measurement conversion communication

My Measurement Conversion Logic

Tips useful to tech editors are useful to designers, and vice versa. Simply because as entities working together, for the experience to be pleasant and successful, clear communication is absolutely necessary. If you know what the other is up against, thinking about, requiring, expecting, you are both more prepared for working together. That’s true for everything I talk about, and certainly it’s true for the number one pattern component — measurements.

The argument

  1. Communication is the most important element in any successful working relationship.
  2. Gauge is the most important element in any knitting venture.
  3. These converge and play out for better or for worse in the work, where we find the evidence of our communication skills, or lack thereof, in the measurement results we get.

The path

Let me explain. If gauge is everything, then it follows that the measurements of your design are everything. That means they need to be exactly correct. And that means they need to be computed accurately, then in turn, checked accurately.

Are these things happening in your patterns? How do you know? Are you sure?

Step one

First step for you, is to be sure you know how to calculate the measurements you need to design, and to give the knitter. No throwing shame here — some required measurements can be tricky to ascertain how to take them, and some simply can be tricky to calculate correctly because of placement or biasing, even for a skilled designer.

So do your homework and get clear on that. Then that’s going to be the first thing you ask your tech editor if they don’t get your numbers: “How are you calculating for this measurement?” Get that straightened out first before wasting time on doing the math again – it may be unnecessary.

Step two

Then it’s your job to communicate your measuring preferences to your tech editor. You want to make sure that they are doing everything the exact same way you did it. Hopefully at the tippy top of your style sheet you’ve addressed measuring and calculating and converting. If you don’t use a style sheet, email this information to your tech editor before any work begins.

We’ve talked about gauge and converting numbers before, and you can find those articles on my website. Now let’s talk about being on the same page in these issues. So. In a place of honor on your style sheet, make sure the following preferences are listed. Pretty please do this if you haven’t.

  • Measurement system you design in (Editors, do your work in this system first, then convert. This ensures you achieve the intended finished measurements.)
  • Gauge worked in. e.g., 4” = 10 cm.
  • Conversion rate between systems. e.g., 1” = 2.5 cm. (Remember that the conversion rate you use needs to be exactly the same as it is in the gauge you’re working with, or disaster will strike. In the case of these examples, 4” x 2.5 = 10 cm.)
  • Insistence to do all calculations — including conversions! — prior to any rounding of these numbers. (This is such an important step! It is very worth it to point it out and make sure everyone is clear. We do not want to be rounding rounded numbers.)
  • Rounding preferences. e.g., Round inches to nearest quarter inch; round centimeters to nearest half centimeter.
  • Sizing standards you use to design with. Provide this resource to your tech editor.

The proof

Remember that the measurements are the pattern. The pattern needs to be correct for the sole purpose of producing these exact numbers. And they are the basis for all the choices a knitter makes about choosing a size, making modifications, and choosing a pattern in the first place, then dictates what they will get. They have got to be right. Gauge mattering most in design means that checking measurements correctly matters most in tech editing. So get this information communicated clearly to anyone working with numbers on your pattern, before the start of the job. Doing this saves gobs and gobs of time and money, and gets you better editing, and better patterns for your knitters, i.e., correct ones.

Make it easy on yourself by having measuring details on your style sheet or in another document you can easily share, without worry of them being misinterpreted. If you're struggling with this process, please reach out to me here. Always consider suggestions or guidance that you may receive on these choices — we don’t know everything after all — but if you have tested and trust your methods, and you are happy with them, politely refer the tech editor back to your list of preferences. You get the last word on your own work. The end.