How A Search Engine Can Start Off A Train of Thought

It’s amazing what you can find on Etsy – the home of handmade arts and crafts, vintage items,  supplies for your hobbies and, apparently, home crafted sex furniture.  I don’t want to give you a link to the particular shop but you can easily find it – and probably others like it –  by putting certain words like ‘fetish’, ‘dungeon’ or ‘cross’ in the search bar.   You may not believe me but the last word was what I put in or, more precisely ‘pedestal cross’ because I was doing a bit of price comparison research on one of my vintage items.  Honest guv!  To prove it, here is a picture of my pedestal cross.

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The reason that particular shop’s home dungeon came up in my search was because the skilfully made, human-sized wooden cross for sale there can apparently be taken apart quickly by undoing one wing nut and then concealed inside a wooden pedestal which you can stand a potted plant on.  Ingenious eh?  So handy for when the vicar comes round for tea unexpectedly.

'Shall we buy a plant stand?'

‘Shall we buy a plant stand?’

Now I don’t mind a bit of slap and tickle but the emphasis is definitely on the tickle.  I think my pain threshold is quite high – I didn’t have any pain relief when my daughters were born although, afterward, when it got to the having stitches stage, I damn well wished I had!  Plus, with my first, they had to close the window as the noise I was making was frightening the children in the playground of the school next door but I still don’t fancy being deliberately subjected to pain.  What are the statistics?  Is it mostly a man thing?  Can we blame the British public school system?  Oo-er Matron.

I won’t ever be able to go into somebody’s home where there is a wooden pedestal with a plant on top without wondering if…….  The only torture chamber in our house is the conservatory where the cats regularly bring in mice, lizards and other small beings which I am sure are not dispatched with kindness but I haven’t seen any evidence of crosses – although we do have a plant stand in there……..

Looking for the next victim

Looking for the next victim

I liked the shop’s  ‘reviews’ sent in by satisfied  happy, dungeon owning customers.  One complained that there was a slight split in the wood at the base of the pedestal.   I know, I know, just because you’re going to use something as part of a fetish ritual in a basement doesn’t mean you should have to put up with faulty goods.   Another said he was delighted with the workmanship and it was of ‘heirloom quality’.  Heirloom?  If your offspring had any idea you were concealing dungeon equipment in that innocent looking plant stand next to the telly they probably would have no more to do with you, ever. Unless, of course, you had passed down the gene for the love of all things painful in which case, they might be glad of  it one day.  Also, they might think you were slightly less boring than if you made them a quilt for an heirloom – sorry girls!

It all bought to mind – although very obliquely –  ‘The Ballad of Freda and Barry’ by Victoria Wood which, even though it’s from the 80s , still made me laugh when I watched it again on YouTube.  So for those of you who aren’t Brits, or haven’t heard of Victoria Wood or haven’t seen her do this, it’s worth 5 minutes for a good laugh.  Plus, as this is from the  ‘An Audience With ..’ series, where the show is performed in front of other celebrities, it’s fun spotting those who were or still are famous – Julie Walters  is there, for example, sporting the kind of hairstyle we all had back then. Well, I did.

I hope I haven’t offended anybody by wondering out loud about this particular fetish – whatever floats your boat – and if you do want the link to the shop, just ask!

 

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The Wrath of the Tartans

Why make a simple Colette Sorbetto top  in just an hour when you can spread it out over several?

This is how you do it.

  1.  Take a failed skirt project  – a Zinnia since you’re asking – ignore the beautifully done, probably never to be repeated, invisible zip insertion and attempt to cut out a new pattern from the salvaged fabric.
  2. Remember the reason the original skirt failed was your inability to match the plaid but continue regardless, confident you will not make the same mistake twice.
  3. Cut out two fronts by mistake.
  4. Manage to salvage a back but in two pieces instead of one and about 3 inches too short
  5. Find some toning fabric to make the back pieces long enough and try to make it look like a design feature.
  6. Wrath of the Tartans (2)Fail to match the plaid on the back and one side but it’s either carry on or bin it.
  7. Wrath of the Tartans (1)Make your own bias tape.
  8. Wrath of the Tartans (4)Attach the bias tape to one armhole, do it wrong and unpick it.
  9. Realise you didn’t do it wrong after all and re-attach it.
  10. Wonder if you could enter it in Sew2Pro’s homage to Vivienne Westwood competition as it is tartan and non-conformist.Sew2ProVivienneWestwoodChallenge
  11. Wonder if you should enter the next Great British Sewing Bee.
  12. Resign yourself to wearing it only with a cardi or jacket over the top.Colette Sorbetto Top

