Keeping it REALLY Real

I often have people ask me, “How do you get so much done?” including my mom and my new friend Vicki (waving to you Vicki!) a couple Saturdays ago when I was working at American Quilting.  So today I will try to answer that question somewhat – and while I can’t promise world peace or total enlightenment, hopefully I can end some blogging-guilt-complexes in the process

First of all here is what my sewing space looked like a few days ago.  Pretty scary. (I still can’t believe I’m publicly humiliating myself like this.) The towel on the stained, burned and ripped ironing board cover is for the iron that started leaking.  I have at least four different projects in process in this picture, not to mention the disorderly piles of fabric for a few more.  And then there’s a piece of ric rac hanging from the blinds (?). Fortunately you can’t really see how badly the carpet needed to be vacuumed.

(To my own credit, yesterday I did take about half an hour to get things looking a lot better.  I should probably take another picture to redeem myself a little.)

Blogs and magazines and beautiful sewing and pattern books create this impression that everything looks wonderful, the cutting mat is always cleared and ready for a new project, there are no pins on the floor and all fabric is neatly folded.  I’m sure for a lot of people, crafting is like that. I’m just not one of those people.

So I don’t want to add to the misrepresentation that things around here are always perfect and I wile away my hours churning out quilts. Often I am moving junk out of the way before I take a picture for my blog and most of the time I have worked on something for weeks before it ever surfaces on the blog.

during the Hoops photo shoot

For me, my hobby is sandwiched in between the needs of four kids, a husband with plenty of demands on his time, house, church responsibilities, car pools etc. I’m not complaining about any of those things – I’m grateful for all of them. But it often means I sew at snatched, random moments and it’s not very orderly.

All that said, here’s how I do what I do:

  • My kids are at great ages right now – I don’t have infants or teenagers, so that frees me up a little especially during some school days. My youngest is pretty easy going and he likes just hanging out with me so I can even get some done while he’s around.  And he doesn’t try to sit on my sewing machine peddle as often as he used to.
 
  • I’m a total homebody – I don’t even like going shopping – it’s a necessary evil to me. I could keep myself entertained for hours at home and never get bored.
  • I can handle mess.  I have friends whose homes I love to go to because they are always beautiful and spotless. Always. (Nothing wrong with that!) But they often admit to me that they wish they could accomplish what I do with my sewing hobby and acknowledge that it’s hard for them to start a project and let the house slide a little, or to live with the mess that creativity sometimes brings.  So, I don’t know whether it’s a blessing or a curse, but I can handle my house in it’s imperfect state while I do other things. Not forever, mind you, and total chaos can really kill any creativity. But I can look at the perler beads or scraps of cut snowflakes on the floor in the middle of the afternoon and not let them bug me, knowing I’ll do a full clean-up that night. (However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t get embarrassed when someone comes to my house and I have to kick random shoes and toys out of the way so they can walk into a room.)
  • I have a place where I can leave out my creative mess, shut the door, walk away and return the next day to pick-up where I left off.  I know that not everyone has that option.  My space is in a room that is half storage room in my basement.  It’s not totally convenient and in the summer my machine and one current project usually migrate to the kitchen so I can be where the action is, but having that place where I can leave a little of my mess undisturbed is helpful. I feel lucky because I know that’s not always feasible for everyone.

  • I like having something to show for my time.  The dishes will always need to be redone, and beds will always need to be remade, and clothes constantly need to be washed.  So I like to invest even just a small portion of my time each day on something that will stay finished. It’s healthy for my psyche.  I know that my kids are my most important creation and that the time invested in them is never a waste.  But it’s nice to have some short term accomplishments as well. That, and fabric is always obedient. Well, most of the time.
  • Sewing is my happy juice. Just doing a little bit each day makes me feel good about life. I feel lucky to have found something that I really enjoy doing.
  • I rarely quilt my own quilts.  I’m really lucky right now to have a great situation where I have coworkers who will do it for me at a really great price. And they will do a much nicer job than I could do. And, the quilting part of making quilts seriously dilutes the happy juice for me. I dread that part.
  • I don’t really watch TV.  Occasionally I’ll watch a movie (BBC Classics anyone?) on a little DVD player next to my sewing machine while I work.  If I do watch something with my husband or family, I’m pretty much always working on a project – usually binding a quilt. I can’t just sit still.  Occasionally, for my husband’s sake, I’ll sit and just hold his hand while we watch a movie.  It’s a necessary sacrifice for me to make sometimes. :)
  • And in the spirit of really keeping it real, I’ll add this thought too: the days that I give a little bit of time to God by reading my scriptures and saying a prayer in the morning, I ALWAYS get more done. When I don’t do those little things, I feel like I’m running around in circles and accomplish nothing.  Take that for what it’s worth to you, but I know it’s true for me.

