from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A length of thread or yarn wound in a loose long coil.
  • n. Something suggesting the coil of a skein; a complex tangle: a twisted skein of lies.
  • n. A flock of geese or similar birds in flight. See Synonyms at flock1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A quantity of yarn, thread, or the like, put up together, after it is taken from the reel. A skein of cotton yarn is formed by eighty turns of the thread round a fifty-four inch reel.
  • n. A web, a weave, a tangle.
  • n. A metallic strengthening band or thimble on the wooden arm of an axle.
  • n. A group of wild fowl, (e.g. geese, goslings) when they are in flight.
  • n. A winning streak.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A quantity of yarn, thread, or the like, put up together, after it is taken from the reel, -- usually tied in a sort of knot.
  • n. A metallic strengthening band or thimble on the wooden arm of an axle.
  • n. A flight of wild fowl (wild geese or the like).

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To wind (yarn) into hanks of definite lengths other than the normal.
  • n. A fixed length of any thread or yarn of silk, wool, linen, or cotton, doubled again and again and knotted.
  • n. A flight or company: said of certain wild fowl, as geese or ducks.
  • n. A shaved split of osier used in wickerwork.
  • n. In a vehicle, the iron head or thimble upon the end of a wooden axletree, inclusive of the straps by which it is attached to the axle, and which, being set in recesses flush with the wood, afford hearing surfaces for the box in the hub.
  • n. An obsolete form of skean.
  • n. In cytology, same as spireme.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. coils of worsted yarn


Middle English skeine, from Old French escaigne.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English skeyne, Old French escaigne, French écagne, probably of Celtic origin (Wiktionary)


  • That's cuz the other skein is already in progress:

    March 2007

  • Each skein is 3 balls of Baby Ull. When I finish Susie's shawl, I'll see if I can use these for some of Cookie's socks.

    March 2007

  • I don’t know if you can tell, but the skein is almost * nothing* and I hope I don’t run out.

    2006 January 06 « Compulsive Knitter

  • The diamond-shaped kite has no spool, but a funny shaped plastic handle, so you can wind the string in a skein, which is great for not tangling but awful for letting it spool out and go higher.


  • The $1.7 million skein, which is partially financed by Canal Plus, centers on a community of trees talking like teenagers and tackling teen issues.

  • Lucy Lawless and John Hannah will co-star in the untitled skein, with Whitfield making only

  • Untitled skein will be produced by Fox Television Studios and Fuse Entertainment.

  • "The New Adventures of Old Christine," "Gary Unmarried" and "Rules of Engagement" could each claim a spot in Wednesday's opening hour, with their chances perhaps determined by the compatability of a new show to pair with (perhaps Tad Quill's untitled skein or the untitled laffer from "How I Met Your Mother" mavens Carter Bays and Craig Thomas).

  • An untitled skein from writer Gay Walch and exec producer Burrad Marsh looks at a suburban mom whose husband has left town because he was in deep with the mob.

  • As written, it should work with just about any sock yarn and takes less than a 100g skein which is what they usually are.

    Bad Oyster - Pattern now up!


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  • A message sent from the White House took only twelve minutes to come back to the transmitting telegraphers, having circumnavigated the planet via a now fully connected skein of cables, and at what was then a barely imaginable speed.

    - Winchester, Simon (2005). A Crack in the Edge of The World. HarperCollins.

    December 28, 2007

  • The much ballyhooed 7th release of Inform—a system for writing interactive fiction or text adventures—uses something they call the skein as a way to keep track of all the various ways you navigate your in-progress game, ie the braid of different threads of the adventure.

    December 19, 2007