Monday, 4 January 2010

So what do you use?

Take a chunk of wood, a piece of paper, a jug of water, a bowl of flour.
Respectively in this house, to measure these items we use metric X imperial, metric, imperial and metric.
I re-trained myself to metric when Miss Dunnit went to school so that I would be able to facilitate her understanding of cooking and measuring; life, actually. The cookery and art was OK in terms of measuring and understanding. But the maths and sciences were always going to be beyond me, in metric or not.....fractions are still a total mystery! Explaining why we measure in metres and miles is beyond me too. I have no idea, really, why we've half adopted a system of measurement. I still can't really judge a mile. I can't judge a kilometre either, but now that foodstuff is sold in metric measurements, it would be easier not to have to teach two systems to future generations, wouldn't it? I have become a metric junkie when it comes to measuring paper and craft stuff, because I can see it in my head now, and oh boy, I find metric so much more accurate. I don't understand and can't 'see' an inch and seven eighths, but I sure can see 38mm or so. I'm not a fascist about it (although Slipper Lady would probably tell you different!), but because I find it easier, I do have to remind myself to work both ways at workshops for example. I regret that our measuring implements continue to show Imperial as the preferred measure; my guillotine for example, is a year old, made by a British company and has the Imperial measurements closest to the measuring edge. Makes me 'grrr' - not least because I have to find my glasses before I can read off a measurement! It's not just that lots of products are American and we therefore have no choice. It's not just our market. Mr Dunnit has a small Joinery business. He buys wood by the (wait for it) metric tonne. Huh? And they buy thousands and thousands of metres of 2" x 4" Huh? All of his machinery, CNC as well as 'old fashioned' manual stuff is calibrated in metric measurements. He and the guys who work with him switch from metric to Imperial effortlessly. Actually, we all do. We've become measurement bi-lingual. How often do you pick up a tray of mince in the supermarket and recalculate the weight to Imperial to see if it's as much or as little as you want? Is it because we're British, that we go on resisting the change? Is it because our Government didn't tell us we had to change, it was a foreign body of Europeans? So what about you - are you an expert in Impetric? Do you switch to one from the other? Does it depend what you're doing - or on the age of the person you're chatting to? Has being a crafter helped or hindered your understanding of metric measurements; like me do you prefer metric or do you loathe it? Are you scared of it? Doi you think it might be an age thing?! If you're an American reading this, I'd be fascinated to know if you measure anything in metric at all..and why.....and what's your preference?
And that big chunk of Walnut with a load of different size and shape holes in? It's a barbecue tray silly - to hold Impetric bottles of all sizes!


Linby said...

oh I could go on about this!I remember being in Habitat in 1985 and telling an assistant I wanted a frame in inches - to which she asked what was it in cms, when I said I didn't know she said well we have been metric for over 10 years!!! I still use inches etc and my OH is all metric and can't understand why craft stuff is still imperial. Had to help someone (young) the other day who was trying to use a measurement and thought the tutor meant cms and couldn't work out why it wasn't halfway - had to point out the inches - as I said to her "she was young!

Linda Elbourne said...

I do both ... but I can't convert from one to the other ... so if I start in inches I finish in inches and if I start on a bottle ... I always finish it *LOL*
It will be really handy when you move ... I have soooooooooooooooo many jobs for Mr Dunnit :0)

misteejay said...

I prefer imperial but will use metric if I have to. First crop I went to we were advised to bring metal rulers as we would be cutting chipboard - only one I hadf was in CMs and the class kit was American so in Inches.

FIL had some building work done once and one of the builders who came round to give hime a price had done a sketch of the porch - 2mtrs 6ins by 1mtr 24ins...go figure LOL

Toni :o)

CoventryAnn said...

Although i am well into my 40s (shame) i was taught the metric system, and being a scientist it is the system i prefer. I do however use 12x12, 8x8 and 6x6 inches to describe paper... but i really don't get why the americans insist on sticking with imperial measurements for everything (and what is this with cups for measuring food... seems very inaccurate to me!). With food and distances i can switch easily from imperial to metric, but if i had to choose it would be metric (so much easier in tens, hundreds and thousands!)

Pam said...

I use both, when I buy ribbon I buy by the metre, but when making curtains I work in yards and then convert it to metres when I get to the shop so they understand me, although being a scot in the south of england very few people understand me!!

Ann said...

Hi Julia,
I realise (now you've brought the subject up) that I am happy using both and can convert between the two. My preference is for inches, miles, ounces etc as I'm over fifty and that's what I was taught. I think the 'Impetric' in me comes from having to adopt the new currency all those years ago - if you can work with 12 pennies in a shilling and twenty shillings in a pound you can do anything!!

LadyBug said...

I'm Impetric (loving your new word by the way). i switch between the two as I work. although anything over an inch and I'm totally lost and have that is "have" to switch to total metric :)

Lyn said...