There are plenty of distractions out there that slow me down. Like getting into a good book – which is not necessarily a bad thing – (I need to get more books on tape). But don’t get me started on the computer.  I’ve had to set boundaries for myself and I often feel guilty for being slow answering emails or not responding to all comments, because I am so grateful for every one. I try to answer any specific questions that are asked, but I’ve found that it takes so much time to individually thank each commenter that it seriously cuts into the time available for anything else. So please, know how grateful I am for the wonderful feedback you give me. It means so much to me – I only wish I had more time to devote to responding.

So now that you know WAY more than you ever really wanted to, let me add one more thing.  These are the things that work for ME. There are people in blog land that I admire so much, but I’m coming to accept the fact that I will never be them, I can only be me and I have to function in a manner that works best for my personality, family, and hereditary quirks. Same goes for everyone else.  So my only encouragement is to find a system that works for YOU and own it. :) And NO feeling guilty about not doing it the way someone else does it.

The End.


Comments

  1. says

    What a great post – thank you for reminding us what it's like for most people!! Your fabric piles under the table look JUST like mine!! I tried to fix them today….but I didn't get it looking much better than when I started!!! Thank you for the other reminder to give God time, too!

  2. says

    Amazing post :) makes me feel better about my constant mess and a million unfinsihed projects i have lying around, hehe. I guess we're not so alone i this. And yes I always have to move mess around in order to make clean pretty pictures too! Thanks so much for the post! As for theose hoops…A-mazing!

  3. says

    It's so nice to know someone has a messy work space. I'm a SAHM and I don't have a blog and my sewing room is still a mess. We moved created a playroom nexting to the sewing room to try to help but it doesn't. My kids still tend to be underfoot when I try to sew,.

  4. says

    Until last summer, my crafting was confined to a tiny desk in the guest bedroom. The hubby and I completely overhauled the basement and since last june I also have a space where the mess can stay and my daughter can play while I'm sewing. I count myself lucky. And yes the house sometimes looks a bit untidy… I just try to keep the kitchen and living room in check .. the other stuff can

  5. says

    Thanks for this post, Amy! I'm currently playing a game of "find that smell" in my house. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who isn't a perfect housekeeper!

  6. says

    Thanks for sharing. I can relate to many of your points. I often tell my husband that I can't watch a movie without a hand project. He doesn't even roll his eyes any more.

  7. says

    Hi Amy. :o)<br />I absolutely love your post!<br />Thank you for your honesty.<br />I am one of those guilty girls who admire other&#39;s homes and sewing spaces. :o) And the silly thing, if I am not careful, it makes me feel insecure. You have such beautiful creations and am glad to see your work space. Don&#39;t feel like you have shown us something bad, truly, you blessed me through your

  8. says

    This was a fantastic post! And I really appreciate your willingness to stand up and say it like it is for you, with no apologies! We are each unique and wonderful just as we are, and it&#39;s the whole spectrum of womanhood that makes this world so beautiful. thank you for being one of the lovely colors in my own life! :)<br />xoxo,<br />Amy

  9. says

    Wow, Amy, are we related? Except for the item about not quilting your own quilts, everything you wrote would be identical for me! I totally agree that it&#39;s so important to have something to show for your time – and most household chores are so &quot;not&quot; that! And your sewing room looks like mine – mine stays that way until it starts to drive me crazy, then I go into whirlwind mode

  10. says

    First, thank you for being real! I loved looking at your mess…and can totally relate. I go through spurts in the room where I sew…it&#39;s a mess, then I purge/clean. Then it&#39;s a mess again. =)<br /><br />I also loved reading all your other points too. I have had to peel away from the computer this year and make time in the morning for that quiet time. It&#39;s been a good thing. I

  11. says

    I don&#39;t have kids or a husband, but I do teach high school and my craft room (that looks much worse than yours) helps me keep my sanity! I love what you create!

