Dear Tabby – How Much Yarn Do I Have?

Dear Tabby

I have some yarn that I want to use for a project but I don’t know how much I have. I don’t want to run out. Please help.

If you don’t have the original packaging to know what the yards per pound is of the yarn in question. You can easily figure this out with a McMorran Yarn Balance and a scale. This answer comes to you from Woven Scarves, by Jane Patrick and Stephanie Flynn Sokolov.



Using stash yarn for projects can be tricky if you don’t know how much yarn you have. You can always take your chances by eyeballing the yarn and guessing at the quantity. However, if you want to know for sure, you can use a McMorran Yan Balance (or the Yarn to Yards Balance available from Eugene Textile Center). This simple tool weighs a length of yarn and lets you calculate the yardage per pound of the yarn. You can then weigh your yarn on a scale (such as a cooking scale shown here) to determine how many yarns you have. Here’s how it works:

Step 1. Balance the pin of the balance arm in the slots on the sides of the balance.

Step 2. Place a length of yarn in the notch of the arm.

Step 3. Cut the yarn little by little until the arm is balanced.

Step 4. Measure this length of yarn on a ruler.

Step 5. Weigh the ball of yarn on a scale to find out the total weight of the yarn you have.

Step 6. To know if you have enough yarn, you’ll need to do a little math.

In this example, our yarn measured 15” in length. We multiplied 15 by 100 to determine that there are 1,500 yards per pound of this yarn. We then weighed the ball of yarn and learned that it weighted 4 ounces. To find out how many yards were in these 4 ounces, we solved a simple equation:

1,500 yd = X yd

16 oz         4 oz

First multiply 4 x 1,500 = 6,000. Then divide this number by 16 to give the total amount of yarn: 6,000/16 = 375 yards.

Schacht Spindle

Schacht Spindle Company, Inc. was founded during the back-to-earth movement of the late 1960s and its accompanying craft resurgence. Their first loom was a simple tapestry loom, a version which they still make today. Over nearly 50 years, Schacht has developed a broad range of high-quality hand weaving and hand spinning tools, including their popular Cricket Loom and Ladybug Spinning wheel. Schacht’s mission is to create beautiful and well-designed products that enhance customers’ weaving and spinning experience through innovative problem solving, creative ideas, skilled woodworking and craftsmanship, and friendly, knowledgeable customer service. Schacht’s family-owned business is located in Boulder, Colorado.