Building blocks

Clearly, I owe y’all an apology: I did not keep my promise to post by end-of-week last week. End of LAST week, mind you.

On Flailing

I’m trying to use this seeming failure as one of those noble “teaching moments”, rather than simply reacting in my usual fashion of pulling out the baseball bat and finding not-nice things to say about myself.

This time, a few bruises and curse words later, I looked back and began to see part of a life-long pattern of what I call “flail-ures”—times when my intentions are good, I get off to a good start, something trips me up, and then I go into The Flails.

The Flails are a series of mind-games I play with myself. Writer’s Block (hipster acronym WB) reared its bumpy noggin this time, and so, cue The Flails: I use my usual tricks to break through WB, write a few paragraphs, realize they aren’t suitable for one reason or another, spend another day or so scolding myself, panicking when I realize the clock is ticking, freeze up into WB again, and ’round she goes—with creative and exciting variations! (Not.)

Kermit doing the iconic FLAIL

At some point, I realize I am going to miss my deadline, and more Flails show up: now I’ve let people down, time to bring on the shame! I avoid the keyboard for a bit so it won’t remind me of my shame, then take a big breath and put on my Big Girl Panties, write, produce something that is disconnected from my previous attempts, and then more yet Flails ensue.

Add a pinch o’ pride…

This time, the Flails were enhanced by the fact that the long gaps between postings cost me readers. It’s only numbers, I realize; I also realize that the readers who truly matter are either still here (yay! Thanks for being patient with me) or will come back as soon as they see I’m alive and posting again.

Dusty: There is a limit to this whole "creative chaos" thing, you know that, right?

Dusty: There is a limit to this whole “creative chaos” thing, you know that, right?

This taught me something (or rather, reinforced what I already knew): Blogging is, at the very least, a conversation; at its best, it is a relationship. If one party stops keeping up their end of the deal, then the other party will naturally get tired of the silence and wander off to talk with someone else.

The final nail in the coffin was, I am sorry to say, pride: A few years ago, I was one of the most-read fibre bloggers in our small pond; I had fangirls, people wanting to have their photo taken with me, even a stalker (“fangirl gone bad”, shall we say).  Now I’m not That Girl anymore. I know this sounds petty, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to go from being a bit of a mini-celebrity to being just a face in the crowd. I see knitters whom I have mentored, encouraging them to make that first pattern submission, cheerleading as they went on to have confidence in their own visions—I’ve watched several of them grow into highly sought-after authors, designers, and teachers.

My sense of self is disrupted by all this change, not to mention  how quickly it happened. It’s hard to blog when the person at the keyboard is someone you no longer recognize.

I realized I needed to rebuild not only my own sense of self, but my sense of who I am in the fibre community.

And although I have a spinner’s heart and a knitter’s eye, it is a completely different craft which is helping me to begin to fit the pieces back together.

Building blocks

About 15-20 years ago (why yes, I was in fact eighteen, thank you for asking), I stumbled upon the travelling exhibit showcasing Amish Quilts at the San Francisco De Young Museum.

Detail of the "Flying Triangles" quilt; hand-pieced and hand-quilted by Sandi Wiseheart

Detail of the “Flying Triangles” quilt; hand-pieced and hand-quilted by Sandi Wiseheart

I went two days in a row. The second day, I sat down on one of the benches in front of two of the more stupendous quilts, and went into my happy place.

The security guard had to ask me to leave. I looked at my watch; it was at least 30 min since closing time. He shrugged and said he’d seen me the day before as well, and as this was the last day, he couldn’t bear to make me leave when I was so clearly entranced.

At the museum gift shop, I bought a package of scraps which had come from an Amish quilting group in the area where the display quilts had been made. Inside was a postcard bearing a photo and its caption. When I got home, I found the reverse side of the card bore a simple quilt pattern; the scraps were enough to make a small wall quilt with the pattern.

The finished scrap quilt, which I began in August 1989 and completed in November 1993

The finished scrap quilt, which I began in August 1989 and completed in November 1993

I’ve been a quilter since that day, taking classes, fussing with seams, etc. I took a break for about ten years while I worked for Interweave, to concentrate on knitting and spinning for The Job.

Well, guess what?

