Yarn lovers are knitting and crocheting everywhere, even in Hell — no, not there, but in that tiny community in Putnam Township of Livingston County that’s about 15 miles northwest of Ann Arbor, with a population of 266, or “thereabout.”

Yvonne Williams, who lives in nearby Pinckney, or rather what she refers to as “the gates of Hell,” has been crocheting 50 years, a stitch-worthy achievement she chose to celebrate in January by starting “Hell in a Yarn Basket Stitchery Circle,” with hopes of making Hell “a destination for other stitching groups.”

Williams who works in Hell at a souvenir shop owned by the city’s mayor, John Colone, said, “I was kicking around the idea, and I would take my crocheting to the job. I asked the mayor of Hell to let me start it (the group) in the shop amid all this Halloween stuff — souvenirs, fun stuff and ice cream.”

She was given permission, and now a small group of women, roughly ages 40-60, meet every Thursday from 9:30-11 a.m. at Screams Ice Cream from Hell (4045 Patterson Lake, Hell) for stitching fun in “a little nook inside the store” before it opens for business.

She said, “We’re hoping groups will come who want to make a day trip to Hell. One lady came and brought in her Addi Knitting Machine, and it was so neat to play with that.”

Knitters and crocheters who go to Hell receive a free label that reads, “Made in Hell,” for one of their finished projects, along with an orange tote emblazoned with the words, “I’ve been through Hell, MI.” They’ll also be treated to free “ice cream from Hell.” And, if Thursday mornings aren’t convenient, needleart groups should call Williams at (810) 623-1125 to arrange a day and time.

Williams, 57, learned to crochet from her grandmothers. “One taught me how to read patterns, and the other taught me (stitching) through her hands because I didn’t speak Spanish. It was totally all visual, and I remember it to this day.” She describes herself as “just a crocheter,” but she’s learning to use the Addi knitting machine she recently ordered.

Although Hell in a Yarn Basket Stitchery Circle is mainly about knitting and crocheting, Williams said, “Any stitching is welcome — mending your jeans, embroidery (etc.).” She just wants folks to come, stitch, chit chat and have a Hell-uva good time!

About 15-20 people can be accommodated, but if there are more, Williams said, “We can set something up in the wedding chapel behind the souvenir store.” So, if you’d like — you can get your stitch on inside, and then go outback and get hitched! I love it — stitching and hitching. What a Hell-uva town! And guess who’s the city’s official minister? That’s right — Williams, who’s been marrying folks in Hell since October.

Williams is hell-bent on getting the word out about the stitching circle, so she tells all the store’s customers. She’s also planning to promote it with “little business-type cards.” And, with so many bikers riding through Hell from all over, including Ohio and Indiana because of the winding roads, she’s hoping some of them will join the stitching circle, as well. “We get thousands of bikers, and I’m sure some of them knit,” she said.

Williams has also organized a stitching circle at Wellbridge of Pinckney, a nursing home facility. She said one group (Hell in a Yarn Basket Stitchery Circle) “is to gather the community,” while the other (Wellbridge) “is to help patients have fun and let them remember.”

Folks looking for a hot time in Hell should know the city is divided into three parts — midtown, where the stitching circle meets at the souvenir shop; downtown where there’s the Hell Saloon; and uptown, the location for the Hell Hole Diner & Bar.

In case you’re thinking about going to Hell and back from the Detroit area, she said, “We’re located about 75 miles one way from Detroit. Just take 94-west to the Baker road exit, and make your way to Hell!”

Having lived “at the gates of Hell” for nearly 25 years, Williams said, “We have so much fun in Hell. This is like the happiest place on Earth.”

OK, I’m sold. See you in Hell (MI)!

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, or

Contact Hell in a Yarn Basket Stitchery Circle at (810) 623-1125, or on Facebook. Email:

Read or Share this story: