(StencilGirl) Stencils used imaginatively, plus a sale!

StencilGirl Products is hosting a Cyber Monday Sale! 25% OFF! So please, be my guest! Head over there, but read my pondering too. 🙂

I have come to love using Frixion Pilot pens for creating and/or transferring embroidered designs and ideas. The ink in these pens is affected by heat and disappears (almost entirely), when ironed. I have decided I am willing to suffer the consequences of the use of this fugitive and ever so useful, art supply. I love what it allows me to do. Some folks totally disagree with me on this point and I am OK with that.

Simply use the pen to trace an outline through your favorite stencil. Then, embroider. When finished, iron the ink mark away. The above photograph shows the design tracing -before- ironing. I assure you this will disappear soon. I still have some stitching to complete.

Of course, in the manner of Playful Fabric Printing, I love to print my own cloth for use in quilts.

I have found my StencilGirl stencils very easy to print when using a simple hand squeegee. I like to squeegee through stencils utilizing a padded work surface (page 76, Playful Fabric Printing). A hand towel will work just as well as our tested, June Tailor boards. But please check out that section of the book too. We have some neat hacks and upgrades to the board that will enable you to print in repeat using Thermofax screens too! But, hey, back to the stencils!

While the above photo shows me printing with thickened dye, this technique also works well with fabric paints. The one caveat is, you must wash your stencils well and often, if you want to maintain the sheer nature of the stencil plastic-which I do. Do not allow the paint to dry on the stencil.

I have designed 6 stencils with StencilGirl. Each stencil sheet contains a square repeat design, a few coordinating single motifs and one alphabet per stencil. There are just so many ways to use stencils, whether in your hand embroidery or by way of printing and painting!

And, well. I would really like to get my stencils into your hands! So please, head on over to Stencilgirl Products and get some swag.


My stencils are on sale!

Cyber Monday
Save 25% off all* stencils
Use code: cyber25 
Monday, November 27, 2017
from midnight until 11:59 p.m. CST (Central Standard Time) USA

PLUS 10% discount when you buy 6 stencils of the same size!

NEW THIS YEAR! Choose 1 FREE large stencil for every $100 spent (after discounts are applied). You MUST specify your choice(s) by L### code in the comments section of the cart when you check out or it will be StencilGirl’s choice. Sorry, no exceptions.

BONUS! Spend $500+ (after discounts are applied) and StencilGirl will send you an original work of art by Mary Beth Shaw.

SHOP: http://www.stencilgirlproducts.com/stencilgirl-products-s/1846.htm

Tuesday & Wednesday
Save 20% off all* stencils
Use code: cyber20 
Tuesday, November 28, 2017, & Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Sale ends at 11:59 p.m. CST (Central Standard Time) USA
10% off 6 stencils of the same size discount, FREE stencil(s), and Bonus still apply.

*Stencils only. Does not apply to DVDs, books, tools, wholesale orders, StencilClub, or gift certificates. The StencilClub exclusive monthly member discount does not apply.

 

 

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Floribunda! RJR and some Multicolor Print Sets

I am happy to announce the debut of Floribunda! by RJR Fabrics. A textile line geared to quilters, sprinkled with blowsy roses, tendriled vines, leaves and rich, deep colors. The line was created using techniques illustrated and explained within the pages of Playful Fabric Printing. The line will ship to stores in late March 2018. In the coming months, I will be making quilt tops out of this fabric, please stay tuned!

In the meantime, I have been playing with Inovart Eco Karve, which can be seen as red rubber in the above photograph. There are 5 multicolor sets made with the red Invovart Eco Karve, thus far. Each of these designs are 4″ square, and utilizes a ‘Buta’, a larger medallion like motif (the Buta measure less than 3″ tall), often found in Indian textiles, using a set repeat. Each motif contains a flower. With each subsequent carve, I was able to achieve a finer and finer line.

Soft Kut the grey stuff pictured above at the bottom of the image, has been my go-to carving material for years. I find the Eco Karve to be denser, which allows me to carve a finer line. Move over Soft Kut.

Each time I completed a multicolor print set, (the carved rubber along with the plexiglas mounted fun foam stamps), I printed a sample of each set using a similar palette. I did this in order to level the playing field in assessing them next to their fellas. 

