McMorran Balance

McMorran Balance
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:
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.
Lay a length of yarn in the notch of the balance, allowing the yarn to hang down towards the floor.
Using scissors start to trim the length of yarn, cutting about 1/2 inch at a time, until the balancing arm is level.

  • 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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Hand Weaving Books
Weaving on a Little Loom (Everything you need to know to get started with weaving, includes 5 simple projects

The Key to Weaving: A Textbook of Hand Weaving for the Beginning Weaver
The Weaver’s Companion (The Companion Series)
Learning to Weave
The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs and Materials
The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory
A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns: From the Friends of Handwoven
Krokbragd: How to Design & Weave
Doubleweave: On Four to Eight Shafts
Double Weave: Theory and Practice
Magic of Doubleweave: The Best of Weaver’s (Best of Weaver’s series)
Weaving In the Arts: Widening the Learning Circle
DIY Woven Art: Inspiration and Instruction for Handmade Wall Hangings, Rugs, Pillows and More!
>On the Loom: A Modern Weaver’s Guide

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Last Updated on March 30, 2021 by Paivi Suomi

By Paivi Suomi

I've had an interest in weaving, looms, yarns and textiles since I was a small child. I learned to knit, crochet, sew, do needlepoint at my mother's knee. My grandmother was a Saami from northern Norway. I am very interested in studying more about traditional Saami and Finnish style weaving and handicrafts. Paivi Suomi