{Five Minutes With} Dizzy Miss James

Dizzy miss James Fox

Hello! It’s time for another meet and greet with another very lovely and talented designer-maker. This week I’m chatting to Victoria James of Dizzy Miss James about her bold and beautiful designs and homewares. If you like what you see, make sure you read on to the end as there’s a very special discount code for Beak up Crafts readers!

Dizzy Miss James Panda cushions


Hello! First things first, how did you come up with the idea for Dizzy Miss James and how long have you been in business please? 

Hi Kate! There’s a story behind the name. A few years ago my life took a challenging and unusual turn when I became ill with a balance disorder called uncompensated Labryinthits. This meant I felt severe dizziness and unbalance all of the time and struggled to focus on everyday tasks I previously took for granted. Unfortunately I had to give up my job and put on hold my aspirations of being an artist to concentrate on my health.

I was in recovery for many years and during this time I started sewing and made brooches from old jeans and shirts. I gave them to family members as gifts, whatever the occasion, I found it helped with my condition and I just couldn’t stop making. I began to turn my character sketches into fabric brooches and embroidery hoop art. Before I knew it I was surrounded by my creations and had run out of space! I decided to start selling them online and Dizzy Miss James was born!

(Read more about my experience with living with a chronic illness here.)

Dizzy Miss James rabbit cushionWhat is your background in design and do you run your business full or part-time?

I have a background in printed textiles and surface decoration. In 2008 I was studying for a degree in Fine Art but unfortunately I was unable to finish due to illness.  I first began making as a hobby while I was undergoing treatment.  I finally plucked up the courage to try selling online and opened my little Etsy store.  My business then started to grow and last year with help and business mentoring from Pinetree I started working full time as a designer and have never looked back!

What does an average day look like for you?

My typical day usually begins with a cup of tea, breakfast, pinning lovelies on Pinterest and replying to emails. I then pack up my orders. I love making my packages look pretty before sending them on their way. I then have a spot of lunch and browse and update my social media sites. The rest of my day may consist of designing, making, researching, blogging, admin and stocktaking. And of course cake there is always cake!

Dizzy Miss James panda tote bag

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

I am inspired by nature and many of my designs are often based on the beautiful wildlife of my home county of Northumberland. I have a love of Scandinavian and mid-century design which you can see the influence in my work and throughout my home. Bold, colour and shapes is what I’m all about.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I love what I do and it doesn’t feel like work.  With my condition I spent many years unable to do any work and relying heavily on others.  Now I thrive on creativity and the daily tasks needed to run my business.  I find I have the opposite problem I find it hard to know when to stop or slow down.  I think it is very important to schedule time off to recuperate when running your own business.

How do you split your time effectively between designing/making and doing admin/finances and do you have any time management tips?

Good time management is essential.  I am a big fan of lists, planning each day out into manageable bite size pieces.

I know it’s not everyone’s favourite  part of running a business but try and keep your book keeping up to date, that way you avoid having to do lots of admin all in one go.  There are a lot of great accounting clouds available out there like QuickFile. You can connect the cloud to your business and PayPal accounts so it automatically uploads your transactions, this really helps!

Dizzy Miss James Badger cushion

Set time aside to work on designing new products, making sure you have no distractions. It’s always easy to get lost in things like social media and before you know it you’ve lost a couple of hours. We all do it!

When it comes to the making streamline the process as much as possible. Once the initial prototype is refined try to make in batches, using templates for ease and consistency. Making things to order can be hard work especially if you get a larger order. It’s always good to have made up products ready to ship.

Finally, do you have any offers or discount codes that you would like to share with my readers please?