As I just restocked on cotton print cloth, I am itching to begin printing enough of these beauties to start making a quilt! I have about 18 handprints in the hopper! My goal is to print at least 2.5 yards of the Butas in total, and to then print or dye supportive single colors to pad that out. That means I need to Salty Soda Soak at least 1.5 yards and to get printing!

I am, as ever, excited to begin!!

Learning, taking notes and repetition.

Recently my friend, Lisa Chin came to NYC and we had two art playdates. Lisa is a fantastic printmaker and carver. Check out her website and her insta!

In playing together, Lisa wanted me to try out Inovart Eco Karve (and some paints too, though that is a post for another day). So, I tucked in and took some lessons. As I did so, of course, I took notes in my Moleskine.

In the Moleskine, I printed a strike-off (page 31, Playful Fabric Printing), made notes about the carving rubber itself. Then in true Melly style, I decided to carve several similar designs so that I could further improve my skill set within this new carving medium.

Repetition helps build muscle memory and similar imagery gives me time to explore similar lines and carving approaches. I printed them off using the same colors in order to evaluate them side by side. I think the white serves this design well in both versions. I am partial to the white dots at top right, but think both benefit by judicious use of white. White is often a bully of a presence in printed fabric, I feel this use of white creates balanced ‘pop’. I will write notes about this too!

As I create motifs and print, keeping notes along the way allows me to keep up with myself. I have been doing it for long enough that I have 4 journals worth of juicy notes. As a resource, dipping into these journals is really helpful. It can help shift your perspective on current work, provide new ideas, remind you of a new art material or perhaps a playdate with a good friend.

Do you take notes and track your creative efforts? Leave a comment and tell me what you do.

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Print-Along preparation, Tips and Suggestions

In preparing to participate in the Playful Fabric Print-Along, I will address to the basic supplies you might need. First, please join the Print-Along in the Playful Fabric Printing Community, where we have discount codes to PRO Chem, StencilGirl and Melly Marks.

To start, you will need an inexpensive scale, this is a link to Amazon, which carries the exact scale that I use. This scale costs less than 10$.

I have put together a PRO Chem shopping list to get you started. There are two versions, a modest version and a robust version. In the modest version, you would need to find small jars-1 oz or larger with a tight lid in addition to enough of them to contain the palette of colors you choose to mix.

In the more robust shopping list, I include 28 1oz jars and the larger size of dye, so that you can mix all 28 colors in Playful Fabric Printing (If this is your intention, you will need to purchase the robust list, with 8oz size of the dye powders). After which, I  directly link to some other fun items. 

Pro Chem Supplies (link) Modest Robust
Soda Ash 1.75/1LB 6.50/5LB
Fabric 6.60/1Yard 33.00/5Yards
Pro Print Paste SH 6.14/1LB 27.65/5LB
28 1 Ounce Jars with lids   14.00/28 Jars
Dye Boats 2.95/12 2.95/12
Sun Yellow 108 4.95/2oz 14.14/8oz
Mixing Red 305 3.95/2oz 10.50/8oz
Intense Blue 406 6.95/2oz 25.28/8oz
Total:

30.34        

134.02

OTHER Items    
Scale (Amazon link)

13.00

13.00

You will also need to gather up a dust mask, a bucket, a drying rack, plastic spoons, yogurt cups, gloves and table salt. The drying rack that I use is Minky brand. I don’t specifically recommend it, but I do recommend a drying rack that is sponge washable so that dye can be removed with a wet sponge, the Minky rack is plastic covered, making it easy to clean. I keep a dedicated rack for use in the studio, so that there will never be fear of getting dye on our clothing.

I have created a new video called ‘PFP Tips and Suggestions’, in the hope of helping you form methodical habits when you handle dyes. 

Here are some other items you might consider, I suggest you put these items on your wishlist. Blick has Soft Kut Printing Blocks and Linoleum Cutters. eNasco has our favorite Creative Hands brand sticky back craft foam. And just so you know, this is my favorite brayer and here is a link to the June Tailor Cushioned Quilters Square ‘n Blocker, which makes a great padded work surface following the directions in Playful Fabric Printing, page 76. And here is the link to the Black & Decker Rice Cooker Plus (Playful Fabric Printing, page 55). Honestly, I could go on and on and link to every single item, but I will hold off. Once you fall in love with the techniques, you will definitely want to revisit this portion of the list.

