My Yarn Swift Guide: How to Use And The Best Yarn Swifts: 2023

A Yarn Swift tames skeins or hanks of fiber. When you have this handy, nifty tool, winding fibers is much easier!

Best Yarn Swift Buyer's Guide

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My Quick Recommendations

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They’re specifically designed to make a difficult task a breeze! Pair a durable yarn swift with the best yarn winder, and you’re set. Read my reviews of the best yarn ball winders.

There are many yarn swifts – metal, plastic, and beautiful wooden yarn swifts. (All hand operated.) A popular variety is the umbrella swift. You could make a DIY yarn swift project!

I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on April 1, 2023.

Table of Contents

Best Yarn Swift Review

There are many yarn swifts on the market with different features. I’ve listed some of the best yarn swifts in my reviews.

The best yarn swift is made of sturdy materials, like strong wood, and doesn’t easily break. It works beautifully with any hank of yarn and has a smooth spin. No need to fear buying yarn in hanks!

It makes life much easier. No need for the ‘knee method’ or chair. Best of all, no disgruntled partners/friends! Say goodbye to a tangled mess of yarn problem.

When choosing the one right for you, think of how much space you have, your budget, and the size of hanks you have in your stash.

1. Onyx Wooden Swift – Dark Color

Knit Picks Onyx Wooden Swift

Sturdy construction of laminated birch in black. The wood umbrella swift is uncomplicated to operate and compact when packed away.

The black finish on these umbrella yarn swifts looks stylish in any room. You can also purchase a handy silver carry case.

Pros

  • The table clamp has a range of about 1 1/2 to 1 5/8″
  • Suitable for different yarn weights and yarn loops
  • This umbrella swift yarn winder is made of strong materials
  • Spins smoothly and efficiently
  • Golden brass hardware.
  • Hard-wearing metal screws
  • Quick to set up
  • This wooden umbrella swift yarn packs down for storage
  • Simple to order online
  • Creates lovely center pull balls
  • Great for a spinner and dyer
  • Folds down for portability with a compact configuration
  • Keeps yarn in place without tangling

Cons

  • You may need to use wax or polish to ensure the center sliding mechanism to go up and down easily. Not a big issue.

2. Birch Swift – Light Color

Knit Picks Birch Swift

This KnitPicks yarn swift has sturdy birchwood construction and is compact when closed. (It’s made of the same materials as the previous.)

A lovely readers, Sonia S, emailed with her experience. Here’s what she said. “I have the Knit Picks model, and my only complaint is it’s hard to get a good grip on to turn.”

YouTube video

Pros

  • The table clamp has a range of 1 1/2 inch thick to 1 5/8″
  • These yarn swifts are made of strong materials.
  • Quick to set up and packs down for storage.
  • These wooden yarns swifts feature non-slip pads
  • Wind yarn with ease
  • Excellent durability

Cons

  • This model may need to use polish to ensure the middle shaft sliding mechanism to go up and down easily.

3. Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Style (Medium) – Affordable Price

Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Swift (Medium) Check Price on Amazon

A medium-sized solid Umbrella Swift, made of birch material with a finely sanded finish. This is a great quality swift.

The craftsmanship is evident, and it would look good in any craft space. Great care has been taken with the construction and performance to ensure it lasts years. An heirloom quality product.

Handles skein lengths of 6ft in circumference. When working, it’s quiet, and the spin is smooth. The manufacturer selects pieces without scars or blemishes. These yarn swifts are less vulnerable to breakage.

The ends of metal tying wires are hidden into holes, so no rough edges hurt your hands or snag the yarn. You can get a yarn string ball winder to match from this company.

Pros

  • Easy to put together
  • The Stanwood Needlecraft Medium size holds up to 6ft skein in circumference.
  • Clamps to various surfaces, 1 3/4″ thick
  • Offers smooth spins due to the extra fine sanding and center spindle
  • Packs down for storage
  • Metal crank is fast and smooth
  • Creates a lovely yarn cake
  • Better performance than some other swifts
  • Great for large skeins
  • No toxic or unusual smelling varnish fume

Cons

  • The clamp screw part sometimes cracks
  • Some might not like the hemp ties holding parts of the machine
  • It can break if dropped, stepped on, or bent, so take care.

