Category Archives: stash

What comes of not having a plan

Exhaustion is starting to become a theme around these parts. Now that the term is in full swing I’m starting to feel it, and even though in a couple of weeks I know I’ll start to turn that corner when the end is near and I get a burst of energy back, right now it seems to be enough just to make it to dinner time. So it is both enjoyable and odd that I would add another layer of travel exhaustion onto all of this by hauling myself off to a weekend wool festival.

The reason I bring this up is that today I got home in time enough to photograph my Rhinebeck purchases (daylight hours are starting to diminish), and dudes….some of this stuff I only have vague memories of buying it. And then I remembered that my Saturday at Rhinebeck was sort of this odd plan-less mixture of relaxation (from being with all the knitters and the wool) and fatigue (from the work-travel cocktail), and not only that but guys…I had no plan whatsoever when I went to Rhinebeck this year. None. I think the extent of my plan was “I like yarn and will buy some.” Usually I say to myself “I will look for a sweater’s worth of something in worsted” or “must definitely stop by this particular booth,” but this year by the time I realized I should have done that, it was mid-afternoon and my tote bag was already half-full and I was sort of adrift on impulse. Next year I will go with a plan.

Not that I came home with crap, mind you. Oh no. I may have picked up bits and bobs of things that I didn’t fully understand at the time (like the armload of A Touch of Twist in this post, which is beautiful but I swear I have no idea what I am going to do with it), but mostly I think I chose wisely.


As, for example, with these 3 Into The Whirled braids. I know that once I finally get back into a spinning routine, these will be so much fun to try out. They are, from bottom to top, merino, merino/silk/bamboo, and polwarth. And the colours are beautiful and how can you go wrong with awesome colour?

Also, for the first time this year I finally made it into the Brooks Farm booth. (Note to self: get there earlier next year). This was the point in the day when I was trying to find a sweater yarn, but then flamed out and decided “you know, Glenna, maybe you should shoot for hat and mitts.” (The temperatures may have had something to do with this thought). So after some decision-making, I got 3 skeins of Solana, which is a worsted-weight superwash that comes in their usual awesome Brooks Farm colours.


I also remembered the sock yarns. I remembered to go by the Holiday Yarns booth, because I got a skein of their Flock Sock last year and quite liked it, so I grabbed a skein in ‘Orange You Glad’ to break out of my colour norms, and also a Kitri kit (not pictured). The red and the blue yarns there are J Knits sock yarn, from the Seaport Yarns booth, because I remembered at the end of the day that I’m currently on the lookout for red and blue sock yarns (for a design project currently in its conceptual stage…soon…soon…)


But you know, I think my favourite purchase from the day were these 2 skeins of sock yarn (fingering weight, in the teal, and sport weight in the lilac) from Steam Valley Fibers.


It’s a vendor I haven’t purchased from before, and you know, those 10 minutes or so that I spent looking at all the colours and pondering which ones to get, and chatting with the other knitters who were looking at the same yarn, and then paying and inquiring briefly about the yarn with the vendors themselves…those were a pretty good 10 minutes. One of the challenges at Rhinebeck is the crowds and the patience and the wanting to get to the yarn that you want, and you know, the Steam Valley Fibers booth wasn’t stressful at all. It wasn’t empty by any means, but it was still good to get into and get out of and the yarns were beautiful. I like these 2 skeins.

So even though I wish I’d been a bit more organized about my purchasing, I’m happy that I grabbed several things I’ve not tried before, and as a result I have expanded my toolbox stash a bit more. I’ve got some things that I’m glad to try out or see what comes of them, even if they don’t have specific plans attached.

And you know…looking at all the yarn now, I gotta say, it’s pretty restorative. I like yarn. And it’s nice to look at and know that it’ll become something, some time in the future.

Knit on, my blogland friends!


Filed under rhinebeck, stash

Socks on Sunday

Thank you all so much for your comments on my last post. It is wonderful to hear from so many people who want to get into the world of sock knitting – after all, sock knitting has pretty much transformed my own knitting life! With the help of a random number generator, I am pleased to announce the winner of the copy of the Big Book of Socks is….Kathleen! An email has been sent to her and the book will be headed her way.

