The Origin of Maths Craft

Enjoy craft? Then you probably enjoy mathematics too, you just may not know it. This was the idea behind Maths Craft's inaugural 2016 event, the Maths Craft Festival, a weekend-long festival held at the Auckland Museum, celebrating the many links between mathematics and craft. The Festival was the creation of Dr Jeanette McLeod (University of Canterbury/Te Pūnaha Matatini) and Dr Julia Collins (Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute), who were inspired to start the festival after a serendipitous encounter while Julia was on holiday in Christchurch, New Zealand. Jeanette and Julia – both avid knitters and crocheters – wanted to find a way to share the beautiful mathematics behind craft with the public. Jeanette pitched the idea to Te Pūnaha Matatini who responded with instant enthusiasm, and not only offered to be the major sponsor, but encouraged Jeanette and Julia to “think big”. With that, the idea of the Maths Craft Festival was born. A short time later, after being coerced into crocheting a hyperbolic plane, Dr Phil Wilson (University of Canterbury) was recruited. Together the trio went on to create the first event of its kind in New Zealand.


The Maths Craft Festival 2016 was a weekend-long festival held at the Auckland Museum in early September, celebrating the many links between mathematics and craft. The Festival combined eight hands-on craft stations with a series of public talks, and was immensely popular, even making an appearance on One News. Over 1,800 people visited the Festival, trying their hands at a range of mathematical crafts, including crocheting hyperbolic planes, building fractal sculptures, making Möbius strips and folding origami dodecahedrons. The public talks were given by mathematicians and crafters, and covered topics ranging from the mathematics of knitting, and the Four Colour Theorem, to fractals in art and nature, and chaos and the crocheted Lorenz Manifold. The Festival was the largest event run at the Museum in over six months, and was praised by staff for not only its popularity but for attracting such a diverse group of people.