  13.   Come to the awful realisation that, despite the front being cut on a fold and therefore must surely match, the pleat throws the pattern out again.  Definitely one for wearing out in the garden with a pair of shorts and chalking up to experience.

    At least it’s Easter so I can console myself with chocolate.

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Why Wouldn’t You?

I recently decided I needed a yarn winder.  One of those gadgets that you use to wind a lovely, neat ball of wool when you buy it in a skein or when you need two balls of yarn for socks or an intarsia project.  One of those gadgets that make it so that the yarn emerges from the centre of the ball and, therefore, doesn’t shoot off across the floor with a cat in hot pursuit.  I know you can use your two hands but why do that when you can have a gadget that does it for you in at least half the time and when the result is much neater than I can manage.

Being me, I couldn’t just buy a plastic winder from somewhere in China.   Oh no.  I have to do ‘research’.  Then, of course, I see a lovely wooden winder on Pinterest from a Scandinavian company that costs around 150 euros which is ridiculous, so I go on eBay France and, after much racking my brains as to what one of these things would be called in french (enrouleur de fil, if you’re interested), I saw this.

Wooden Yarn WinderI was the only bidder – are you surprised? – so I got it for 12 euros and I am chuffed as I would rather buy a bit of vintage than a bit of plastic.  You can see, on the label, the make is ‘Rapid Plot’ which doesn’t sound very french but I am assuming it is a play on words as the french for a ball of yarn is ‘pelote’ which, if you say it quickly enough, sounds like plot.  This dates before 1968, according to the other markings, which just goes to show that franglais has been going long before ‘le weekend’ , ‘le shopping’, etc.   I do love a bit of franglais – I speak it myself – but I find it amusing when they use an english word for something but then don’t understand it when you say it with an english accent.  This means that when – or more likely, if, – I talk about a local bar which is called ‘Le Lounge’, I have to do some vocal gymnastics and call it ‘le Loooonge’, otherwise I am looked upon with pity and non-comprehension, although that isn’t an unusual reaction to most things I say here to be honest.

Anyway, I digress.  After my purchase of the ball winder – note I am using ‘yarn’ and ‘ball’ alternately here to include both sides of the Atlantic – I realised I needed something called a ‘Swift’.  Who knew?  Again, something that can be done with your own two hands – or, more accurately, the two hands of a willing assistant or, failing that, the back of a chair – can be performed by a gadget.  This time, a glorious thing, which you clamp to the side of a table and open like some sort of mad umbrella frame and then drape your skein around its welcoming arms, link it up to your Rapid Plot and Voila!  Again, I didn’t want a plastic one but didn’t want to pay too much for the wooden variety.

Because I was at yoga class on Saturday morning, I couldn’t get to a new (very popular) house clearance type shop that has recently opened just down the road and is only open at weekends as they presumably spend the rest of the week clearing out houses of old tut that will end up in other houses until it is deemed, by the new owners, to have become old tut again and so it continues in the vintage and antiques world.  So I told  asked Mr. T. to go and have a look and see if there was anything worth having and, when I rang him after yoga, he said something like  ‘no, it was a load of crap’ .  I don’t trust him as far as this sort of thing is concerned so, on my way home, I popped in myself and spent 100 euros and, amongst the things I bought was a wooden swift, here posing with its friend the Rapid Plot.