I’ve got a 20% discount code* for your readers just enter code  BEAKUPCRAFTS on checkout at www.dizzymissjames.co.uk

*Valid until end of July 2015


Victoria’s Quickfire questions

Cats or Dogs – Dogs
Instagram or Facebook – Instagram
Spring or Summer – Spring
Friday night or Sunday morning – Friday night
Killer heels or Flats – Flats
City break or Beach holiday – City break
Book or Film – Film
Cake or Crisps – Cake
Wool or Wood – Wool
Fruit or Veg – Veg


I love Victoria’s designs and I think her story is really inspiring. I hope you enjoyed reading this feature and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Lots of creative business love,

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A Month in Pictures ~ #makeitmarch

makeitmarch 2 - melimelonshop, laylamdb, _tweedfiend, florafairweather

I had such a blast on Instagram last month thanks to everyone who took part in my daily posting challenge #makeitmarch. Thank you so much to everyone who got involved and shared a picture every day. By the end there were about 2,000 photos in the #makeitmarch gallery and so much inspiration and creative ideas on display. If you haven’t had a look already I really recommend you check it out!

I found some great new accounts to follow over the course of the month and I wanted to share some of my favourite pictures. Links to the Instagram accounts are underneath the photos if you would like to check them out and add some new inspiration and pretty to your feed!

(Main picture: melimelonshoplaylambd_tweedfiendflorafairweather)

makeitmarch3 - goodnightboutique and daphnerosaflowers

(Above: goodnightboutique; daphnerosaflowers)

makeitmarch 1 - _helloharriet, thisislullaby, missleslieanne, emily_hadland

(Above: _helloharriet; emily_hadlandthisislullabymissleslieanne)

If you took part in #makeitmarch I hope you enjoyed it and found as many lovely accounts as I did. If you’ve got any in particular that you think are worth a follow please drop me a line in the comments as I would love to check them out.

Lots of inspirational Instagram love,

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8 of the Best Easter Crochet Patterns

Eastercrochet collage

Easter is coming and chocolate eggs are making me fat. I thought it would be fun to pull together my favourite crochet patterns for Easter and share them here. And the eggs have zero calories too which is always a bonus.

Clockwise from left: Easter Egg Dude hats; Crochet Easter eggs; Easter birds; Easter egg basket; Stripey egg cosies; Chick in a rabbit costume; Easter rabbit baby hat and nappy cover; Pretty hanging egg decoration.

Are you doing any crafting for Easter? I would love to hear what you’re making.

Lots of crochet love,

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#makeitmarch ~ A Daily Instagram Challenge

#makeitmarch - Beak Up Crafts

Hello everyone! Who’s up for a bit of fun on Instagram?

Last summer I challenged crafters and makers to share the things that inspired them on Instagram using the hashtag #craftyaugust. Hundreds of people took part and it was so good to see so much creativity and inspiration, both with things people were making and what their plans were for the future.

I was blown away by the number of people who got involved and after so much positive feedback I thought it was about time for another challenge!

Starting on March 1st, I’m going to be using Instagram to document the crafty goings on in my life again and I’d LOVE you to join me! All you need to do is follow the daily prompts and put the hashtag #makeitmarch on your pictures!

It’s a good way to give you a daily idea of what to post (if you get stuck for ideas) and if you make lovely products, art and crafts it’s great to show off your wares, share what inspires you and give everyone a sneaky peak into your creative process.

All you need to do is take a look at the picture below, post a photo on Instagram relating to the listed topic on that day and use the hashtag #makeitmarch!

I’m hoping this challenge will help connect people who love craft and add to the already amazing crafting community on social media. I found so many brilliant designer-makers thanks to #craftyaugust and I can’t wait to do the same this time. So who’s with me?!

#makeitmarch - Beak Up Crafts

#makeitmarch

March 1 ~ Hello

Share a bit about yourself, the things you like and don’t like and say hello to everyone else who is taking part!

2 ~ Favourite colour combo

What colours are rocking your world at the moment? Do you keep going back to the same colours in your projects or has your head been turned by some new hues?

3 ~ Pattern

This could be a pattern you’re designing, your favourite pattern or piece of material or something found in nature.

4 ~ Stripes

I’m a huge fan of stripes (they always make me think of the seaside and nautical adventures) and today I want to see yours!

