McMorran Balance

Have you ever purchased an unknown quantity of yarn, or spun some for yourself, and then you’re not completely sure how much yarn is there? It’s easy to find out, by using a simple tool called a McMorran Balance.  The 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 pound of a particular yarn once the length of the yarn has been trimmed to allow the arm to balance.  It’s just that easy!

After that you’re on your way to easy math to figure out how much yarn is on your cone, skein or in the ball.  Measure the length of yarn with a ruler or tape measure and then do the following:

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

Then weigh your yarn to see how many pounds or fractions of a pound you have (and then do a little additional math if necessary).

Once you know how many yards you have, if you don’t know the gauge of your yarn, that is easy to determine as well.  Using a WPI (wraps per inch) gauge entails wrapping your yarn around a 1″ measuring device.  I have been playing with designs for that too.  One is a ‘studio model’ and the other is a portable ‘keychain model’.

Keychain WPI Gauge

Just because I think everyone needs a little Goth in their life – and something to make you smile for no particular reason – I made this WPI gauge and then sent some along to Queer Joe’s Men’s Knitting Retreat which is taking place this weekend in upstate NY.  Have I ever mention how much I LOVE upstate NY?  (read – one of these days I am going to have my house on a mountain there, just you wait and see!)

The Goth Gauge

To use either of these guides:
Wrap the yarn around the 1″ channel smoothly, with the yarn touching, but not too tight. Once you’ve wrapped, count your number of wraps per inch (or WPI).

WPI Standards:
18 or more wpi – Lace weight
16 wpi – Fingering weight
14 wpi – Sport weight
12 wpi – Worsted weight
10 wpi – Bulky
8 or less wpi – Very bulky

And you thought this was just knitting, no, no – clearly it’s engineering at its best!  After you know how many yards of yarn and the WPI of your particular yarn, then you will know if you have enough to make a sweater size garment and maybe that’s what you were trying to accomplish all along.

Here’s a conversion chart for garments for children, or for garments other than the size mentioned in chart above.

I hope this helps to explain why your collection of knitting and spinning tools keeps growing – we need them all to get the job done!

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