The fiber we sell has been carefully selected and prepped to optimize your spindle spinning experience.
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Do you have a favorite item or colorway?
My favorite item is the Mistral support spindle. This Tahkli style spindle is a joy to use and super productive – I can usually fill it up in a day or two of spinning. Though my Akha spindle prototype is a close second – the first set of them should be ready for their debut at Indie Knit & Spin.

What is something you strive to offer the fiber arts community?
We aim to provide tools for the fiber arts that are both ideally suited to their purpose while being decorative and inspiring at the same time. For our fiber, we want to provide fiber that is a joy to spin on spindles (and wheels!) while also being heavy metal free.

Does being an indie fiber artist affect other aspects of your life?
We are constantly looking for designs that would look good on circles, looking to nature for color combinations for dyeing, and always wondering how we could use new materials for spindles. It’s been amazing how so many other skills we’ve collectively accumulated have been applicable to being a fiber artist.
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What is your fiber arts superpower?
Making spindles that spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin….and making fiber batts that magically turn themselves into singles in the blink of an eye.

How is the fiber arts world different for you today than it was five years ago?
I was just getting into fiber arts in a serious way five years ago – then I discovered Ravelry, and joined a knitting group that became some of my best friends in Pittsburgh. I love the community, and the ability to experiment on a daily basis, whether it’s with crochet, knitting, spinning, weaving, fiber prep or spindle making. Coming from a science background, it’s such a great way for both of us to combine both of our technical prowess with our creative minds.
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CosyKnits (literally)

Name: Cosette Cornelius-Bates
Business: CosyKnits (literally) AKA cosymakes
Website(s): cosymakes website, cosymakes shop, on facebook
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What kind of items do you make?
I hand dye semi-solid yarns in several different weights, and Falkland top for spinners.  I also design patterns and sell some handspun yarns.

How long have you been in indie artist?
I started making stuff and selling at Indie fairs 8 years ago.

What got you interested in your art of choice?
I got interested in knitting when I saw a college friend doing it, and it has kind of snowballed since then. This snowball has included teaching knitting and spinning, a knitting book, years selling art hats at Indie craft fairs, and all sorts of other various related things.
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What most inspires you?
Life. Living. Nature, food, playing with my son, memories, etc.

What makes your creations unique?
I tend to design for a unique set of circumstances: Christmas presents for family, a new baby being born, a special event in the life of a friend or whatever. This makes my designs not just a practice in math skills and design, but infuses them with meaning and intention.

As dyeing goes, I mix all my colors from primaries, and I go less for unique (although I do get some interesting colors), and more for what I want to knit with or spin.

What is something you strive to offer the fiber arts community?
This Indie Fiber Festival! I hope everyone enjoys it!

What is your fiber arts superpower?
I am an enabler. I have never not been able to teach someone how to knit, but I also enable people to sell their wares, to create, to dye and to do all sorts of strange things.

I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but it is.
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The Ross Farm

Name: Amy Ross Manko
Business name: The Ross Farm
Website(s): The Ross Farm Website
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What kind of items do you make?
We produce fleece, roving, locks, batting and yarn from our flock of Heritage and Rare Breed sheep that we raise on our PA Century Farm.

How long have you been in indie artist?
I’ve been an indie artist for as long as I can remember. I’ve been producing wool products for about a year.

What got you interested in your art of choice?
I was looking for a way to ‘work smarter. not harder’ with our wool flock and I wasn’t interested in raising animals specifically for meat, so fiber animals seemed like the perfect fit. We chose to work with Heritage and Rare Breeds because our farm has been in my family for over 100 years and is on the National Register of Historic Places so anything that wasn’t “old school” seemed like it would be less than authentic.
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What do you most enjoy about what you do?
Two things: Lambing season and shearing! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cute little lambies but the big payoff is when we shear and the fleece falls off the animals in silky, shiny locks. It’s like Christmas! You see, on the animals, it looks sort of scraggly and muddy and blah, but that’s just the outside. Inside the fleece is where the magic is. They may look like light brown marshmallows in the field but when you peel that back they may be shining silver or midnight black or warm dark chocolate on the inside. I just love that.