5 ~ Something blue

Spring is coming and skies are getting bluer and brighter. Are you working on something blue, have some blue flowers growing in your garden or some blue decor? It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s blue!

6 ~ What makes you feel positive

This could be anything, from a new notepad, sunshine, a new order on Etsy or finishing the crochet blanket you’ve been working on for months. What is making you feel positive at the moment?

7 ~ Most relaxing place to make

Where do you feel most at home when you’re making things or getting crafty?

8 ~ Positive brights

Get bright and beautiful today and share a photo of something bold and colourful.

9 ~ Odds and ends

Do you struggle to throw away your cut-off bits of wool or cloth? How do you tidy away your odds and ends? Or do you have a collection of random bits and pieces in a jar or drawer? I would love to see them!

10 ~ Gathered together

This could be flowers pulled together in a loose posy, a bunch of leaves and twigs or scraps of fabric or wool for a project. Have you gathered anything together for a project?

11 ~ Spring inspiration

Use the new season to inspire your photo today, with pictures of flowers, lambs or Easter eggs just a few ideas!

12 ~ Fresh air

Getting outside can be so inspiring. Today is all about sharing what inspires you outside your home, office or studio.

13 ~ Decluttered

The dreaded or eagerly anticipated spring clean is upon us. How do you keep things tidy and make your workspace simple and decluttered? Or do you thrive on having everything everywhere? Time to share!

14 ~ On my desk

What is currently on your desk?

15 ~ I would like to learn how to…

Share the one thing you would love to learn more than anything else right now. It can be a new craft, a new language or how to cook a certain dish. Whatever it is, I would love to see!

16 ~ Calm

What makes you feel calm and relaxed? It could be your relaxing bedroom, a hot bath, a holiday somewhere tropical, a certain piece of music or picking up a crochet hook. Today is the day to bask in the calm.

17 ~ New

Have you got something new that you love and want to share or sing the praises of? Or what is on your wish list? Time to share the newness in your life.

18 ~ Organisation

How do you stay organised? I would love to see how you do this, especially if it includes any pretty stationery!

19 ~ Sunshine yellow

You can post a picture of anything you like today, as long as it’s sunshine yellow!

20 ~ Nature

I love getting outside and I find it helps me think of lots of ideas for new projects. What do you love about nature?

21 ~ Unplugged

What do you love doing to unwind away from your TV, computer, laptop or phone? Do you read, craft or do something totally off the wall?

22 ~ Black and White

Post a picture of anything you like today as long as it’s black and white. This could be a portrait or your current work in progress for example.

23 ~ Love

Time to feel the love! Who, what or where do you love? Share the love today!

24 ~ Favourite quote

This could be a quote that inspires you, something motivational or a favourite lyric or from a poem.

25 ~ Music

What’s your favourite song at the moment or what kind of music makes you happy or gets you moving?

26 ~ I’m excited about…

What is the one thing that’s making you really excited at the moment? It could be anything, from a new dress to just booking a holiday or maybe that long-running craft project which you’ve just finished.

27 ~ Best food

Is there one type of food which makes your belly smile and make you feel energised? Share your favourite meal, snack or recipe that helps to keep your creative juices flowing today.

28 ~ Metallics

Do you use gold, silver, bronze or copper tones in your crafts or do you have hints of metallics in your home decor? Today is the day to get glitzy.

29 ~ Stationery

I’m such a stationery geek and love all things paper. What’s your favourite notebook, card, planner or calendar?

30 ~ Goals

What are your creative, business or personal goals for the rest of 2015? It would be great to share them and hopefully we can all help each other achieve them as the year goes on!


How do I get involved?
It’s really easy! You could save the image above or like it on Instagram so you’ve always got it handy. Then, use the daily prompts to share your creativity with the world! Take a photo each day, upload it to Instagram and tag it with #makeitmarch. I will do a roundup halfway through the month and one at the end to see what everyone has been up to!

