How to Use a McMorran Balance

If you aren’t sure about the weight or yardage of your yarn, a handy tool to use is a McMorran Balance. A McMorran balance is used to determine the yardage of an unknown yarn. The McMorran balance consists of a rectangular box and a balancing arm.

Difficulty Level:
Time Required:
5 minutes
Here’s How:


  1. Place the McMorran balance on a level surface, such as on the edge of a table.
  2. Set the pins of the small balancing arm into the small notches on the top of the box.
  3. Lay a length of yarn in the notch of the balance, allowing the yarn to hang down towards the floor.
  4. Using scissors start to trim the length of yarn, cutting x-about 1/2 inch at a time, until the balancing arm is level.
  5. When the arm is level, remove the length of yarn from the balance.
  6. Measure the length of yarn against a ruler.
  7. Multiply the measurement x 100.
  8. This measurement gives you the number of yards per lb. of yarn (ypp)
  9. e.g. 6 inches x 100 = 600 ypp


  • McMorran balances are also available in metric measurements.
  • If you are measuring bumpy, slub or a handspun yarn, the measurement may not be accurate due to inconsistencies in the yarn. 
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    Visit PAIVATAR YARNS Web Shop
    Sámi Band Weaving
    Handspun yarns
    Natural Plant Dyes
    Crewel Wool
    Sashiko Threads