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A stitch in time...

Byline: By Sarah Dale Evening Gazette

When Tracey Tooke was pregnant with her youngest son, she had to stay in hospital for bed rest.

Her then mother-in-law took in a magazine for her which had a cross stitch kit on the front of it.

Tracey, who has two other sons and two step-daughters, whiled away the hours in hospital completing the cross stitch.

"Once I started doing the cross stitch, I was hooked," says Tracey, 41.

"When I came out of hospital, I went out and bought a Forever Friends cross stitch kit called Best Friends and once I'd finished it I gave it to my mother-in-law to say thank you."

And so started a hobby that she has loved ever since.

On December 1, Tracey turned that hobby into her very own shop, Treasures to Keep, in Regency West Mall on West Row, Stockton town centre.

"My family has been so supportive," says Tracey, who lives in Roseworth, Stockton, with her husband Paul.

In fact, Tracey's mum, Kathleen Boufield, was with her when she made her first sale.

"I was so chuffed when I sold my first item," says Tracey, who has three sons, Paul, 21, Andrew, 20, and Ian, 18, and two step-daughters, Gemma, 25, and Claire, 16.

"My hands were shaking so much and when I went into the till I didn't have any money in it to give the customer her change. My mum was there with me, supporting me.

"I love the shop, it's something I have always wanted to do.

"It's so relaxing and therapeutic, when it's quiet I can sit and cross stitch. It's so nice being able to talk to customers about cross stitch, what they have done, who for, how long it took them."

Tracey used to work in a cafA and had done so for 13 years.

"I think the people I worked with were a bit shocked when I said I was leaving to run my own shop," says Tracey.

"But I knew that if I didn't do it now I would regret it. If it doesn't work out I'm still young enough to get another job and pay it all off.

"You must follow your dreams, follow your instincts."

Tracey stocks cross stitch kits ranging from Tatty Ted to Lilliput Lane, DMC and Anchor threads and more crafty items. Prices range from pounds 1.75 to pounds 38.50.

She also offers a special photo to cross stitch service.

"If someone brought in a photo, I can convert it into a chart," says Tracey.

"Then they can use the chart to make their own cross stitch version.

"Anyone who doesn't do cross stitch but would like to turn a photo into a cross stitch picture can bring it and I will stitch it for a fee.

"I love cross stitch and I have made gifts for my family and friends. When Gemma got married I made a picture for her and her husband and they have a son, Kaleb, who is 14 months old, so I'm working on something special right now to give them as a present."

* Treasures to Keep is open Monday to Saturday, from 9.30am to 5pm. On Wednesdays and Saturdays it is open from 9am.
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Title Annotation:Family Life
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jan 8, 2007
Words:542
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