Tuesday, December 14, 2010

McMorran Yarn Balance

My stash has been an ongoing thorn in my side...particularly the older wool that I've managed to accumulate. I've noticed that it just sits on the shelf muttering to itself! I'm getting quite tired of the constant dirty looks that go along with the muttering that I've been getting, so with that in mind I decided that a wool yardage project was the thing to do - that'll shut it up and give me a bit of respite! Granted the Condon's factory closed wayyyyyy back when, but I was getting to it!
When I took down my medium grist wool bin (it was the loudest of the bunch) I found that I had about 1 pound of medium weight natural and about 1.5 pounds of sport weight natural. These are essentially the same weight, but they were slightly different colours of natural.
I also had 1 pound of black sport weight and 1.5 pounds of navy sport weight. I was beginning to get a glimmer of an idea for the wool yardage, but what would the ends per inch be and how much yarn would I need? Just how many yards per pound were there in each skein? The ends per inch were easily figured out by wrapping a 1" ruler but I couldn't start a project unless I was sure that I had enough warp and weft to complete it, so out came my McMorran Yarn Balance.
The McMorran Yarn balance is a small clear plastic cube with a lid and with a bit of sponge in the bottom which has a small lever arm tucked into it, you can still see the mark where the lever arm sits for storage. This tool will tell you the approximate yards per pound of any fibre. First off you pull out the lever arm and place the fulcrum point in the middle of the pivot on the notches dug into the top of the McMorran balance.
To start the process you cut about a 12 inch piece (more if it's very fine yarn) of yarn and place it on the lever arm, as you can see in the photo above, it's way out of balance. You just keep snipping off wee bits of yarn.
Finally after being quite ruthless I've got the balance arms pretty well level. Good enough for a gal like me at any rate!
As you can see, there was a lot of yarn snipped off, taking the piece of yarn off the lever arm is the next step.
You measure the wee bit of yarn left in inches and then multiply the result by 100, so in this case the result is that my 2 ply medium wool has approximately 800 yards per pound.
I did the same process for each of the different yarns and found that I had 1000 yards per pound with the sport weight yarn. With this information in hand, I could plan my yardage project with confidence!
Despite what Blogger says, this was posted by Lynnette, photos courtesy of Ngaire


Marion B. said...

Thank you for showing how the McMorran Yarn Balance works. We can't buy it localy here so I always wondered. I'm curious what your project will be.

Theresa said...

I've always known these were useful, now with my own stash of wool building up I think maybe an after Christmas present of one might be just the ticket! :)

Lynnette said...

The McMorran Yarn Balance is really great for figuring out the yardage on handspun too, I forgot to mention that.! I recently used it when I was getting my handspun skeins ready for my Guilds Christmas Sales, I'm sure that it helped sell my skeins.

dorothylochmaben said...

Lynnette - what a great post ! I have never seen a McMorran balance and certainly wasn't clear on what it measured and how it worked ! Now maybe I should add it to the wish list - may be too late for this Christmas !
Can't wait to see the project ! Dorothy

Jabberwarpy said...

Super clear instructions. I've always wondered how those work.

Life Looms Large said...

I brought one back from my vacation in Phoenix two years ago. Somehow, from the pictures I'd seen, I always thought they were very big, but yours looks just like mine....not so giant!

They are very cool....like magic (although the math totally makes sense if you think about it!)

Happy weaving!