JF's Notebook
Photo of Jared Flood

Notebook

Penned by Jared Flood

Hello and welcome! I'm a knitter, photographer, designer and the creative director at Brooklyn Tweed. I use this notebook as a space to record inspiration and write about my creative work both inside and outside of BT. Thanks for reading, and don't be a stranger—I love hearing from you!

 

I did a double-take last month when someone on our team at BT Headquarters mentioned that we were coming up on the 10th anniversary of the Cobblestone Pullover, the first pattern I ever designed. Despite my initial feelings of surprise and disbelief, checking the calendar proved this fact to be true. It’s been a full decade since I cautiously put my toe in the water of pattern design, creating this comfortable sweater that now feels like an old friend and remains a staple in my closet.

With 3,084 knitted versions of the pattern on Ravelry today, I’ve had a great walk down memory lane checking out all the ways people have made this sweater!

To honor the day, we thought it would be fun to release a 10-year anniversary edition of the pattern featuring a fresh new version worked up in Shelter. It turned out to be quite a lovely marriage of pattern and yarn, so much so that I’m already thinking about how I can fold this cozy grey pullover into my wardrobe rotation when fall hits.

With our pattern update today, anyone who has already purchased a digital version of this pattern from Ravelry or BrooklynTweed.com will receive a free update in their downloads library.

I’m very humbled to take a moment today to think back on the earliest days of my design career and I’d like to take the opportunity to say thank you for your continued support for my work over the past 10 years. I hope I’ll be at it for another 10!

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I’m super excited to be able to offer Oshima now as a pattern for both men and women. Of all my past designs, this is one that I’ve most often wished I could wear myself…

150515_IG_FB_oshima

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of playing with Brioche stitch—its beautiful definition and “squishiness” make it so fun to knit and to wear. Elizabeth Zimmermann lovingly referred to Brioche stitch as “Prime Rib”—I can’t think of a better nickname for such a juicy stitch pattern, can you?

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We’re in the throes of our big move(!), but today I was able to carve out a little time to sit and reflect a bit about one of my new sweater designs—the Rift pullover. This was a really fun piece to design (and had quite an entertaining evolution), so I thought I’d talk a little bit today about how it came to be.

01_rift

For some time I’ve been playing around with different ideas for shoulder epaulets—I think it started back when I was working on the Fort pullover for BT Men Volume 1 in late 2012. Originally that design had a single shaped shoulder patch on one side (see an old sketch below)—imagined as a little extra padding for a messenger bag (or any other type of shoulder strap) that might be worn regularly and protect that area of the garment from wear. After having added the garter patches to Fort’s elbows, however, I felt that another patch on the shoulder was overkill, so pulled that element from the design.

02_rift

Since I wasn’t able to get my epaulet fix then, I’ve been tossing various shoulder-detail ideas around in my sketchbook ever since. I liked the idea of an epaulet that was angled and followed the shape of the shoulder more anatomically, but didn’t love the extra bulk that resulted from affixing a separate knit piece as a patch. That made me start thinking about ways I could integrate the shoulder epaulet idea into the sweater fabric through a simple change in stitch patterning. This would also solve the excess bulk problem, especially when working on a design for worsted-weight yarn.

I burned through some of the more traditional ways of working a stitch-pattern epaulet pretty quickly (like horizontal welts seen on the shoulders of traditional ganseys—I love those details on classic fisherman sweaters) but still felt something was missing. I then began experimenting with getting more angled, shapely epaulets through a combination of short rows and welts, but it just felt too fussy. As I continued sketching one epaulet after another, they eventually began looking like raglan sleeve tops, as the slanting lines came down lower and lower on the yoke.

03_rift

My next thought was to work a traditional raglan and just change the stitch pattern to a rib or welt once I reached the sleeve cap. Before long though I realized I was sketching something very similar to one of Véronik’s pullovers (also from BT Men volume 1), Barrett. So again, the idea sailed onto the back burner to simmer some more.

Then one day I saw a woman on the subway wearing a sweater that looked like a raglan, but was actually a set-in sleeve with patterning that mimicked raglan shaping. The lightbulb moment I had been waiting for was here! I grabbed my sketchbook and made this sketch.

SKETCH_rift

The faux raglan allowed me to play with the depth of the raglan shape without actually affecting the neat fit of a set-in sleeve—something I hadn’t been willing to sacrifice. I started playing around with how deep the “raglan” lines would start, and how I could incorporate a full-fashioned rib pattern within the modified epaulet idea.

From that moment on my inspiration was really sparked. I made several charted variations, ultimately coming up with the version that you see in Rift. Once the shoulder detailing was decided, a nice opportunity for an integrated side detail to the body presented itself, too—a traveling rib that splits at the underarm and flows seamlessly into the detailing on the yoke. I love that a special detail like this brings something unexpected to what is otherwise a very classic silhouette. From a knitting perspective, I also felt like it arrived at that beautiful balance between lots of stockinette knitting and just enough stitch play to keep things fun and interesting throughout the process.

04_rift

Pattern writing and grading on this piece was definitely a hard nut to crack! Since the shoulder details would have specific idiosyncrasies based on the size of the finished garment, no specific set of rules or written instructions worked very well. So I opted for the more “bespoke” route of charting out the front and back yokes for each individual size. The end result included 6 total sizes with finished chest measurements ranging from 39.25” to 59.25”. (A big thanks to our tech editor Robin for being a great sport and indulging my charting neuroses!) The pattern is quite long as a result, but don’t be fooled—most of the pages are charts for additional sizes and you’ll only need to print the two that pertain to yours.

The treatment of the neckband was kept very minimal, letting a ridge of purl stitches set off a simple rolled stockinette edge with a sewn bind-off. This integrates well with the busier epaulet ribs.

05_rift

I love how this simple sweater turns out to be just enough of a head-turner to seem fresh but not showy, which is a balance I think a lot of guys like to strike in their attire. Something as comfortable and easy to wear as a sweatshirt but just fancy enough to work when dressed up for the office, too.

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Like Timberline, Fort was another sweater design that I’d been thinking about for some time before I actually began working on the garment in any tangible way. I wanted to create a piece that was inspired by military clothing, but could be easily styled into an every day wardrobe. While I chose a pretty basic set-in pullover shape, the fit became a big focus for me, as well as finding a special detail or two to set this design apart. Combining a rich green and charcoal grey was also a nod to the military inspiration.

The sweater itself is worked in Shelter, a worsted weight wool, while the constrasting elbow patches are worked in a finer yarn (Loft). I  find that knitted elbow patches can often be too bulky in worsted weight and create a thick, awkward area on the sleeve, especially after the garment endures regular use. I liked the idea of using a lighter fabric, but knitting it at a dense gauge (get out your size 1 needles!) in garter stitch.

The garment is knit circularly with no seams from hem to underarm (on both body and sleeves), then split and worked flat for the remainder of the yoke. Finishing involves setting in the sleeves and sewing the shoulder seams. I like this construction method because it allows for both the ease and convenience of circular knitting as well as the structure of seams in areas where they are very much needed (shoulder tops and armholes; both regular stress points for the fabric).

Though not easily seen in the photo above, there is a ribbed side detail that flows directly from the hems/cuffs along the side “seams” of the body and sleeve. This adds a little elasticity to the overall fit and creates a sort of visual frame for the wide expanses of checkerboard stitch.

Finally, the wide crew neck is trimmed with a doubled 1×1 rib collar: stitches are picked up from the finished neckline and knit circularly to twice the height of the finished neckband, while being subtly shaped with changes in needle size. Live stitches are tacked down on the inside of the garment for a neckband that has a little extra thickness and character to it, but still remains elastic.

While obviously “a classic”, I can see this sweater equally at home in conservative or funky closets alike. I look forward to wearing mine this Fall!

 

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One of the best parts about putting this collection together was being allowed to indulge my selfish side in creating a garment that I’ve been daydreaming about for quite some time. I’ve had visions of Timberline dancing in my head for years (really), and it seemed like the right time to finally make this garment a reality.

