Fractions – Hieroglyphics
It is said that the Egyptians were using fractions in 1800 B.C. writing in hieroglyphics, using them in their payments and taxes.
The inch was originally the width of a man’s thumb. In the 14th century King Edward II of England ruled that 1 inch equaled 3 grains of barley placed end to end lengthwise. The yard was the length of a man’s belt (you can see how this varied) until King Henry I of England fixed the “yard” as the distance from his nose to the thumb. That was 36 Inches (or 108 grains of barley)?
Meters – Millimeters
And the meter, which gives us the millimeter has an even more convoluted history surrounding a decimal based system which was derived from the distance a pendulum with a one-second period swung. After the French Revolution, the French Academy of Sciences defined the adoption of a decimal system with the term mètre as a basic unit which was described as equal to one ten-millionth of the distance between the North Pole and the Equator. Though how they knew this exact measurement is a mystery to me.
And so the debate went on for another century. Is there any wonder we have trouble converting fractions to inches and millimeters. So we’ve done the math for you. Just print it out and never mind that 1 meter is actually 39.370 Inches. We’ll just go with 39!
Easy Way to Convert: Repurpose 2 Rulers
Since we are constantly converting millimeters and centimeters to Inches (forget the fractions) there is an easy way. It does take a visit to an Ikea store, but the little paper rulers they give you to measure in the store are perfect. You can take 2 of them, one side has millimeters and other inches. Just match them up and tape them together. Right on your beading table is the perfect place. Good for measuring necklaces too.
Combine our taped ruler with our conversion chart below and you have a simple way to make your conversions!
And if you wish to download and print, here’s the PDF