Armed with knitting needles and crochet hooks, Drs Jeanette McLeod, Julia Collins and Phil Wilson are on a mission to bring maths to the masses.

The trio are behind Te Pūnaha Matatini’s Maths Craft Festival, running at the Auckland Museum on the weekend of September 3-4. The festival promises to get into the ‘knitty gritty’ of the maths behind craft and the craft behind maths with a range of hands-on activities and a series of public talks.

The mathematicians were inspired to start the festival after a serendipitous encounter while Julia was on holiday in Christchurch from Edinburgh. While visiting the University of Canterbury, Julia met Jeanette and discussed the mathematical things she had knitted to pass the time on her travels.

“Not only were these objects great ways to start conversations about maths with strangers who wanted to know what I was knitting, but making them also helped me to understand some deeper mathematics.”

Jeanette had a similar experience with crochet and knitting and the pair thought it would be great to offer the public a chance to learn not only about maths but different crafts as well. It wasn’t long before fellow mathematician Dr Phil Wilson became involved, bringing his experience with making origami models and his fascination with fractals.

Phil believes everybody will find something valuable at the Maths Craft Festival: “Teachers can get new ideas on how to engage their pupils with maths, knitters and crocheters will discover new and intriguing patterns, scientists and students can find new ways to explore shapes and patterns, and parents can relax with some zen colouring-in while their children try to see who can build the biggest fractal.”

Jeanette, Julia and Phil have planned a range of activities, including crocheting hyperbolic planes, building fractal sculptures, making Möbius strips, and folding origami dodecahedrons. Guest speakers will also be offering a series of maths and craft themed talks on topics from the mathematics behind knitting, to turning geometry into art.

“We hope that people of all ages and backgrounds will attend, no matter if they’re a novice knitter or a mediocre mathematician; a child in age or a child at heart,” Julia says.

The festival runs September 3-4 at the Auckland Museum. Visit for further details.

What: Maths Craft Festival When: 3-4 September, 2016 – 10am – 5pm
Where: Auckland Museum
Cost: Free entry to festival with museum ticket

The festival is principally sponsored by Te Pūnaha Matatini, with further sponsorship provided by the University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering, the University of Auckland’s Mathematics Department and the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies.