Keepsake NeedleArts

How to Use a McMorran Balance

Have you ever purchased a cone of yarn and don’t know how much yarn you really have? It’s easy to find out, by using a handy tool called a McMorran balance. The McMorran balance is a scale that allows you to determine the yardage of a particular yarn. It consists of a rectangular plastic box and a balancing arm. The arm has been calibrated to calculate the yards per lb. of a particular yarn. Metric versions of McMorran balances can also be purchased.
To use it, follow the steps outlined below:

McMorran balance

Place the McMorran balance on a level surface, such as on the edge of a table.

Set the pins of the small balancing arm into the small notches on the top of the box.

McMorran balance

Lay a length of yarn in the notch of the balance, allowing the yarn to hang down towards the floor.

McMorran balance
[pinit count=”horizontal” url=”” image_url=”” description=”How to Use a McMorran balance “]

Using scissors start to trim the length of yarn, cutting about 1/2 inch at a time, until the balancing arm is level.

McMorran Balance

When the arm is level, remove the length of yarn from the balance. Measure the length of yarn against a ruler.

McMorran balance

  • Multiply the measurement x 100.
  • This measurement gives you the number of yards per lb. of yarn (ypp)
  • e.g. 8.4 inches x 100 =840 ypp

If you are measuring bumpy, slub or a handspun yarn, the measurement may not be accurate due to inconsistencies in the yarn but it will give you an approximate estimate. I use the McMorran balance to calculate how many yards of yarn are left on a cone.

For example, if using the McMorran balance, I know that the yarn is 840
ypp, I then weigh the cone of yarn, e.g. 12 oz. (.75 lb) – the cone has 840 x .75 = 630 yards of yarn left. I also find the McMorran balance to be very useful when
handspinning, to check the consistency of the yarn that I am spinning.

A few places to find a McMorran balance:
Halcyon Yarns
The Woolery


Double Width Weaving
Ladder Hem Stitch
How to Make a Twisted Fringe
How to Finish Chenille
How to Wash a Wool Blanket

Weaving Books: Beginner Weaving

Favorite Scandinavian Projects to Weave: 45 Stylish Designs for the Modern Home
A collection of 45 different furnishing textiles: colorful blankets, fanciful table runners, classic curtains, and embroidered hand towels.
UK: Favorite Scandinavian Projects to Weave

Rug Weaving Techniques: Beyond the Basics
Concise instructions and explanatory diagrams techniques for plain weave, twill and block weaves.
UK: Rug Weaving Techniques

Weaving Made Easy: 17 Projects Using a Simple Loom
The small, portable rigid heddle loom can be used to easily produce loose, drape-friendly fabric as well as dense, sturdy material.
UK: Weaving Made Easy

..more Handweaving books..

Weaving Looms


ashford 8 shaft 32" table loom

Current price:
Ends in:
0d 1h 14m
Seller: eBay

Glimakra 27" Susanna Rigid Heddle Loom With Warping Frame Free Shipping

Current price:
Ends in:
0d 1h 15m
Seller: eBay

Tri-looms by Jim 17” Adjustable Red Oak Diamond Weaving Loom

Tri-looms by Jim 17” Adjustable Red Oak Diamond Weaving Loom
Current price:
Ends in:
0d 1h 43m
Tri-looms by Jim 17” Adjustable Red Oak Diamond Weaving Loom
Seller: eBay

Kromski Harp 16" Rigid Heddle Loom Stand Only

Current price:
Ends in:
0d 2h 28m
Seller: eBay

Comments are closed.

This page last edited on November 27, 2015


Creative Commons License
All Fiber Arts by Paivi Suomi is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Join our new Facebook Group
AllFiberArts Facebook Group

Paivatar Workshops

Beginner Saami Pickup Band Weaving
Warp a Beaivi Loom Workshop
  • Improvisational Stitching (Philadelphia, PA)
    Making marks with stitches on fabric creates a sense of dimension and texture that is different from working with other traditional art-making materials and gives the artist a tactile pleasure. Learn basic...
  • Indigo Vat Sessions (Bulverde, TX)
    Sign up for a morning and/or afternoon session to use our indigo vats, clamps, ties and blocks to create gorgeous blue and white patterns. Textile artist Laura Dehart will be on hand to give instruction...
  • Mask Making with John McBride (Key West, FL)
    Just in time for Fantasy Fest, one of Key West’s favorite visitors returns to help students craft their perfect mask. An expert at his trade, John creates intricately detailed pieces perfect for an elite...
  • Crafty Kids with Judi Bradford (Key West, FL)
    Bring your kids by The Studios for a fun morning making ornaments and gifts – and learning a new useful skill! Class ends at noon, so there’ll still be plenty of time to bake cookies and wrap gifts. All...

Itunes Apps