I’m Baaaaaaaaa-aaack…  :)

Trying to decide what goes where

Trying to decide what goes where

It’s just a wee quilt (those are one-inch squares), but I already love it. It’s slowly helping me to realize that I can still create beauty (which, dare I dream, might help others to go to THEIR happy places), and that I can still write, and, again hopefully, connect to others through my stories.


~ In the summer, many fortunate Canadians and Americans go off to stay in cozy cottages (Canadian term) or cabins (U.S. term), the majority of which, at least in Canada, are near one of the country’s estimated 3 million lakes (60% of all the world’s lakes are in Canada; it must be true, because Wikipedia says so). However, there are lakes….and then there are LAKES. (Methinks there’s still time to change your vacation plans, should one of these exotic locations make the family cottage seem mundane by comparison.)

~ No modern art devoteé ought to let the summer pass without attending this installation, which one might call “The Game of Thrones.”

~ You may groan. I deserved that.

Caption suggestions for this one, folks? It's so cute my brain melted.

Caption suggestions for this one, folks? It’s so cute my brain melted.

~ In light of recent post topics: If Physical Diseases Were Treated the Same as Mental Illnesses

~ I sincerely doubt that I am the only one these words will speak to today.

~ Find a friend and hold them close to your heart.

duck loves owlet


Pre-Post Pronouncement

First: I’m so grateful to have you all in my life. You are so kind.

Second: I wanted to let you know that I currently have a new PIP (Post In Progress) OTKB (On The KeyBoard).

Third: Expect the new post to be published sometime mid-week (THIS week, first week in July).

There. I am now Accountable. :)

The Chispas Who Couldn’t Resist Themselves

~ When I walk into homes with a Mom and Urchins In Residence these days, I see dozens of wee colourful rubber bands strewn from counter to carpet.

Silly me, at first I thought they were for American Doll hair fashions. Nope. I soon found out that the bands were, in fact, Components, to be used by clever Short Humans to make gifts for wandering, beloved Fake Aunties, clueless though they may be.

Bracelet One by Minions of Sir Tip; Bracelet Two by Minion of Mr. Rocco.

Bracelet One by Minions of Sir Tip; Bracelet Two by Minion of Mr. Rocco.

Ah, but now…GeekMom Strikes Back.

~ C’mon, admit it:

Somedays, we ALL feel like fluffy bunnies:





~ Finally: Please tell me this is True.

 Good People, I’ll see you later this week. Spread kindness, both to the wounded spaces within yourselves,  as well as to the hearts around you which cry for compassion.








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Taptaptap…is this thing live?

Hello, there.

If I recall correctly, I’m Sandi, this here is My Blog Thang, and you are my kind and incredibly patient Lovely Readers.



Gwen's Toes Wiggle For Joy

Gwen’s Toes Wiggle For Joy

Nice to see you again.

I have been playing catch-up with all my various inboxen, and it turns out I’ve got quite a few messages asking where I am, am I OK, please just blog a few words to let us know, we miss you, we’re concerned….

I am deeply touched by your caring, folks. Waaayyyy down in that place in one’s heart where we are all 10 years old, feeling shaky and nervous about coming back to the playground after being gone for a bit. The what-if-no-one-noticed-I-was-gone place.

You are so kind; I’m sorry some of you were concerned enough to try and get hold of me. Thank you. Xo

I am so grateful for your kindness that I have spent literally the last week writing this post for you. Could it have been shorter? Maybe sí, maybe no.

All that matters is that your caring gives me the energy to Try.


Winter Ought To Be A Controlled Substance

Here’s a surprise for you: Turns out I have a wickedly evil case of SAD, aka Seasonal Affective Disorder. You have probably noticed that around the beginning of the year, for three years running (I think), I write a blog post in January~and then I go silent until the sun’s been out for a month or so, around May/June-ish. (Ta-da! Here I am!)

This was a terrible winter for all kinds of places. Here, we had something horrific like 83 days in a row with temps below freezing, sometimes waaaaaayyyyy below. We didn’t have the worst winter out of all cities; but it was the worst winter ever for me.

The Special Lights didn’t help. Daylight bulbs in our ceiling lights, ditto. Meds kept me afloat, but afloat in a very not-Sandi sort of way. In short: Somewhere between minus 27 and minus 13, I lost Sandi.

