Tracey Van Loggerenberg teaches knitting classes for all ages in and around Inverurie, a pretty town in Aberdeenshire. With ancestral roots in Scotland, but having grown up in South Africa, she has an interesting story about how she became a knitting teacher. We thought we’d sit down for a chat so she could tell us all about it!
Hi Tracey! So tell us, who taught you to knit back when you were a child growing up in South Africa?
Both my mom and maternal gran could knit and crochet. My gran taught me to crochet, while my mom taught me to knit.
What do you remember about learning to knit?
I don’t have any distinct memories of learning either, but I can still vividly recall a little white moss stitch top I knitted for my Barbie doll four decades ago.
What is your background and what made you decide to become a knitting teacher?
I’ve reinvented myself numerous times over the years, pushing myself to learn new stuff, but there’s always been a creative thread running through. I started off doing cartography, creating drawings of land surveying for the South African government. This lead onto mechanical draughting for a sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid, and fertiliser manufacturer, where I regularly went into the plant kitted out in hard hat, safety goggles and boots to take measurements of pipes and other things to make drawings for manufacture of replacement parts. From there I moved to an earth moving equipment manufacturer still draughting, but progressing to 3D design, creating manufacturing and assembly drawings for things like articulated dump trucks. Looking for another challenge after I’d gained a management degree part time, I got involved with setting up a project management office for the same company, and delivered a number of projects for clients, including Y2K. This got me interested in IT, and before long I was involved in software development after completing an IT diploma through distance learning. After a few years doing this, our family took the plunge and emigrated to Scotland to briefly stay in the village my gran was born in, before heading up to Aberdeen. I did a few more years of software development before moving to a position that combined my love of programming and project management in the role of a consultant. Queue the first redundancy, followed by the second 3 years later. By that point I was struggling with my mental health due to the extreme levels of stress and anxiety, so I took a year out to regroup and decide what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted something rewarding to do, and corporate IT wasn’t it. It was then I joined the local Knit & Stitch group to get out of the house and away from my depression, quickly making like-minded friends, and discovering I enjoyed teaching and helping people. It also seemed the perfect time to look into fostering, something we’d wanted to do for a while but kept putting off till the timing was right. I also knew I needed to do something else to keep my mind active, since I wasn’t ever a stay at home mum with my own two kids. I believe a little divine intervention took place when I happened upon a post about Knitting For All on the Edinburgh Yarn Festival website. A year later and we’d been approved as foster carers, and I launched my very own Knitting For All business, and I’ve never looked back.
What else keeps you busy? What other activities you you enjoy?
I’m a foster mom to a pre-teen, who has just started secondary school, which means I have to work around his needs. It also means I have to do a whole lot of studying to meet the requirement for a number of continuing professional development hours of training per year. As you may have figured out by now, I like to learn new things, so I’m always trying my hand at new crafts. I’ve taught myself weaving, spinning, tatting, and more recently nalbinding in the last two years. When I’m not learning something new, I like spending time with family and friends, or walking the dog.
What do you like best about being a knitting teacher?
Knowing that I’m teaching a life skill brings me joy. Seeing things click and watching student’s faces shine with pride when they finish their first project. Listening to kids moan that knitting isn’t on during the holidays, or hearing parents say their kids are knitting during the holidays. Watching the transformation of a child as they develop their resilience, from frustrated tears to determination to master something difficult, then realising they can do it, and finally taking joy in the making. These are some of my favourite things.
Tell us about your classes
I currently run weekly Kids Knit classes after school during term time on Mondays and Tuesdays. I also run two open sessions for adults during the week, on a Monday evening and Friday morning. Recently I’ve been running specific project based workshops on Thursday mornings for adults at a local craft cafe.
Can you tell us any heartwarming or rewarding stories about your classes?
I loved receiving a beautiful handmade hand written thank you card from one of my future crafters at the end of term with a drawing of some knitting on the needle and the ball of yarn. I’m particularly proud of a P1 student who found it really tough going and got worked up to the point of tears about it, while I was helping another child. She didn’t want to return the next week, but working with mum, she returned and I implemented a wee colouring in break halfway through the lesson while mum stayed. The next week mum only stayed for 10 mins, and half that time for the next session. By that time, little one had gotten enough practice in, that she was fairly flying along with the knitting. She’s now at the point where mum drops her off, and she doesn’t want a break, and she didn’t want the holidays because she wants to carry on with knitting classes instead.
What kind of thing do you like to knit?
As you may have gathered, I like me a technical challenge. I like to see if I can improve on how I do things, for example figuring out how to knit brioche in one pass, and how to convert a flat knit pattern to knit in the round because who wants extra seeming if you don’t have to, or changing the construction of a jumper to knit the front and back at the same time using double knitting just because I can.
What’s your favourite beverage to enjoy while you’re sitting knitting? Do you watch tv or listen to anything?
I have copious amounts of coffee, ‘full fat’ before midday, and decaf after- no need to fuel my insomnia. I tend to stream box sets while I’m crafting on my own, or watch whatever movie the family have picked out. I often insist I haven’t seen something until it gets to a part I recognise, which happens to coincide with where I looked up the last time it was on and I was crafting.