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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

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

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This page last edited on November 18, 2013

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