Can We Talk About Metric?

By Ann Shayne
February 25, 2020

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  • Count me in. I always use metric on my kitchen scale whether weighing ingredients or yarn. It’s so much easier. I’ve found myself flipping over my tape measure from inches to cm often when measuring knitting. Let’s face it, fractions have never been my strong suit. I’m weary of the struggle.

    • Awesome!

  • I’m an Australian, so I’ve been measuring in metric all my life (and until beginning quilting secretly thought of an inch as almost a fairytale or literary measurement – something that lived alongside handspans, ells and leagues). But quilt patterns and tools introduced me to using inches in the real world and I’ve now converted to imperial for measuring both when sewing and knitting!

    An inch is somehow more usable than a centimetre – perhaps because it’s bigger and dividing into halves, quarters and eighths is much easier than dividing into tenths! A nice little chunk of length, easier to see, easier to hold, easier to guesstimate – more satisfying somehow. Then again, maybe it’s just a case of the grass being greener on the other side, or that when I measure in inches, it still has a little touch of fairytale. Who knows?

    Hopefully you’ll discover unexpected advantages to metric as you travel in the other direction.

    • This is very similar to my own experience. I was at primary school when the UK moved over to the metric system and, consequently, learned both methods of measuring.
      The imperial is much more fraction-friendly – I’m a quilter living in France and my French friends also favour imperial marked tools.

  • In knitting you are mostly dealing with inches, not needing to convert to feet, yards and so on. As an elementary school teacher I’ve had to teach that, as well as the metric system, to my young students for years. I really wish we would just drop the imperial system and join the rest of civilization.

  • I remember in the 70s when our math teacher had us learn metric because change was coming within the next year. Good thing I like blue, because I’m still holding my breath! Both are lovely, but being less familiar with metric is a real handicap when traveling. How do you dress for 40 degree weather??

    • As if you had a 101 degree fever. So simple! Zero is freezing, 10 is jacket, 20 is room, 30 is beach, 40 is fever.

      • I like the real life comparison. I had nothing to anchor things to like that before beyond 0 = freezing and 100 = Boiling.

      • Love this explanation for temp!

      • So handy! Thank you, John!

      • This is great – thanks! Temperature is the piece I have the hardest time with, so this will help!

      • what a great way to gauge! No knitting pun intended!

      • This is brilliant!

      • Love this comment! How simple for us silly Americans!

      • That is a great quick guide for travelng!

      • Absolutely brilliant! Thanks.

    • Mrs. Kinnley taught me that a decimeter is the size of a piece of toast. Now I buy the wide pan bread and wonder how wide it would be.

    • I was out of school by then, but I remember the ’70s and even our road signs were showing both measurements. Then, all-of-a-sudden, it went away. I think that there were too many old people in congress. I wish we used the metric system. It is so easy and so much more accurate for any kind of measurement.

    • This is a SINCERE thanks from the American metric community who happened across your article. You have no idea the struggle. 😛 Thanks for keeping an open mind and thanks for the acknowledgment that maybe, just MAYBE America is making a mistake by rejecting what the rest of the world has already embraced. We are a silent few who gram by gram are educating the recalcitrant American masses about the intrinsic beauty of the metric system and we appreciate your positive endorsement!

    • Yes! At that time there was an official green highway sign on I-94 E “Chicago 60 miles 100 km”. It eventually disappeared as did the push to metric by the government.

    • A trick I learned in Canada when they went metric:
      For Celsius, double the temperature number, subtract the first digit, add 32. Even for the math-phobic traveler, it beats guessing..

    • 30 is hot
      20 is nice
      10 is chilly
      0 is ice

      When I was in grad school in Canada my roommate told me the temp and to get dressed and go outside, come back if I was wrong. No converting. I learned whether it was swimsuit or parka weather pretty quickly.

    • You pack a lot of linen for 40 degree weather. Just remember this poem. 30 is hot. 20 is warm. 10 is cool and 0 is ice! It worked like a charm for my students.

  • I’m in. As knitters we are already way ahead. For example, we’ve known for years–ever since we began swatching–that 4 inches equals 10 centimeters. With that equation you can do fairly easy conversions in your head, if conversion is your thing. Also, we are used to 50 and 100 gram balls of yarn. Which as sock knitters we know to be 400 meters or 4xx yards. We are practically there already!

