Farmgirl Roadtrip: Come Away with Me to Kent, Connecticut!

Are you passionate about a hobby or activity?  One of my favorite hobbies is knitting, an activity that keeps my hands busy and my mind relaxed. I love teaching knitting classes for my town, and knitted items are one of my favorite gifts to give. I really got the “hang” of knitting when I was expecting my daughter, and had complications that required bedrest…torture for someone like me who has to always be doing something!  Knitting makes me happy and centered…it’s my “yoga”.  Picking out yarn…the textures, the colors, the smell of the fibers, makes me giddy!  I love to head to my favorite yarn store,  located in one of the most beautiful places in Connecticut…the historical and quaint town of Kent.  Come visit this gem of a town with me!

I love browsing in little towns with small businesses. Scattered across the USA are main streets with charm, that really give you local flavor.  Lancaster, Pennsylvania is one I love.  In Texas, it’s  Old Town Spring.  In Georgia, I had a great time visiting the historic town of Madison with my mom.  Home in Connecticut, Kent has become my get-away-for-the-day place close to my heart.

Driving South, in about forty minutes I’m in New York City.   Head in a different direction, and in about the same time, I can be in scenic Kent.  Incorporated in 1739, Kent and its surrounding area is rural, historic, and picturesque, with amazing state parks, and postcard-worthy scattered farms.  There’s farm-stands and dairies, trees galore and bald eagles soaring overhead. Take a drive over the wooden covered bridge, Bulls Bridge, and you’ll see the Kent Falls Waterfall.  It’s a thrill to see the rushing water!  We like to park and walk the wooded trails along the river.

Bulls Bridge takes you over the scenic waterfall in Kent, CT.

This shot was taken in the Spring before the leaves popped out.  Can’t you hear the rushing water?

A bit further down, and you’ll find the main part of town, filled with cafes and shops.  I love being outside as opposed to a mall, and Kent is home to unique small businesses owned by very friendly folks.

 

The Civil War memorial sits in the center of the Main Street, (CT Route 7) in the shopping district of Kent. The yellow structure behind it is Belgique, the most exquisite chocolatier!

When I need a new knitting project, I head to my favorite yarn store, Black Sheep Yarns, owned by Nancy Hamilton.  Always smiling, Nancy makes customers feel like they’re visiting an old friend,  as her shop has a relaxed and happy atmosphere.

Nancy, and my daughter at Black Sheep Yarns.

Nancy and her daughter, Nicole, and the store’s “mascot”, puppy Hannah.

Uncluttered, but stocked full, it’s a feast of yarn in the most delicious shades and textures!  Nancy started her store after years of sewing professionally. When her son was in school in Vermont, she fell in love with a Claire Murray boutique, specializing in rug hooking. Nancy tried a rug hooking shop for awhile, in an “upstairs’   location, but the store never quite got off the ground.  Only two years ago, Nancy learned to knit, and was inspired to open her present location as a yarn store, catering to knitters!  As a seasoned knitter, I was shocked, as Nancy knits like a pro who’s done so since childhood!  She’ll help if you get stuck, and has a keen knack for finding the right project and yarn for the client, with your budget in mind. She feels you don’t have to spend a lot to get a good product, and her philosophy is “Love what you’re doing, and the money will follow.”  Nancy’s a warm and giving person.  She’s an inspiration as she likes to give back to the community. She makes baby caps for local hospitals, donates items for charities such as  “Warm Up America”, and “Caps for Good”, and  has also discreetly given yarn to local women going through tough times.  Her store boasts Open Knitting several times a week.  It’s a fun way for fellow knitters to bond.  Check her website out at www.blacksheepyarnsct.com.

I recently finished this scarf with yarn Nancy helped me pick out.  This is one skein but knits up with different colors, textures and fibers.  The pattern purposely “drops” stitches to create a scalloped, wavy pattern within the scarf.

Kent has many different shops with clothes, accessories, kitchenware, antiques, and gifts.  Another favorite of mine is Foreign Cargo, owned by Jeff Kennedy.  His parents started the store forty-one years ago, and his mother, Olga, still works there, importing their vast array of goods.  Inside, there’s clothing, hats, linens, art, and jewelry, imported from all over the world.  Jeff’s father, a physician, owned a private practice in Connecticut, but also traveled as a physician for foreign aid for twenty-seven years.  He worked in places like the Pacific Islands, Southeast Asia,  Cambodia, and the African Congo.  Part store and part “museum”, upstairs is the Gallery,  where you will see artifacts and traditional African art.  Most of the pieces are for sell, some are part of the family’s private collections.  You never know what you’ll find here, and is one of the most unique stores I’ve ever seen.  I love the round baskets, usually found on the front covered porch.  Woven in Ghana by a  Ojoba Widow’s Weaving Cooperative, they are beautiful and useful,  a fair trade item enabling the women who make them to support themselves and their children.  Their website is http://www.foreigncargogallery.com

This is the beautiful handmade basket from Ghana my mom bought for me at Foreign Cargo…  I grab it for knitting projects, when I’m in the garden, or when I head to my local farmer’s market.