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Apparently, he had spotted it and knew I wanted one but just because there is a little split in the knobbly bit you push up and down he didn’t buy it and neither did he tell me about it when I phoned.  It was only 10 euros, he knew I was looking for one, he knew I would probably go in there at some stage and see it myself so, I had to ask, ‘why wouldn’t you?’ , to which he didn’t have a satisfactory answer.  In future, I will not trust him to spot a good thing in a junk shop.

His punishment was that they didn’t take cards and, only having supposed to have gone out for a yoga class, I didn’t have my cheque book on me (who writes cheques anymore anyway?) plus I bought an antique Pfaff  treadle sewing machine  and this lovely display stand of haberdashery drawers so I had to phone him to come down to the shop with the cheque book and extra car space to get my booty back home.  Booty as in stuff I’d bought, not as in the Beyoncé type of  ‘booty’ or is that spelled differently?

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I’m off to wind some balls of wool/yarn now – just for the hell of it.

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Warm Coco

Having made Tilly’s Coco dress for my daughter, I decided to make the funnel neck version  for me with some double knit jersey I got when I was over in the U.K.  However, it is quite thick fabric and, although it seems just the right thickness and stability for the style,  I won’t be able to wear it much before it gets too hot here.

So, I wore it the other day and took some photos but the light was soooo terrible that I didn’t get any good ones.  I thought I’d better put them on though in case I don’t get around to wearing it again until the autumn.

I know, I know, I’ve cut my head off again but this is the best photo of the actual dress so I’ve used it.

Coco Dress

 Next time, I will make the sleeves a couple of inches shorter as these are supposed to be three- quarter length.

Hmm.  I’m doing some sort of hip thrust forward movement here, thus blurring the photo a bit and making it easier to see the seam of my tights.  It makes it look as though there is bunching round the waist but there isn’t (see above!).  Also, my boots look like wellies – which they aren’t – but, apart from that, you get the general idea.   I think this fabric would also have worked well as the tunic top version which has little side slits.

Coco Dress

  I used the overlocker to make the dress, though it isn’t necessary, and then a twin needle to do the hem.  I lengthened it by a couple of inches so it would be knee length on me as the original pattern is quite short.

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An ‘action’ shot, as I like to call my blurred photographs.

Overall, a quick and easy dress to make which is really comfortable to wear and quick to pull on.  I will make some more, short sleeve versions in a slightly finer stretch knit for the warmer weather.

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Warm Days, Cool Nights

 After a tiring day playing in the garden, chasing butterflies and chewing up gardening gloves

Cat & Dog

when you can hardly hold the weight of your own head up any more

Cuddling cat & dog

It’s nice to have somebody to snuggle up with in front of the fire

dog & cat with fire

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Just One Sorbetto?

Remember this Liberty fabric I bought at the recent Knitting and Stitching Exhibition?

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Well, I didn’t really have any plans for it when I bought it but a friend of mine was looking for a pattern to make a simple top with some silky fabric she has and I remembered the Sorbetto top by Colette patterns which I had downloaded but never made up.  So, I thought it would also suit the tana lawn quite well.

Here’s me getting ready with the remote.  I am also testing out my daylight lamp as a photography aid.  My house is not very good for letting in natural light as it is very old and designed for keeping the heat out.  However,  I need to photograph some little people’s clothes for my shop and I am not satisfied with my results so far so I am experimenting.

Sorbetto Top

The Sorbetto pattern is a free download which you can find here.  It is actually for a sleeveless top but I found a pattern hack here and added some little sleeves.

Colette Sorbetto in Liberty Tana Lawn

I seem to be looking unbearably smug in this photograph but that might be because I made my own bias binding to go around the neck and I also used it for the sleeves. Get me!

Biais Binding

 So chuffed was I with it, I had to actually photograph it on its own.  I take my pleasures where I find them these days!

BIAIS BINDING TOOl

The gadget you need is this Clover bias binding maker which didn’t come with any instructions.  I followed this video tutorial by The Little Tailoress where you have the added bonus of somebody looking adorable in a pink floral Liberty dress but you can’t hate her for it as she seems so nice.