I can’t really explain the feeling of losing one’s very self, the personality one has become used to, and fond of, more or less. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t do super-creative things like I usually can. I was cranky. I had panic attacks. I was irritable (let’s face it: I was a bitch). I was exhausted all the time, I withdrew, and felt sorry for myself, and I stopped making the bed.

person hibernating

Somewhere along the line, I found Allie’s blog, HyperboleAndAHalf.. Not only did I find her, I found in her a voice that could tell oh-so-vividly what the evil demon Depression feels like. (Allie, all I can say is, thanks for being so damn brave.)

First, have a look at her blog post Adventures in Depression, Part One, and maybe think about it for a while. Then, give Part Two a go, and see how that sits with you.

All I have to say is: What Allie Said.

Also: Depression, You Suck.

The summer solstice has now passed, I’ve had large doses of sunshine, my toes are finally warm, and for a few weeks, I was almost back to my usual sparkly self. I was overjoyed about that, let me tell you.

Personally, I really don’t like wearing the Bitch Tiara.

The last week or three, however, I have noticed myself slowly being sucked under again. Turns out that this time period corresponds to: (a) several Stress Zombie Vultures circling over my house, and (b) me not checking in on my usual Ravelry hangouts, thus getting a wee bit too isolated from the folks who make my life rich and full of Good Things (this, of course, includes you Bloggity Folks, as well!)

Not Good.

I decided to try and claw myself out of this slump. Even though I don’t really feel much like Sandi at the moment, I notice that if I push myself to pick up a spindle or write a bit, it helps. Digging my claws in to climb up takes a hell of a lot of energy, and sometimes more courage than I think I have.

And then I open an inboxen and see another caring note, asking if I am OK.

I wish this didn’t sound so incredibly sappy, but on the other hand, it’s very true right now: You folks, you are the wind beneath my wings, helping me to get enough lift so I can practice my wing-tricks again.

The interesting bit is that as I slowly Claw Upwards, I discover that my creative energy is still there. It went into hibernation for an unbearably awful season, and it’s having a rough wake-up, but, here I am.

Looks like you are stuck with me.

Chispas! The return of!

~ We need a wee giggle after all that soul-baring, methinks. A Tale of Stupid Dog and Helper Dog, by Allie.

~ I became utterly choked with giggling burbling sobs upon reading that one. Here’s why:


~ May I present our very own much-beloved Stupid Dog, Buddy. I tried the exact same tests on Buddy…and he did exactly the same things as Original Stupid Dog (accept no imitations!) Dr. Cutie and I fell to our knees with Silly Cry, and then I witnessed – for the first time ever – Dr C rolling over flat-backed to the floor, Giggling Hysterically whilst pounding the floor (hardwood, nice tone) with both fists.

Good Times.

~ Here’s another Stupid Dog and Helper Dog story. Remember how much fun it was when we moved from Colorado to here in Ontario? Yup. More good times.)

~ Simplest Fudge Ever. Because chocolate is a medical necessity when one is depressed. (The rest of that blog is fairly awesome, too.)

~ This is my newest crush:


His name is Sir Tip, he’s at least 13, and he purrs like an old-fashioned noisy vacuum cleaner. He lives with his family of minions outside of Boston, and one sunny day, he deigned to come snuggle with me, allowing a few Dignified Portraits to be taken.

~ I know I swore I would not take up a new crafty thing, I would not take up a new crafty thing…but stand back, because I’m GoingGnome. You should see what lives with me now. You should see the adorable mushroom that was my first needle-felted work of artsy-crafty. (Actually, you will see all of this, once I get the hang of photos and blogging using The App For That on my iPad.

~ Apparently, I am the first person in the history of Apple Canada to take my laptop in for a wee bit of a hangup and subsequently end up surrounded by Geniuses, all Gawking and saying, I can’t believe your motherboard is completely rotted through! I’ve never seen that happen before! And it was still working? Awesome.

~ No laptop, ergo living la vida iPad.

~ I need a cute baby animal per tradition, don’t I? Hmmm….

Why have one cute baby chameleon…when you can have two more?

Later, gators. I’ve got photos for next time of some happy colorful pretty fun things for you.