    • if you take your swatches seriously 4 inches is 10.16 cm…. just saying.

      • True, but it’s a good way to guesstimate/have an idea in your head of how long/wide a thing will be. I just divide by 10 and multiply by 4 to get an estimate, figuring that the larger the number the less accurate it will be.

    • 4 “ equals 10 cm ( a baby’s head)

    • I know it’s a challenge (and it’s not your fault – we are forced to use “American” measures), but try not to convert. When you can intuitively picture a cm, you’re there (about the width of an average pinky fingernail) Wait’ll you see all the other great things working in base-10 can do. 🙂

  • All the measuring devices I have bought in recent years differ, by as much as 1/4 of an inch (and whatever in metrics). With the nonuniformity, and unreliability, of these devices, I’d rather stick to what I am familiar with, imperial measurement.

  • I use both. If you are doing anything requiring percentages metric is way easier. And it is pretty easy to convert weights and lengths. One thing, I know all my useful body parts in inches (finger 3”, hand 7”, etc) which is a help for quick measuring. I should convert those to metric, then I’d really be bilingual. I’ve never conquered the temperatures though, I think 40 degrees will always be cold in my brain….

  • I am an American, raised on Imperial measurements, but I have been knitting metrically for a couple of decades. Its not that hard: both systems are used on the ball band, almost all tape measures have metric on one side, and most patterns sold on Ravelry use both sets of measurements. If you just start using them, it becomes natural; the trick is not to translate. I worked at al LYS and found that it was much easier to think in terms of 100 gram balls, than 3.5 oz: with metrics i can usually do the math in my head, with imperial I need a calculator.

    Larning to think metrically about weight has other advantages: when traveling abroad, for example, it is much easier to know how much chocolate to ask for should you find yourself in front of a candy store, or which size glass of wine to order (European restaurants and bars often offer choices) at that sidewalk cafe in Paris.

    We all need to push ourselves in this direction little bit more, and using it to knit is an easy beginning

    • Very good points, thank you!

  • I am a nurse in a children’s hospitality Southern California. I love the metric system! It feels more accurate.

  • Metric is A-OK by me. And…I’ve always found decimals easier than fractions. What if you use them in the imperial measurements?

  • Technically, Canada is metric. I learned metric in school, but my parents learned imperial, which could be confusing at times. To this day, I still use both but in very distinctive ways. This Reddit’s post sums it up pretty well:

    • I followed the link. How true! I am a fellow Canadian. I quilt so I buy fabric in meters but use a 1/4″ seam allowance. Use grams and meters for yarn, but measure my garment as I knit in inches. Perhaps it is because a bilingual country is also bimeasurable

      • Yes, as an American raised on Imperial measurements, I wonder what they use for seam allowances in metric countries. I’m used to 5/8″ for sewing garments. I have no trouble understanding metric measurements, however, but I just don’t bother with them unless I have to. We have a mental measuring stick imprinted from childhood–we understand internally what a yard, mile, inch and so on mean. I like that when you go to the UK they still use miles for distance and auto speed.

        • 1.5 cm is used for garment sewing seam allowances. It is just a tiny smidge smaller than 5/8”.

    • As a Canadian – I totally agree with this, except for driving distance. We measure it in hours and minutes. As in it takes me about 2 hours, 20 minutes to get to the cottage. I have no idea how many kilometres it is…

      • Love it! I refer to travel time not distance often as well.

        • I had no choice but to learn to embrace a metric life once leaving California for Croatia and Sarajevo. Once I learned the formula for converting metric temperatures into Fahrenheit life became easier (6C = 42F) (Cx2+30=F) and emboldened me to embrace size 42 pants, 90cm swim tops, and my 59 kilo weight. A 10cm swatch seems natural now as do 40cm circular 8mm needles. YOU GOT THIS!

        • When I moved to Chicago I switched to time for distances but… you have to know time of day as well because the time to get from here to there is very different during a typical rush hour and even during rush hour when school is not in session.