To participate in the Print-Along, you will at least need to modest list of items found above. The rest is icing on the cake. Remember, join our Playful Fabric Printing Community page on Facebook to get the Coupon Codes and to Print-Along with us!

Gathering my color.

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The Gather your Sew-plies!! purse is just the right size to stitch, explore and complete. It is 6″ wide and 14″ long and given how it folds to make the purse, that can mean that you can stitch just the front area, making the stitchable area 6×7″ or so.

Of course, I like to stitch the entire purse.

The above blank, which is what I call these before they are heavily stitched, is a combo of my own quilted work and some previously stitched Indian cloth (at least that is what I think). The colors are rich and compatible. I seek to amp up the textural element, meaning my stitchwork, to integrate the Indian cloth with my own quilted fabric and soften the difference between the two. I may need some new thread colors…

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You may remember that Carol Soderlund and I collaborated on an article called Thread Dyeing 101 for Quilting Arts magazine last year. In the article we took two approaches to dyeing thread, we offered a color wheel, solid dye approach and a more fluid and playful manner of dyeing threads too.

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And while I think this thread is a bit bright for my current piece, I do like having all my threads ready to be used and accessible. Getting these floss off the StitchBow makes me want to wind some new hanks and dye some more thread in appropriate colors! I would love to have some browns, beiges, tans and soft, earthy colors in my thread stash!

Printable Daydreams

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 The lovable Peach (Little Miss has settled into her name quite well) has been settling into life as a companion animal quite well. She is a cardio kitty, she loves to be chased, and she is an UP cat, she like to be up high, looking down at life around her. She also likes to eat plants, so I am going to have to re-home some of my green babies. But check out these cat shelves! Peach is shy to make the final jump to the top platform, so we may need to lower it. This morning, I encouraged and helped her to get up there. She is quite acrobatic.

Peach has been a blessing. I mourn the loss of my good Arrow, while at the same time, I honestly feel I need cat-energy in my life. I need to pour love into a furr being. I also believe that David and I share a bond based in our love for animals, specifically cats, that heightens and enhances our relationship.

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I am on a stamping mission right now, my creative synapses are firing and I am finding new and creative ways to get images out of my mind and onto the page. I am still working on The 20, but I have come to a halt because the Procion MX dye is washing out in an unacceptable rate-an so need to find a solution to the problem. Additionally, I need to find a new ink or manner to print on paper, as the Memento ink pads I am using are insufficient to the task.

If I were totally honest, I don’t like cheap art supplies like this very much, which seem like little plastic items, whose refills are expensive, I just keep thinking, there has to be a better way. But at the same time, I use these things and am getting some really good results. This particular stamp is too large for the Dew Drops, and so is actually insufficient to the task. Maybe I really just want to hear the the-thk-thk of rolling ink out. And I daydream about using watercolor pigments and rice starch, so I will find a solution, it will just take some time.

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 This set of stamps is loosely printed, I could print it ‘tighter’, but I like what is happening here. This is, of course, a self portrait, using this photograph, I have not quite figured out how to get the ‘goggly eyes’ to look right. I am still working on this. Stay tuned.

Stitching away the Blues

I am stitching away on this Breastplate. I guess this is called a running stitch, I just pick up a few threads and then continue to stitch, maintaining a similar length of stitch for each. It creates little dots on the back of the work, which is very pleasing to me. So far I have used 4 different colors of hand dyed threads, and I love that I figured out how to eliminate the white spots in the dyeing process. 

My mother and I have a road trip planned for the weekend, we will be going to a craft fair. I am happy about this on so many levels. I need to get out of the house for one. And generally, I have been depressed and down lately.  I need a jog from normality. So, I am packing my bags, bringing my stitch work and hightailing it.

Off to make coffee and pack my bags!

Quiet hum.