And, yes, Her Royal Llamaness sends her love. :)


Sir Tip declares that this most certainly IS an extremely dignified portrait. The pose, the expression…one of the Classics in Feline Fine Art.


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the taste of chocolate soap

Now, just hold yer horses, there. I am not so crunchy-granola as to believe that everything that says “natural ingredients” ought to be safe enough for a baby on a paleoveganGF diet to eat, uh, ingest via IV, and to do so without any consequences.

Thus, when I say, “the taste of chocolate soap”, I am not approaching the matter in the role of a food critic, nor as a “foodie”; I am simply going to comment on The Taste of Chocolate Soap.

Therefore, if any of you decide that my comments are an inspiration to Go Forth And Eat Soap, you are on your own.

Let us begin with the soap in question:


The above image was shamelessly ganked from, the website of the The Queen of Soap, AubreyK. (Sorry to steal from you Aubrey, but hang on a moment, ‘kay?)

In the original version of this post, I called her “The One True Soapmaker.” That was fine…until I went into my soap supply and discovered wonderful things from all my other beloved One True Soapmakers.

So, in the interests of Fairness, later I shall tell you about some of the other Master Soapmakers to the Wiseheart Family. I’m thrilled to find new potential Master SoapMakers to the WF, especially unique and interesting Makers…one can never, ever have enough Master Amazing SoapMakers.

After all, we know from the movies that having a single Lord of the Soaps is a bad idea.

Back to Aubrey’s Goodies!

Anyway. This morning, in the shower, I was happily washing my kindly, youthful visage (an imagination is a beautiful thing) with a hand-crocheted washie thing and a bar of Chocolate Butter Crème Soap. The scent is light, not perfume-y, basically the same as if you are waving a bar of baking chocolate in front of your nose. Wreathed in steamy chocolate smells, I go to rinse my face–and for some dumb reason, I open my mouth. Not just a little, mind you, but the OPEN WIDE FOR DENTIST PLIERHEART sort of open.

A flood of bubbles (naturally) rushes onto my tongue, and tries to go down my throat. Coughing ensues. Amidst the coughing and hacking, I notice that THERE IS YUMMY CHOCOLATE IN MY MOUTH. I don’t know about you, but yummy-chocolate-in-my-mouth is one of my favourite sensations.


This chocolate sensation was accompanied with a lavish dollop of  Flavour-of-Soapy Ingredients. The effect was not quite as much fun as I had thought it might be at the very first taste of Bubbly Chocolate.

In fact, it tasted like…well, it tasted like soap. With a glissando of chocolate butter crème, sure; but still: SOAP.

There really is no point to this story other than to share with you the results of my unusual foray into the culinary side of cleanliness.


So here’s the deal: I have to order some things from Aubrey today (lotion bars, laundry soap, probably more soap and lip balm because I want to smell good and have soft lips for the Zombie Apocalypse). Along with the three E-Tomic bars, three Everything Balms, and three Lavender Lip Balms already in my possession, I mean.

I don’t actually NEED any more soap. My current stock ought to last at least until the snow melts up here:

  • Silken Lilac (with real silk!) ~ 2 bars
  • Creme Rose (with real dairy cream!)~ 2 bars
  • Lavender Lemon ~ 2 bars
  • Lady’s Clay ~ 1 bar (looking kind of scraggly because shampoo leaked onto it in the closet)
  • Rosemary Lemon Silk (more real silk!) ~ 1 bar

However….the Giveaway Llama made a big fuss this morning about how I never buy soaps for her stock, and that she never gets to give away soaply wonders to her readers. (Get that. HER readers. Sure thing.) Rather than listen to Llama Winges all week long, I am giving in and ordering a few for giveaways to y’all nice folks.

Trouble is: I don’t know what you like.

How about this? Go on over to Aubrey’s Goodies Unlimited  shop, and have a stroll through her wares. While you’re there, pick one or two or three things you think would make nice giveaways. Pick the scents that make you drool (they don’t last long after the shower, they are VERY LIGHT, not perfumey, and they don’t even bother me, just so you know).

Pick them out, BUT DON’T BUY THEM, unless of course, you want All The Things, and you want to have them NOW, and are worried your name will never be drawn for the giveaway.

Make a list; send it to me or leave it in the comments below.