      • My impression is that, out west, Canadians use time for distance, but in Ontario, where I live, people use kilometres. We all use centigrade, but if I’m checking the temperature of a roast, I use Fahrenheit, and I am still most comfortable with quarts of milk, feet of snow, height in feet and inches and weight in pounds. Knitting is where I am most conflicted: grams for yarn weight, distance in yards. I like to think it is a kind of superpower, like being ambidextrous.

    • Agree! We Canadians like to mix it up! Food prices advertised in imperial, but labelled in metric. Building supplies – don’t even get me started there, as it depends where the materials originate and the label doesn’t always match the actual measurement! 🙂

  • I been thinking about my self when doing swatches. I give it a try.

  • I much prefer metric when I cook (weighing ingredients is so much more accurate) and I’ve been in health care x 45 years (nurse, then nurse practitioner) and metric is usually the standard in my field.
    Count me in on the metric knitting measurements (although my blocking mats are marked in inches – drat)

  • I use both, in the kitchen I always weigh in grams, in sewing, metric is so much easier. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer (just a tiny, slow growth one, it’s gone now) I was told it was 1.8 cm, which is just over half an inch. I kept telling the various doctors and nurses that I sewed on an expensive European sewing machine and understood centimeters pretty well. I also have a science degree (very long time ago), so am used to metric system.

  • As an architectural designer and knitter, I find there id just more depth to a system based on 12. Granted it matters more when the things measured are multiple feet, but every knitter knows the magic in the 12 number system for pattern stitch counts. And for those who struggle with the way imperial fractions divide up half, it might help to just learn the decimal designations for imperial fraction rather than retraining your eye measure to another unit. (At this point I can look at a garmet or piece of furniture and pretty accurately guess its imperial measure. So I hope pattern designers don’t ask that I give up that skill in following their measures.)

  • As a Canadian who started with Imperial, then was converted to metric in school, I’m pretty comfortable with both, but definitely lean towards Metric. And all I can say as a knitter is think of needle size. Metric needle sizes tell you exactly the size of the needle. Arbitrary numbers assigned to needle sizes? And American Sizes vs British sizes? Two totally different numbering methods. If a new knitter ever got a vintage pattern, god know what their gauge would be!

  • If Canadians were capable of switching to (mostly) metric, not too many years ago (and with American scientists thinking exclusively in metric), why is it that just a stonethrow away, ordinary American brains seem so different? Is it that urge to Make America Great Again and stay in the 1950s??
    Thank you, MDK, for at least trying to make knitting more n tune with the rest of the world!! What’s next: Continental knitting? German shortrows? How to read Japanese patterns?

    • Americans with your capacity for an open mind and eagerness to learn are (unfortunately) few and far between. We’ve come to a point in our nation where ignorance is considered a basic human right. You can’t reason with most Americans. It’s an arrogance that’s almost undefinable. As a metric “activist”, I have literally had my safety threatened, lost friends, laughed at, been “accused” of being European, have had store managers called on me for insisting on ordering deli in grams and I promise, I’m not exaggerating. Keep learning and metricate NOW!

  • My focus in College was biology and I ended up being a nurse. I think in military time and metric has always made more sense to my little brain

  • I’m 54 years old and I was taught the metric system in elementary school (in the US). I’ve never understood why we haven’t adopted it in this country. It’s a much more sleek and usable system.

  • I’m in!

  • I like metric on the current pattern I’m using. I believe it was originally written in metric. So the numbers work better. For instance, “dec on every 2 1/2 cm (7/8″)”. So, it depends on the designer/ language which measuring system I use.

  • As a Canadian I love my metric knitting needles! It’s just easier and you get more sizes.

  • Theoretically, I think metric is the way to go for accuracy and ease, but somehow our old Imperial system, based on our body parts and ingenious ancient measuring methods, is too good to forget. A “foot” was an average foot (man’s, I presume), a “hand” was an average 4″ hand span to measure a horse’s height, and so on. We always have our small measuring tools with us!

  • I teach high school science and just spent the last two weeks trying to get metric system, the standard of scientists, into my students head!! I agree that we should swap officially to metric and phase out imperial. It would make teaching (and KNITTING! obviously) that much easier!

