Reader Story from World of Cross Stitching Issue 266 (March 2018)

Debbie Harding has turned her passion for stitching into a successful design business

We love hearing from our readers, so when avid cross stitcher and WOXS fan, Debbie Harding, got in touch to tell us her story, we were delighted. Debbie suffers from Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), a rare genetic condition affecting the body’s connective tissue. The disease has left Debbie in constant pain and causes chronic osteoarthritis in her joints, but she has found stitching an amazing therapy. Debbie tells us, “Cross stitch helps me to concentrate on something I enjoy and the small stitching actions keep my hands moving which I am sure is a form of physiotherapy.”
In early 2015 Debbie was made redundant and at the same time told by her GP that she could no longer work due to hEDS worsening. But Debbie didn’t let this bad news keep her down. “After a few days of feeling sorry for myself I realised that I couldn’t just sit and do nothing. I remembered someone once telling me that if you want to start your own business you should try to do it in an area that you’re passionate about,” Debbie says. She’s always loved drawing, painting and cross stitching, so setting up a business in cross stitch design seemed meant to be.
Debbie started designing her own patterns and created DoodleCraft Design (www.doodlecraftdesign. with the help of her family. She tells us, “I couldn’t have done any of this without their support. My husband Gavin helps with every aspect of the business, my daughter Anna helps with social media and her husband Neil, along with his brother Mark, look after my IT requirements. My sister Sarah lives in Kent and she attends all the shows in the south east with us so that I can have a rest each day. We truly are a family business!”
Due to hEDS, Debbie has had to adapt the way she designs, “I can no longer use a pencil or paintbrush but I have fabulous software called Stitchcraft that enables me to continue designing,” she says. DoodleCraft Designs offers three categories of kits: ‘Painting by Stitching’ which is a collection of picture designs, ‘Creating by Stitching’ which includes usable items such as bags, clocks and keyrings, and ‘Stitched Game Boards’ which is a range of classic games from Snakes & Ladders to Chess.
Debbie’s designs are inspired by her surroundings. “I’m lucky enough to live in a rural area of Scotland and have a large garden so I take a lot of inspiration from the wildlife and plants I see,” she says. “I also have a very talented amateur photographer friend who gives me access to his catalogue and I use these, along with photos taken by my family, as inspiration too.” Debbie enjoys reading The World of Cross Stitching, “I like to see what other talented designers are doing and to keep up with what’s happening in the cross stitch world,” she says.
Debbie never expected to have her own business, especially doing something that she loves so much. 
“When I lost my ability to draw and paint it was devastating but I now get the creative satisfaction in another medium” she says. With plans to extend her ranges, we’re sure Debbie’s business will continue to be a success!