My favorite type of sweaters are the ones you just want to live in, whether dressed up or dressed down. This is the kind of sweater that I like to crawl into and hibernate; I guess I consider it my own grown-up version of a security blanket.

The cables on this cardigan are sculptural – the fabric feels substantial and protective. In the beginning, the main “Timberline” cable motif began as something completely different – a smaller cable that went through 4 or 5 total iterations before arriving at its final state. I became quite fond of it in the end. It references traditional staghorn cables, but with a more organic flow. It also paired nicely with the traditional 9-stitch braid that flanks it on either side.

I wanted to knit this design in Shelter so the lightness of the yarn would keep the garment from being overly heavy. The result is just what I was after (you have to savor those moments when they happen!): it feels substantial, but there is no worry that the fabric will stretch vertically under its own weight.

Full disclosure: this pattern is not for the faint of heart. All told it spans 24 pages and spares no detail. But if you want a special knit that you can pour your soul into, this is the one! The garment features tubular cast ons, completely integrated ribbing-to-cable transitions, corded selvedges, a shawl collar with integrated rib shaping, and partially seamless construction (body and sleeves worked seamlessly from hem to underarm; upper body and sleeve caps worked flat). The ribbed button bands are worked on a much smaller needle to create a strong, structured fabric, then seamed onto their respective garment fronts for a beautiful, polished finish.

I hope you enjoy this one! In the meantime, I’ll be counting down the days until the weather once again allows for the wearing of such woolly clothing.

 

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One of my favorite parts about developing yarns is seeing how they inspire other designers – what textures and color combinations other people are inspired by always gets me thinking about the yarns that I use every day in new and different ways. Last year, Stephen West approached me to say he was interested in doing a full design collection using Shelter and Loft – I was flattered, and very excited by the idea of seeing what he would cook up. As we further discussed the project,  we decided we’d also collaborate on a special photoshoot of the finished work the following summer.

Last July, after Stephen had finished designing and knitting his pieces, we met in Iceland for the shoot. It was my first time visiting this beautiful country, and I was completely intoxicated by the dramatic, natural beauty that the country is literally bursting at the seams with. Surrounded by such a visual feast of nature, I barely made it through the exit doors of the airport before my camera was out and firing away.

Stephen has been releasing his designs from this collection over the past few weeks on Ravelry, and I wanted to take a moment to share some of the images from the shoot that I particularly like. Summer light in Iceland (as was the case in Shetland, the year before) is almost too good to be true. Soft, ambient, sometimes dramatic, other times ethereal. Suitable shooting conditions also last about 20 hours a day! It was such a joy to explore and work in this place.

It was amazing to see how the colors of the yarns melded so well with the surrounding colors in the landscape – like the blue-green waves of the ocean on a black sand beach (pictured above). In my mind, mother nature is the very best inspiration for color!

We had fun styling and shooting several of the samples on both the male and female model.

The Hófsos Pullover (also showed at the top of the post on our male model, Diddi) combines large stripes and marl effects in some of my favorite colors of Loft.

Stephen has a great color sense – I loved some of his playful, unexpected combinations, like Nest, Sap, Button Jar and Woodsmoke (in the Kex Scarf, seen below in Shelter).

Looking over these images again has been really enjoyable and reminds me of what a great experience we had there. I often daydream about a return to the Icelandic countryside for future photography work. I’d love to go at a totally different time of year to do some night photography during the “dark season” as well…

All the patterns pictured above are available for purchase here on Ravelry. Each pattern’s page includes extended yardage and color information. Stephen also did a great write-up about our shoot, with several behind-the-scenes pictures that give readers a glimpse of what a shoot looks like on the other side of the camera!

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One of my favorite designs from the new winter collection is Grettir – a unisex Icelandic yoked pullover that I designed late last summer, after returning from my first-ever trip to beautiful Iceland.

The Icelandic yoke is a celebrated regional aesthetic that has seen increased global popularity in recent years. And though I’ve seen several of them in the US (in the streets of NYC, in advertising, etc), it wasn’t until I went to Iceland and witnessed these beautiful garments in their “natural habitat” that they really cast their spell over me.

