Definition of skein in English:



  • 1A length of thread or yarn, loosely coiled and knotted.

    • ‘I was so pleased with the Noro York sweater that I went back to the yarn store and came home with another ten skeins of Kureyon.’
    • ‘The one parcel I got from her was nice - a skein of cotton yarn, chiba needles, and some incense.’
    • ‘It is impossible to knit from a skein without getting the wool in a knot.’
    • ‘I drove to the beautiful Fisher Building in Detroit and then I counted skeins and skeins of yarn for the inventory at City Knits.’
    • ‘I ended up needing more yarn than quoted in the pattern - nine skeins instead of eight, which is a touch critical with a yarn like that.’
    • ‘A woman sits on a chair and skeins of wool are pulled around her.’
    • ‘They're figures of Greek mythology, three goddesses who control the destinies of man, likened to skeins of thread that they spin, measure out and finally cut.’
    • ‘You have a hoop, needle, iron-on transfers and skeins of embroidery floss.’
    • ‘I still have one and a half skeins that I will dye in the near future.’
    • ‘I left the store with a few new skeins of yarn and an entire set of round looms.’
    • ‘For the most part, the colors of the skeins are irregularly spaced, offering a kind of overall abstract composition.’
    • ‘It makes life much easier for each large bag to have a small plastic bag on top, filled with yarns of shorter lengths, approximately 18 inches to 3 inches, than the large skeins and/or balls.’
    • ‘Rich reds and oranges contrast with washed-out bluish surfaces; meshwork on the left opens onto some deeper orange space, while skeins of broken meshwork on the right seem to trail behind.’
    • ‘Embellished with cascades of semi-precious stones, crystal beads, dabka, and vivid skeins of fine silk thread, the focus here is on detailing and embroidery.’
    • ‘He would bring in these elaborate sweaters with Shetland ponies on the front, and I would run my fingers over his yarn skeins and he would explain how difficult but rewarding knitting was.’
    • ‘The folktale of a wicked man who helps a woman spin thread or straw into skeins of gold is well-known with variations around the world.’
    • ‘The ship's boiler has lost its outer casing and the masses of steam pipes are left hanging and twisted like skeins of wool.’
    • ‘Each skein of yarn sat neatly in its place, the loom itself dominating the room.’
    • ‘I had to choose 20 skeins of yarn and classify them.’
    • ‘Erianne frowned at the two skeins of thread in front of her, the sun beating down relentlessly on her uncovered head.’
    coil, length, roll, bunch, clump, loop, twist, piece
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    1. 1.1 An element that forms part of a complex or complicated whole.
      ‘he weaves together the skeins of philosophy, ecology, folklore, and history’
      • ‘Rubble na Mickies concludes the trilogy by drawing strands from the previous novels into a tangled skein.’
      • ‘Today the winery, owned by the large Stimson Lane firm, makes a skein of wines in several tiers.’
      • ‘There, the rivers give way to a skein of smaller rivers and enter the salt sea.’
      • ‘They did it by wrapping them in a skein of giant airbags.’
      • ‘Ideas and dialogues provide a skein of people and places.’
      • ‘Wil's formative years are shrouded in mystery, concealed from the public by a skein of lies and deceptions so complex that it has taken more than a decade for Wheaton researchers to unravel.’
      • ‘Caught in a skein of unresolved tensions, unspoken fear, and undefined destinations, the children adjust in their silent, obscure manner.’
      • ‘Given Twelfth Night's tangled skein of interwoven plots and deluded lovers, there is plenty of comic potential.’
  • 2A flock of wild geese or swans in flight, typically in a V-shaped formation.

    • ‘Skies were clear over South Sligo and East Mayo as skeins of wild geese winged their way towards the west coast.’
    • ‘For the last two nights, we have had skeins of geese flying over us to get to Martin Mere.’
    • ‘During the short drive to Joe's favourite diner in Madrid I spotted a group of five deer, several skeins of Canada geese and a group of mallard.’
    • ‘The blue train sped with the precision of a skein of geese in flight.’
    • ‘A V-shaped skein passing overhead with a cacophony of honks floating down still epitomizes wildness and freedom for many people.’
    • ‘Once, after being disturbed by a low-flying helicopter, the full skein remained airborne almost an hour before side-slipping and tumbling out of the sky.’
    • ‘Overhead skeins of geese and small flights of duck were moving south for the winter.’
    • ‘Above, the final skein of Pinkfooted Geese, over wintering from Greenland honked their noisy way to their evening roost on the sand-banks of the River Ribble.’
    • ‘I once stood on this spot and watched a skein of migrating geese flap their way in perfect chevron formation through the great cleft of the Lairig an Laoigh below, their wings cutting through the air with a rhythmic whoosh.’
    flock, flying group
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Middle English: shortening of Old French escaigne, of unknown origin.