4. Stanwood Needlecraft Wooden Umbrella Style (Large)

Stanwood Large Swift
Check Price On Amazon

This umbrella style yarn swift is made of solid timber. The Stanwood Needlecraft large handles hanks with bigger circumferences. When folded out, it takes up quite a large space.

This Stanwood umbrella swift works well with all yarn weights. From the finest spun cashmere to super chunky merino roving.

With no metal hooks on the ribs to catch or snag yarn, even the finest strands wind off easily from start to finish. It’s possible to use this vertically by attaching it to a chair back.

Pros

  • These umbrella style yarn swifts are made of solid quality timber
  • Handles hank sizes with an 8.5ft circumference
  • Clamps without scratching the surface
  • Easily adjust the clamp screw
  • Spins with ease.
  • Clamps on edges up to 1 3/4 thick
  • Exactly what you need in an umbrella design
  • No toxic varnish treatment
  • Compact when not in use

Cons

  • Some may not like the hemp ties (hemp cord) holding the umbrella ribs section
  • Clamp screws could crack after times of increased use, replacement screws are available
  • Won’t suit those with less space

5. Stanwood Needlecraft Amish Style Wooden Swift

Stanwood Needlecraft Tabletop Amish Style Wooden Swift Check Price on Amazon

Built of solid timber, this tabletop Amish Style swift has four pegs to make it easily adjustable for smaller or larger rings of yarn on four arms. As the name suggests, it’s used on a table or the floor. Can handle skeins of many string types.

It spins smoothly and makes yarn winding fun.

There are no metal components or screws. It’s made completely of natural materials. The two wooden base sections fit together, and a short central dowel is placed in the middle. On the dowel is 2 arms; when crisscrossed, create the 4.

When not in use, disassemble and store this Amish style yarn swift. Here’s the manual with instructions on how to use it.

Pros

  • Not difficult to assemble.
  • Fine sanded finish, so no heavy varnish fumes.
  • Sturdy when on tables as it has 4 non-slip pads
  • Easily adjusted to hold hank sizes 2 1/2 – 6 ft in circumference
  • Smooth spinning
  • Quality parts easily come apart for convenient storage.

Cons

  • It’s big, not suitable if you have limited space
  • Some found it makes a loud noise when rotating. Use wax to fix it

6. Maple Tabletop Handcrafted Swift With Adjustable Pegs – A Tool Built To Last

Fiber Artist Supply Co Maple Table Top Swift

This melds the simplicity of their popular tabletop swift arm design with a sealed metal ball bearing system. Suits many different hank circumferences and smoothly winds the big loop of yarn into a ball.

They pride themselves on attention to detail in this skein winder. This company has sold top-quality fiber arts products for years.

Made from maple and cabinet-grade maple plywood in their workshop. This beautiful swift lasts for many years. Creates perfect cakes.

Pros

  • Receives 5 star ratings
  • Sturdy materials
  • Smooth surface
  • An example of high quality woodworking skills
  • Excellent bang for your buck
  • Simple instructions
  • Rubber stoppers are screwed into the base to keep in place

Cons

  • Will need space

7. Schacht Ultra Swift

Schacht Umbrella Swift

Models the expert knitters and yarn store owners use. This is a workhorse. These designs are tough, sturdy, and reliable enough to give to the next generations.

Use this both horizontally or angle vertically using a quick-release pin. A swiveling knob and ball bearings create a smooth winding experience. You can choose the option of adding a counter.

YouTube video

Pros

  • The arms on these umbrella style yarn swifts open from the top down
  • This clamps on most tables, even those with thick edges
  • Smooth surface with fine sanding
  • Easy setup with a simple clamp system
  • Steel pins and plastic buttons hold the ribs in place
  • This heavy duty swift accommodates hank sizes and hank circumferences up to 93″ in diameter
  • Large capacity up to one pound
  • Accommodation of different types of yarn weights and yarn types
  • Highly durable middle shaft and metal supports
  • Collapses for storage
  • Screw in clamps don’t damage the surface
  • The horizontal or vertical position means you can set it up anywhere!
  • No yarn snagging
  • Strong, thick screws

Cons

  • Not lightweight
  • Requires a suitable area to mount it

8. Beka Swift Yarn Winder

Beka Yarn Swift used by @ oakandashe with cream coloured yarn loaded on it
Beka Yarn Swift | Credit – @oakandashe
Check Price on Amazon

The Beka brand is a tabletop swift with a heavy base. Made of hard maple timber, with metal ball bearings making it spin smoothly. It sits on top of furniture, no need for clamping.