What most inspires you?
What inspires me most is my sheep. I know that sounds stupid, but I feel like my products have to do them justice. They worked a whole year to grow that fleece, and it’s my responsibility to make it SPECTACULAR. It’s different when you have a relationship with your product.
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What makes your creations unique?
What makes my creations unique is their simplicity. All of my yarn is 100% natural wool. “Un-fooled-around-with” as the commercial says. The color you see is the color it grew on my sheep. It never ceases to amaze me how many shades and tones you can get from these guys!

Do you have a favorite item or colorway?
My favorite item is Moonbear Snuggle, a bulky yarn I make from my registered Romney ram Moonbear. He’s such a dear, darling ram and his fleece is just soooo smooshy! (Please don’t tell the others… they are fabulous too!)

What is something you strive to offer the fiber arts community?
I strive to offer the fiber community an alternative to the gorgeous hand-painted and hand-dyed BFL and Merino yarns that most folks use. Believe me, I love those too! But, if you dig natural stuff, I’ve got you covered!
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Does being an indie fiber artist affect other aspects of your life?
Yep. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t heard my topic on the critically endangered Leicester Longwool sheep that we raise and the importance of preserving rare breeds for their beauty and versatility. I’m a shepherd. It’s who I am.

What is your fiber arts superpower?
My fiber arts super power is the ability to teach myself to make just about anything as a sample for our booth by watching a video on youtube. That, and predicting what the offspring are going to look like when I’m planning my cross-breeding of my sheep.

How is the fiber arts world different for you today than it was five years ago?
Five years ago I was a non-profit manager and I knew the fiber arts world existed, but I wasn’t involved. Now I’m a compulsive knitter and I’ve discovered spinning competitions, my new ‘sport’!
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SpaceCadet Creations

Name: Stephanie
Business name: SpaceCadet Creations
Website(s): spacecadetcreations.com
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What kind of items do you make?
I hand-dye yarn for knitters and crocheters. I truly believe that the world would be a better, calmer, nicer place if more people knit and crocheted. My goal is to help make that happen by creating beautiful, vibrant yarn for people to work with.

What got you interested in your art of choice?
My love of the fiber arts has been life-long: my first spinning lesson was when I was 11 (it didn’t stick) and one morning, when I was 19, I woke up and decided I needed to learn to knit — right there, right then. I stumbled into a degree in Textiles and Clothing, and learned to weave along the way. And I enjoyed all those things, but it wasn’t until I began dyeing that I really felt I’d found my calling. Working with fiber and colour in such an immediate and intimate way really stirs something inside me — once I started dyeing, I never looked back!

What do you most enjoy about what you do?
One of the best things about being a dyer is knowing that what I am creating is straight into the hands of a knitter or a crocheter — a real person, often someone I know personally — who is going to love it and cherish it and use it to create something beautiful. I’m not just dyeing yarn, I’m dyeing yarn for someone. Having that connection is wonderful to me.
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What most inspires you?
I see colours in my head constantly. A piece of music, the sound of windchimes, the smell of falling leaves in the air — all of it produces colour before my eyes. If I can hold onto the vision of those colours long enough, I can capture them in yarn. Sometimes the memory of the colours slips away before I get the chance and it’s almost impossible to bring back once it’s gone. How I wish my brain had a Save button!

Do you have a favorite item or colorway?
I’m kind of secretly in love with Aurora. It has 20% cashmere and it’s just so incredibly soft. Even now, when it’s hanging in the studio, I find myself reaching out to touch it every time I walk by. And it’s not something I can really express to people on a website, you just have to touch it. That’s part of why I like doing shows so much — seeing people meet the yarns in person, watching their faces light up. It’s a completely different experience to buying yarn online.
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Does being an indie fiber artist affect other aspects of your life?
What, you mean besides the fact that yarn is slowly beginning to take over my entire house?!? Yeah, being a dyer impacts everything — the way I look at the world, the visuals I try to capture and hold onto, even the way I relate to people. If I sit down to talk with somebody, it kind of feels weird if we’re both not knitting too. Do you know, it still blows me away when I realise there are people out for whom knitting and crocheting are somehow old fashioned?!? Having yarn in my hands is just so natural to me, I don’t really get how it can not be as natural for everyone else too!

