Learning Curves


I’m practising my learning curves, in more ways than one. Literally in the sense of stitching curved shapes together and metaphorically to practice and learn to be humble in the face of mastery. That I somehow expect to be able to just do things without any sweat or toil or effort …. that it will all fall into my lap as a gift… but the gift is really the learning curve…. sometimes you just have to admit that it’s not as straightforward as you think. The dilemma of constructing the #State of Mind Map ‘bubbles’ has to be resolved.

This is why you have been dragging your feet, because you don’t know how to do it!  Contrary to what your head is telling you, which is to work it out in your mind’s eye and visualise the end result. You know by now that all the mental planning is aiming for the perfect result and is nothing like how it will be in reality. Thanks to my Coach for this prompt, that if you know what it’s going to be like, there is no room for surprise and this is what we want after all.

So I’ve humbled to the process to practice a technical skill at which I will improve, the more I practice. Practice makes perfect …. that word again… practice makes better, improved, growing, good enough. There, that’s better, new and improved iterations of curves and learning how to stitch them together. I have a book that escaped the book cull of last year, which has instructions on how to do the same. It’s all about notches, lining up the edges, marking them so the edges match and easing the concave side to fit the convex side. The first attempt ended up with little gathers, which became tiny pleats when I pressed the cloth flat. Still, there are more to make and it will become easier.

I tidied the table and was left with a pile of cloth that I don’t know what to do with, so these bits and pieces will be used for my #learning curves. It will be fun to see them pile up and improve, be surprised at how they look together.

Mantra for life?



A “Mantra” is a sacred utterance , a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes or group to words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and spiritual powers. A mantra may or may not have syntactic structure or literal meaning. WIKEPEDIA.

Hands up if you read this definition of mantra and understood it, straight away ? No need to read further! Go and put your feet up and relax with a cuppa……for this is my quest to find out exactly the meaning of ‘mantra’, what I think it is v what it actually is.

So here goes, I’ll share my version : ‘ Mantra – is a saying – an ethos/ a repetition of words that endorse an idea/ a belief/ feeling/ philosophy.’

Then I read the definition above which sent me thumbing through the dictionary.  First up, I do not know what ‘numinous’, ‘syntactic’, or ‘phoneme’ mean.
They are technical words and sound scientific. Even now after I have learned their meanings, I keep reading to grasp some understanding.

Numinous‘ means to have a strong spiritual or religious quality and suggest the presence of the divine.

Syntactic‘ relates to Syntax which is the arrangement of words and phrases to create well formed sentences. It also has a meaning relating to computers, which is where the scientific part appears.

Phoneme‘ is a sound which is distinctive when heard amongst other similar sounds, the example given was this: ‘pat, pad, bat, bad ‘ a bit like a tongue twister I think.

The Official Version :

Mantra’ originates from the late 18th century: Sanskrit, literally ‘a thought, thought behind speech or action’, from man- ‘think’, related to ‘mind’ and as a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation, originally in Hinduism and Buddhism.

“a mantra is given to a trainee meditator when his teacher initiates him”
* a Vedic hymn.
“her high, sweet voice began chanting the mantra of life”
* a statement or slogan repeated frequently.
“the environmental mantra that energy has for too long been too cheap”
English/Oxford Dictionary

I was right about the ‘repetition of words that endorse an idea’ which is described as a ‘slogan’ above and so off the mark with the rest. A mantra seems to be much more than endorsing a belief, this I think is an affirmation, it seems to be much more than endorsing a philosophy, if the first description above is to be believed, a mantra it seems, holds a powerful energy.

So I did some research.

Transcendental Meditation is the meditation practice that uses mantras. It is a technique for avoiding distracting thoughts and promoting a state of relaxed awareness. The late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi derived Transcendental Meditation from the ancient Vedic tradition of India. He brought the technique to the U.S. in the 1960s. Practitioners are given their own personal mantra to chant. The mantra has no specific meaning per se, it is a sound to focus on as it is repeated over and over. Film maker, David Lynch practices Transcendental Meditation and travels the world to promote it, he does Q&A’s for the curious and his talks are interesting.

So if a mantra is a repeated sound then what is cloth when it repeats itself? It is a pattern. in music it’s a riff, rhythm. A mantra has the edge,  as it has a numinous quality, but then so can stitching, so can writing, it all depends how deep you go into it, how focused and intent you become, whether you reach the flow state.

The emphasis is on repetition, and like anything you repeat, in action, like sewing, like learning to write, doing the same thing over and over, you get into a rhythm and improve as you go, You become familiar with the process and as you move more into it, you notice and learn, make observations, notice changes. Is this what it’s like to repeat your mantra?









Learning to Pray

As I begin my ‘Word’ State of Mind Map, logic tells me to start at the centre and to follow the way it was drawn. For some reason though, ‘prayer’ keeps pushing itself forward as the first contender. Going to and fro, from the centre to the side, considering the technicalities of how the words and fabric will connect, I realise that prayer is calling, quite definitely.
So who am I to argue? To work from intuition is to learn to listen to that inner voice and to recognise prompts from other sources.

As a child I recited prayers in English, ‘Our Father, who art in …’ in Welsh ‘O dad yn deuly dedwith…’. School was the one and only place I encountered religion. I didn’t consider prayer to be anything special, it was a bundle of words, like a poem or like reciting the times table.

As an adult though, being outside a religious system, the ritual around prayer and worship has held a fascination, being mysterious, appealing. But it what was something other people did. So that day, in the kundalini yoga class, it was the sweetest revelation, to find myself in prayer ! where the session began with ‘Om namo, guru dev namo’, with singing sprinkled between the poses, then a prayer to close.