What if I miss a day?
Don’t sweat it – just pop the kettle on, make a cup of tea and catch up in your own time.

Can I post the challenge photo on my Instagram?
Definitely! That way you will always have it and other people might see it and get involved too, spreading the crafty love. Just don’t forget to use the hashtag!


That’s it! I hope you like the idea and get involved!

Looking forward to sharing the crafty love again,

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Why have resolutions when you can have goals?

A Beautiful Mess planner Sharpies and Mollie Makes Stickers - Beak Up Crafts

I’m not a massive fan of New Year’s resolutions as they always come with a certain amount of pressure. If you don’t do them or can’t stick to them then you’ve failed.

I prefer to set myself goals instead as this seems like a much more motivational way to do things. This is my list for the coming year although I might take things off or add things on as the year progresses. If I don’t have an interest in doing something on there any more I don’t see the point in beating myself up all for the sake of a list. But if there’s something else I want to achieve then why not add it on at a later date? Do you see why I prefer goals to resolutions?!

Goals not Resolutions - Beak Up Crafts

Therefore the following list could be subject to change, but as it stands here are the things I would like to do in 2015:

  1. Learn how to weave.
  2. Make something mega using Hoooked Zpagetti super chunky T-Shirt yarn.
  3. Learn calligraphy.
  4. Teach myself/learn how to use my camera in manual mode.
  5. Get one of my crochet patterns featured in a magazine.
  6. Attend a big blogging event.
  7. Do regular exercise (as in more than once a week as opposed to none at all!).
  8. Completely redecorate/chuck all of the rubbish out of our smallest bedroom (this is basically a junk room which could be so much more).
  9. Conquer my fear of the sewing machine.
  10. Organise regular crafternoons in Yorkshire with the lovely group of ladies I met at the Yorkshire Crafty Meetup.
  11. Formulate a plan to turn my hobbies into a business (yeah, bit of a big one that’s totally vague).
  12. Cover the Rugby World Cup (this has been an ambition of mine for years, and I’m a bit cheeky adding it to this list as I know already that I’m going to be covering some games through work!).

Do you have any goals for 2015? I would love to hear the things that you would like to achieve this year.

Lots of goal-setting love,

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The Yorkshire Crafty Meetup

Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts

This Saturday was the Yorkshire Crafty Meetup at The Tetley Bar and Kitchen in the centre of Leeds. The idea was to have an event where crafters, makers and people who live and love handmade could get together over a tea or coffee make some new friends.

I had no real expectations of the event (and wasn’t convinced that anyone other than myself would actually show up!) but people did and we all had a lovely natter for a few hours and made plans to meet up again for some crafternoons, which I’m really excited about.

Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts

It was really nice to meet some new people who love crafts as much as I do and the lovely Elaine from Baa Baa Brighouse came along to tell us about her monthly wool club, the Yan Tan Tethera Yarn club, where you can get an exclusive skein of quality Yorkshire yarn that has been sourced, spun and dyed locally by hand each month. As you can see from the photos, these limited edition yarns are absolutely beautiful, and each month the colours are especially matched to a photograph of somewhere in the Yorkshire countryside. Such a clever idea! If you would like to find out more then please head here.

Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts

I spent most of my time chatting and didn’t want to annoy people by constantly poking my camera in their faces, but here are a few pictures from the day.

Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts

Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts

Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts

We are all planning on getting together again in the New Year for an afternoon of crafting so if you are keen to come along please add your email to the subscription box in the sidebar and you will be among the first to know about it!

Lots of crafty love,

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Please Vote for Me! ~ The UK Blog Awards

This is just a quick little post to ask for a small favour please. Voting for the UK Blog Awards 2015 opened today and I would really appreciate it if you could take a couple of seconds to vote for my blog please.

Beak Up Crafts is in the Arts and Culture category and while I’m by no means expecting to win, if you enjoy reading my blog I would love it if you could please cast a vote for my site!

To do this all you have to do is to click the image above or in the sidebar and fill in a couple of details:

Voting closes on December 1.