Liberty Matilda Tulip Sorbetto

This little top is very simple to make.  I have seen claims of making it in 45 minutes from beginning to end.  Hmmm.  Maybe if you don’t add sleeves or make your own bias binding.  Maybe if your bobbin doesn’t run out and the postman doesn’t knock on the door.  Maybe if you don’t have to stop for a wee and a cup of tea halfway through.  Or is that just me?  Anyway, it is quick and you could probably squeeze one out of a metre of fabric if you mess with the layout and it is a very handy top for summer.  I will definitely be making more.

 

 

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Get In The Queue

I am getting to the state where I have so many projects in mind that I can’t remember what yarn or fabric I bought for which project.  Partly, that is due to a bit of a spend up at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia a week or so ago where I was as tempted by the stands selling wool as by those selling  fabric and divided myself, and my money,  between the two – well, it was only fair.  I found the Olympia venue much more manageable than the Alexandra Palace show I went to in October last year which was almost too huge and overwhelming and, as a result, I didn’t spend quite so much there as I did here.

London Olympia

Anyway, I sort of had projects in mind for fabrics as I want to make another Coco dress not for my daughter this time, but for me.  Having already made one in a finer jersey, I chose a double knit jersey this time in a shade of blue I have heard referred to as ‘airforce blue’  - so it is sort of bluey, grey –  which I found at the expo for £7.99 a metre which I didn’t think was bad.  At the risk of looking like one of the crew on the bridge of the Star Ship Enterprise, I am doing the funnel neck version with 3/4 length sleeves and I need to hurry up because, when the sun comes out here now, it’s quite hot so I won’t have long to wear it.  I would have finished it by now but my Mum came back from the U.K. with me for a week and I went on a knitting fest with her as it is more sociable than disappearing to the sewing room – although I did manage a couple of trips up there when she dozed off watching her soaps.

On the same stand where I found the double knit jersey they were selling loads of lovely Liberty tana lawn for £14 per metre and I haven’t seen so many different designs available in one place for ages so I had to indulge.

This will be sweet for a little girl’s outfit  -  bless all those little musical kitties -

hellokittyliberty

and this one is Liberty’s Matilda Tulip design in a mustard and charcoal colourway which I fancy for a summery blouse or something.  If I make just a simple one it would go well with jeans I think.  (Just realised I have shown the mustard and navy together as if to prove my point.)

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I’ve had an antique Singer sewing machine for a while now and keep meaning to do something with it in terms of renovating it a bit and perhaps actually using it.  Mr. Tialys had taken it all to pieces for me and I had the sewing machine on a shelf in my workroom but I kept brushing past the stand in the shed on my way out to the garden and decided to do something with it.  The wooden table part was a bit yukky so I thought I’d give it a couple of coats of chalk paint and decorate it with an image of a pair of antique scissors.  I might do a bit more distressing but this is as far as I’ve got at the moment.  A lot of the decals on the machine are worn but I don’t think my fine painting skills are up to restoring those.  After a bit of research, I discovered this machine was made in Scotland in 1906.  The belt is missing from the treadle mechanism so I will have to search for a replacement online but, apart from that, I think it should work O.K.  There is also a large wooden cover for the machine – you can see the fittings for it on the top – and also a drawer – but I can’t decide whether to leave those in the original wood or paint them to match the top.  I don’t normally like painting over lovely wood but this isn’t that great quality so I will give it some thought.

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine 1906

After a bit of research, I discovered this machine was made in Scotland in 1906.  The belt is missing from the treadle mechanism so I will have to search for a replacement online but, apart from that, I think it should work O.K.  There is also a large wooden cover for the machine – you can see the fittings for it on the top – and also a drawer – but I can’t decide whether to leave those in the original wood or paint them to match the stand.  I don’t normally like painting over lovely wood but this isn’t that great quality so I will give it some thought.

vintage sewing machine

The ‘spooky’ thing was that, after I had had a little play with this yesterday, I looked in the T.V. Listings mag I get Mr. T. to bring over from the U.K. with him, and noticed that tonight’s Great British Sewing Bee episode will feature some of these vintage machines.  Apparently the contestants will be presented with a 1930s pattern and they will be making a coat.  I’ve never made a coat – let alone from a vintage pattern – so it will be really interesting to see what they do although I don’t think they will be cruel enough to make them sew the coat on a treadle machine.  Will they?