  12. says

    Amen Amy. I like your attitude (along with other talents).<br />I too dislike shopping. But, this morning when my husband asked me to go along (when I really wanted to get caught up on a BOM) I went. Little did I know that the car would break down and what was promised to be a one hour trip turned into four hours. Still so worth it – why should he have to go through that AND all the grocery

  13. says

    Thanks for the sneak peek! Your home is always lovely and inviting and that has much more to do with the people who live in it than how clean it is at any given moment. Keep up the good work, you definitely inspire me!

  14. says

    thanks so much for your honesty. this week there have been similar posts on other blogs i follow – there must be something in the water! either way, i needed to read these this week, and i really enjoyed reading yours. thanks again!

  15. says

    Hey Amy! I loved reading this post. It sounds much like how I live my life. I often have friends and family ask me how I do what I do. Often it is difficult to explain. But you just do it. I think you were very eloquent with your words and I could probably say almost the same things about me. It is nice to know that there is at least one more person out there in the world that I can totally

  16. says

    Thanks for keeping it real, Amy. Loved your post – it&#39;s reassuring to know that not everyone is perfect. I particularly related to the pushing stuff out of the way to get a clear photo!

  17. says

    love this amy, and I love posts where real things are discussed. Helps me snap out of that mentality &quot;everyone is so perfect, why can&#39;t I do all these things?&quot; And yes, replying to comments does take up so much time. I finally realized a couple months ago that I didnt&#39; have to respond to each and every one. And it does free up a lot of time!

  18. says

    I usually don&#39;t read posts that are filled with a lot of words, but as soon as I started reading this post, I was hooked and had to read the whole thing. I can relate to everything you said. Thank you for sharing this. I love reading a blog that is &quot;real&quot; for a change!

  19. says

    I smell a rat when anyone comes off as too perfect….we all live in the same 24 hour days, so sometimes one thing needs to be sacrificed for another….you need to find your own equilibrium. I full-heartedly agree that it is good to spend a bit of time each day on something that will &quot;stay done&quot;- too many tasks are repeated a million times a week with no end or thanks. A little time

  20. says

    OMG you are brave. Never in a million years would I show a blank!<br />like this. Sure I make a mess, who doesn&#39;t but to show it, well I don&#39;t know if I should applaud you or call you a housekeeper.

  21. says

    Thank you for sharing. Your comment about showing off something done rings true for me. When I was pregnant with my second I sewed up burp rags (they were a big accomplishment for me back then). I left them on the coffee table for a week and every time I walked by I got a little shot of happy juice.<br /><br />Just today I pulled out my machine (its been over two months since I&#39;ve sewn

  22. says

    Oh my goodness. You just exactly saved me the effort of describing my life and lifestyle and days… like, seriously, right down to four kids but not yet in teens and no longer in diapers! <br />Thanks for sharing &quot;real life&quot; with me, I feel encouraged!

  23. says

    I can relate! I loved your entry! I am a farmwife and mama to 3 boys, 3 and under (the oldest with special needs and therapies, etc, that come along with that). I get asked the same thing, about how I get so much done. I too have LEARNED to accept a messier house. You&#39;re so right about the dishes and laundry!!! I have a wonderful hubby who doesn&#39;t care what the house looks like (to an

  24. says

    I could almost have written the same post except my children are all grown and have families of their own but believe me my sewing space can get very messy and seldom is my cutting table clear and I try to accept that this is just who I am and although I don&#39;t like the house to get too out of control I also don&#39;t dwell on a few dust bunnies . Thanks for a great post !

  25. says

    Thank you for sharing this. My sewing room looks similar to yours…I read most of this out loud to my husband who agreed that much of it applies to myself and is very true. I completely agree that I like having something to show for my time. I often feel like I live in Groundhogs Day! And then I scrolled down and saw a quilt you had on the sidebar that I think I might have to try to recreate.