Moving yarn up or down accommodates different sizing. It’s made up of these wooden parts. Here’s a link to the Beka Manual.

  • 2 long bottom bars to support the dowels
  • 2 shorter bars holding the dowels in place on the top
  • 4 wooden dowels
  • A center support beam
  • A base like a lazy susan
  • A top nob with a washer
  • 4 rubber feet.

This unit is not complicated to assemble. Due to the dowels’ sloping, put smaller yarn circles towards the top and larger ones near the bottom.

Pros

  • Fewer parts mean it’s easy to assemble with clear instructions
  • Rotates smoothly
  • Can comfortably accommodate skeins of varying sizes
  • Quiet spinning of the circle of yarn
  • Great stability and sturdy build
  • Easily fits a 1 yarn skein
  • Simple to place the wool over the top
  • Squeak free
  • Will securely hold in place
  • This makes it easy to wind yarn
  • Great value for money
  • Super smooth finish

Cons

  • Doesn’t fold down for easy storage. Disassemble it and pack away pieces in the storage bag
  • Requires a fair amount of space
  • Spinning can be a bit tight and stiff at first
  • Don’t wind too tight as there is a chance the yarn will loose elasticity
Check Price on Amazon

9. ChiaoGoo Wooden Amish Style

Chiaogoo Amish Swift

The Chiaogoo Amish Design Swift has a smooth finish. Handles up to 62” circumference skein of yarn. It has 4 moveable pegs making it adjustable to fit different skein loops.

Putting together this Amish-style wooden yarn swift isn’t difficult. It comes in 4 pieces, 2 for the base and two to make the crisscrossed arm sections.

There are 5 dowels: a shorter one is placed in the base’s center, which the arms go over. The peg holes are labeled with the size skein in inches and centimeters. Check the current price for delivery, as seller doesn’t offer free shipping.

Pros

  • Simple and fun to use
  • Few parts so it’s easy to assemble
  • This swift design handles varying circumferences of skein loops
  • No clamps – sits flat on the table or floor.
  • Suits hank size from small to large
  • Smooth finish
  • Doesn’t slide because of the non skid pads
  • Made of solid and durable timber

Cons

  • Doesn’t fold and pack away, but users found it easy to disassemble
  • Needs space
  • Not easy to store
  • Small range of sizes it holds
  • Can dry out or collect moisture

10. Knitter’s Pride Signature Series Swift

Lacis Swift Yarn Winder Check Price on Amazon

An umbrella-style swift. This style wooden yarn swift clamps on the edge of a table, bench, or chair. Works with smaller amounts of yarn.

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Simple to use
  • Very little hassle to store as it folds down
  • Great value

Cons

  • Not as smooth a finish as others. There’s a risk some yarns may catch. My advice tip is to sand it to return the smoothness.
  • The rivet holding the ribbing section together sometimes breaks

11. CuteDIY Umbrella Swift

Cutehill Umbrella Swift Check Price on Amazon

The whole fixture is made of plastic and metal, so it’s not as sturdy as wooden styles. This thing works well with 4 ounces of yarn.

Readers got in touch and said these plastic yarn swifts work great as a basic, low-cost budget option. Excellent choice for knitters who don’t wind lots.

It’s lightweight with a compact design and packs down for easy storage. This swift easily converts to a vertical by the turn of a wing nut. It’s fragile. Pair with a compact yarn ball winder, and you’re good to go!

Pros

  • Easy to assemble and use
  • Folds down for compact storage space
  • Suits smaller circles of skein sizes
  • They spin round smoothly
  • Fairly sturdy clamp on base
  • Thick metal parts, so it lasts longer
  • Budget friendly

Cons

  • Needs padding between it and the table due to burrs in the plastic covering for the clamp.
  • The metal loops may catch the yarn
  • Not very durable material or plastic components
  • Clamps may leave marks on a craft table

Top Swifts Compared

Winders

Best

Luxury

Budget

Product
Made By

Stanwood
Needlecraft

Knitter’s
Pride

Fiber
Artists Co.