Have you got an antique or vintage sewing machine?  Do you use it or is it décor only?  If you use it, what do you use it for?  Just asking as I’m interested.

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Coco Tokyo

Taking a break from knitting socks and wrangling dogs, I ran up this Coco dress yesterday which would have been a very quick job but for the fact that my overlocker had to be re-threaded and , not having had it that long, this was a traumatic experience for me as I am absolute pants at following diagrams and couldn’t work out where the lower looper thread needed to go for about an hour.  Or was it the upper looper.  Who knows? – I’ve done it now and next time I will be much more careful when changing over the thread spools

Anyway, this pattern from Tilly and the Buttons is a nice, easy pattern which goes together quickly especially, but not necessarily if you have an overlocker ( preferably threaded!).  Also, a nice, easy style to wear with a couple of variations such as a funnel neck which I might do for myself.   You can also make a tunic length top with the slash neck or funnel neck and either long or 3/4 length sleeves.   I made this Japanese themed version for my daughter who is mad on all things from Japan (but especially manga) and I apologise for the mannequin rather than a live model but she is shy and I’m not sure Kanji symbols would do much for me.

Coco Dress - Short SleevesNot my finest hour really but it’s wearable.  The neck lays flatter than that on a real model but I’m not sure I am that happy with the construction as it is just turned over and top stitched.  I might try a band next time as I find that gives the neck a little more structure.  Madamoiselle Tialys decided she wanted short sleeves – after I’d cut the 3/4 ones out and, actually, I think that was a good decision with this fabric as the design looked a bit overpowering with longer sleeves.  I left a bit too much hem too so the top stitching is a bit higher than I’d normally do it but, next time……

Coco DressI took the mannequin outside to take the air and for a bit of March sunshine – nobody can say I’m not good to my staff.    I notice the sunshine made the fabric look a bit more pinky than it really is – top picture is more accurate.  I’m going to order some slightly less stretchy knit for my one and make it with the funnel neck and 3/4 length sleeves and, as I’ve tried the Japanese one on (even though no photographic evidence exists), I know exactly what size to cut for myself.

I am off to the U.K. tomorrow to help my Mum clear cupboards, wardrobes, drawers etc. of 40 odd years of tut in preparation for her perhaps downsizing now that she is on her own.  I’m not really looking forward to it but it has to be done and I will fortify myself with lots of Marks & Spencer ‘Dinners for Two’ especially as they come with a bottle of wine and Mum doesn’t like wine – shame.  Also, on Thursday or Friday, I will have a day off  from decluttering and go up to Olympia for the Knitting and Stitching Show.  I am taking a suitcase instead of the usual cabin bag – not that I’m intending to buy anything but it’s best to be prepared :)

 

 

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Flo’s Progress – A Dog’s Diary

Since I came to live here from the dog rescue in January, I have been settling in nicely.

This week has been busy for me and The Missus says, because of that, she hasn’t been able to get much done.

Today, for instance, I rolled in fox poo when we were out on our walk and had my very first bath.  I didn’t like it.  Afterward, I ran straight out and jumped in the fish pond so that I would smell nice again.

I have four cats to play with but, I’m not sure they like me as much as I like them.  Henry peed in my dog bed this morning and The Missus said, cat pee smells so bad the bed would have to go in the washing machine.  However, as I had chewed a lot of my dog bed up, the stuffing was coming out so she had to sew it up with upholstery thread before she could put it in the machine.

Beau is my favourite cat.  He is very dog friendly and always comes to see me first when he comes through the cat flap.