  • I am 60 years old and all through school I was told to “get ready” we would be metric within 10 years. Still waiting! I find it embarrassing that the US is the only large country to not use the metric system.

  • I am a French Canadian raised in Montreal, living now in Toronto. So, temperature is in metric, distances in metric, sewing material is purchased by the yard, knitting material is weighted, knitting is measured in either metric or imperial, depending on the origin of the pattern. To this day, I am 5’9” tall and I weigh somewhere around 58 kg (it is a much lower number than 155 pds!).

    When I visited London last fall, I purchased some tweed. I wanted 3.5 yards, the salesperson sold it in meters. I asked why they were not measuring in the imperial system and he answered that it was going to change with Brexit! Lol! Somehow I doubt it, but it shows how emotional we are regarding something as “neutral” measurements!

    I am looking forward your next post on the subject!

    • Lynn, I suspect that the shop assistant was having a little joke with you.
      We have been buying fabric in metres for at least 35 years. My adult children are completely baffled by yards, feet and inches, let alone pounds and ounces.
      I think that the only remnants of the Imperial system here are miles on signposts.
      It’s interesting, isn’t it

  • If you go metric, you’ll only weigh half as much. 🙂

  • I used to work in an environmental lab. By day I was metric girl but at night it was imperial all the way. Crazy how I could eyeball 100mL or a half cup at one place but not the other. Brains are weird.

  • I am totally on board with metric! So much easier and in the kitchen, too! I have a scale and use it always in baking. I’m even becoming proficient in estimating meters. My CPC reviews my health stats in metric. I do get lost in Ireland and GB – they think in stones, too! Fourteen pounds to a stone? C’mon. I’ll be sooooo happy when the US goes metric! Carpenters and builders might have to rethink, but it will be good for the brain! Mechanics have gone metric a long time ago, as least some!

  • the by far most stupid imperial unit if Fahrenheit for temperature… or pound per square inch….

  • I love both systems. I use grams extensively in the kitchen and for yarn. In New Zealand my son got a lecture from almost every one we met about imperial measurements and how metric was so superior. To me, metric is a bit cold and hasn’t got the magic of imperial. But, it is very handy to know both.

    • Yep, here in New Zealand we’ve been metric since the 1960s. Seems more logical to me but I guess that’s what I’ve always been used to.

    • Metric has magic too. For example 1 litre of water (1000ml – millilitres ie thousandths of a litre, or cc – cubic centimetres) weighs exactly 1 kilogram (1000 grams) so 1ml/cc weighs 1 gram.
      But being British I weigh myself in kilos (but convert to stones to be sure I’m not too huge), I bake in imperial because my grandma taught me, but I know there are 454g in 1lb and roughly 28g in an ounce, 5ml in a teaspoon and 15ml in a tablespoon, I can only do temperatures in Celsius, I travel in miles but can easily do a rough conversion to km, I measure my body and eyeball my knitting in inches but do technical drawings in metres and I still convert my Petrol consumption from litres to gallons. Honestly for technical measurements metric beats imperial by a mile (pun intended) because it’s just so simple dividing by ten.

      • Another Canadian here. If the States decided to go metric tomorrow it would a least a generation to complete the process. Old cars with mph speedometers, old favourite recipes, bathroom scales all keep you thinking in the old system. In our house we have 2 thermostats one in Fahrenheit and one in Celsius! It can be confusing.

        • Many cars have speedometers that show both miles and kilometers, and kilometers show up in the races — we run 5k’s, not 3.1 m’s. Although much of life is still in imperial, I bake in grams when I can (of course, baking by volume instead of weight is still the most common among home bakers) and I usually knit and sew in centimeters. Temperatures still confuse me, but I’m getting there!

    • Imperial is very human and full of history, metric is very scientific and somewhat severe in its accuracy – can you tell I was an English and History major

  • When available, I always go for metric when measuring: in the sewing room, kitchen, workshop, or knitting chair. I’d love to see the US drop the Imperial System and go metric.

    • Amen!

  • The only thing confusing about your editing job is the fact that we think we must use fractions in imperial instead of decimals, which we could easily do: 36.5, 38, 40.75, etc. Not hard to convert from fractions to decimals at all.

