Are you ambimetric? The chances are that if you were born between 1977 and 1983, you are.
I just uploaded a short hyperlapse Reel showing the making of one the floral embellishments for my Happily Ever After veil. While fingers, beads and threads blurred, the clear constant throughout all 18 seconds was my scarred, tortured, gouged cutting mat.
I’d been worried about the state of my nails, but this proved to be the bigger embarrassment. And it made me realise what a stickler for inches I am. The other side of this mat is pristine, untouched, virginal cutting surface. No trenches scored by countless merciless passes of the rotary cutter. No fibres mashed into its surface by blunt blades to highlight gouges further. Just beautiful, brand-new, reliable cutting mat that I could flip over at any time.
Just one problem. It’s in metric.
The Measure of Xennials
Xennials – the microgeneration born between 1977 and 1983, including me – straddle Generation X and Millenials, with characteristics of both. Sociologists usually define us by the technologies we’re comfortable with. As a classic example, I grew up with a rotary phone screwed to the wall and didn’t have an email address or mobile phone until I was 19 but I was an early (well, 2007) adopter of Twitter. Then again, I met my husband in 1997 and have never used online dating.
I suggest they look at how we measure things. Don’t get me wrong about the centimetres. I CAN work with them, but only for certain things. Metric and imperial units were taught in school but their use had de facto rules whether we realised it at the time or not. Here’s how I’ve realised I work.
Speed can only be in miles per hour (MPH). Except for that drunken night in the pub with friends in 2003 when we decided that we were henceforth lobbying for the official adoption of furlongs per fortnight (FPF). More specific to my line of work is SPM: stitches per minute. My embroidery machine for example is currently working on a full moon at 500SPM, only half its top speed.
As with speed, my default is the imperial mile. Doesn’t matter whether it’s by car, bike, train, plane or crow. However, if I’ve swum it, it’s metres. I can’t run, but if I did, it would get metres, unless it were a marathon and then it would be 26.something miles; I’ve no idea how many kilometres.
However, distance across the living room with a retractable tape measure is always metric.
Similarly, fabric (and thread) length is in metres, but its width is in inches.
The british tabloid press will always convert distance into lengths of a football field, but I have no interest in the game so this one is wasted on me.
Humans must be in feet and inches. Oh, you’re two metres tall? I have no idea what that means. Except I do know that I’m 175cm tall, because I lived in metric-loving Japan once where I was asked my height so often that it remains one of the only things I can still say in Japanese (Hyaku nana-ju go).
However, heights of animals (including horses, because I’m not horsey and don’t understand hands), inanimate objects, buildings, ceilings, tables, DIY projects, etc are all metric. I can’t visualise a 20ft building.
For anything taller than a human, I am also fluent in the standard british unit of height: either Nelson’s Column or a double-decker bus.
Heel height on shoes must be inches. As luck would have it, the ring finger of my left hand is not only precisely 3″ high but bends in exactly 1″ sections, which tells me much about footwear before trying them on just by holding the heel to it. One knuckle and I’ll be taller than my husband, two and I’ll still be able to walk and three will be uncomfortable.
Body measurements must always be in inches. So too must dressmaking patterns, seam allowances and notes on how much I’m taking up/in/off or adding.
Two exceptions: the first is when I have to add a lot of measurements together, in which case I’ll use metric but then convert the final number back to imperial.
The second is that the distance of a bullet/knife to a human heart or artery is always in millimetres or “a whisker.”
Kilos for luggage and cats, grams for parcels and stone and pounds (never just pounds once over the age of one day) for humans.
Cup fraction for bras (half cup, whole cup, etc), square metres for rooms and gardens, number of bedrooms for a whole house, square miles for anything between that and Wales and multiples thereof for anything above that.