Thanks so much – I owe you a cup of tea!

Lots of blogging love,

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{Behind the Scenes} Craft Fair Craziness and Collaborations

Snowmen crochet hats - Beak Up Crafts

December is now approaching fast, and this year for me that means it’s almost time for my first ever craft fair.

I’ve always been a bit nervous about having a stall at a fair before (What if no-one likes what I’ve made? What if no-one buys anything?) but this year I bit the bullet and after a bit of research signed up to Sew Crafty’s event in Chapel Allerton, Leeds, on December 6. You can find out some more information here if you’d like to get a stall yourself or come along!

This means that I’ve been furiously crocheting things in fits and starts for the past few months in order to have enough things to put on my stall. I’ve asked around on Twitter and Instagram about what things sell well and the pictures I’ve posted on Facebook of things I’ve made have resulted in some orders (result!) so that’s given me a bit of a confidence boost.

Here are some of the things I’m going to be taking with me (and hopefully not coming home with!) when I go to Leeds in a few weeks’ time.

Snowmen hats, in sizes from 0-3 months to adult:

Snowmen crochet hats - Beak Up Crafts

Santa hats, in sizes from 0-3 months to toddler:

Crochet santa hat - Beak Up Crafts Crochet santa hat - Beak Up Crafts

iPad Mini/full size covers:

dec29Crochet iPad covers - Beak Up Crafts

Crochet iPad covers - Beak Up CraftsChristmas tree decorations:

Crochet Christmas decorations - Beak Up Crafts Crochet Christmas decorations - Beak Up Crafts Crochet Christmas decorations - Beak Up Crafts

Phone cosies:

Crochet phone case - Beak Up Crafts

Christmas gift tags:

Christmas gift tags - Beak Up Crafts Christmas gift tags - Beak Up Crafts Christmas gift tags - Beak Up Crafts

Button bobby pins:

Button Bobby Pins - Beak Up Crafts Button Bobby Pins - Beak Up Crafts

Christmas brooches:

Christmas brooches - Beak Up Crafts Christmas brooches - Beak Up Crafts Christmas brooches - Beak Up Crafts

I’m also making some mini crochet owl key rings and a selection of amigurumi, including Olaf the snowman from Frozen (from my pattern which you can get here).

Hopefully that lot will be plenty to go on!


Also in other exciting news, it’s not long now until the Yorkshire Crafty Meetup. If you’re in and around Leeds on Saturday November 22nd and love to make or craft then head down to The Tetley Bar & Kitchen from 2pm to meet likeminded people, make friends and have a bit of a chat. I’ve also got a few treats up my sleeve for people who are coming along. There’s some more info here where you will also find the link to RSVP.

Yorkshire Crafty Meetup - Beak Up Crafts


 

laura ashley

In yet more exciting news(!) I can also tell you that I have been collaborating with Laura Ashley and will be featuring on their blog twice in the next couple of weeks with some Christmas-themed DIYs! I’m really excited about this and I hope you will head over there to check them out. (Don’t worry, I’ll flag it up on here when the posts go live with a link just to make sure you don’t miss it!) I won’t spoil the surprise but what I will say is that the DIYs involve wallpaper, paint and fabrics in golds, silvers and reds.

Sykes Cottages - Beak Up Crafts

I’ve also been invited to contribute to a Handmade Gift Guide for Sykes Cottages and I’m pleased to announce that my pattern to make a crochet iPad cover is going to be included. I love the idea of a winter break in a cosy cottage, curling up in front of a real log fire with my crochet hook and some wool, and hopefully that’s exactly what my pattern will help people to do!


Christmas gift tag - Beak Up Crafts

That’s all my crafty news for now! As you can see I’ve been pretty busy behind the scenes when I’m not putting together blog posts or working. I would love to hear if you think there’s something else that you think will sell well at the craft fair please. Are you making anything for a Christmas craft fair or doing any Christmas crafting?