  26. says

    What a great post! I really enjoyed it! When you said you feel lucky that you found something you enjoy doing so much, it really hit a chord. I feel the same way – quilting brings me so much joy and it really does flow over into all other areas of my life. It just makes me a happy person. In fact a friend said she is a bit jealous of my having something in my life that brings so much joy and

  27. says

    BEST POST OF 2011!<br /><br />Speaks to all of us, &quot;kicking toys out of the way to walk into a room&quot;! Awesome!<br /><br />I picked up quilting just like you, and Im positive I love it because I get a sense of accomplishment out of all the mess of a day.<br /><br />Lesson: Never sweat the small stuff.

  28. says

    I love this new thing everyone is doing-stepping out from behind all those beautiful, perfect pictures. It reminds us to give ourselves (and each other) a break and a pat on the back. And instead of worrying about responding to my comment get back in your craft room and make something beautiful to inspire me. We&#39;ll both be happy!

  29. says

    Thank you for your honest post. I almost thought I was reading my own post because you were explaining me and my lack of care for messes perfectly. I only wish I had a room to keep the mess in…I sew on the dining room table, and clean up whenever we have anyone over that I have to &quot;impress&quot;. My children are grown and out of the house, but my mom lives with us and we have converted

  30. says

    You are so cute :) This seems like the reality at my house a lot of the time too. People often ask me how I do it all too…well, I just do. I want to sew, so I sew and I find the time to work it in. It makes me happy and so Happy Mom, Happy House :)

  31. says

    Beautifully written! I can totally relate to the part where you need to have something to show for your time that is finished. That really resonated with me. And the fact that reading my scriptures and praying to my Heavenly Father sets the tone for the day.

  32. says

    I am a selfish person when it comes to the internet, I use other peoples blogs for my own ideas, never comment unless there is a give away. I have thought about setting up my own blog but the sap on my time keeps me from doing it. I am also the mother of 4 and relate a lot to your post. Thank you for your time.

  33. says

    I don&#39;t know you, but I think were kindred spirits! I don&#39;t accomplish as much as you, but my house is usually messy cause of my little projects! I lovednyour pictures. Your sewing room is so cute and I love that it represents a creative mind! You really are amazing.

  34. says

    Wonderful post. I believe you should have t-shirts made up with a sewing machine printed on them and the phrase &quot;It&#39;s healthy for my psyche&quot; below it. I would probably purchase one for each day of the week. :) So happy to hear I&#39;m not the only one who loves a clean house but also loves to create enough to let it slide occassionaly.

  35. says

    Thanks for being real! I sometimes get discouraged because my room often looks like your first picture and NOT the pretty pictures I see of NEAT and TIDY sewing studios. I get too many things out and then get to work and dont&#39; want to stop to put them away! I also love having a room that I can shut the door to, leave the mess and come back to it later.<br />It works for me.

  36. Anonymous says

    I love this statement:<br />&quot;… I like to invest even just a small portion of my time each day on something that will stay finished. It&#39;s healthy for my psyche.&quot;<br />It so sums up how I feel about my crafting, and my home (which will NEVER be &#39;finished&#39;!)<br />Thank you!

  37. says

    It is always so good to know someone else&#39;s sewing room looks like mine and not Martha&#39;s. Ditto on the computer time. I spend too much time looking at what everyone else is doing. <br />Great post. <br />Thanks

  38. says

    Amy, as you can see from all these comments, this was a post that we LOVED!<br />Sad thing tho&#39;, my sewing room is pretty much neat and clean, and I&#39;ve never finished one darn quilt! I&#39;m working on your &quot;real style&quot;….and who knows, I might just make a quilt and finish it!<br /><br />Thanks for always inspiring me, and stay blessed!

  39. says

    Wonderful post today! We are so alike! But, I am struggling with spending too much time on the computer. There&#39;s just so much gorgeous stuff out there!!! I do need to be a little firmer there! Love your &quot;messy&quot; sewing room. Glad you were brave enough to show it…it actually looks better than mine!

