Why yes, I do know how to use a ruler. Do you??

WARNING! I’ve been told that this post is highly boring. Don’t read it if you get bored easily. Thank you.

Knitters measure a lot before knitting and while knitting. We have to measure our swatches to make sure our gauge is spot on; we measure to see how far we’ve knit and to see how far we have to go; and we measure sometimes to see if we have enough yarn left to finish a project (this is especially true when we begin to fear that we’ve not bought enough yarn for a project).

4 rulers

A small sampling of different types of rulers.

I believe there are two things that are very important to people who measure things a lot:

  1. Knowing how to use a ruler.
  2. Knowing how to buy a ruler.

You may ask why I place less importance on how to buy a ruler than on how to use one. The answer is simple: a lot of the times, you won’t be using your own ruler to do a needed measurement. You’ll be using someone else’s ruler.

So, how do we use a ruler?? Look at where the actual left edge of the ruler is before measuring anything. Make sure that it’s actually visible, too and is easy to use. The ruler shouldn’t have round corners near or on it’s starting edge. The left edge on cheap rulers, over time, slowly disappear or fade out with use. If the starting edge (aka the left edge) on a ruler is off, the ruler will become totally useless when it has faded.  The following pictures are of what I like to call problem rulers. There is only one ruler in this grouping that I consider worth keeping.

faded measuring edge ok ruler

measuring edge is off

The black ruler’s starting edge is off by nearly 3/16 of an inch and has rounded corners which will not help you take accurate measurements. The white ruler is spot on, but is fading considerably and has rounded corners which will make measuring smaller things more difficult down the road. Can you imagine having everything you measure be 3/16  or 1/8 of an inch longer than is needed because of hastiness or using a worn out ruler?? I can’t and I refuse to. A good number of people don’t know the difference, nor do they care. They just pick up a ruler and start measuring. The clear ruler’s starting edge is off by nearly 1/8 of an inch, but the starting measuring line is in far enough from the edge that this ruler is a keeper.

A 'perfect' ruler for precision measuring.

A ‘perfect’ ruler for precision measuring.

Now we’ll go on to how to buy a ruler. Purchase a good, sturdy metal ruler like the one in the above picture that I’ve called ‘perfect’. This ruler is nearly 10 years old, but is spot on accurate. It has been dropped and otherwise abused, but there is no wear on it (that white spot was caused by my flash) and it has no rounded corners.

I agree that it’s quite acceptable to purchase a ‘cheap’ ruler for the kids to take to school because they’re going to lose it, abuse it and/or make it unusable by the end of the school year, but I would still pay the extra $1 to get one like the clear ruler because it’s the easiest to use once they’ve learned where the actual measuring edge is.

Now, go out and upgrade all of your rulers, yard sticks and tape measures!