Another favorite spot…Belgique Choloclatier

If you’re a chocolate lover, Belgique Chocolatier is Heaven!  Opened in 2000 by Pierre Gilisen and his wife Susan, the store looks and feels as if it could be in Europe.  Pierre was working in Washington, DC for various embassies, when an Ambassador at the UN suggested Litchfield County as a place to open a shop. They’re best known for their traditional Belgian chocolate in molded shapes with creamy fillings,  and their handmade bars. Our favorite, though, is their luscious Belgian hot chocolate, which can draw lines of people wanting a cup!  So delicious, there is nothing better on a crisp New England day, piping hot with fresh whipped cream mounded on top.  In summer, we love their rich, creamy handmade ice cream!  It’s decadent!

Most of the buildings in Kent are vintage, and the town itself is a work of art with its history. Hope you’ve enjoyed our “getaway”! What state are you in, and do you have a favorite local square you like to visit?  Leave me a comment  and let me know!

Leave a comment 0 Comments

  1. Susan says:

    Love Kent and meeting you at Black Sheep Yarns. I agree, choosing the yarn, reveling in the color, texture and hand is almost as fun as the knitting!

    Happy Trails,
    Susan

    Susan, it was lovely to meet you, too.  Hope to see you again – I know I’ll be at Open Knitting again sometime!  -Nicole

  2. Rose says:

    I love that scarf! The changing colors and dropped stitches make it more unique. Thanks for a great article on the town. I may have passed through the town on a hiking trip. Connecticut is very scenic, I appreciate it more now that I am living elsewhere. I will have to budget sometime next trip home for you to take me on a road trip to somewhere in Connecticut!

  3. Louise Marie says:

    I loved your article today. Small town America is where I want to be! The people and their shops each have their own special personality. I like to stay long enough in each town to get to know at least one personality. The town of Kent sounds wonderful. Oh, how I would love to visit.

    -Each town has it’s own special traits, too.  Thanks so much for reading.  -Nicole

     

  4. meredith says:

    What a treat! I grew up in Ridgefield, CT and spent time in Kent for a variety of activities! Last time I visited was about 10 years ago and we had a lovely time visiting with old and dear friends. Thanks for the memories!

     

    Meredith, thank you for reading!  -Nicole

  5. April says:

    What a gem of a town! Very lovely. I love taking day trips to special places too. :)

    The first time I found it, we drove "through" it on the way to somewhere else.  I had my nose literally pressed to the glass!  Thanks for reading!  -Nicole

  6. Reba says:

    Hi, I live about 2 hrs east of Atlanta. When you visited Madison, GA did you have a chance of visiting Blue Willow Inn in historical Social Circle, GA? It is a lovely place to peruse and have lunch. Here is the website if anyone is interested: http://www.bluewillowinn.com/ I enjoyed the "tour" of Kent, CT. I love road trips. I also understand the excitement about smelling the fabric and planning a project. I don’t knit (wish I could) but I do love smocking garments. And I begin to get giddy also when creating a project. Happy Knitting as well as sight-seeing, Reba

    Reba, thank you for the website link!  My mom and I plan to visit there next time I see her…she’s been there and loved the Blue Willow Inn.  I can’t wait. Your smocking sounds interesting. I would love to learn how to do smocking!  Thank you for sharing!  -Nicole

  7. Patricia says:

    Nicole,
    I only crochet, knitting is on my "list" to learn. I live in Indiana and my town to visit is Nashville IN, very quaint, very scenic. My husband is an over the road trucker and I home schooled our children while traveling in the truck with him, we saw some of this BEAUTIFUL country, there are many, many small towns with charm and character…My best to you and yours.

