Updated: Mar 13, 2021
Article by Abe Plaut
Twitter and Instagram @abeplaut
It is easy to think of many ways 2020 could have gone differently were it not for the pandemic. Alternate timelines and parallel universes have swirled around in my imagination since March. In not a single one of these imaginary worlds do the creative energies of Emma Walsh cease to impress.
I’ve known Emma Walsh to be a talented percussionist in the Jacobs School of Music. I’ve known her to be a very fine singer and songwriter too, with two EPs out on streaming services. But her artistry doesn’t stop there. When music-venues closed due to the pandemic, Walsh started her own small business making one-of-a-kind knitwear and crafts.
Emma grew up in Arlington, Texas, surrounded by crafty family members. Emma’s father builds things and fixes cars. Emma’s mother scrapbooks and makes home decorations. Emma’s grandmother sews. Walsh and her sister do DIY fashion projects with thrifted clothes. For Walsh’s family, DIY was not always out of strict necessity but the work always carried the joy of creativity.
But nobody knitted until Emma picked up a beginner’s book on knitting, complete with needles and ball of yarn, from a secondhand bookstore. Entirely self-taught, Emma’s first few scarves she knitted were hardly usable, much too short for anybody’s neck.
It was during Emma’s sophomore year at the Jacobs School of Music that she really got back into knitting. Knitting is cathartic for Walsh, who enjoys having something for her hands to do. She thinks her passion for percussion and guitar stems from the very hands-on and tactile nature of those instruments. The same hands-on and tactile nature of knitting.
Walsh decided she would knit a sweater for the first time during her Junior year at IU. It took a while to complete while also keeping the schedule of a full-time music student. But she made progress bit-by-bit. Then quarantine brought an abundance of time at home.
Walsh finished that first sweater soon after. Then she finished another sweater. And another.
Realizing that she had made more than she would wear herself, Emma decided to launch her Etsy shop and an Instagram account promoting her handmade clothing.
Each design is completely unique, starting off with the same basic pattern but diverging into new original works.
“Almost every time it happens because I make a small mistake and just go with it and do something cool,” Walsh explained about her designs. Like the musician she is, Walsh is able to improvise and even improve on the originals with her own interpretations.
Walsh is currently working on 4 sweaters. One will be a birthday gift for her mother. Walsh believes there is something very special about giving a loved one something unique and hand-made.
I do too.
For more of Emma’s music, check out @emmawalshmusic