Speaking of sock yarn, I’m pondering which of my stashed Lorna’s Laces to pull out for my next transit-knitting pair of Jaywalkers. Clearly when I said my next pair was not going to be anywhere in the purple or red or green area, I was on the crack. It’s so hard to choose…


This is how it starts, folks. One day you’re innocently knitting your first pair of socks, and then suddenly you have to start sub-categorizing your yarn stash not just according to yarn weight, but different brands of yarn weight.

Not that you’ll hear me complaining, of course.

It’s gearing up for Thanksgiving time around these parts, or certainly around my house. Technically Canada celebrates Thanksgiving tomorrow but like many our family feasts on the Sunday. If you’re in the ‘top half’ of North America, Happy Thanksgiving! And a happy weekend to all, nonetheless.


Filed under socks, stash

Reports from the Field

1. Although I’m pretty pleased that I haven’t had to use my Pattern Notes and Errata page in a while, the wee errors do sometimes slip through there occasionally, and I’ve begun an entry for Rendezvous. They are small errata, but there none the less. In the interim, I am going to try to work harder at the whole “being perfect all the time” thing, but I’ve heard that this might take a while. Further bulletins as events occur.

(Incidentally if you are a person who has downloaded my patterns through Ravelry, you’d get any updates automatically anyway. This is when it pays to keep your email address in Ravelry up to date.)

2. Yea verily I did what the internet told me and after starting my new socks yesterday morning, I am pulling the kid mohair strand from the outside, contained within a plastic baggie next to the merino sock yarn within my travel knitting bag, and it’s all going very well so far. The socks are actually working up pretty neat and I’ll be sure to post about this later.

3. At the Kitchener-Waterloo fair yesterday I ran into a couple of knitters who found this same Fleece Artist sock kit and bought it as a direct result of my enabling. I regret nothing.

4. The Kitchener-Waterloo fair was great. It was pretty hopping, too, more so than I remember it last year. Apparently there was a line-up waiting to get in right at opening. Inside the two vendor rooms was lots and lots of good stuff, and good people too.


I believe the final count was around 80 Vendors participating, and they did not disappoint. It was wall-to-wall knitting and spinning supplies and lots of happy people with happy bags and armloads of things, in varying quantities. I ran into several friendly faces, including Lisa, Michelle, Theresa, Rochelle, blogless Elizabeth who I met in Ottawa in the spring, and probably several others who I am likely forgetting. I like that even though it’s a big event, it’s still pretty easy to find people you know and stop to chat at the edge of a corridor somewhere.


5. I bought some yarn. I bought more than I thought I would, which I realize in and of itself is not unusual for me, but I suppose I was felled by two things: First, the K-W fair and the Rhinebeck trip in October are the sanctioned yarn-buying times that I am allowing myself for the forseeable future. Second, I was, as of the beginning of the day, on a complete blank slate. I woke up and had no projects on the needles, for the first time in I don’t know how long. I think as a result, my brain reached for things I didn’t expect it to.

The fact that, after I got home, I cast on a (blue) sweater with yarn not purchased yesterday, is not important. What IS important, is that I managed to not buy blue yarn. Having prepared myself beforehand, I gave myself rules to branch out of my current colour tendencies and get other things. And my knitting brain said, “you want ‘not-blue’? Hah! I’ll give you so much ‘not-blue’ you won’t know what do DO with yourself.” Exhibit A, three skeins of the awesomest bright colours you’ve ever seen:


From left to right, these are Van der Rock yarns, Lorna’s Laces, and Tanis Fiber Arts. Van der Rock yarns are a relatively new Canadian outfit, run by two extremely adorable people. I encountered their booth at Sock Summit for the first time and was happy to encounter them again. I walked away with the pink skein above in “Neon” (all their colourways are named after elements from the Periodic Table, or molecules…you can have Arsenic green, Lead purple…good geeky knitterly fun), and really enjoyed chatting with them.

The Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock (this one here is the ‘Satsuma’ colourway) was an (unsurprising) addition to my quest to have as many Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers as I can knit (we’ve moved well beyond the goal of ‘a week’s worth’ now), in a variety of colours, and the Tanis skein is her new colourway called “Lemongrass.” It’s so bright it had to come home with me.