Another beautiful introduction to prayer is in ‘The Lotus and The Lily’ by Janet Connor. She leads a process for you to create your own offering. It took quite some time to form my first prayer, it seemed so taboo, even in a world where most probably, the majority of people are praying to one god or another.

Postcard image of Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha three Hindu deities.
I was sorting through my postcard collection, when I came across this card of Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha, three Hindu deities. Lord Ganesha is the remover of obstacles, to whom the Hindus pray at the start of a project. It is encouraging to me, that there is a concept acknowledging the struggles that occur in creativity which can be addressed by prayer and ritual. Here is a recording of a Temple Priest singing to Ganesha. I can’t decipher or understand the words, and I quite like that, just to listen to the voice as an instrument.

Hand stitching is a meditative experience. I pray regularly as well, before yoga and then afterwards with my own fashioned prayer. So it makes sense that ‘prayer’ is the opening word to be stitched, to start the work as it is to go on.

Thank you for visiting and I hope you have a prayerful day.

Art practice Yoga Practice

Hand and machine stitched intuitive art textile by Maggie Winnall at Sewin Studio
‘Today I did yoga’ © Maggie Winnall

which I do three to four times a week now. The difference with today’s  practice is that I rescheduled my yoga to immediately after I got up this morning. I followed through on an intention to practice at a specific time. For this I gain clarity and presence. It’s remarkable what a shift in schedule and attitude can do!

What have you altered that makes a difference to your day ?

Circles and Squares

Thinking about the square patch I’m using , I wonder where the square was first represented?  It’s not a naturally occurring phenomena as far as I know.  Crystals have geometric shapes though, like octagons. I think the square was created from the circle. Sharpening off the edges from the mid point of the circle to meet up at right angles……
After a modest amount of research I discover that a square created from the outside circumference of a circle is impossible due to mathematical laws. The drawn square is constructed from the inside area and circumference of the circle and here’s an animation to show you how ( if you don’t already know )
I also find that the most common crystal form is the cubic crystal ! look at this perfect cube created by nature. and consider common patchwork shapes used, the square, triangle, hexagon, rectangle, shapes that occur naturally in crystal form too. This is appealing, that quilters are recreating gems of the earth.

Now there are six

Now there are six squares.

Well, today has been a success, because I stitched the ‘y’, and because I’ve tweaked my routine, I worked my morning and started it the way I wanted. No dilly dallying today. So a nice bright yellow ‘y’ to celebrate.
Experts in time management, recommend celebrating small wins. Sowhen you’ve achieved that small thing that’s on the way to a bigger thing,  celebrate ! give yourself a pat on the back.

I am happy with the words today as well as the art and my head feels fine.

Trying again

I have one hundred 3″ cloth squares in various colours and a number of random letters left over from another project. Each day I will stitch one letter to one square and post it on Instagram and blog about the process here. This is to get into a habit of making and to make a micro system of recording my projects.  In keeping it small, and keeping it simple is to get myself a modest result and most of all to finish.

Because in last year”s #100 day project I was going along happily, then stopped for no apparent reason. I failed and took so long to recover. Really. This is a pattern of mine. When I am making something and feel good about it, I halt. There has been plenty of time for reflection as to why.

There were several contributing factors ( some might say excuses ) such as external circumstances and all manner of mindset games (generally known as the ‘inner critic’ ) that played in my head to divert me to ‘not’ doing. It is quite staggering the way the brain works to prevent a person ( that is, me ) to fulfill a simple aim, to make art for one hundred days. And when it didn’t happen, the consequences were drastic, to the extent that my grand daughter observed that my studio looked abandoned..
Some lessons learned from last time.
1. to focus only on the task, to finish the daily task. I found that I started to include other things that were not about the project, like celebrating my yoga days for example. Nothing to do with one hundred beautiful words.
2. There is what I call ‘force fixing ‘ mentally shaping the outcome – what it would look like, what would happen as a result, etc etc. Who knows what will happen as a result of 100 days of making or what it will look like. I have to just stitch each day, it will reveal itself as we go along.
3. When I’m doing something i love, ideas flow freely and open up the potential for bigger things, my mind becomes distracted, ambitious and gets carried far away from the task at hand.
4. Then there were the external circumstances, life showed up in the form of family drama and of course I dropped tools to help. There was no need for me to give up my project though, I just did.

So here, I am trying again, this time with a refined plan. To keep the whole process simple to execute, simple to record and simple to finish. To complete daily, to stitch over and over each day for 100 days. I’m hoping also to establish a routine that will lodge in my brain, for onward use into other endeavours. This is the intention ( after doing my daily stitching that is )

15 Minutes


A new year begins, a welcome, an invitation to to each new day, for hopes and plans for the year ahead.

In 2015 I learned the power of 15 minutes – 15 minutes of de cluttering a day, 15 minutes of  daily yoga. Doing things in small pockets of time regularly makes a difference. I practiced yoga 192 days in 2015 and plan to continue this year.

What did you learn last year that you will bring with you in 2016?

Textile Art in the Garden

It is my day 53 in the #100 Days of Making Project. I say ‘my’ day 53, because the A* people are on day 63. This ten day gap has opened up and revealed secret thought processes (once I got over berating myself !) Thought processes that have been running the show for the longest time and that have contributed to major procrastination issues. I’m amazed really, that it’s taken so long for me to see this and I’m amazed at being held hostage for so long too.

This is all good, because now I know what I’m dealing with.

Seeing is Believing


What we believe is not always clear. And our beliefs are not always based on the truth. For example, the ‘inner critic’ that rabbits on telling us negative ideas about ourselves, creating unnecessary doubt and uncertainty when it would be better to take action based on what comes from the heart of things, from intuition, from our place of truth. Then we can get to the bottom of what we believe.