    I use metric in the kitchen because weighing makes so much sense in baking, but I’m indifferent to switching all of my measuring to metric, though I’m sure I could if it came down to it, except for temperature–Fahrenheit gives a much finer ability to say what temperature it is–0 to 100 doesn’t quite cut it.

  • We use the metric system where I live Downunder. Great for most things (especially volume and weight measurements), but with one exception IMHO.

    I’ve always found using imperial better for sewing. A quarter inch seam allowance etc – oddly, it is much easier! My Bernette sewing machine has 1/8,1/4 and 1/2 inch measurements on its pressure plate for sewing.

    Unrelated – when I use my grandmother’s recipe books, I have to work in imperial, which keeps things lovely if you’re not concentrating!

    • Oops, that should read lively!

  • I use only metric for my needles with an Addi metric needle gauge, because several teachers told me that metric was not standardized in the US, and I have enough trouble with gauge. I use an old tape measure from England with imperial because my mom gave it to me and I love it.

  • Divide centimeters by 2.54 to convert to inches. Therefore to convert inches to centimeters multiply by 2.54. My engineer husband is slowly getting me to convert to the metric system. Having learned it in 8th grade to pass the test, I promptly forgot about metrics.

  • I too remember the hoopla when the US attempted to switch to metric. It was mostly from women who thought they would have to translate all their recipes to metric and throw out all the imperial measuring devices. Of course, there were no measurement police and certainly no jails for people who continued to use imperial with preexisting recipes, etc. When I worked with acid chemical dyes, I used metric measurements. We can be multi measurement people!

  • I live in the UK.As a scientist I’m totally metric and sew, knit and cook in metric units. I think that officially we’re metric apart from speed limit signs!!

  • I like it!

  • I’m just finishing a pair of leg warmers (Magic Loop, two at a time). The pattern, Easy Peasy Leg Warmers by Megan Grewal uses metrics for customizing the sizing. It was surprisingly “Easy Peasy!

  • 35.5″ & 35 1/2″ are the same measurement, just written in different ways. So are 51.75″ & 51 3/4″ or 55.25″ & 55 1/4″. If you find the fractions difficult to proofread, use the decimal equivalents in the next Field Guide. Just remember, metric measurements come in .25 & .75 increments as well (viz. metric denominated knitting needles). And in Europe, they’d be written 51,75 & 55,25 – just to keep life interesting.

  • For what it’s worth these are the conversions I’m always having to do in my head. For everything else there’s Siri

    Celsius to Fahrenheit: (temp x 2) + 30 = degrees F, reverse it to go to C from F (minus 30 then divide in half)

    a quick and dirty conversion from centimeters to inches: divide by 10 and multiply by 4

    Meters to Yards multiply meters by 1.1

    • And to convert kph to mph, multiply by 6, then lop off the last digit. So, 100kph is 60mph (100 x 6 = 600; lop off the last digit and you get 60mph). Saved me many a speeding violation in German towns.

      • I find it easier to work out 2/3 of the kph to give mph. But it’s basically the same sum because you’re actually multiplying by 0.6 but in two steps (2/3 being 0.66 times the kph). I find most fractions easier to visualise as decimals and calculations are way easier, for example 3/4 is 75% or 0.75.

  • And what about metric needle sizes? They make so much more sense, as they are the actual diameter in mm rather than an arbitrary number. I learned to knit in Europe, and though I’m back in the US, I still can’t get to grips with American sizes.

  • Hmm. I hear you. But if you start with whole numbers for imperial you need messy fractions for metric. 32” is 81.28 cm! Agree we can pick one and if not your method, just do the math. Need to be a mathematician to knit.

  • What I find strange is I live in Canada and so I go back and forth between both BUT the bizarre thing is my grandkids weigh and measure themselves in pounds and feet/inches yet everything else is metric. Go figure that!

  • I have wanted to go metric since the 60’s when the US auto industry fought metric & won. The Detroit schools supported no change.
    I did make the switch to continental knitting after 50 years of the throwing method. Mostly because I wanted an easier way to knit seed stitch.
    For both changes it requires using more brain cells. But as I told myself then. “Use it or loose it.” And that goes for metric conversion also.

