It consists of a little plastic box, a bit of foam in the bottom, and a fragile piece of plastic that balances on the box's top. Doesn't hardly seem worth the $20 does it?
Wait until you use it. To use it, cut a section of yarn and lay it across the notch. Trim bits off the yarn until the arm balances. Great. Now you have a short length of yarn. But you have much more than that. Measure the yarn.
The length of the yarn in inches * 100 is the grist (yards per pound) of the yarn. So if your section measures out at 8.5 inches, you have a yarn that is 850 yards per pound.
Using an accurate scale, you can then weigh your skein and get a pretty accurate idea of the number of yards that are in your skein. This is an amazingly accurate, incredibly low-tech device. Once you have one, you wonder how you lived without it.
Another neat trick is covered in "Knitting in the Old Way" by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts. Basically, you wrap some of your handspun around a pencil and count the Wraps Per Inch. That number * 100 gives you the number of yards you will need to knit a medium-sized plain pullover. Please note that it is the same number as what you get with the McMorrin Balance. Priscilla's book has this handy little table that gives you some percentages to modify the basic number, i.e., less 30% for a vest. Buy the book.
If you have comments, please send email to: Rosemary Brock.
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