Also, I bought Noro sock yarn. I have no explanation for the fact that I brought home 6 skeins of it (2 silk garden, 4 Kureyon), other than that it was on my list for sock knitting this winter, there were lots of sales, and I am helpless. Also, even when there is blue, it’s not just blue, so that totally is allowed in the not-blue rules.


I may have also bought a few bits of spinning fibre. Maybe. I’ll save that for later. Today I’m going to continue knitting my new sweater, and ponder what I’m going to do with my new acquisitions. Fun times ahead for Sunday. I hope you have a good one!


Filed under knitting tourism, stash

Ask the Internet

First off, it has dawned on me that I may be heading back into a teal/blue colour jag, as witnessed by both my spinning and the knitting that is about to go back on the needles. I’m going to try to head this off at the pass and cast on something that is not teal, but since I know Chante always manages to catch me on these things, with her steel-trap powers of colour jag observation, I thought I’d better fess up right up front. If you’re anti-teal (though why would you be? it’s so bright yet soothing…) I promise I”ll try not to make it a habit for too long.

Second, I have some show and tell and a question. Back in July when I was in Toronto one week, I met up with Kim and we perused Romni Wools while they were having their summer sale. The summer sale is not to be trifled with. All their yarn goes on 20% off, and the store is huge. If you haven’t trained beforehand, you could really hurt yourself.

I managed to exercise some self-restraint, but even for a person who “wasn’t going to buy anything” (because at this point I was “trying not to buy much before Sock Summit” hahahahahhah), even coming away with a few skeins is a lot. BUT, one of said skeins popped back up in my memory this week and I pulled it out to get ready for the weekend. I’ve got a little bit of car-knitting time in view, and no current sock project in the travel bag, so this seemed like a good bet.


This is a skein of Fleece Artist merino sock yarn, put together with matching yardage of a matching colour of kid mohair/nylon. The idea (I think) is for you knit the two strands together, and since the mohair/nylon is quite sturdy as well as being as soft as kittens, you get a very colourful, soft, decadent, but practical pair of socks. Sign me up. I remember back in May when I was taking Cat Bordhi’s class at Lettuce Knit, the store had just gotten some of this in stock and Cat saw it, saw that it was regularly priced at only $20, and said something like “buy them all right now before they realize what a great deal this is!”

So anyhoo, fast forward to now, when I’m ready to break this kit out and do some soothing stockinette sock knitting with it, and I wind up the merino half and after struggling to find the ends of the mohair/nylon I manage to wind that up too despite the fact that it resembles a matted bundle of cobwebs…


…and that is when I remember that I have managed to never once in my life knit with a brushed mohair/nylon blend like this. Not once.

So my question for you, dear knitting internets, is if you were about to go knit with this stuff and want to save yourself as much agony as possible in the face of clingy grabby mohair….Would you pull that ball from the centre, or the outside?


Filed under socks, stash

Wooly environs

Yesterday, I went for some driving adventures around Southern Ontario with my friend Dee, who needed to drive off to take her son to and from day camp outside of town anyhow. So, we made very good use of the intervening hours and decided to investigate some yarnly locations and to see what we could see. There are a lot of spots to choose from in this province, and so much to knit with.


Wellington Fibers was our main destination, as it took the longest to get to. Dee is developing interest in mohair blends and glove/mitten knitting, and I had an itch to supplement the skein of their 2-ply mohair/wool laceweight I bought back at the Knitter’s Frolic in April, so we were both happy to make the trip. It was well worth it. When we arrived, co-proprietor Lorne and his sociable dog were the only ones in the store, and he was happy to let us browse at our leisure. Then, after a few minutes, he asked us “would you like to see how the yarn is made?” and we thought about that for about two and a half seconds and said “SURE!” So, we were duly treated to a tour of their mill works, where they spin not just their own wool but also process orders for other wool suppliers in the area. It was great fun.


They raise their own angora goats and use their locks for the mohair blends of yarn as well as spinning fibre, and buy the wool locally from sheep farmers. He explained about their process of washing and preparing the fibres with natural, less harsh treatments than larger scale operations use. Their yarns really are beautiful. We each came away with a few skeins (I did indeed, supplement the laceweight, and hope to bring this out into use soon once my current shawl WIP is off the needles), and I’m sure they are not the last. They are regular vendors at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair (in September!) and the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic (in April), and are definitely worth a look.