  • Imperial just feels like a fun friend. 4 T in a 1/4 c, but 3 t in 1 T and 8lbs/gallon and a quart (get it? a QUARTer gallon) roughly the same as a liter, and 30cm marked on a one foot ruler and a yard about the same as a meter and an inch is as wide as my thumb and a foot is from my elbow to my wrist…And that’s before I get started counting paces. It’s just fun.
    Automobile industry was not wrong for themselves, either – if we’re talking crafts, the difference between using a 5/8″ seam allowance and 1.5 cm is “users choice” and means basically nothing. But in the world of wrenches and pipes and nuts and bolts – it’s either a metric measurement or imperial, and you are NOT replacing that faucet or those tires (or tyres or spigot) with non-interchangable systems.

    • I use centimeters for knitting and grams for cooking. Being smaller units than inches or ounces, they are more precise.

  • Anyone remember President Jimmy Carter trying to get the US on the metric system somewhere back in 1977-1981? LOL!! Anyone out there old enough to remember his presidency? ((:

  • Just say No to metric! The poets and songwriters of the world are counting on us to soldier on. Imagine if The Proclaimers had to walk 800 kilometers? We need inches, feet and miles.

  • There is a small legacy to the attempted metric conversion in the US: 1 liter and 2 liter soda bottles replaced quarts and half-gallons all those years ago.
    Love how you slipped in the ad for the Knitter’s City Bag, above, where a 12″ x 12″ x 5″ bag with a 5″ drop becomes: “30.48 cm wide and 30.48 cm high. 12.8 cm deep with a 12.8 handle drop”.

  • YES!!!! Being a nurse everything is metric. I’ve often wondered why the USA continues to use the imperial system.

  • count me in as well. I’m a sucker for anything new.

  • Like other commenters, I’m Canadian, so I’m biased, but it seems like a no-brainer to me.

    Zero is freezing.

    A 4.0mm knitting needle measures 4.0mm.

    One millilitre of water weighs one gram, so one litre of water (1000 millilitres) weighs one kilogram (1000 grams).

    Metric may not have the “magic” or history of imperial, but it’s clean and elegant in its application.

  • Thomas Jefferson TRIED but was unsuccessful in convincing the boys, a while ago, to adopt metric measurements. He DID win on decimal coinage, thank you Tommy… but then 20 pence to a shilling, 24 shillings to a pound, I think I have those numbers right, not reversed, but still the system was way unwieldy,.and.. without the Guinea, a pound + a shilling…

  • I hate fractions, so much prefer metric for anything that requires measuring.

    I grew up with both imperial and metric so have a really weird mix, I think of my height in feet and inches, my weight in kilos, cooking measurements in metric. Distances when driving in miles. Temperature in metric, buy my milk and beer in pints…

  • It’s metric for me especially at my loom.

  • I worked in marketing communications (advertising) for an International company. How frustrating it was to print for the US (8.5 x 11) and then again for the rest of the A4 (8.27 x 11.69 inches) world. I finally convinced folks to print once in the A4 width but only 11” deep. I would applaud the US becoming a member of the global community for more reasons than using the metric system. : }

  • yes—we should convert to metric. It makes so much sense and is much easier to calculate than inches/feet.

  • I’m from the USA so was raised Imperial – with the obligatory metric tossed in. In college I studied chemistry and became an engineer and later a chemistry professor. I also tutor students with math issues. I find it embarrassing that the USA refuses to transition to metric. Most of my students in college can’t use it at all and this leads to huge issues because the standard of science is metric. It’s simpler and more precise. The units can be as large or as small as you wish and still be based on ten. In addition, the need to teach young people two sets of measurement systems slows our children down and is one of the things that makes them behind in math by prevent them from moving on to other things. For a child or teen who truly struggles with math, learning two sets is onerous….. But you were asking about knitting. Since I write patterns I use both systems. Most patterns I see though are written for gauge in inches, so I’ll use that, but I always weigh in grams and of course needles in mm.

  • I worked in a medical lab all of my life (38 years+) and there’s a reason metric is used here in Canada in the medical field. It’s just so darn easy to use.The folks who think metric is difficult find it difficult because of trying to convert back and forth between metric and imperial. Straight up metric is a dream.