  40. says

    Thank you for sharing your process. It&#39;s good to hear that you&#39;re finding your own balance, also I found it inspiring to see how you&#39;ve found what works best for you. Keep it up and good luck :)<br /><br />Caroline at Toffle Craft

  41. says

    This was beautifully written and inspiring. Thanks for your honesty. You really made me feel so much better about handing my quilts off to someone else for the quilting. I DETEST the thought of basting. It zaps me. But I see so many quilters there getting it all done in such a short amount of time, and it makes me feel like a slug. Now I don&#39;t feel bad about letting someone else do the

  42. says

    Great post Amy! Glad to know that I&#39;m not alone when it comes to being good at &quot;handling mess&quot;. I too have a space that I can just close the door to and come back to when I get time :)

  43. says

    Hi Amy<br />How great to hear that someone else than me puts creativity before a tidy, perfect house. How I wish my house could be like in the interior magazines but in reality that is impossible. I sometimes find myself tidying, cleaning, tidying, cleaning and then I realize that I am snappy and frustrated as I never get top do MY thing. So now I do MY thing and let the mess be for a while. It

  44. Beth says

    Do you feel better after your &quot;confession&#39;, lol. Thank you for your post, that took some courage. Bottom line it is about prioritiess and what works for each of us. I love your blog even more now that I see &quot;behind the scenes&quot;, and that you are mortal like the rest of us!

  45. says

    Hi Amy! Bret&#39;s mom here….It has been forever since I&#39;ve caught up on my blog reading….I&#39;m so glad I did! I love how you&#39;re real. <br />I&#39;m still thankful that my husband didn&#39;t listen to me when I said, &quot;No, I don&#39;t need to have a separate sewing/craft room I can just set up my sewing machine here (meaning by the computer).&quot; Yes, I know I&#39;m crazy!

  46. says

    This is a wonderful post!!<br />Thank you so much for taking the time to write that out! It makes me feel so much better about myself… I will get so into a project that my house suffers for it! Thanks for the peek into your life!

  47. says

    I was thinking about this today. How if you are creating something, there is a messiness that results from the process. But think about it, if there is no mess, nothing is happening. Sometimes I am hard on myself because there are mega blocks all over the floor, or I haven&#39;t got my stamps away yet, or the sewing machine is still down on the table because I ran out of thread, again. I

  48. says

    You are right, blogs and craft books always showcase these beautifully crisp and clean workspaces and it can be misleading! I recently started listening to audio books while I&#39;m sewing and it has been fabulous!

  49. says

    That is the truth. I love the truth. I so agree with you. We are very much alike. Except my kids are older. That is all. Well I have a full time job now but that is what you have too – taking care of the kids. It changes up as we go. I was where you are years ago too. I&#39;m the same. Stay home and sew is what I love. I do have a tv in my room but It is background and I don&#39;t

  50. says

    Yay for homebodies! And yes – it is just a better day when I get to sew or knit – and everyone in the house should be grateful for that! But I do sometimes get annoyed that I don&#39;t have a putting things away elf that stops by and tidies up my projects:)

  51. says

    Gracias por mostrar lo que otras nos sentimos culpables por tener =. Un post maravilloso. Que gran verdad, la necesidad de hacer algo, un proyecto, que tiene su fin, y que ni lo consigue nos sentimos como dando vueltas en círculo sin ir a ningún lugar.<br />Te admiro, por tu creatividad y tu capacidad de expresión.<br />Soy Feliz de venir a verte.<br />Núria.

  52. says

    Amy, I love this post and can relate to practically everything you said! I love your hexies too!<br />They&#39;re just happy aren&#39;t they? Especially the rainbow effect.<br /><br />You don&#39;t have to reply to this…:) Just have a great day!<br /><br />Amber

  53. says

    I don&#39;t know how you young Moms do all you do!! I&#39;m a Grnadmother who has retired from a 30+ teaching career and can&#39;t seem to get my shower before noon! I keep my youngets grandson and I do Love being Home for the first time in my life! I&#39;m such a Homebody and I keep a messy but FUN sewing room. Loved the post!! Just read, don&#39;t respond. You have way too much more

  54. says

    Thanks for the honesty! I am also one of those who doesn&#39;t mind a little mess so that I can accomplish something instead. Sometimes I feel a little ashamed when i visit friends who have the spotless houses – but then they are amazed at what I make, too. So, I guess there is a middle ground to it all.<br /><br />What makes it so worth it for me is seeing my daughter proudly wear the clothes

  55. says

    I know you have recieved a lot of comments on this post, but I did just want to add mine.<br />I LOVED it, what you said reminds me so much of myself. It made me realize that other people can stand a bit of a mess, and that they have to kick toys out of the way to answer the door, and it is okay. I love that you even included that praying and reading your scriptures every morning helps too. <

  56. says

    heehee! some of my favorite blog photos (that i post) have a little one cropped out! artful editing, if you will. thanks for sharing, i love your fabric hoops so much!