How is the fiber arts world different for you today than it was five years ago?
We moved here from Britain five years ago and, at that time, so much of the fiber arts community existed in isolation. Knitters didn’t really know each other that much, and lots of people knit in isolation — and struggled with new techniques or pattern errata with no one to ask for help or support. That’s changed so much in the last five years — the whole community is connected now. We know each other, we support each other. Knitting and crochet used to be more of a ‘me’ thing, and now it’s a really an ‘us’ thing. Just look at Knit the Bridge… would that have been half as successful five years ago? No way. And could I, as a dyer, been able to have such a real and satisfying connection with my customers five years ago, the way I do now? No, the whole thing has changed completely, and it’s a really wonderful thing.
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Wren & Rita

Name: Ana Brito
Business name: Wren & Rita
Website(s): Wren & Rita Website, on Facebook
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What kind of items do you make?
I sew just about anything, such as pouches to store all those miscellaneous knitting gadgets, needle rolls, circular organizers, small draw string project bags, tote bags, large project bags.

How long have you been in indie artist?
I’ve been an indie artist for many years but my business was created during the summer of 2009

What got you interested in your art of choice?
Yarn is my passion and I’m a knitter at heart but I just never had much interest in designing items since everyone else does it so well. I’ve been interested in sewing for many years but was always “scared” of the machine. One day, after moving to Pittsburgh in 2005, an idea for a circular needle organizer popped in my head and the rest is history.

What do you most enjoy about what you do?
Knowing that I’m creating items that are useful as well as appealing to the eye.

What most inspires you?
All my crafty friends.
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What makes your creations unique?
Face it, I haven’t invented the wheel but my items are well thought out and well made. I take great pride in creating pieces that you will use for many years.

Do you have a favorite item or colorway?
Typically, it depends on the time of the year, but I love my earthy tones and colors.

What is something you strive to offer the fiber arts community?
Organization! Don’t you want to know where those size 7 needles are rather than buying another set?

Does being an indie fiber artist affect other aspects of your life?
I’m much more aware of where I buy things. I believe in supporting local artists and local shops whenever possible.

What is your fiber arts superpower?
Project monogomy!

How is the fiber arts world different for you today than it was five years ago?
This year was big year for me! I found a wheel that I love and have been spinning away. I even purchased two fleeces!
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Great Lakes Hand Dyed

Name: Elizabeth Deremiah
Business name: Great Lakes Hand Dyed
Website(s): Great Lakes Hand Dyed Shop
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What kind of items do you make?
Kettle dyed, variegated, self striping and color shifting yarns.

How long have you been in indie artist?
Since February 2012

What got you interested in your art of choice?
I love to knit and crochet. There was a point in my knitting and crocheting career that left me wanting more. I had read a few tutorials on dyeing yarn and decided to try it out on my own. I found it relaxing and another way to express myself as a creative individual. I love creating and sharing my yarns with others and hearing their glee when they receive squishy packages in the mail from me.
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What do you most enjoy about what you do?
Other than the actual process of dyeing, my favorite part of being a yarn dyer is interacting with customers who are excited about my yarns and seeing what they make with it. I’m very guilty of looking through project knit with my yarn on Ravelry and squealing with glee.

What most inspires you?
My everyday life is my biggest inspiration. My life is full of geekery like Harry Potter, video games like Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy. Also, funny situations that sound like great colorways often make their way into my shop.
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What makes your creations unique?
I love experimenting with new processes of yarn dyeing. I’m always trying new techniques and seeing how knitters and crocheters like them. My shop is always full of new and interesting yarns.

Do you have a favorite item or colorway?
My current favorite is overdyeing yarns. I currently have a colorway that was inspired by new hair called Vibrato. It’s base is black, then overdyed sapphire blue and then overdyed purple. It is dyed on my favorite base which has merino, silk, nylon and metallic fibers.

What is something you strive to offer the fiber arts community?
Something new and interesting to look for constantly. I hope to inspire people to check back in the shop every once in a while to see what I’m up to.
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Does being an indie fiber artist affect other aspects of your life?
People at my day job are always asking me what I’m knitting or dyeing. I have provided education to a lot of “muggles” (non knitting folk) about properties of wool and the process of dyeing. So there are some well educated muggles out there!

What is your fiber arts superpower?
Turning a ruined skein of yarn into something incredible. I have said “oh shoot” so many times. Often, they’re my favorite skeins!

How is the fiber arts world different for you today than it was five years ago?
5 years ago, I was pretty young and still in high school. My fiber world was my mom’s crochet books and box store yarn. Now that I’ve seen and experience the wonderful people in the fiber arts world, I can’t imagine a life without it.
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