Isn’t it fun to “shop” for Her Llamaness? :)

Another Finished Object

January’s FO was my Hiro, of which I am a wee bit proud.

February’s FO is lucky to exist at all, given the month we’ve had around here: In The Woods Cuffletts, reconstructed out of my Denmark-in-the-Woods Socks that finally became too holey and had to go to Sock Heaven. (My tutorial for how to resurrect holey socks is on my tutorials page.)

You will notice the lack of photos in this post. My beloved camera has bit the dust, and it is almost as much to repair it as it is to buy a new one. I haz a Sad.

So, once again, I ask you to draw upon your powers of Imagination. (Carpity iPhone photos to come.)

Soaply Sidebar

I am completely aware that there exists a metric passle of awesome soapmakers whose work I have not yet been privileged to try. This post is not a diss on any of you Fine Makers; it is simply that you and I have not been introduced yet.

Amongst the Master Makers whose work I have been introduced to,  there is another Stand-Out-Star-in-the-Field: West Elm Farm. Pat and John make a line of lanolin and goat’s milk soaps (using lanolin from their own Icelandic flock) in several light scents, plus unscented. One thing that Sappy Me likes best about Pat-and-John’s soaps is that they are cast with a beautiful custom raised imprint featuring elm trees and Icelandic sheep. (Awwwww…)

They also make Truly Wonderful candles: pure beeswax, cast in charming molds of their own design (house with tree, sheep, and hearts–I am such a sucker), with natural scents like amber rose and orange clove (plus unscented), not one of them perfumey or strong.

And last but not least is Betty’s Balm For Working Hands. Betty is a sheep, and she contributes personally to each tin of the lovely soothing stuff. Betty Is Awesome. (Also on offer: roving and fleeces from their Icelandic flock; plus lamb and rabbit meat in all sorts of nifty-to-meat-eaters sorts of cuts.)

I’m starting to sound like a Natural Products Commercial. Yikes.

I am not being paid to do this; nor do I work for these folks. I’m doing it because, well, “the taste of chocolate soap” was just too good a blog post title to pass up.

The Chispas are in the Meditation Pond and will show up next time.

(I wanted to see if I could write a post in under 90 minutes…and I did it! Whoo!)


Love and Llama kisses,
Sandi and Her Llamaness

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Goals and Finished Objects

Goals, Sort of

I dislike making New Year’s goals with a fiery dislike. I don’t like making them, because here comes March, and my goal-efforts stopped back somewhere around GroundHog Day.

This year, I’m trying something a wee bit more attainable:

I’m going to finish some of the knitting WIPs scattered around my house. I’ve gotten out about ten or so WIPs, organized them in bags with instructions, notions, and whatever else I will need to finish them. Each bag is labelled with a little hang-tag. I can do the projects in any order; however, I can only work on one project at a time. One exception: If the knitting project I am focussing on is a Must Concentrate Don’t Bother Me project, and I need mindless knitting for waiting or being in a car, I can then work on a mindless project. However, only one mindless project.

Focus, focus, focus. I hope this will help me get some things DONE!!

Another sub-rule: I can work on One Spinning Project, One Sewing Project, One Must Concentrate Knitting Project and one Mindless Project, all in the same timeframe. But ONLY ONE project per area. Focus on one at a time.

Hopefully when Mr. Groundhog Shows Up, I’ve have a wee stack of Finally Finished Objects waiting to show him.

Speaking of which……..ta – DA!!

Behold: A Finished Hiro

Zoe and Hiro 1

Pattern: Hiro, by Julia Farwell-Clay.

Modifications: Semi-shawl collar; opposite-colour cuffs, body shaping.

Yarn: Knitted Wit.

Oh, you want to see it on me, do you?

hiro on me shari 1B

I had superb mentors and consultants from beginning to end. Here, Tim tries to decide if the buttons meet with his satisfaction. (These buttons are by Melissa Jean.)

Tim has Button Opinions

As it happens, all of us liked the single button at the top; Tim wanted to use other buttons all the way down.

single green leaf button

Zoe and Tim take a moment to calculate the snuggle-factor of the sweater.

Inspector Team

Another button collection. All three of these are  by Denny McMillan. (Yes, THAT Denny.)

Denny buttons batch 2 close up

Or how about this?

