Category Archives: sewing

Snow, sewing and soup

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Today turned out to be a snow day. The flakes were flying horizontally and I was very grateful to have zero outside commitments so that I didn’t even have to change out of my PJs!

I spent most of the morning and afternoon in my sewing room, with just a couple of breaks to fetch lunch and hot drinks. I made another of these drawstring bags (tutorial from Erica Arndt on YouTube), using up more of the snowman fabric that I made the quilt with. This is a very easy bag to make and I could just go on and on making more and more! (And my new walking foot works beautifully!)

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I managed to get daylight photos of the bag around lunchtime, but the two projects I finished this afternoon were completed after dark, so indoor shots in artificial light only.

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Both this easy zippered pouch above and the drawstring bag below are from video tutorials by WhitneySews. (That’s my ironing board with the cute cup and mug print.) I added a turtle charm to the zipper.

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This bag coordinates with the zippered pouch, as I used the same spool fabric for the main part of this bag, and also lined the zippered pouch with it. The fabric on the outside of the zippered pouch is the lining of the drawstring bag. It’s a pretty big bag, though when I boxed the bottoms I took quite a chunk out, so it is probably a bit smaller than it could have been.

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Once again, the ribbons used for the drawstrings were from stash, ones that I bought when I was doing the farmers and crafters market about 5 years ago. The skinny teal and orange ribbons were a bit thin to use on their own, but as they both coordinated perfectly with the spool fabrics I used them together.

I’m hoping to convince Tai Chi Man to go out for a walk after we’ve eaten our root vegetable and lentil soup (good warming comfort food) and then if I have time I might just have to do more sewing.

So many tutorials, so little time!

Happy December!

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Do you love this time of year? So many people grumble about the cold and the snow, but my attitude is that the weather is not something you can change so you might as well enjoy it. Or at least accept it with grace! (Or move south, I guess!)

Yesterday was Sunday December 1st and we had our first proper snowfall. It wasn’t very deep but it was enough to make the roads a little slippery and turn everything into a prettier version of itself.

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Cold weather makes you count your blessings – we have a warm house, cosy beds, plenty of food, appropriate clothing. The temperatures dropped well below freezing in the last week and I know there are people in my town who are sleeping outside.

The drawstring bag I showed you a couple of posts ago was part of my Secret Santa gift for last night’s work’s Christmas Party. I also made a couple of coordinating gnomes (the two in the centre of this photo).

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I’m happy to report the bag and gnomes were much appreciated and were “stolen” twice in our Secret Santa game. The bag ended up with a knitter for her projects and the gnomes ended up with another person for her grandkids. It’s nice when people make a little effort for these things because there’s always someone who you feel sorry for because they ended up with a crappy thing!

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Another of my favourite things this season is that my Christmas cacti, of which I have about six, are flowering beautifully. I have found that if I put them outside on my covered deck in the summer, where they get a reasonable amount of light and fresh air, and then bring them in when the nights start to get cold, they flourish.

I had my sewing machine serviced this week and also invested in a new walking foot. The old one was about 20 years old and was loosening so much when I sewed that I kept breaking a needle when it hit the foot that had shifted below it. It is sewing like a dream again and I finished this little bag yesterday.

It’s small because I was limited by the length of the zipper. It’s called a Continuous Zipper Pouch and the tutorial is here. It’s a nifty way of using one side of the zipper (if you want, the other half can be used for a wrist strap) but obviously you need a zipper that’s twice the width of your intended bag and I only had short ones.

I love watching bag tutorials. WhitneySews is a channel that’s new to me (she has been making tutorials for ten years, so I don’t know how I missed her before) and she has lots of useful videos.

I also experimented with this Scandinavian fabric star. It’s a photo tutorial and after the first step, when you flip the piece over, it took me a minute to figure out what I was supposed to do, but I did, and it worked, and I managed to finish a reasonably neat star.

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I won’t post a photo of my Advent Meditation CAL ornament yet as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for others who haven’t got around to making it yet.

I think that’s enough of my warbling for now. I hope you are having a great day. Talk to you again soon.

Warm fuzzy weekend

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A whole weekend off – what fun! Saturday evening we had a potluck at a friend’s house with a group of lovely people. SO much food, we were nearly bursting! And of course we played our traditional Mexican Train Dominoes. Awesome!

