How to Build an Accurate Yarn Measuring Wheel
Updated: Sep 4
Most folks who work with yarn will eventually want to know how to easily and accurately measure their yarn. There are many devices out there. However the less expensive ones aren’t very accurate. The more expensive ones work, but are – expensive! We’re going to tell you how to make one, at a relatively low cost.
What you need to build a Yarn Measuring Wheel:
Rolatape Measure Master MM-12 (single wheel, 4″ diameter) – we got ours at Amazon for < $35 (note there are multiple versions of this device. One measures in Meters and Centimeters, one measures in Feet and Inches. We got the one that measures in Feet and Inches. We later realized that this is a problem because we want to know how many yards we have and need to divide the number of Feet by 3. In retrospect, we might have preferred the one with Meters and Centimeters since a meter is 39″ and a yard is 36″ – not the same but close enough for estimating!)
Scraps of 2×4 wood (we used 26″ of 2×4)
Lots of other misc scraps of wood
1 – 18″ Zip Tie
Misc screws, glue
Scraps of 2mm fun foam
Large Paper clips for yarn guides
1/4″ thick weatherstripping (1/2″ wide)
3M heavy duty double stick tape
Gaffer’s tape (optional)
If you want to make yours like ours, you’ll need some basic tools and carpentry skill. If you aren’t experienced with this type of work, you may want to use some velcro/zip ties to attach the wheel to the wood.
Instructions For Making the Yarn Measuring Wheel
Note: I apologize for the pictures being a bit out of construction order. This is a very old article and the device has changed alot since the original build so we don’t have the opportunity to take new photos.
Cut 2″x4″ into a strip 12″ long and two pieces 7″ long. The 7″pieces are the legs and you’ll want to adjust your leg height based on the height of your ball winder’s yarn guide. You want your yarn meter’s yarn guides to be at the same height as your ball winder’s yarn guide. Adjust your leg height accordingly.
You can sort of see in this picture how the yarn path would be.
Here we show what we’re trying to do…the yarn should feed to the ball winder in a straight line. This explains the 7″ tall legs
Attach the legs to the 12″ piece of wood Attach the plywood base to the other side of the legs (this creates a wider base for the measuring device to sit on and reduces it tendancy to fall)
Notice the large plywood base on the bottom and the two legs with 2×4 platform on top.
Remove the handle from the Measure Master (just unscrew the set screw then wiggle the handle out of the hole in the plastic)
Attach the measuring device with wheel to the center of the 12″ piece of 2×4. We built a wood casing lined with funfoam to protect the measuring device.
Important note: we now realize that we could have just used industrial strength adhesive Velcro. It’s at the Home Depot, look for industrial strength. It doesn’t matter which side goes on the wood and which side goes on the device. Just use it like double stick tape. You COULD glue the device to the wood, but for some reason, we just don’t like that idea.
Use the tie wrap to wrap around the wood and the device to hold it in.
If you use the velcro, we recommend that you drill some holes through the 2×4 to allow at least one additional tie wrap around the device.
Measure Master – see the aluminum rod? Remove that!
A different angle of the same wheel as above
This is the wooden “cage” we built to hold the device to the 2×4. Next time, we’d use industrial strength velcro and skip the wooden cage!
Clean the wheel with Windex or other cleaner/degreaser
Attach the 3M heavy duty tape to the sticky side of the weather stripping. You’re doing this because the adhesive on the weather stripping isn’t sticky enough to stay on the wheel! Now, cut the weather stripping/tape combo into 1/4″ wide by 13″ long. The wheel is approx 12″ around but allow some extra to trim it exactly to fit.
Attach strips of tape/weather stripping to each side of the wheel. Trim the ends as straight as possible
We tried the rubber bracelet method and the bracelets lasted all of 2 days before they snapped. This is when we had to try weather stripping. Also, we have high humidity here and many tapes don’t stick. We have almost every variation possible! This is why we used the gaffer’s tape. It’s a fabric based tape, similar to duct tape but doesn’t leave a residue. We use it everywhere where we don’t want the sticky of duct tape left behind. Duct Tape is stronger; but gaffer’s tape is great! Ok, so we tore strips of gaffer’s tape 1/4″ wide and 13″ long and put it on top of the weather stripping overlapping at the seam. This should keep our weather stripping on the wheel for nearly forever! (note: 9 years later, that weatherstripping tape sandwich is still sticking well!)
The Final Taped Up version
A different view of the tape
Bend the large paperclips into yarn guides as shown. Note that the hole in the guide should be as wide as the space on the wheel between the strips weather stripping (should be 1/2″ wide). You will need to attach the yarn guide so that it is aligned with that space – this is so that the guide ensures that the yarn stays in that space and doesn’t try to jump out of the wheel.
Drill holes in the wood and glue your paperclips into the holes.
Clamp your measuring thing to your table. Take note that the wheel must turn clockwise. So, as you look at the wheel, the yarn must enter on the right and exit on the left.
The final product
This is our very old video on how to use this device.
Other yarn measuring devices that inspired ours:
http://www.twosheep.com/blog/?p=273 <–make it yourself!
In the many years since we made this device, we changed ball winders, swifts, from knitting to spinning to weaving and back. This device is still working well and is fairly accurate if the yarn is taut (not tight…just taut) around the wheel as it turns. If the yarn is loose and sloppy, your accuracy will be affected. If the yarn is TIGHT, your accuracy will be affected. We have since removed the long legs and plywood platform and clamped the horizontal 2×4 with the wheel attached to the places where I needed it.