Product

Umbrella

Signature

Maple

Material

Birch

Birch

Maple

Height

23.5″

28″

5″

Weight

2 lb

2.78 lb

1.8 lb

Assembly

Easy

Easy

Easy

Made In

USA

India

USA

Comfort

✓✓✓

✓✓✓✓

✓✓✓

Durability

✓✓✓

✓✓✓✓

✓✓✓

Ease Of Use

✓✓✓✓

✓✓✓

✓✓✓✓

Portability

✓✓✓

✓✓✓

✓✓

Versatility

✓✓✓✓

✓✓✓✓

✓✓✓✓✓

Speed

✓✓✓✓

✓✓✓

✓✓✓✓✓

Clamp

Yes

Yes

No

Range

1 3/4″

1.5″

N/A

Packs Down

Yes

No

Yes

Surface

Sanded

Smooth

Sanded

Hank Width

27″

60″

72″

Noise Level

Silent

Squeaks

Silent

Price

$$

$$$

$

Value

✓✓✓✓

✓✓✓✓✓

✓✓✓

Returns

30 days

30 days

Full Refund

Warranty

12 Months

Lifetime

Lifetime

Overall

★★★★

★★★★★

★★★

Buying Decision Checklist

Are you ready to make things easier by having a yarn swift? Here is a quick checklist to consider

  • Sturdy Construction? – YES/NO
  • Smooth Finish? – YES/NO
  • Ease Of Set-Up? – YES/NO
  • Sturdy Table Clamps? – YES/NO
  • What Style? – Umbrella Or Tabletop Swifts?
  • Adjustable For Different Circumferences Of Yarn? – YES/NO
  • Packs Down For Storage? – YES/NO
  • Do You Have Enough Space To Store It? – YES/NO
  • Can You Easily Get Metal Screw Replacements? – YES/NO

If you use smaller weight yarns, get a small swift. If not, go bigger.

Pin For Later

Yarn Swift and Hand dyed yarn skeins

What Is A Yarn Swift?

Yarn Swift materials are either wood or metal and plastic. It’s considered an essential tool for any knitter or crocheter. Most yarn swifts are wooden.

Yarns are often sold as hanks or skeins. What is a hank of yarn? A hank is yarn loosely wound into a large ring shape and twisted on itself.

This tool holds yarn in place, and when it spins, yarn streams from it in a single, untangled strand. It will hold hanks, and it’s for winding yarn into yarn balls.

Also used by spinners and hand yarn dyers for the opposite process. They use it as a skein winder to wind loose yarn into a big circle, then put it in a hank form. There are numerous types, but they all create center pull balls or cakes.

  • Handheld
  • Tabletop design
  • Umbrella-style
  • Vertical (aka Squirrel Cage)
 By The Bay Yarn Co hand dyed yarns on her swift
By The Bay Yarn Co Follow Wende on Instagram for more knitting inspiration @bythebayyarnco

How To Use A Yarn Swift

Here is how a swift works for winding yarns. Start by clamping the swift onto a table or countertop. To protect your table surfaces, use a tablecloth.

Winding with a winder and swift – Repeat the above process for the winderholder. To make the whole process of winding a ball from a skein, follow these simple instructions:

  • First, slide the clamp at the base of the swift onto your table and tighten the bolt.
  • Remove the label and untwist the skein or yarn hank.
  • Pop the ring of yarn strands over the top of the swift
  • Pull the ring of fiber lightly so the hank’s far side is against the middle shaft.
  • Open up the arms of the closed yarn swift like an umbrella by pushing the tightening screw upward. (Umbrella swift is a common name for this tool)
  • Do this until the yarn or skein form is taut on the swift.
  • Then secure the umbrella clamp in place.
  • Spin around and find all the tied sections of the yarn hanks/skein. Remove these ties.
  • There’s one end on the outside and the other on the inside. Use the end on the outside to start winding yarn.
  • The swift holds the yarn in place with even tension. Now wind the yarn!
  • Start slowly with a gentle tug, so you see how the swift and the wool winder works and how fast the yarn winds. Then you can speed up.
  • Neat yarn cakes (a center pull yarn ball) forms with little effort. The swift works as you wind your yarn. Such fun!
YouTube video

How to Use A Swift and Ball Winder To Create Yarn Balls

Using an Umbrella Swift and a Ball Winder Combo saves you an enormous amount of time. For recommendations on yarn ball winders, visit my post.