My contribution to the food was apple pie and cashew-based vanilla ice cream (the big pie in foreground was the one I took with me, the smaller one and the jam tart made from the leftover pastry were left at home for the boys to eat). I rarely make pastry these days because of the fat content but OMG it came out so well – I used Melt Buttery Sticks for the first time.

This morning there was a vegan market downtown so we splurged on vegan baked treats, which we shared with the boys because they were far too rich for just two people to eat. We also bought some cool hand-made soaps again, and I also finally bought myself a vegan T shirt. Guess I need to get a photo of that sometime.

Afterwards it was tea at our favourite tea shop and a bit of crochet. I have made three of these gnomes (Gnomes of the Gnorth) now. Two of them were made following the pattern pretty closely, one wasn’t, and I shouldn’t have gone ‘off piste’ because I don’t like my version as much (the one with the white beard).

The pattern is on a blog, Mr Micawber’s Recipe for Happiness, and the designer is Sue Perez whose Ravelry name is MrsMicawber.

I have two new dishcloths made from a random ball of dishcloth cotton that I acquired recently. It never went into stash – I just used it up quickly, making up different stitch patterns as I went.

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And there has been sewing. Between tea in town and going to the gym, I spent a couple of hours making this bag.

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It was made with scraps left over from the snowman quilt/bag I made recently, with a lining from some other stash cotton. I think I need to buy a new walking foot – the one I have keeps slipping, the screw holding it on the machine is loosening so it moves as I sew (and I break needles as a result) and the whole thing is either too loose or too tight.

I am pretty happy with the bag, except for a little uneven quilting across the front. This is the same video tutorial as the other bag, and I pieced a patchwork section just like the original in the video. It’s a good way to use up small pieces.

After the gym I went out for a meal with friends, so all in all it was a very calorific weekend and I should probably not eat anything for the next five days! Yeah, right!!

 

Quilting for a change!

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No yarn WIP photos this week. They are boring me, and are not progressing much. Instead, TA DA!

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I made a small quilt. I was given the choice of some Christmas panels at work and of course I chose the non-traditional one with my favourite colours in it. It comes with a range of coordinating fabrics which I love, so I kept it simple by cutting out the centre design and surrounding it with squares. I did have to trim some to make them fit. There is a thin line of pink around the centre, which is just a folded strip of fabric that’s incorporated into the seam.

I didn’t do any quilting on this, just tied the layers together using some pink yarn, and added a few snowflake buttons.

The back is two other sections of the panel plus another fabric from the same range.

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I then had two pieces of panel left, which went into a project bag along with some of the other fabrics left over from the quilt. The spotty buttons from my stash fit well with the colour scheme.

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And the second side…

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I sort of followed a video tutorial¬†though I had to change the measurements a bit as my pre-printed squares were a little narrower than the instructions said to cut, and as they were also deeper than her patchwork section I shortened the top and bottom pieces. It would look better wider, but I had to go with what I had. I added batting in between the layers, so a bit of stitching and button sewing hold it in place. I managed to fit 6 hanks of yarn in there for the photo, so it’s quite roomy.

These items will have to go on display at the store, probably right up til Christmas.

I have been creating other small items as part of the Christmas cracker swap that I’m in. I think I have everything ready to pack up now. A few small crocheted things, some beading, tea, and of course a cheesy joke. The sooner I send it the better as my swap partner is in the UK. I have taken photos but probably shouldn’t show anything yet just in case.

Happy Hump Day! Hope your week is awesome.

Friday fun

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I felt bad for Tai Chi Man yesterday. He’s on the verge of leaving for work and says, “Thank goodness it’s Friday!” and I had to break it to him that, actually, it was Thursday. Poor guy! At least he has a long weekend to look forward to – it’s Labour Day weekend.

So what’s been happening Chez Nicolaknits this week? Unpicking quilting stitches – yes, lots of ’em, and the job is not done yet. I haven’t done some every day, but I have amazingly had the patience for some long sessions with the seam ripper so hopefully the job will be finished soon.

There has been other sewing:

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This top is made from a pattern that a friend bought and sewed up, and she lent me the pattern a very long time ago to make one for myself. I finally got around to it. I started it yesterday morning before work, and finished it this afternoon. There are only a few seams, but the hemline is horrendously long and it took ages to do because I wanted to make sure it was done properly with no tucks or twists.

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I made View A, the easiest one!