Flo'sPets (3)I love to collect things from around the house.  The Missus says she wouldn’t mind  but I have a habit of chewing them up.  Because of this, I have to sleep in the kitchen at night and not with the other dogs.  So far this week I have enjoyed four dog blankets, the aforementioned dog bed, two pairs of prescription glasses, a skirting board, a set of four vintage buttons, a garden clog, a voodoo doll (don’t ask) , a roll of sellotape, a packet of Customs labels, one of a pair of gardening gloves and a PS3 remote.

Flo's Dogs (1)

I like that Beau and I are sort of colour coordinated

Flo's Dogs (2)

and sometimes we have ‘who has the longest tongue’ competitions.  I always win.

I know sometimes I get called a pain in the arse – I think it’s a term of affection – and The Missus says I will ‘mature’ as the other dogs have done so I don’t think she regrets getting me from the refuge because she often asks “who persuaded me to get another dog?” and I think it’s because she wants to thank them.

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A Feverish Weekend Blog – Atchoo!

I’ve got a cold and feeling very sorry for myself.  I haven’t had many colds at all since moving to France and this is my first one for 5 years so I am making the most of it.  I am managing some incredibly loud sneezing fits, going through boxes of tissues as if I had been watching ‘The Notebook’ (again),  professing not to be able to taste anything so may as well not bother to cook (but ‘perhaps could just eat something if you’re doing it anyway’), ensuring everybody notices that the slightest exertion is making me short of breath,  appear to be covered in an attractive red rash which always happens if I’m a bit poorly and generally wafting about the place no use to man nor beast.

I’m doing as little as possible.  I think these two have the right idea although nobody would want to be that close to me at the moment so I might have to drape myself decoratively somewhere solo.

Curled Up Cats

Did you have a pull-along dog when you were a child?  I did – I think – and if I didn’t, I should have – and I’ve always fancied buying a vintage one for nostalgia’s sake.  Hard to see one that isn’t ripped, isn’t a donkey and isn’t an absolute fortune though so, when I saw Northfield Primitives’ Shop on Etsy I just had to go for one of her gorgeous dogs.  Handcrafted in Yorkshire, Sarah makes her animals on her old Singer treadle machine.This one (my one!) is made with hand-coloured mohair,  has a rusty bell and vintage meccano wheels, I am in love.

Hand Made Vintage Style Pull-Along Dog

Something else I bought on Etsy recently was this little pincushion ring from Lifepieces.  I have bought gazillions of her gorgeous pincushions for myself and as gifts and they are beautifully made – so much so, I can hardly bear to stick pins in them but, when I saw this one, I had to have it.  Look! That little owl is a pin – can you bear it?

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 Is it practical?  I’m not sure.  Is it gorgeous? Well, obviously.  Redressing the balance after my rant about re-sellers on Etsy recently – these sorts of shops remind me how it is still possible to find beautiful, hand made items from skilled artisans on the site when you really look.

Anyway, having no energy to do my usual housework chores (!) I have forged ahead with my new addiction.

Two at a time socks

I know it looks like I’m knitting a pair of sunglasses or a bikini top for a two year old but I am, in fact, knitting a pair – yes, you heard right – a pair of socks.  At one time.  On one long circular needle.  From the toes up. And…… drumroll…… I appear to be matching the stripes at the same time.  A bit ambitious for only my second pair of socks I know – considering the first were in nice chunky wool too and very fast to knit – but I know that I will be prone to ‘Second Sock Syndrome’,  a medical condition discovered by scientists studying the lifestyles and habits of sock knitters whereby, in layman’s terms, you finish one sock and then can’t be arsed to do the second one.  Not wanting to suffer from this – especially on top of a cold – I decided to go down the toe up, two at one time route and, with the help of the  internet and some incredibly helpful people who selflessly write out  reams of instructions and take loads of close up photos (or video themselves) for no apparent personal gain, I am on my way.

Honourable mentions for such tutorials go out to Knit Purl Hunter for ‘Judy’s Magic Cast On’ here 

                                                                                                       Liat Gat for Magic Loop Knitting here

                                                                                                       and Heidi Bears for knitting two socks at one time on one circular needle here

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