After lunch in Guelph we went off in search of another stop new to both of us, Greenwood Quiltery. Dee had located this one through searching for local yarn shops Ravelry, which, I have to admit, I didn’t even know was possible on Ravelry. (I need to brush up on new features). They are, as the name suggests, a Quilting shop, and their main wares are in fabrics and quilting supplies, and they host a gallery space on the upper floor of the building.


We talked a bit with the owner (whose name I sadly neglected to find out), who was friendly to talk to and who explained that the store’s focus will always be quilting, but she has been enjoying developing the knitting room as a part of it. Sure enough, tucked away in the back of the house is a small room lined on all sides with yarn, needles, notions, and books. They carry enough Koigu to make Koigu-lovers happy for days, I can report, but also a steady supply of labels like Fleece Artist, Blue Sky Alpacas, and Malabrigo. It was a very pleasant stop to browse in and I admit that I may have rescued a lone skein of lilac Berocco Ultra Alpaca (had to be done) and a skein of Malabrigo Silky Wool.


Although both of us are starting to get antsy about work lives resuming in higher pace, Dee did say quite wisely that there will be a time soon enough when we will long to have days like this, and lo, I am glad we did it. It shall have to be repeated again in the future. Have you had a local yarn visiting day lately?

Until next time, keep the knitting close by!


Filed under knitting tourism, stash, yarn stores

Oh my.

So, okay, so Knit Picks came out with new shades of their Palette fingering weight. So, okay, I might not be biggest fan of some of their other yarns, but Palette sort of owns permanent real estate in my stash, and i’ve done three fair isle sweaters with it now and I love it. So, okay, after a few years of gradual and delightful stashing, I already own an unreasonable amount of this yarn. But artists need a palette and cooks need a pantry and knitters need yarn…And fair isle knitters are totally justified in owning a wide palette for their potential canvas.  (They ARE TOO be quiet back there.) So, okay, so I ordered another dozen balls of it.


But, um. I just wish fingering-weight colour-work knitted up a little faster than the rate at which I seem to stash the supplies.

If my stash comes to eat me in the middle of the night, please know that despite its actions as a result of mistreatment and neglect at my hands, I’ll still want it to go to a good home. Maybe I’ll just go hug it to reassure it that I still love it and I’m definitely going to knit it all really soon. And, uh, right along with dealing with all that stupid real life crud that I am forcing myself back to now that my post-Sock Summit haze has cleared. Real life gets me every time. And maybe also this other sweater, shawl, and two pairs of socks I’m already knitting.

I’d better get busy.


Filed under stash

Still smaller than New Jersey


I was, admittedly, not going to do a post-Sock Summit stash enhancement post (contented as I was to simply hug my new stashlets and pet them and call them George), but then a few people prodded me about it, and verily I cannot help but want to share a few of the goodies. As the sign above taken from the Red Fish Knitting booth would seem to indicate, my seemingly sizeable stash is still smaller than it could be, and heck, it’s pretty, so why feel guilty, right? Right.

The Sock Summit marketplace was formidable. It was enormous, bigger than I think any of us expected. Most of us made multiple visits and shopped as much as we could, but sadly even the most dedicated among us couldn’t see everything there was to see. There was also the challenge of fitting in the marketplace around other things – for many of us the largest portions of our days were taken up with classes, or volunteer shifts, or seeing some of Portland, or simple meet-and-greet on the spot, and so our shopping had to happen in sort of precision strikes of an hour or so. Still, it was very hard to resist. So many pretty things, so little time.


One of the highlights of Sock Summit was the Dye For Glory competition that preceded the event. Yarn dyers were invited to submit entries in several possible dyeing categories (I think they pretty much covered every possible method of applying colour to yarn, and the entries were all gorgeous). Well, colour me surprised and pleased when Lorna’s Laces entered several colourways – y’all know of my love of knitting Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers. When I saw the red/grey/purple ‘Vampire Tea Party’ colourway I knew I’d have to have that one. When I found it in person nestled right next to the pleasantly green ‘Ghoul’s Gala’, I snagged that one as well, since green is a shade sadly lacking from my expanding Lorna’s Laces stash. (Now that I am 1.5 pairs away from having a Lorna’s Laces Jaywalker pair for every day of the week, I feel the only option at that point is simply to keep going. Maybe one for every day of the month. Who can tell.)