  • I’m so happy you include metric! So many US knitting and sewing patterns only have imperial, and while I can convert easily between small measurements, it’s really annoying to have to get out the calculator. In Australia, when we changed over, it was illegal for a time to import imperial rulers and scales. The only thing that we still quote in imperial is height – don’t know why, but we do!

  • I am a middle aged Canadian, so I have a foot in both worlds, because we changed to metric when I was a teenager. So my knitting needles are metric, but I take my body measurements in Imperial. Confusing, I know. Scientists always use metric, even in the US, because it is more precise. And base 10 math is so much easier! But whether you prefer Imperial or metric, I appreciate you leading the charge to include metric in all of your patterns. It is a small thing, but I always get a bit frustrated when I have to convert a pattern’s needle size from American to metric. Please, pattern writers, put it in the pattern for us!

    • I agree. It is always a bit frustrating, especially when modern patterns are written in only a single needle sizing system. I have to hunt out needle equivalency charts and then sometimes discover there is no standard equivalent! Multiple listings are helpful. And clear guides in pattern instructions are always good! (Let’s hear it for multiple listings of sizes, needle sizes, written AND charted patterns with clear symbol and stitch definitions, and links to good tutorials).

  • My husband and I learned imperial as children, metric as adults. We enjoy the freedom and benefits of knowing and using either system situationally.

  • I’m in medicine in the US, so I’m partially converted to metric. Our clinic had a rough time when we tried to do height and weight in metric— MAs were not sure when they had gotten it right if they made a transcription error. But we need the weight figures to calculate medication dosages. And I definitely measure rashes and wounds in mm and cm. When I read knitting instructions, I look at the metric measurements— but when I’m knitting the hat pattern I’ve knit a bazillion times and calculating when to decrease, I think in Imperial. Something I’ve definitely changed is my preference for weight measurements in cooking— much better than cups! 🙂

  • working with base ten is much easier than working with all the many archaic figures with the imperial system. The one exception for me – a Canadian with a science education background- but ethnically British is for baking. Like my UK forbears I use a kitchen scale and I find the oz side easier than the grams side for the ingredients. Here is why. Classic british sponge cake – equal no of oz in butter, sugar, and flour plus half as many oz in eggs. My favourite standbye honey cake – 2 eggs, 3 tsp baking powder, 4oz sugar, 5 oz butter, 6 oz honey, 7 oz flour – put the sweet stuff and butter in a saucepan with a splash of water and heat gently, then whisk in eggs then flour into a tube pan at 350 F for about 25 -30 minutes. Just remember 2,3 4 5 6 7.

  • Americans are moving to metric inch by inch.

  • Having been born in Denmark, I use both depending upon the subject.
    Metric is so much easier…

  • I have been teaching high schoool science for 32 years. EVERY YEAR I review the metric system with my students because every piece of lab equipment we use is in metric measurements. I am also an indie dyer and I ONLY use the metric system. Come on USA, I have been on my soapbox for 32 years of teaching. When?

  • Dear Miss Ann,
    When I was a kid, my dad was a science teacher who made educational filmstrips during summer break. He sold “Metrilabs,” which were kids for schools to learn about & how to use the Metric system. I like to say that if it ever took off in America, I would have had a completely different life! One of my proudest moments is serving as a Metric filmstrip model in my knee socks and loafers. (I will try to dig up the photo.)

  • I learned how to knit in Russia and I never knew the imperial system. Now, after 40 years living in the US I can tell you that it took me some time to accept the new set of measurements (not only the length…). I believe that it is the feel you have to develop. When I knew metric system only, you could tell me “3 meters of fabric” and I could feel what that meant. In America 3 yds was a puzzle for me.
    In terms of knitting, when it concerns gauge, I believe that the metric is giving me more accurate results. When I design a garment it feels to me that hoping 1/4 of an inch is missing some tiny width or length. We practically are relying on knitted fabric being stretchy and forgiving. And it is probably just fine. It could be that my math background is coming through here and making me paranoid. Very possible. I do want to see metric only in patterns. I agree with Ann that it is easier to work with as you are writing a pattern and tech editing it.

    Best to you all!