Can I remember what the fabric is? No I can’t. I bought it recently from work, but didn’t keep the receipt. I think it’s a rayon. And it’s in the perfect colour to go with jeans. It has a very wide neckline so I’ll have to wear it with a tank top underneath.

I was having so much fun with the upcycled jeans ideas, that I made two more bags:

There has been a little crochet:

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This is a pompom hat I’m making with some stash, a cake of Caron Cupcakes in the colourway Strawberry Kiwi Pop. The cool thing about this is that I grabbed the cake of yarn in the morning and stuffed it into a project page with hooks etc, and later in the day after my errands were done I stopped at the tea shop and decided on the spur of the moment to have a strawberry kiwi iced tea (with no idea that that was the colour of the yarn that was in my bag)!

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Another project that I couldn’t wait to start was this one:

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New yarns came in at work and I was filling the shelves and deciding how to display these new little crochet kits for loveys (mini baby security blankets). Well, I couldn’t resist this unicorn one and I offered to crochet one for display and got the okay!

This is a pretty, soft, worsted weight yarn and the brand, Spindle Yarns, is Fabricland’s (Canada) own. They’ve added quite a few new yarns to the range including a cotton blend and a 100% bamboo, over which I shall have to practice my self control!

The rest of my day looks like this: decide what’s for dinner, get some prep done, sit and unpick quilt, eat dinner, go to gym!

 

 

 

Two steps forward and one step back

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The backing for the wonky log cabin quilt came together quickly, as I used chunks of the fabrics left over from the top. I bought a polyester batting from work – the cheapest thinnest stuff you ever did see – and pinned the layers together.

And then I quilted some of it…and hated it…and am now unpicking the stitches from the back with a seam ripper. It was too much quilting, too messily done, and it ruined it. I had quilted five squares out of the 25, used a full bobbin of thread on it over 1.5 hours, and it will take ages to pull out. However I will be happier with it in the long run if I suck it up and just do it.

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More happily, I have an FO! A pompom beanie crocheted with a cake of Caron Chunky Cupcakes in Jelly Bean. The pattern was on the ballband but it’s also available for free on the Yarnspirations website. Details on my Ravelry project page. It’s constructed using a sideways ‘ribbed’ brim, then you join into a loop and work along the side for the body of the hat. The main part is moss stitch, which in crochet is (sc, ch1) around, working into the chain spaces on the next round. It makes a nice fabric, and alternating both ends of the yarn cake gives you a variation in colour as you go. The pompom comes attached to the yarn, which is why it coordinates so well.

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a cosy Cowboy Fog

 

I’ve been mostly staying off Facebook lately, preferring just to post an occasional photo to Instagram. I spend at most a few minutes a day on Instagram so have more time to do better things! The above photo is from one of my visits to my favourite local tea shop. This book is from the library and I’m really enjoying the read, and identifying what is cosy for me. Certainly, one of my cosiest things to do is sit in Chai Baba and drink their awesome teas and either crochet, read or talk to the friends we bump into there.

Another cosy thing I like to do is take my breakfast outside to the deck. It’s cool and quiet and I can look at the sky, enjoy my breakfast, maybe wrap myself in a blanket or quilt if I feel a little chilly, and look out for birds and squirrels in the trees.

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morning muesli

It’s my birthday tomorrow and I feel like the celebrations are happening not just for one day but for half a week! Last night I went out to dinner with friends and we had a lot of fun. We’re all Brits so have the same sense of humour. Tomorrow I am working, but there is a potluck at my house in the evening with a different set of friends who we always have a laugh with. We usually play Mexican Train Dominoes, and there is lots of digressing and wordplay and puns. And Sunday morning we are off to brunch at another vegan cafe with a couple of our sons. I am totally making the most of turning 57!

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So while I was procrastinating on the quilt unpicking, I made these tote bags with some old stash fabrics. I made 12 in all but took the photo before I made the last one. I decided that as I have to work on my birthday, I will practice Random Acts of Kindness and give a bag out now and then throughout the day to customers who need one. It will save them taking a plastic bag and hopefully it will remind them to always carry a cloth bag with them when they shop in future.

And then I spotted the stash of old jeans on the top shelf of the sewing room closet, and this came together.