LOVED the post, Jules, and I shall be brief as this is one of my own favourite Soap Boxes! Being both of a certain age AND imperial at heart, I am somewhat proud to say that I can comfortably convert and switch between the two whe3n shopping. Also, for precision, I groan to admit that metric is the easiest for lengths, but definitely NOT for liquid measurements - how the h*ll do you measure 113 ml or whatever accurately? Cooking weights are a doddle of course - I just press the oz or g button and they do it for me!
The explanation of the photo (of what I assume is another Mr Dunnit Masterpiece) kept me guessing to the very end! Awesome piece of kit!

mckinkle said...

Oh what a good discussion! Being 48 I was taught imperial at an age when it sank in easily. I have also adapted to metric for fabrics but I will not ask for 100grms of ham at the meat counter, I ask for a heavy 4ozs (and even the youngest girls know what Im after!)
Im useless with knowing metric distances, I use miles; all of our road signs are in miles and I wont be bullied or brainwashed into mixing both. And when it comes to petrol, I buy it in moneys-worth and not in litre quantities!
Im British and this country is still mainly imperial even though the EU have tried to convert us.
If we are to become metric as a nation then the road signs all need to be changed for a start!

Ooh, sorry to have gone on a bit!

Keryn :D

Wipso said...

Like the others I could also go on a bit about this. I am very happy using both. I will shorten trousers by inches or centemetres but even if the required finished length of lined curtains is in centemetres I still add 5" for the top header and hems. Oh and I can even use men's inches and ladies inches cos as we all know men's inches are bigger :-)
A x

Wipso said...

Oh and Julia if you've got a minute can you check if you can see my header picture now cos I have attempted to fix the problem.
A x

Claireliz said...

I prefer lbs, ozs, ft & in (also miles but still can't judge the distance) but if its something fiddly i'll use mm for accuarcy. I never noticed how often we switch.

ffroggie said...

An American in Ireland here so I am Imperial through and through. I can "see" 5" but cannot fathom 5.1 cm at all! And yes I can confuse even more by saying that I use cups rather than ounces or grammes, but I am coming around to ounces since I inherited my Nan's cookery notebooks, even though she was as likely to use pinches, dollops and handfuls when writing down any recipe that she liked :)
I cannot fathom kilometers either, miles are my preferred choice for measuring distance, fine in Northern Ireland, but when I am in the South, I never know how far it is going to be until I get my next fix of caffine! I will be holding out for as long as possible to the "old" way of doing things ............. must be an age thing lol. 47 BTW :)

Twiglet said...

How I have chuckled at your blog Julia! yes Wipso and myself admit to being impetric too - its a scream measuring curtains for her when I am grovelling on the floor measuring in cms and then she says oh don't forget to add 5 inches for turning!!! We know what we mean!

Ruthie said...

Lol - oh the same as so many others....grams or ounces in the kitchen (not bothered) - stones for weight (mine!) (the kilos seem so much heavier and as for pounds (yes I know still imperial) - they cant possibly represent what I weigh!). Miles for driving - both distance and speed. CM for crafting! My cutting thingy is in CM so its so much easier that way! Can convert cm and inches (just!) but I have to sit and work it out! Phew, glad I am not alone in my split personality way of measuring!

Charlie said...

Such a good topic - now all you have to teach your friends is to drive in the other side of street and stop saying they are going to Europe for the holidays!! Giggle... just kidding I love the European challenge I often meet at work with my UK colleagues but can never resist commenting on these two things. I am all metric - but since I started scrapping the inches sort of sneaked into my mind because some of my tools worked with 12x12 - I even went for the Scorpal without choosing the metric one. Go figure that????

Liverpool Lou (Anne) said...

I tend to use the old measurements really. I can do a fairly quick calculation sometimes; I know for example that a kilo is 2.2 pounds so it's easy to work out say 4 kilos into imperial I also know what 500grms of butter looks like and it's roughly the size of the old 1lb but slightly less. As for measurements of length if you tell me something is 16cm I couldn't picture it and would have to work it out so 2.5 cm = 1", so 5cm = 2" then 15 cm = etc etc; though I do know 30cm is roughly 1ft without working it out. I don't think you needed to know all that did you? hehe I do find it difficult to ask for 100gms of meat at the deli counter (only 'cos I don't really WANT to) though I suppose it's an age thing, I was quite happy with imperial measurements and didn't see why we should change :-/
Anne xx

Chrissie said...

How I've enjoyed this one... don't know why but this though came to me... in a country where we have been 'metric' for years why do we still measure inside leg measurements in inches? Waist sizes for chaps too for that matter.
Impetric is a great hybrid word of which I totally approve, as I jump from one to the other as is convenient. I know a few equivalent measures but can't calculate from one to the other at will.
I must say that when I went to live in the States many years ago, I was lost with cup measures. I'd taken my scales but they were of little use with US recipes. Even their pints are a different size!
Hey Ho!

tkelli said...

Haha great topic! I am American, so of course I use imperial most often. Some of my rulers do have metric, and they tried to teach us in school, but we never need to use it so nobody remembers! I do have somewhat of a grasp on cm and mm, but really can't convert them to inches! I think you're brilliant for being able to do so!