I am changing the surface of this Breastplate by stitch, differences in stitch and thread quality as well as scale. This is the first application of stitch that I can see so far. This first application of stitch is hand dyed DMC 6 Strand embroidery floss.

My plan for this Breastplate is large stitch, geometric designs, 6 strands…

As I look at it from here, I wonder if I might use 2 strands in the breast portion, cutting the thread scale down. I think it would create a nice contrast.

Remember I bought that 500 gram cone DMC 6 Strand Embroidery floss, last month. That was money well spent. I may continue to dye threads until I run out of the cone, it won’t be long now. I have been dyeing threads in groups of 48, so my stash is growing exponentially. It is fun to watch, to open the orderly boxes of floss and look at the colors within.


 

I have my eye on this ebay item. I have not bought much on ebay, never direct from China and I don’t know what to think of this type of purchase. So I keep looking at it. Have any of you bought a similar item?

Right now I have an affection for wooden spinning tops. I went to etsy and found this store. I am in love with these tops. I want every single one and all of the top related items!  

My Mom and I will be going to a craft fair next weekend. I will wait to make a purchase, but that man’s tops are tops!

Clothing Construction=Love

I live in New York City where folks wear a good deal of black, it is almost a uniform, and a dull one if you ask me. I have made a conscious decision to wear printed blouses and clothing. I mean, I love cloth and color right? So I think it is high time I put my ‘money where my mouth is’.

This fabulous blouse was sent to me by a good friend and as soon as I laid eyes on it, I fell in love with it. It has a snap front, two small pockets, also with snaps, a great collar. But…it bloused out to accommodate ‘the girls’. At first I was disappointed, thinking, ‘It is too big, I won’t wear it, I love the cloth, maybe I will use it in something’. But then I remembered that I have skillz. Crazy mad skillz, (well not really, I don’t want to sew a lined silk suit-but you know, pumping yourself up for a new adventure is a good thing sometimes).

So, out came the seam ripper (that is a crazy mad seam ripper [ok, I have said that phrase enough already]), and I am in love with it, and I mean l-o-v-e love.

Anyway.

I opened the side seam and dart, I smashed the excess cloth from the dart up into the arm hole, I took about 4 inches of cloth out of the side seam. I removed the pockets in order to extend the pin tucks up into the collar (the termination of the pin tucks created about 3/4″ of poof on each side of the chest area), I reapplied the pockets and am wearing the blouse as I type. I have a few more blouses that need my attention. A few of them are quite colorful too! This is also really good because I don’t want to start shopping in the mens department just for the lack of shaping, I would rather have feminine prints that tickle my fancy and make me feel pretty, fun, excited.

Go ahead, brag on me, and tell me about your crazy mad skillz.

Flashcard Friday-A Wash.

Creating a wash, or in the case of this flashcard in particular, a wash gradation in two colors, is both easy and fun. The challenge is to prepare your work surface with everything you need so that when it comes time to paint your wash, you can quickly grab whatever you need. I like to use a wide, cheap, bristle brush to lay the paint down. There are elegant brushes for this purpose, but I don’t own one.

On this journal page, I combined gradation wash with the use of paper frisket, (a flashcard for another day). There are some techniques that  can or should be used in combination with other techniques. You can do a wash on the page to lay color down-then start working the page, or you can mask an area and paint over it, reserving a portion and coloring the ground. It is up to you.

On another note, I have been speaking with Diana from M. Graham paints. Diana has been gracious and is answering some questions about her paints and we wanted to share information with you. M. Graham are my paint of choice in all mediums-watercolor, gouache and acrylic. I started using her paints because the gouache formulation is such that it can be parsed out in a travel palette and allowed to ‘dry’. Not all gouache can be rewet, but M. Graham paints can. This is a boon for artists like me, who enjoy painting on the go!

**

Diana, I have been using your paints for a few years, I was turned onto them by Roz Stendahl, a blogger and artist whom I greatly admire. The selling point for me was the fact that you use honey in your formulation and that your gouache paints do not use opacifiers-making them able to travel in a travel palette. Will you talk about this? Why honey? Why no opacifiers?

