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McMorran Yarn BalanceSizing Up Oddballs
Part 2: Learning More with McMorran

Niddy noddies are useful for smaller skeins, but what if you have a huge cone with (presumably) hundreds of yards of yarn in it? Surely you don't want to unravel the whole thing and rewind it onto your niddy noddy.

In This Series
  Part 1: Using a Niddy Noddy
  Part 2: Using a McMorran Yarn Balance

  Part 3: Using a Yarn Meter
  Part 4: Matching to Needle Size and Gauge
  NEW: Using a Kitchen Scale
There's another way to figure out how much yarn is in that mystery skein. It involves a McMorran Yarn Balance.

This clear plexiglass box has a specially calibrated balancing arm weighted to measure 1/3600th of a pound. When not in use, the balancing arm is secured by blue foam inserts.

This device was designed by H. McMorran, a former lecturer in textile testing at the Scottish College of Textiles in Galashiels, Scotland.

To use the tool, simply drape a length of yarn over the balancing arm (start with two feet to be safe) and slowly trim the ends of your yarn until the arm is level.

Then remove the yarn and measure it (in inches) on a ruler. Multiply this number by 100, and you'll know how many yards are in one pound of that yarn. We'll call this your McMorran count.

Now you need to weigh your skein to get the final number. For smaller skeins, it's best to stick with a postage meter that measures in ounces.

Say your mystery skein weighs two ounces. Since there are 16 ounces per pound, simply divide the McMorran count by 8 and you'll get your yardage. (Unfortunately most skeins will have odder weights, like .62 ounces, requiring a bit more math.)

Because it only requires a small snippet of yarn, this is the best tool for measuring yarn on cones, where you usually have far more yardage and don't want to mess with unwinding and rewinding.

The only other thing to know is that the McMorran Yarn Balance won't give you a totally precise yardage for slubby thick/thin yarns.

The average retail price for a McMorran Yarn Balance is $21.95, and you can find it online at Halcyon Yarn.

No, it's not an absolute necessity. I see it more as one of those little gadgets that, at the right moment, you'll feel very smart for owning.

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