Icelanders are proud of their knitting heritage, and taking a walk down any street in Reykjavik you’re likely to encounter several different variations of their signature colorwork yoke. What appealed to me most was how universal and utilitarian these garments are treated there – you’ll see them on all kinds of folks, regardless of age or profession. Even better, they look so lived-in, well-worn and loved – it is such a satisfying sight!

When I returned to the states, I resolved to research this classic yoke formula (pretty straightforward, once you get the hang of it!) and give it a go with an original design; Grettir is the result.

Another thing that really appeals to me about these designs is their versatility and ease of sizing. As long as you end up at the base of the colorwork portion with a multiple of 8 stitches on your needle, the yoke will work. Of course, yoke depth is an area that needs to be heeded (in the pattern I’ve designed four different variations of the yoke – each one slightly deeper than the next – to take care of that area).

Perhaps the best part of all, though: these are so much fun to knit! They seem to fly off your needles (at least relative to most sweater projects). Each piece is worked circularly from hem/cuff to underarm (mindless, therapy knitting if you ask me). Just when you are ready for something a little more exciting, you join your pieces together for a feast of colorwork. As you work the yoke, your rounds get smaller and smaller (faster and faster) which is certainly a motivator for the final sprint to the finish line. After the knitting is done, a simple graft at the underarms is all that’s left! No seaming, no complicated construction, just beautiful, seamless knitting at its best. (And suddenly I’m feeling the urge to make yet another.)

Both the men’s and women’s version have waist shaping: a very subtle amount for the guys, just enough to bring the waist in a touch so that there isn’t a ton of extra fabric hanging loose at the back (imperceptible when worn), and a more pronounced waist in the women’s version. The men’s yoke is deeper than the women’s as well. The schematic diagrams below show the difference between the two silhouettes.

 

 

Finally, I included two options for the neckline. I’ve had turtlenecks on the brain (I often do when it’s cold outside) so added a nice cozy one to the women’s version. If you prefer a cleaner finish, though, a rolled crew neck will be a better choice (pictured on the men’s version).

The garment uses a total of 4 colors – the main sweater color, plus 3 additional shades for the yoke. The possibilities are endless for how to combine colors here, and I could be happy just designing new combinations again and again. I’m really excited to see what colors you knitters combine!

As for the name – why Grettir? While visiting the northern coast of the country, I met a storyteller who recounted the amazing saga of Grettir – the longest surviving outlaw in Icelandic history. (Interested? More here.) I was particularly intrigued by the final chapter in the story: Grettir’s demise on the rocky cliffs of Drangey, a fortress-like stone island off the coast; an monolithic sight, visible from the very shoreline where I sat when hearing this tale.

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The Grettir pullover pattern includes a range of sizes for both men and women – full specs for each version can be found here at Brooklyn Tweed or on Ravelry.com. The design uses four colors of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter.

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Sometimes a pattern has a very long journey from inception to publication.  Today’s pair of mittens has been one of those. To me it feels funny to be calling something a ‘new pattern’ when I spent most of the winter last year with these warming my hands. I had fun tracking their history — they first appeared on the blog almost two years ago and then again, finished this time, in April of ’09.  Having realized that these have been around, and well-worn, for a good amount of time reminds me of one of the many reasons I love Shetland Wool: the mittens still look clean and new with nary a pill to be seen. (The photos of the mens mittens were taken just days ago with zero surface-grooming needed!)

If you came to my house – you’d quickly notice that I’m a sucker for all things Chevron and Herringbone.  I have one too many woven blankets (if that’s possible) with variations on these themes and I never tire of incorporating them into my knitting. Strago blows up one instance of a Chevron motif which naturally follows the shape of the hand inside.  Simple, graphic, lovely.

When I got serious about writing out the pattern, I wanted to include a size for women as well and because I was so happy with the motif’s existing proportions, I decided to size them based on gauge.  The smaller size, shown here in a rich Ochre heather, is worked with fingering weight Shetland wool while the larger is worked in a DK weight.  Both mittens are knit with Jamieson’s ShetlandSpindrift for the small, Double Knitting for the large.