The gouache story is that “designers” gouache that most people are familiar with was created for fashion, etc. designing. The artwork was created, reproduced and discarded.  Because the original art was not to be retained, the permanency of the color was not an issue.  Many of the hues are purples, reds and fluorescents which are available in beautiful pigment or dyes-few  of which are lightfast.  We chose to use the same pigments as our other lines (all rated lightfast I or II except Alizarin which remains by popular demand).
 
While gouache is like watercolor (and can be thinned and used as washes), the usual application is a thick, flat layer or layers.  This requires a media that is film forming and resistant to cracking.  The use of honey in ours creates a more flexible film and better adhesion.
 
Most brands add chalks or whiteners to make the color opaque.  While some prefer this in design work, it detracts fro the brilliant liveliness in a fine art piece.  We chose to leave the mixing to the artist so either technique can be used.  Each color is as opaque as the pigment allows.  Some colors, like Quinacridone Red, are like layering transparent colored glass trying to get opacity.  No matter how much pigment you add, it is simply more transparent by nature than other pigments.
 
Some watercolorists apply transparent watercolor thickly, straight from the tube.  Our watercolors are formulated for more traditional dilution and application and they may not dry if painted out thickly.  For this technique, the gouache is the perfect solution.
 
I’ll try to talk about honey next.

Of palettes, paint and refills.

Sticking to the theme of maintaining a watercolor/travel palette, I created the video above. The watercolor box you will see in the video was originally a Cotman Watercolor Compact Set set, that I reclaimed, replacing their palette with colors I know and love.

Cotman is Winsor  Newtons’s student grade paint set. Empty travel palettes can be quite pricey, so purchasing a student grade set can be a good entry level start to maintaining your own groupings of color, and the paints in them are decent, so you might choose to stick with these paints while you journey into painting with watercolor. Once those paints are used, you can begin purchasing tubes of paint to refill your half pans or pans, or, like me, you might purchase a cheapo palette of student grade paints and replace each half pan with professional grade watercolor paints that you already know and love.

To remove the student grade paint, I took each half pan, dipped it in water for just a moment and allowed the cake to soften some. When the cake appeared softer, I dug down into the side of the cake, between the plastic and the cake and pried the pigment cake out. I set those cakes aside and allowed them to dry (I just gave them to a budding young artist). Once I cleaned each half pan, I refilled them with my favorite M. Graham watercolor paints from tubes.

Traveling with Paint

During the webinar a few weeks back, Barbara asked what I would carry were I to travel to France. And while I have no plans to travel to France (though I would love to), I do know what I would carry were I to do so. The above palettes, as I talked about before, are really a child’s toy. But even still, they are metal, measure perhaps 1.25×2″ and have individual wells that hold 8 colors of paint. The lid closes nicely and this kids toy can become a great adult toy with some modification.

The paint that comes in these palettes are not great, but luckily, easy to remove. I am sorry I don’t have photos of the process but it is easy enough to describe. Using a tweezer or a pick, while the paint is dry, wedge the tool between the edge of the paint and the plastic well. The paints are glued in there and are easy to pop out. Clean all of the glue out of the well so that you have as much space as possible for your chosen paints.

Then line up the tube style watercolors you would like to put in your travel palette and start dispensing one color per well. I have been loyal to M. Graham paints lately. So I put Quinacridone Violet, Napthol Red, Ultramarine blue, Turquoise, Gamboge yellow, Azo Yellow, Yellow Ochre, and Payne’s grey in my palettes.

I have given these palettes to friends as a fun gift and one friend said she has a hard time using this palette because it is so small. She likes to mix a fair amount of paint and do washes, so this palette is not suited to that type of work. Assess how you think you would use paints while working on the go. Wrap the palette in saran wrap for an easy ‘mixing tray’, nab a paper coffee cup as a rinsing cup after breakfast in the morning, tuck a small paper towel into the lid of the travel palette to help dry it out when you are ready to pack up your supplies and dump them into you back pack.

Working on the go is much different than working at home with your favorite supplies. So when you are home and have all of your supplies in front of you, daydream about what you will need to make painting in France an easy reality.

I will post the link to what I carry when I travel again, just in case you missed it or want to know. Have fun Barbara and Shirley (both are traveling abroad). I look forward to seeing what artwork your travel stirs up.

