The Maths Craft Story

Enjoy craft? Then you probably enjoy mathematics too, you just may not know it. This was the idea behind the 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. 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.


Following the success of the 2016 Maths Craft Festival, which entertained almost 2,000 people, in February 2017 the team were awarded $120k from MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds fund to take Maths Craft on the road. Dr McLeod and Dr Wilson, together with PhD student Sarah Mark from the University of Canterbury, and Dr Nicolette Rattenbury of the University of Auckland, toured several cities around New Zealand, raising interest in maths through their quirky brand of maths outreach.

In addition to the Maths Craft Festival in Auckland, held on September 9th-10th 2017, Maths Craft held events in Christchurch and Dunedin as well as participating in the Space and Science Festival in Wellington and the INSPIRE Festival in Nelson. Thousands of people, adults and children alike, came along to a Maths Craft event to knit a mathematical knot, crochet a Möbius strip, fold an origami tetrahedron, or colour a Latin square, and experience mathematics in a whole new way. To keep up with Maths Craft news, please subscribe to the newsletter using the form below.

Maths Craft is a non-profit initiative run by academics who are passionate about engaging the public with mathematics through craft.