  57. says

    YES! This is why I like you so much. We need more &quot;real&quot; people in blog land and real land! You are great. I appreciate you. Wish we were friends in REAL life. I appreciate the hand of friendship you&#39;ve extended even hardly knowing me. Thank you for your genuine good living. And love those snoa flinga throw pillows – beautiful. Thank you!!!!

  58. says

    oh i loved reading this post. I think I am the Los Angeles version of you… except for the fact that I have to quilt my own quilts… I get asked the same questions all the time and have to provide the same answers as you.<br /><br />The one thing that I always say is this:<br />There are so few things in my life that I have control over. My sewing machine is the one thing that (for the most

  59. says

    You know, I sometimes read craft blogs and feel like crap because I can&#39;t do it all. So it is great to see your craft room looks a lot like mine. I know the floor is there somewhere. . . Thanks for a great post about reality.<br />As a side note: where did you get the fabric that is in the picture of your boy&#39;s cute bum poking out from under the table? I REALLY need to have some of it. It

  60. says

    THANK YOU for this post. My quilt room (and house!) is usually a disaster zone with several WIPs, stacks of fabrics, magazines, etc all over the place. The carpet is almost never clean because of fabric bits and thread tails. It&#39;s nice to know I&#39;m not alone. And that it&#39;s ok. :-)

  61. says

    Wow, thanks for sharing this. My youngest is 2 years and 4 months old and is getting *more* demanding of my time and it is a challenge… she used to be so easy and let me sew a lot :) Now I need to read to her/pay more attention to her or she will climb up on the kitchen table and grab the spool of thread while I&#39;m quilting until it breaks. sigh.

  62. says

    Wow – you are just like me! I thought everyone was perfect. I get lots of sewing done, but it is usually at the expense of the dishes and laundry – but I am ok with it too! Thanks for helping me feel not so alone in my love for sewing and the balancing it requires!

  63. says

    Who knew I had a sister on the west coast! Girl you really kept it real and I could totally relate. I need something tangible to show for my time. And I am so not looking forward to learning how to quilt. My mom has a long arm and I let her do it (even though she doesn&#39;t do it quick enough for me sometimes. Honey – I follow you on a regular basis and you have one of the best quilt blogs

  64. says

    Great post, Thanks!! I need to remember that blogs only let one peek into lives that the blogger wants us to see. Things are usually not as they seem. Thanks again for being REAL.

  65. says

    Your post was the answer to my prayers today. Your last sentence said it all: &quot;…find a system that works for YOU and own it.&quot; I know who I am, who I always have been, where I&#39;m comfortable and what works for my family BUT it&#39;s so discouraging to feel alone in our choices. Thank you for sharing thoughts from your heart with us today. I need and love my &quot;blog&quot; sisters

  66. says

    Thank-you, I needed to hear your story..and it is so refreshing and freeing to hear the real story..yay!! I&#39;m feeling so encouraged now I think go into my mess and make something and thank God for people like you! I&#39;ll be back for more.

  67. says

    I needed to read this today. I have felt &quot;behind&quot; in the blog world for the first time lately. My life sounds a lot like yours, minus 2 kids and a dedicated sewing space. I simply can&#39;t do what some can. So, thanks. :)

  68. says

    I know this is a really old post, but I found it when I was looking at something else on your blog (as this is one of your popular posts). I totally am like you on pretty much everything that you wrote about! People ask me often how I get as much sewing as I do done, and I really never know how to answer. I guess this is why. :)

  69. says

    I know this is an old post but I just found it after finding your blog a few months ago. Thank you for being real! As a single mom in a newish relationship. It&#39;s so hard to find time to complete anything! I try not to beat myself up about it after reading some of my favorite blogs and seeing their beautiful finished quilts and such. It is nice to see how someone else squeezes their &quot;me

  70. says

    This is such a great post Amy. I&#39;m glad you can &#39;keep it real&#39; as so many quilters give the impression that they sit in a perfect studio all day, with no other commitments. I know for me, I&#39;m taking blog photos at the same time as cooking dinner and looking after 2 children, 5 and 2 1/2!! I love your out take photo of your son jumping in the picture. I have a similar one,

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