It’s a fun little bag made from upcycled denim. I sewed a little flower where there was a hole at the corner of the pocket, which inspired me to make the strap out of the same fabric and also applique another patch on the back. I loved it so much that I immediately started another, but it got to 4pm and I had to start cooking dinner. I could have carried on for hours!

Have you seen this nifty gadget? It was very useful today, for sewing over bulky seams and the parts where the tote bag straps joined to the top of the bags. It basically helps the machine to handle the thick seams without skipping stitches or getting stuck. Definitely a good investment.

Well, I really must get to bed. It’s been a busy day (including a 9am Cardio Barre class and a half hour weights session tonight) and I have to be up early in the morning, Have a great weekend!

A change of pace

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I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks because after my productive July I felt like I needed a little break from crochet. Whaaaaat?!

There has been a teensy bit of knitting, but nothing worth showing, as it was a gauge swatch for a sweater that I have changed my mind about, at least for now. The gauge on the pattern is 21 sts/4 inches with DK yarn, and I tried three different needle sizes and still was getting too many and I liked the tightest gauge the best. Rather than do the math, I shelved the project.

I have the seed of an idea germinating in my head right now, but I haven’t done anything about it yet because I have been sewing instead.

I’ve had a couple of days off and I was motivated to get down to my sewing room and dedicate some hours to a couple of projects. This one was an impulse make, after a customer at the fabric store where I work told me about the cartwheel skirts she makes for her granddaughters. Basically it’s a skort, where the shorts or leggings and skirt are joined at the top. You can do cartwheels in them without flashing your knickers! (I need some for ME!)

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(Before adding the elastic, while waiting for my sister to confirm waist measurement.)

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(After adding elastic. This fabric is really cute, but you can’t iron it or the dots come off.)

A couple of weeks ago, in this post, I showed you some quilt blocks that I had made. Well, I have been adding to them bit by bit, and at this point (below) I had 25.

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I have five of each – Pink Panther, Scooby Doo, crazy cats, camper vans, and VW bugs. All wonky log cabin blocks starting either with a 4.5″ or 5.5″ cut square, depending on the pattern I was fussy-cutting.

Today I started cutting into and sewing on my sashing fabric, which is just a solid black, and it makes so much difference to how things look. I will get some photos of the quilt top when it’s ready. I have a feeling I will need to add some sort of colourful border outside the black, so will have to see what I have left from making the blocks. And then I’ll need to layer it up with some batting and backing and figure out the quilting part.

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I have more projects lined up already. The top on the left will be made with a blue rayon and the dress on the right is going to be bright pink (it’s going to be part of my Hello Kitty outfit for Halloween which I’ve only been planning for, like, 5 years)! The fabrics were washed today, so next time I have a sewing day there’s nothing standing in my way.

Signing off now – going to put food on the table for the troops, but I won’t be eating any yet – I have signed up for a Booty Burn class at 5.30 followed by yoga, so I have to be careful to go with a relatively empty stomach. Ta ta for now!

More crochet and sewing fun

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It’s getting to the point that I can’t fit my Mimic Shawl into the shot. I am still enjoying this project, especially as I do love the pink section in this yarn, which will soon become another lime green one. Actually, very soon, as I don’t think there’s enough pink left to complete the next row, so I am going to do a little splicing, like I did the last time I hit this juncture.

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My evening project yesterday was to sew a book bag for my great-niece. I picked up a panel of quilting cotton from work a while back with The Very Hungry Caterpillar on it because when she was born two years ago I made her a Very Hungry Caterpillar blanket, cocoon and hat. I thought that maybe I’d make a quilt but then I had other ideas. Two parts of the panel became a bag, along with two contrast fabrics, one for the lining and one for the pocket. (The pocket is divided into sections for pencils and other stuff.)

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The widest section with the butterfly was made into a pillowcase. It’s not very big, but she’s only two! I won’t be filling it with stuffing ahead of time, because it has to go in the mail. The contrast fabrics were ones I had already.

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I’ll be seeing her in October, along with the rest of my family, when we drop in for a few days after Yorkshire and Yarndale (whoop whoop!) and so I am going to mail it to my mum ahead of time so that I don’t have to carry it in my luggage.

I’m itching to sew some more with my stash of quilting cottons but haven’t yet decided what to make.