    Patricia, how cool is that…traveling all over with your family seeing the country.  There are so many states I want to visit someday!  Thank you for reading!  -Nicole

  8. donna says:

    My husband and I do volkswalking with our local club…White Rose Wanderers from York, Pa. We walk many small towns..you can drive through any town, USA and never know what you are missing until you walk..One quaint town we visited this year was Jim Thorpe, Pa. The day we were there wasn’t a good day..most of the shops were closed..but we visited enough places to know the people are friendly and the shops are unique..

    Donna, Fun!  I used to live in Pennsylvania!  I never got to Jim Thorpe, PA, though.  Will have to look it up.   I have wonderful memories of going off the beaten path and visiting the Amish in Lancaster.  Take care, Nicole

  9. Aloka says:

    Nicole,
    I used to knit a lot in the past. The baby gifts that I gave were always knitted by me. I even created my own designs. But because of arthritis in my fingers of both hands, I find I cannot knit much these days. But I do crochet every day still. I live in a small town in Kentucky and am always seaching for interesting yarns. So, thanks for giving the link to the store in Kent.All the best, Aloka

    Thanks so much for reading, Aloka.  Have you ever tried the gloves that are for knitters to help with arthritis?  It’s good you are still able to crochet.  Wishing you the best, Nicole

  10. Jeanne says:

    I live in Colorado and my favorite little mountain town and shops is Georgetown. It is an hour west of Denver. The shops are lovely and the people are so friendly. A couple of my favorite shops are gone…the kitchen store (we use to huddle in the winter around the wood burning stove) and the used bookstore. They celebrate an old fashioned Christmas with hay rides, children caroling and the town square with fresh homemade goodies and a fire pit to stand around to keep warm. Craft booths and even plays and skits in the upstairs town hall.
    In the summer, it is cooler in the mountains so why not have lunch and sit amongst the locals and enjoy the river and the wild flowers. The houses are painted lovely colors and most built in 1800’s. It is one my favorite places.

    -Ooooh, sounds so lovely!  I can just visualize Georgetown! Thank you so much for sharing! -Nicole

  11. Amy says:

    Great post, and what a great day! The yarn shop sounds amazing and if it wasn’t across the country from me, I think I’d be there as often as I could. :) Thanks for taking us along on your day. :)

  12. Susan says:

    Nicole,

    Thanks for taking us on a journey to Kent, Connecticut. We live in California, but my father went to Kent Prep School in the 40’s. He took us there for his 30th High School Reunion back in ’79. I remember it being such a memorable place back then. I look forward to showing your pictures to him. It will bring back fond memories!

    Susan, thank you for reading!  How neat that your dad went to school there!  I wonder how much Kent has or has not changed since then?  I hope he enjoys the pictures.  Tell him hello from Connecticut!  -Nicole

  13. Ali says:

    I just got around to reading this blog about Kent – it’s wonderful. I have yet to check out the yarn store (one of these days), but I love Foreign Cargo and have gotten some unique and lovely clothing from there. I think Olga is one of the most lovely women I have ever met! And you already know how much I love Belgique! Next on my to-do list: visit Black Sheep Yarn store!

    Farmgirl Chapter Roadtrip??? -Nicole

  14. Kathy says:

    Nicole,
    Kent sound wonderful. And its really not that far of a drive for me. Just about 2 1/2 hours. Maybe its time for a road trip of my own this Autumn. I bet its even more beautiful in the Fall. I am sure there are a few bed and breadkfast places to stay.
    Thank you for the virtual tour!

    Hey Kathy!  If you do make the roadtrip, make sure you email me!  I’d love to meet up with you and meet you in person!  Hugs!  Nicole

  15. Linda Rozen says:

    Nicole,

    Loved the tour I just took of Kent. Now I know where I can get a delicious box of Belgian chocolate for my husband. He always gets a box at a small shop in Antwerp when he is there but now…

    Thanks for the lovely tour of Kent and taking me back in time when for a year of my life. I lived near Lancaster, PA. I loved everything about it. It was so different from Memphis where I was born, raised and here still after 62 years.

    Thanks again,
    Linda

    Wow, Linda…thank you so much for your wonderful comment.  It makes me so happy to hear that others enjoy what I write.  Enjoy those chocolates!  -Nicole

  16. belgique.com says:

    I really like reading news about Belgique, Kent Ct. Thanks for that informative post! Best wishes, Stefanie.

    Thank you to all at Belgique, too, for taking the time to talk to me for this article.  Love your shop, it’s just wonderful.  -Nicole

  17. Hier says:

    Dear webmaster, thank you for writing that article on Belgique kent ct. I had a good time while reading this. I wish you all the best, Claudia!

    Thank you for reading! -Nicole

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