The beauty of using a winder and yarn swift is center pull cakes. (Having the end in the middle is convenient when it’s time to knit.)

Here is a fabulous tutorial by Stacey at Very Pink Knits. She demonstrates how to ball yarn. Watch the way how yarn in hank form becomes neat yarn cakes.

YouTube video
Amish Yarn Swift with pink yarn used by Woolen Whimsey
Follow Mandy Monique on Instagram for more knitting inspiration @woolenwhimsy

Getting To Know The Different Types

Kristine Kelly of Ewe University showcases different types of yarn swift in her video. I enjoyed watching it and found it informative.

I’ve summarized it by giving the essential points. Skip to the 19.59 mark for great information on the best Yarn Swifts and the best yarn winders. Here are the types.

Umbrella Style

Ewe University Stanwood Umbrella Yarn Swift with teal green wool placed on it

The most common swifts are umbrella swifts (aka horizontal swifts.) They’re made of timber or metal and collapse for storage.

Umbrella style swifts have a flat base for a tabletop surface or a clamp to attach to a table’s side. You can use an umbrella swift vertically. Some are tall and stand on the floor. Materials vary from wood to metal and plastic.

(There are also combination swifts.)

Tabletop or Amish Style

Amish Wooden Yarn Swift from Ewe University

The Tabletop Yarn Swift or Amish style swift seems to be gaining in popularity because they’re great for beginners. Go to 25.36 to see the Amish style Swift.

Amish yarn swifts are made of wood with two pieces crisscrossing in the middle to create 4 arms. On this type of yarn swift each of the arms, there are various holes to insert peg. It can accommodate hanks of different sizes.

The diagonally placed the arms are bolted together at the center. If you know woodwork, these swifts aren’t difficult to make. The bottom has rubber or felt pads to protect surfaces and prevent scratches.

Consider a DIY Yarn swift if you have the skills. Kristine’s husband made one for her. He found woodworking plans and homemade yarn swift instructions online. How to make a swift is outlined on websites with their specifications.

Amish Swifts are cheaper than Umbrella-Style Swifts. The Amish Swift is placed on top of a table or flat surface, holding skeins and spins around. No need for clamps. Jump to 27:25 to see an this swift in action.

Amish style swifts take up a lot of space, especially if using a yarn winder and swift. Some come apart, but some do not. Keep in mind your storage options.

Favored by spinners/dyers for their hand-dyed and spun yarns to form hanks.

What Is An Amish Yarn Swift?

An Amish Yarn Swift (otherwise known as a tabletop yarn swift) is a swift of simple wooden design. It fits almost any skein or hank and will spin easily. An Amish style swift has a swivel base and 4 arms.

Each Amish or tabletop style arms has pre drilled holes in them, with 4 removable pegs. They move depending on how big the loop of an unwound skein is.

The pegs in the arms hold the yarn hank in place as the swift spins, creating a center pull ball. You need to consider the amount of space you have available. Ensure you check the dimensions.

Goko Schact Yarn Swift loaded with teal green yarn

Vertical Yarn Swift

The last style Kristine mentions is a vertical swift. These range in price depending on the features included. People are making these styles of umbrella swifts and then selling them online. Most users are dyers who package their yarns in hanks.

Some people make handmade vertical swifts, but they’re a bit fragile. The vertical swift Kristine owns is the Schacht Goko angled swift. Kristine demonstrates the vertical yarn ball winder with a yarn hank at point 29:25.

The Goko Yarn Swift is vertical and angled. It has a Japanese design style based on industrial swifts. Kristine finds it excellent for fine, delight fibers like lace weight yarn. She also uses it for other yarn weights.

This type isn’t super popular in the knitting world.

How to Use a Vertical Swift

Place it on a table or the floor. It has a solid base with 2 arms extending upwards and an aluminum wheel where the yarn loop is set.