Denny buttons closeup batch 1


throurough inspection

Then the design team met to make the final decisions. (You can see which buttons we chose in the first picture, the one of me wearing the sweater!)

the team confers

I absolutely loved knitting this sweater. Someday I want to do it again using a gradient of natural coloured wools.

Mostly, however: I’m so proud to be done with this!

We shall completely ignore the fact that this was supposed to be my Rhinebeck 2013 sweater. Thank you.


~ Brooklyn’s Botanic Gardens have some rare and beautiful plants on display.

~ One doesn’t normally expect a TV show to construct costumes with expensive fabrics, and an eye for detail that would make a museum curator cry. These, however, are exquisite.

~ Short, but adorable: Black Faced Lambie

Need a laugh or five?

~ Powerful. Who are you, and who are you not?

~ And last but not least: Finding Nemo, starring kittens instead of fish.

I’ll have more of everything next time, including a Quilt Update, and more wacky stuff as usual.

STAY WARM, you folks who live in cold/snowy places. The rest of you: APPRECIATE BEING WARM, ‘kay? :)

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oh that wacky stitch blogger

(the girl doesn’t write for WEEKS, and suddenly you get two posts in one day. What can I say? Life’s weird, so get on board and let’s go!)

Let’s start with my earlier post

I didn’t actually mean to post that as a regular, mail-out-to everyone, post. I was making a page for some friends so they could vote on a quilt design I’m working on. I just clicked the wrong box, and voilá, now y’all can get it right in your own email inbox!

So, clearly, the circle has widened, and all of you now get to have a peek into my quilty life.

It was a little cryptic, I admit. What were you supposed to do, guess what I was trying to blog about? I am sorry for sending out a pretty, but inexplicable, post.

So, here’s some explicable for you:

7 x 7 grid, 2" sashing, border

7 x 7 grid, 2″ sashing, border

This is a computer mock-up of one of the layouts for the Quilt of a Hundred-Plus Fabrics. This quilt been my winter give-me-colour-or-give-me-chocolate project, and I’m at the point where I have 50+ nine-patches sewn together out of various batik fabrics; I have also set each square into a “Window Frame” so that when the quilt is done, each square will look like it is being displayed in a little window.

rose orange 5 greenblue 4

As far as I know, no two squares are exactly alike.

blue 5 purple 4

There are however, about twenty pairs that mirror each other in reverse:

5 green 4 pink

4 of the pink, 5 of the green…

mirror of green pink

…and 4 of the green, 5 of the pink!

I knew I wanted to put these lovely colourful gems into the Attic Windows framesets, so they would look like little works of art. But I thought that laying them all out together, with only a narrow sashing in-between the columns and rows, would be a rather interesting LSD experience. (I was very, very careful to type those three letters in the correct order. I am sure there are plenty of interesting experiences to be had in the Church of Latter Day Saints, but it’s not quite the same thing, now, is it?)

However, my mind started to boggle the more I looked at Google Images’ results for Attic Window Quilts, and I realized I needed to sit down with my trusty Excel and spend a few zillion hours I didn’t have making mockups so I could more easily see what was what.

After that, I got even more boggled, and asked for help. Hence the Seven Layouts post, and hence the fun little poll.

5 red 4 bluepink


Till then, a few goodies to help pass those tiresome winter ice storms….


❤  So, you’re a bored cook, wondering what’s for dinner…but your stove is broken, the oven has exploded tuna surprise all over the inside, and you don’t own a microwave due to the risk of alien rays getting into your food. What’s a gourmand to do?

❤  In the spirit of the upcoming Olympics, I offer you this insight into the dating habits of some of Russia’s more creative blogger folk.

❤  What a good dog!

kitten bed

❤  What a naughty kitty!

iput a dead mouse in moms mouth

❤  Is this really the most relaxing tune ever recorded? Some scientists think so.

❤  Finally, the obligatory baby animal Chispa: Baby Alpacas in Sweaters, Story, Photos and a Slideshow

Take care everyone…and remember, the next post is about KNITTING I PROMISE. And maybe spinning. And possibly quilting. And probably any other nugget of non-boring information that I can pull out of the internet’s hat.

♡ Sandi

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Possible “Nine Patch Windows” Layouts

This gallery contains 8 photos.

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