The Webinar and a travel journal update

A sampling of what I would take if I were traveling to France! Or anywhere else.

Oh my goodness! I just finished the Webinar with Create Mixed Media and I think it was a success. I was a bit nervous, but that is to be expected. If you attended, thank you so very much for coming and for checking out my website, blog and… ahem….

my new teaching website, The Clever Guild.

The questions were great and I wanted to address a few of them here. 

When I make my journals I have been using Saunders Waterford 140lb. Hot Press Watercolorpaper. I am fickle and can change my mind often but this has been a favorite for the last two journals made. When I went to F.I.T, my teachers were adamant that we use Cold Press paper and I can’t remember why. They helped me form a habit that I was just recently able to break. Using Saunders Waterford 140lb Hot Press paper is somewhat new to me and I really like its flat surface and ability to hold a puddle of water for a long time.

The one paper that I do not like is Arches and the reason behind this is, when wet, it has a funky smell. I have never liked it and can’t confirm that their paper still smells because I am not willing to purchase it again.

The last journal I made used 4 different watercolor papers (and if you would like to hear my thoughts on them, just comment here on this post and I will expand on the topic), and I made the book with 4 different papers in order to test them out and see what I thought. There was one paper in that journal that I really did not like. But the Saunders paper shone like a pretty nugget of gold, so I have become a fan.

Above you will see what I would bring as a travel journal kit. The little palette is brand named Jack Richeson and I bought mine through Roz Stendahl‘s local art store, Wet Paint (she turned me on to these palettes [and if you go ahead and order a few, please tell them Melanie Testa sent you-I don’t get anything out of this, they are just really good people and independant). The little guys are just two dollars fifty, so buy quite a few and give them as gifts to your favorite art buddies (I do this and you know who you are!) 

I also carry a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, a refillable cartridge style pen with actual bristles in the brush (!!!), a mechanical pencil with 3B lead, my favorite, and a Lamy Safari Fountain Pen using Platinum Carbon Black Ink. One of the best waterproof inks out there. I also carry and empty dropper bottle and fill it when I get to where I am going.

A New Day, A New Week.

Wood Block Stamps and Music

I opened my mail last week to find this CD, sent by Meg Cox. The woman who heads the band is also a breast cancer survivor and although this is not the type of music I gravitate to, this album is really good. It is uplifting, danceable and has been on rotation since its arrival. Great stuff.

You also see some woodblocks from Colouricious in this last photo.

Making rules as I go, Boro Dress, Art Clothing

I have been on a mission. I am defining (redefining?) what clothing needs to be and how I might participate in the making of it. This will be a dress. A boro style dress, made just for me, using scrap, recycled bits of cloth, oak gall dyed organza and an indian sari. In my mind, clothing needs to fit well and be machine washable. It could also be pretty, inspiring, well made,  and interesting. 

I have always wanted to dress differently. I ‘see’ clothing that is not available on the market. It is time to start actualizing what I see.  

Finding Inspiration

Books I find inspirational.

Textile Design and its history is fascinating to me. I would love to gather more books on the topic, but in the meantime, I would like to share a few books with you just in case you haven’t heard of them before.  Textile Designs: Two Hundred Years of European and American Patterns Organized by Motif, Style, Color, Layout, and Period has been in print for more than 20 years. It reads like a catalog and each section and page is focused on a style, type of repeat and motif. Flipping through this book is pure eye candy.

Twentieth Century Textiles is a gorgeous book. The cover is a printed cotton design described within the pages of the book, each design is described in detail and artists are discussed. I think we easily forget that artists design the fabrics we use and wear, so when I am able to read about the artist, inspiration or even techniques used to paint the textile design, I get happy.

Boro – Rags And Tatters From The Far North Of Japan isn’t a ‘textile design’ book so much as visual inspiration in the realm of hand sewing. Whenever I take out my favorite textile books, Boro-Rags and Tatters comes out too.

I would like a few more tomes and if you have a suggestion, I would love to hear it.

I take these books out at the start of a creative day and page through, looking at color inspiration, motif, texture, any detail that pops out and says hello. Then I close the books and go on my way. All that history and color is bound to affect me somehow and I welcome it.