Sunday, March 1, 2009

Measurement Musing

We have a Chinook arch coming in today. Our temperature will go up to about +10 C today. Yesterday it was -12 C. Do the math: that's a temperature change of 22 C. We get that in Calgary in the winter. It's a nice break when it's heading in the upward direction. It can go back down just as fast.

You'll note that these temperature values are Celsius. This is the metric system (centimeters, degrees Celsius, kilograms). This measurement system was introduced in Canada beginning in the late 1970s (it was a phased process, so not one specific date). I would have been in my early 20s at that time. Prior to that all measurements were given in imperial units (inches, degrees Fahrenheit, pounds).

People my age are rather conflicted measurement-wise. I'm very comfortable in Celsius temperatures because that's what we always hear. Stand outside for a moment and you know exactly how cold "-10 C" is! Same is true for litres - gas is sold by the litre. But for other types of measurements, we often fall back to the old Imperial system.

I'm pretty much "bilingual" when it comes to linear measurement, and tend to jump around between the two systems, so I will sometimes reference in Imperial (inches, yards) and sometimes in metric (centimetre, meters).

So what does this have to do with quilting? Probably not that much.

Fabric is purchased by the meter in Canada, but by the yard in the US. So if you are American and reading about metric measurement, it might not mean too much to you. Similarly, if you're a younger Canadian and not familiar with the old Imperial system (my kids are like this), any references to Imperial measurement may not mean much.

If you are confused, what you need to know is that:

2.54 cm = 1 inch OR 1 cm = 0.39 inches


0.914 m = 1 yard OR 1 m = 1.09 yard = 39.37 inches


100 cm = 1 m
36 inches = 1 yard = 3 feet

So if I start to ramble on about "inches" or "feet" or "meters" or "centimeters" you can come back here to see what I am actually talking about.

Or - if you need even more detail, go to the Metric World Wide Conversion Calculator.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with you on being "bilingual" - or is it "bi-measure-gual"? *grin* We have had metric measurements for 30 years in Australia but I still think in old measurements when sewing/quilting.