The motif on the top of the hand is reflected on the palm identically, which means Right and Left mittens are completely interchangeable and you’ll only be working from one chart for both mittens. If you begin wearing out the palm someday, just flip them over and switch hands and they’ll feel good as new. The thumb is worked with a shaped gusset along the side ‘seam’ of the mitten for a natural and pleasing fit.

The smaller pair traveled with me to Italy in the Spring and was shot in a small hilltown in Tuscany.  You may recognize the setting and model from our shoot for Dryad? It’s really hard to beat Tuscan light.

The pattern is now available through Brooklyn Tweed as well as Ravelry.  Mine have already seen some good use this year – the urban chill is definitely upon us.  Enjoy!

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Well it’s about time we got some sweater talk here, no? Seems like it’s been forever! Today’s sweaters are two near and dear to me — probably because I love wearing them both so much.

So I’ll state the obvious: I am in love with colorwork. I can’t not do it. It’s a compulsion. I love graphic motifs and patterns and pairing yarn colors. The sheer amount of possibilities makes my head swim. So I decided early on to just go with that and indulge the colorwork factor this year, and these two pieces pulled me right back into that vortex.

Meet Rockaway.

Rockaway

Indulgent indeed! This is one of those epic patterns I catch myself daydreaming about on the subway but rarely realize. It started out as an oft and intense wish for a classic Cowichan Cardigan — traditional bulky wool sweaters featuring animal and geometric patterns, knit by the Cowichan Tribes of the Pacific NW and Western Canada. Traditional Cowichan patterns are worked with thick, bulky wool and often sport dramatic shawl collars worked in garter stitch (sounds good right?) – here are some examples.

I made some changes to my inspiration but would be lying if I told you that this design didn’t come directly out of this sweater genre! Ariosa is a chunky merino/cashmere single, very lightly spun (almost roving-like) which keeps this cardigan from becoming too heavy. It’s oddly soft for something that looks more like rustic outerwear. I traded a shawl collar for a hood, cause you know, hooded cardigans are always welcome here.

Rockaway

As for the knitting – the sweater is steeked (cut) down the middle to open up the front, which means all this colorwork patterning is knit in the ROUND (intoxicating!) – if you were worried about working stranded colorwork from the wrong side, rest assured we’ll be having none of that around here.

I did a machine-sewn steek rather than my usual crochet method, because merino and cashmere are short-stapled, slippery fibers and need to be well enforced to really stay put. Actually, this was the first time I had ever worked a steek with a sewing machine. I guess it’s not so terrible after all (despite my still-strong fear of bringing machines close to my unfinished knitting – although I do remember thinking at the time that the hammering needle resembled a small battering ram).

Rockaway

In my finishing frenzy I forgot to snap some photos of the inside, but will be sure to do that when the garments stop travelling and return to Brooklyn, later in the winter.

And, Huron.

Huron

There’s a funny story about this one. Prior to giving an official name to this sweater I was referring to it as the Pinch Hit. See, there was another sweater slated for this book, back when Huron was a mere scribble in a notebook somewhere. The other garment just wasn’t working for me – it didn’t feel right and it didn’t fit in, and time was running very short. With 8 days left before my deadline, and an unflappable feeling of defiance (“I won’t lose to you, Problem-Sweater!”) I thought throwing in another, completely new, completely unworked-out sweater design was somehow a good idea. In retrospect, I’m glad I did, but… that was a rough week. Aside from calling up CE for a last minute shot of yarn, I don’t remember much from that period, other than that Huron was born from start to finish in about 6 days.

Huron

But I guess when you’re knitting yourself silly on a garment deadline, you can’t ask for something much better than a seamless stockinette pullover with a colorwork yoke. Just when I thought I couldn’t take any more stockinette (something I almost never say), the stranded portion swoops in and saves the day.

Huron

Live and learn I guess. The funny things is, I wouldn’t mind knitting this again. I didn’t feel like I really got to enjoy the knitting to its fullest because of said insane-situation (kinda like inhaling a gourmet meal way too fast to enjoy it). Round yokes are hard to beat on my list of favorite project types.

Anyway – it’s here, nonetheless, which is what really matters I guess. As for the other, sidelined sweater, it’ll have its time in the sun. Someday. Just not today.

