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OUR HOMETOWN: Weaving through life

Eva Hoelzler has been working with fibre for most of her life
Eva Hoelzler attaches tags to her weaving in preparation for the Medieval Market, which she has been a vendor at since it began. (Ruth Lloyd photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Since the first-ever days of the Medieval Market, Eva Hoelzler has been there.

The Williams Lake weaver has been working with fibre for most of her life, and has been attending local Christmas markets for nearly 45 years.

Hoelzler took up the craft of weaving when she was pregnant because she wanted something else to do besides raising children and she thought pottery or weaving might fit the bill.

“I’m so glad I picked weaving because I love it,” she asserted, having been a weaver now for over 40 years.

She first came to Williams Lake when she was 19 years old, from the Bavarian region of Germany. While skiing at a local ski hill, she met her husband, Gebhard Hoelzler, and so began her life in the lakecity.

Before the couple had children, Eva worked at the Bank of Commerce. After their two sons, Mike and Stefan were born, she worked at home keeping the books for Hoelzler Construction, the construction company her husband had started.

Their son Stefan now operates Hoelzler Construction, while her son Mike lives in New Jersey with his family and works as a veterinary surgeon.

Through all the years raising her family, Eva wove. Working with fibre, both weaving and spinning wool, is something she finds very rewarding and also meditative. Spinning is the process which turns wool fibres into yarn.

But the initial stage of setting up a loom to begin a weaving project involves math and planning to design a pattern and determine the final size and thread count, requiring concentration and attention to detail.

Getting started in weaving can involve not only math but also learning a whole new vocabulary, terms like warp and weft.

But Hoelzler did not let this intimidate her, and she said after putting in the time, it can become second nature.

“I just jumped in with both feet,” she explained.

She also manages to fit in a balance of other activities, swimming in Williams Lake nearly every day throughout the summer from her home on North Lakeside, hiking, kayaking and continuing to downhill ski in winter, as well as still doing office work for Hoelzler Construction. She also serves food to those in need in the community with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

After all these decades of weaving she still finds it fulfilling and fun.

The craft has even become something of a family endeavour. She lives below her son Stefan’s family, which includes her two 11-year-old twin grandchildren who like to help out choosing colour palettes and winding yarn.

“Just picking the colours, it just gives you joy,” she explained.

She also gets help from her daughter-in-law Crystal, who has been at the market table with her in recent years.

“It’s a lot more fun,” she said, of having the company and the assistance.

But the markets themselves also provide a social outlet

“You see people you didn’t see all year,” she said. It also helps validate the work, because when you make something and someone chooses to buy it, they clearly like what you have made.

Each year, the Medieval Market looms large in the calendar, and she said she starts prepping for the next one the day after the last market ends.

“It’s a great market, the organizers and helpers are so exceptional,” she said, noting the Medieval Market is known across the province.

Hoelzler will be back in her usual spot for this year’s Medieval Market at Lake City Secondary - Williams Lake campus on Nov. 19 and 20, 2022, along with the dozens of other vendors and entertainers.

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Ruth Lloyd

About the Author: Ruth Lloyd

After moving back to Williams Lake, where I was born and graduated from school, I joined the amazing team at the Williams Lake Tribune in 2021.
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