Blue Moon was, unsurprisingly, a strong presence at Sock Summit and their centrally-placed booth always had people browsing. I had planned to simply get a skein of their special ST-2 colourway (how could I resist all the red/pink/purple shades?), but then saw that they had a sizeable rack of mill ends and snagged two of those as well. And then throughout the weekend I would find myself being drawn back…and get more. I surprise myself to have brought back this small heap of Socks That Rock, two heavyweight, one mediumweight, and four lightweight, mostly mill ends. I think this’ll do me for STR for a while, and will let me skip the lineups at The Fold at Rhinebeck. (Famous last words, or no?)


Speaking of Rhinebeck and gaggles of knitters, one vendor I was very happy to have a look at under milder shopping conditions was Briar Rose. Surely they need little introduction, no? Beautifully dyed skeins in long yardages. They are always popular but even though I’ve seen them at Rhinebeck I’ve never made a purchase there. After a bit of decision-making time I took the plunge at their booth at Sock Summit, and made my way off with a sweater’s worth of their bulky weight in a purple-green combination called ‘sonoma’. Perhaps this will take the edge off of the fine gauge sock knitting I am bound to be doing in the near…well, until the end of time, at this rate. Heh.


Now that I have a spinning wheel and will now have to actually start using it seriously can devote more efforts to developing a fibre stash, I did look out for a few nice bits of roving. These ones followed me home from Becoming Art and Wool Candy – two small Etsy dyers I’m unlikely to come across in person soon – and some absolutely decadently soft Australian merino from Ms. Gusset, an indie Australian dyer who I think is still new and developing her business. I don’t think she’ll have too much trouble, with beautiful things such as these.

There are, admittedly, other bits and pieces from my Sock Summit stash, though many have already been gifted away or are reserved for gift knitting. Another thing I haven’t blogged about too much are the actual projects from the four wonderful classes I took, but I think I will enjoy coming back to these throughout the coming fall. (Oh God. It’s almost fall. Someone help).

Today I’m enjoying a restful and hermity day in air conditioned comfort and allowing myself some time to ponder some design work. I hope your weekend is a good one, and that you have some knitting stash to enjoy!


Filed under sock summit, stash

Stupid material limits of reality

Do you ever feel as though you are sort of getting screwed over by the space-time continuum? Like, your psychological pace at getting things done and having the thought process and committing to projects seems normal to you but then you insert yourself into the real world and everything skews a bit and you suddenly think HEY where did all my nice time go?

Yeah, that’s about where I am now. In my head, I have knitted at least a dozen sweaters so far this year. In reality, I am still on my third. In fact, my impulses at the moment are almost entirely sweater related, either for those currently on the needles (Autumn Rose, still very close to done and yet not quite), those I’d like to have on the needles (have so far narrowed this down to…every sweater pattern in existence), and those I’m designing in my head (no fewer than three, at least this week).


Much of this has been supported by a bit of stash diving the last few weeks. I’ve been reminding myself of what I have and what I wanted to knit with it, and this along with a few sales (danged Canada Day savings) has resulted in a few piles forming by my visible stash shelves. ‘Oh yeah, you were going to be an awesome cardigan, you should stay right there so I’ll remind myself to knit with you.’ ‘Oh, but YOU on the other hand, you’re meant to be a cropped jacket, so I’ll get to you soon too’…’But oh, you were meant to be a shawl, well clearly I’ll need to start that right about now as well…’

Unsurprisingly, this creates a sort of backlog of momentum and despite the fact that the knitter in my head has already accomplished these things, my actual hands are rather limited.

This may explain why, yet, when I pick up my needles or make a step towards casting on something new, it is not sweaters, it is socks. Socks appear deceptively smaller than sweaters, despite their stitch count, and I am sure they appeal more to me in the warm weather than bulky sweaters do. Not to mention, the Sock Summit is coming up and is giving me the best excuse ever to frolic with the sock yarn love.

But the sweaters…and shawls…oh and maybe even a knitted dress, yeah, I could make a knitted dress…And more socks…

Excuse me, I’ll just be over here in my stash ignoring the material limits of reality for a little bit longer. You can come too, it’s great over here. Stay quiet and we’ll try not to spook the calendar.