Lots of festive love,

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{DIY} Fallen Leaves Picture

DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts

I’ve always been a bit obsessed by the paint colour cards you get in DIY stores and I’ve always wanted to think of a creative way to make something with them. Wayne and I were in our local B&Q the other day on the hunt for paint samples to give the feature wall in our bedroom a new look and I took the chance to snaffle a pocketful of orange and coral shades.

(Side note: I still think that the job of coming up with names for lots of pretty paint shades is one of the best in the world – along with choosing road names – and for years I seriously wanted to do that as a career. What a job!)

DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts

Anyway, I had a few vague ideas floating round in my head about what I could do with the colour cards but I finally had the flash of inspiration I was looking for when suffering from a bout of insomnia at five in the morning. Who says nothing good happens after 2am anyway?

Here’s how to make this pretty and bright Fallen Leaves picture which will add a seasonal splash of colour to your home!

What you need:

DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts

  • Paint colour cards
  • A craft knife
  • A self-healing mat
  • A pencil
  • Glue dots/glue
  • A picture frame
  • A piece of white/cream paper

How to make it:

  1. Collect your colour cards and on the back draw a selection of leaf shapes. Try to mix them up for an interesting look.
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up CraftsDIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts
  2. Once you’re happy with your pictures, cut out the leaves using the craft knife. You can add texture and interest by cutting out the stems or making the edges a bit jaggy. TOP TIP: Cut out the stems first and if you’re cutting a jagged edge cut the card to the point. Also, it’s easier if you turn the card as you work so you’re not cutting at a funny angle!
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts
  3. Stick the paper to the back of the mount using wash tape.
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts
  4. Place your leaves onto the background paper and decide on your layout.
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts
  5. When you’ve decided what you’d like to go where, stick the leaves in place using glue or a glue dot.
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts
  6. Set the picture aside to dry before framing it and hanging it on your wall!
    DIY Fallen Leaves Picture - Beak Up Crafts

I hope you like this bright and colourful DIY. I love autumn but I think this would look great all year round.

Lots of fallen leaves love,

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DIY: How to Make a Beachcomber Necklace

beachcomber

Wayne and I have just got back from a few days by the sea and I knew I wanted to make something to remind us of our trip. We were walking along the beach at Filey the other day and there were so many beautiful pebbles and washed-up pieces of sea-worn shell and glass. It all looked so pretty and I thought ‘why not make something out of it.’

Filey beach

After a while I got the idea for this DIY. It’s really nice and simple but I think it’s effective too and I hope you enjoy it!

necklace

 

This beachcomber necklace is made from a gorgeous translucent piece of sea glass  – recycling, up cycling and nature all in one! (I loved it so much I decided to make pendants out of two pebbles too to go with different outfits!)

What You Need:

Beachcomber necklace - what you need

How to:

1. Give your pebbles/glass/shells a really good clean. If you can, use a bit of pure alcohol to make sure the surface is spotless (as this is important for the glue bit!)

2. Take a cord end and open it up using the pliers so it is like this:

Flattened out cord end

3. Use a small amount of the glue to stick the cord end to the back of your pebble/glass/shell. Hold together for 10 seconds (making sure you don’t stick your fingers together!) then set aside to dry.

4. Repeat for as many pieces you want to turn into pendants!

Attaching the cord ends to the pebbles

5. When the glue is dry, add a jump ring to each cord end. The jump ring is what will attach your pebble to your necklace. To do this you need two pairs of pliers and the easiest way to show you how to do this is to watch this ace video:

How to Open and Close a Jump Ring

Cord end fastened to the back

6. Once you’ve done this, add your pendant to the chain.

That’s it! You’ve just made a unique (and cool) beachcomber necklace!

beachcomber necklace - Beak Up Crafts

I hope you like this tutorial and I would love to see any necklaces you make. I’m beakupcrafts on Instagram and Twitter or here on Facebook if you would like to tag me in!

Lots of beachy love,

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