She notes the wheel is fragile on this device and could be bent if dropped. However, the lightness and flexibility of the thin metal wheel make it work well and rotations smooth.

The Goko Swift model copes with yarn loop circumferences of 57” to 64”. It’s not as adjustable as other types. Storage is an issue.

However, it’s an item of interest and adds character to a craft room. Here’s the video. Worth watching!

YouTube video

Amish Yarn Swift vs Umbrella Swift

If you have space in your home on the table, try the Amish Yarn Swift. Though they don’t pack away easily. The Umbrella Swift folds down and is easily stored away. What you choose is a matter of taste.

Sarah at Map and Loom Umbrella Wooden Yarn Swift with natural yarn
Follow Sarah on Instagram @Mapandloom for more great pics and visit her store https://www.etsy.com/shop/mapandloom for beautiful handwoven scarves.

FAQS About A Yarn Swift

Do I Need A Yarn Swift?

Everything depends on how you buy your yarn. If you use hanks of yarn, yes! They allow for trouble-free balling, free from tangles and knots.

These tools are not just for knitters, crocheters, thread makers and weavers too! Using yarn winders with your yarn swift, you create yarn cakes (yarn muffins) rather than yarn balls. (I recommend it.)

Is A Yarn Swift Winder Worth It?

Yes! The best yarn swifts are a great tool. Of course you want to get back to knitting faster! Winding with a yarn winder and yarn swift is fun. In combination with each other, easily wrap yarn into cakes.

To use a yarn winder and see your stash of hanks becoming neat little yarn cakes is addictive. Looking for the best swift yarn winder combination? See my post.

What Is The Best Yarn Swift?

Of all the products we researched, reviewed and tested, we liked the Stanwood Medium the best. The product is sturdy, well-made and smooth to wind.

It’s affordable, fits a good array of yarn weights, and is made of lovely wood. Given those qualities, we believe so many reviews from happy knitters can’t be wrong.

They’re smooth and quiet when winding.

Conclusion

Hope you find the yarn swift to make winding hanks easier. Have fun knitting or crocheting! Do you have a favorite I haven’t mentioned? Have a question?

Anything I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments section below. Your email address is never published.

About The Author

Jodie Morgan From Knit Like Granny

Jodie Morgan - (Author and Founder)

jodie@knitlikegranny.com
Lives In: Chiang Mai, Thailand


Author: Jodie Morgan is a passionate knitter and blogger with 40+ years of experience currently living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Taught by her mother and wonderful grandmother “Mama”, she fell in love with crafting from a young age. When she’s not knitting, you’ll find her enjoying a cup of coffee with cream, or sharing helpful resources and tips with the online knitting community. Please say hello, or see what she's making on Ravelry.

Comments

  1. What are the two umbrella swifts used in the “handwashdryflat” picture and Sara@hobbybirdknits picture? Very much appreciated your review – Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Thanks for a fantastic and very informative article! I am new to all of this and years ago when I first learned to knit our local yarn shop would wind wool for loyal customers even if it wasn’t purchased there. The shop is long closed and I am picking up knitting needles again and decided I needed my own support tools!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Elizabeth for your kind words, so glad you’ve found my post helpful. What a lovely yarn shop that must have been, sorry to hear it is no longer in your area. Having a swift and a yarn winder are certainly a great investment for a knitter. I’d love to hear back from you on which option you end up selecting and once you’ve used your ‘support tools’, as you so aptly described let me know your thoughts. Happy Knitting! Cheers Jodie

      Reply
  3. My head is spinning! Literally!!! I’m retired now and can no longer bring my yarn to work and have a friend use her equipment. Time for my own. I think I’m going to purchase the Stanwood medium. Thanks for the excellent review.

    Reply
    • Love your use of puns Linda! What a great idea to get your own yarn swift. So glad my guide has helped you. Let me know how you get on and the what you think of the Stanwood swift. Happy knitting 🙂 Cheers Jodie

      Reply
    • Hi Susie. That’s great to hear that you’ve been saved time and effort. Hope you’ve found a swift to suit you. Cheers Jodie

      Reply
    • Thanks Annette for your recommendation. How did you have to modify it and where did you purchase it from? Cheers Jodie

      Reply

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