We had a lovely weekend with Yin Yoga, weight training, shopping, and tea at our favourite tea shop (OK, Tai Chi Man probably would rather not have had to mow the lawn and today I cleaned bathrooms and vacuumed but, you know, these things have to be done). I couldn’t leave the cleaning ’til tomorrow as I’m working. Once it’s cooled down a bit, I want to have a walk around the neighbourhood and that will be the ideal end to the weekend.

 

WIP: Mimic shawl

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The shawl has grown some more. The initial triangle complete, you start working out from one side to form an extension and end up with a trapezoid. That dark purple was a bit of a struggle with the single crochets because it was so dark but now the pink is returning right near the end of the first cake. I have done three sections out from the side of the triangle (alternating V stitches and moss stitch) and need to do a total of 11, so I will be using quite a bit of the second cake.

The stitch patterns themselves are easy enough, but I do have to pay attention at the row ends as there is decreasing going on at the bottom edge and increasing at the top. I think this is going to be a gorgeous shawl and I will be keeping this one for myself. (I will check the weather forecast before flying to England for Yarndale in September and if it looks like it’ll be cool enough I will take this with me. I feel like one should have something handmade to wear at a yarn festival!)

An FO for me this week was the second rayon top that I finally finished. I was spurred on by (a) a UFO thread in the British Banter group on Ravelry in which I pledged to finish it this month, and (b) the fact that I wanted to do other sewing but my cutting table was covered in pieces of this top and I was not going to put it away half done.

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Not a great photo. The pink one with the turquoise band was done some time ago and I’ve worn it a couple of times. The turquoise one with the pink band was finished this week and I wore it the next day for work. Because of the lack of stretch and the rather low cut V neck, it’s not really ideal for work, as I need room to move in the shoulders and a top that doesn’t gape when cutting and lifting fabrics. But for wearing with my colourful Sweet Legs leggings, they are perfect.

The second iteration has no back neck opening. The first one was made per the pattern, and I find the opening gapes a bit, so I just sewed right up the back seam on the second.

I have already started making a simple top from a grey knit fabric remnant, which I hope works out (no great investment of money or time if it doesn’t) and am planning another top from a McCall’s pattern if I can just find the right fabric for it.

And now, it’s off to do some shopping with ds3, who needs to buy himself some shoes, and we also need groceries.

FO: Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket

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FO: Scrapsrific Rainbow Blanket

I am pleased to say that this mystery crochet-along is finished and I have a VERY colourful blanket to show for it.

This was designed by Joanita Theron of Creative Crochet Workshop and was a 7 week MCAL. As the word “rainbow” was in the title, I just had to pick some appropriate colours of DK yarn (mostly Stylecraft Special DK) to which I added grey and white. By the end I had run out of the pink, red and orange, which is a shame as a full rainbow spectrum border would have been awesome.

I used my own border idea – one round of single crochet and three rounds of granny clusters. I also fudged the numbers on the rectangular strips to make them the correct size for my squares. Even after machine washing and drying, there is some bumpiness and rippling happening, but I’m not going to fret about it. It’s about 38″ square and used 540 grams of yarn. My only FO for May!

So it’s back to the daisy-making. I finished two more squares on Thursday:

I still haven’t completely memorised the pattern. It’s a tricky one.

In other news, my kitchen cupboards have now been fully decluttered, but I haven’t moved on to the next room yet.

My experiment in getting up earlier is going well. Each day I set my alarm clock 5 minutes earlier and I am finding it quite easy, as long as I go to bed reasonably early (around 10pm).

I bought rayon fabric in vibrant shades of fuschia and turquoise to make two tops to go with  my new leggings and yesterday I had time to cut out all the pieces. Next time I have a good block of time, I will go and start on the sewing, probably Tuesday.

This weekend, I did a lot of volunteering for Vegfest, the annual vegan festival in my town. Last night, Tai Chi Man and I helped set up, getting the gym and some of the classrooms converted for use by vendors and speakers. This involved a lot of furniture moving and sticking green masking tape on the gym floor to mark it out for vendors’ tables.

Today I was back at lunchtime to be an entrance greeter for the afternoon, taking people’s donations and giving them information. I was outside but thankfully it was cloudy – if it had been full sunshine, I’d have had to find some shade. At 5, the festivities were over, but then the cleanup began. A team of us put the school back to rights, cleaning, tidying, mopping, taking out the garbage. We were done by about 7.15.

It’s good to get a little couch time at the end of the day. It’s been a very physical weekend and I need to recharge.