And speaking of sweaters, there will be more sweater profiling (for the lady-folk) appearing here shortly!

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Ravelry Links:

Rockaway on Ravelry

Huronon Ravelry

*All patterns are now available as individual PDF downloads through Ravelry or through my pattern page here.*

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I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to be writing this post — it’s been a loooong time coming, and I feel like I’ve spent a year holding out on you about the knitting that was actually going on here behind the scenes. It felt so wrong to be knitting my fingers to the bone on this end, with a quiet lack of output on the blog. Well, it’s finally time to come clean and show you what I’ve been referring to over the last nine months as my Second Thesis.

Made in Brooklyn Cover

I’m happy to introduce Made in Brooklyn – a collection of original handknit designs in natural fibers, published with Classic Elite yarns and available beginning next week.

As you well know, the last year was a trying one here as I was finishing up my MFA and thesis, teaching and photographing regularly. So when the opportunity to take on a project like this presented itself, I was convinced I was absolutely crazy to take on an additional commitment of this magnitude and almost surely doomed to drive myself into the ground and bring all my projects crashing down along with me in the process. And yes, the last 11 months have not been without their low points, but now that the dust has settled and all is said and done, I’m so glad that the wonderful folks at CE trusted me enough to give me this period to work up this book.

The process started very organically and blossomed out of multiple friendly discussions that I was having last September with my dear friend Pam Allen, the artistic director of Classic Elite and designer extroidinaire, but most of all an absolute golden sweetheart. I had been expressing my desire to continue exploring new directions in print publishing for the yarn shop community while still being able to keep my online distribution and the independent publishing mojo that I love so much about the internet, Ravelry, etc.

We ultimately came up with a new model in which Classic Elite would give an independent designer like me the opportunity to create a publication of designs in which I was given complete creative control over designing, pattern writing and photography, while retaining the rights to my work and the ability to distribute them as online PDF downloads as well as having them available in print at your local yarn shop. Needles to say I was thrilled!

And I couldn’t have been luckier to be working with a company whose range of yarns is absolutely epic. As a designer, having such a solid range of high quality, natural fibers in a wide range of weights, constructions and colors seemed like such a dream-opportunity. And it really has been a wonderful, wonderful process.

Made in Brooklyn Preview

The booklet features 13 original designs that run the gamut from simple, versatile accessories to major sweater projects for both men and women to long-term lace projects. My ever-present bug for colorwork was seriously indulged so if you’re a lover of stranded knitting be sure to give the patterns a look! You’ll also see a range of fibers used — wool (of course, and lots of it!), cashmere, alpaca, silk and angora — oh my, what fun! I had a WONDERFUL time putting these pieces together. And as I said before, I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally be able to share them with all of you.

The designs in the book are all named after streets in Brooklyn and I shot all the photography on location in the streets here – which I thought was only fitting, as they are such a constant source of inspiration for me in my knitting and designing.

Now for the technical details: The book will be arriving in shops later in the week, so be sure to check your local LYS for details and yarn selection. Online sales will begin through Classic Elite’s website mid-week, and pre-orders have already begun so if you prefer to go that route, please visit their site here.

PDF Downloadable Patterns

As I mentioned before, the patterns will also be available for download as individual PDFs. The three patterns above will be available for purchase online immediately upon release of the book next week – both on Ravelry and here at Brooklyn Tweed. The remaining designs will become available as PDF downloads in the Spring.

Over the next week or so I’ll be doing more in-depth coverage with plenty of photos here on the blog to introduce you to the new collection and these wonderful yarns, and catch up on showing you FO’s from the past year! Stay tuned for more images and info on the patterns.

Before I end, I want to thank everyone for sticking around here on the blog through sparse times and for your continued support with my designs and photography. I very much hope you enjoy knitting this collection of designs — I thought long and hard about enjoyable and intuitive ways to put these pieces together in hopes that you’ll get as much enjoyment out of their making as I did. Thank you all so much.

ETA: All patterns from Made in Brooklyn are now available as individual PDF downloads on the pattern page here.

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