Filed under stash

Sock relief

One of the things I never expected when I first started knitting socks a few years ago, was how much room there is in my life for sock yarns that behave completely differently. I started out thinking I needed to simply find sock yarns that would knit well with the needle size I always use, and avoid the others. The more I started branching out and finding new yarns to work with, the more I realized it isn’t a matter of right yarns and wrong yarns, as much as it is about right yarns for the right kind of project.

After finishing my Jaywalkers I needed a new pair of socks to travel around with, and grabbed a skein of Socks That Rock from my Rhinebeck purchases last fall. (It’s a mill end and therefore unlabelled by colourway, but I’m pretty sure it’s ‘Rolling Stone’).


It was like comfort food. As soon as I wound it up and saw all the colours mingled together, I knew I had picked well, and STR is so squishy and relaxing in your hands that it almost doesn’t matter what the colours are. It just feels good in your fingers. After knitting with this yarn a few times, I have learned what it can do for me (tactile and visual comfort) and what it can’t do (yardage for yarn-eating cables for Size 11 feet), and I’m good with that.


And the thing is, I love the Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock that I just came from, too. I have learned about what it can do for me (sturdiness from the extra nylon blend, fantastic colours and yardage) and what it can’t (squishy texture, needles above 2.5mm), and I’m good with that, too. I’d never ask these two yarns to do the same thing, and that’s why I can continue to stash them both (well, and many others, let’s face it) without worry. I keep on stashing sock yarns because I know there will come a day when I will need each one in turn.

In fact, I have several favourite sock yarns that I have known and loved:

  • Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock
  • Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock
  • Dream in Color Smooshy
  • Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label Fingering Weight
  • Malabrigo Sock
  • Patons Kroy (dude, it does not wear out)

What’s your favourite sock yarn, and why?


Filed under socks, stash

A Good Day for Yarn

It’s been a full 24 hours in Nova Scotia so far, and so far it’s going well. My Halifax friends are lovely hosts as ever, and today we ventured north of the big city towards the Wolfville area. My gravest concern, naturally, was to seek out Gaspereau Valley Fibres, which I’d heard from Kim was worth the trip.

And lo, it was. I think if I lived in that area this shop would be likely to become my LYS. They had a nice supply of ubiquitous yarns like Mission Falls, Fleece Artist, Manos, Briggs & Little, and also a wonderful selection of spinning fibre. It was very hard to choose, but since Kim’s turned on the spinning portion of my brain, I had to go for that, didn’t I? I mean, didn’t I? Just look at this one corner:


They are a great stop, are Gaspereau Valley Fibres. Very friendly, very browsable with maybe also some Fleece Artist seconds shhh it doesn’t count as a sock yarn purchase if it’s that much of a steal does it? I didn’t think so, and with a fantastic selection overall. My friend Jenn, pictured here, made out with a pair of skeins of Manos wool-silk, and a skein of laceweight.


I was a bit more generous in my spending, but man, the wool fumes were strong, I couldn’t help it.


The red is 8 oz of merino/bamboo blend from Frog Tree Fibers, which I am happily going to save for my spinning wheel days when I want to branch out into non-wool blends, and that enormous fluffy ball of goodness is 250g of merino/tussah silk blend. It’s soft like butter and it is also coming home with me for a rainy spinning day. The yarns are 2 skeins of Fleece Artist seconds, in darker shades which I am trying to stash more of for sock knitting, and a beautiful, recently-produced find from Prince Edward Island – bamboo/merino/bison laceweight from Fibre-Isle Fine Yarns. I can’t even begin to talk about how soft this is. This silvery grey skein is about 600 yds and enough for a beautiful scarf or shoulder shawl. Delicious.

From there we carried on down the road to Gaspereau Vineyards, one of several vineyards in the area. The tour was very informative, the wine sampling certainly made us a bit more relaxed, and in general it was a nice addition to the sunshine-filled day. A recommendable tour.



And now I have some yarn, wine, and cheese to contemplate here chez my hosts. Yarn and wine, they just go together like…things that go really well together. This weekend’s just getting started over here. I hope yours is relaxing! Keep the knitting close by.


Filed under knitting tourism, spinning, stash, yarn stores