|Panda Machinewash 8 ply|
She was talking about a skein of yarn but my ears were shocked to attention by a strange sound in her speech.
The word was not strange, but the pronunciation was.
Like the song, "You say 'to-may-toe', I say 'to-mah-toe'" (Let's Call the Whole Thing Off!), I heard a very common word in yarn circles being pronounced in two different ways. The word is:
Like fingernails down a blackboard, it made me shudder and cringe to hear someone say a "skeen of yarn" pronouncing it like been. It felt uncomfortably wrong because all my life I had only ever heard it and known it as a "skayne" with an ay as in a 'bale of hay'.
I immediately needed to get to the bottom of this. Are there two variants in common, acceptable usage or is one of them wrong? Have I been pronouncing it wrongly my entire life? That would make me cringe all over again in embarrassment! That won't do! I must know! So, off I went to do some research.
|Kmart Homemaker 8 ply acrylic|
You may find this interesting. You may even be able to help by letting me know how this word is pronounced in your district.
I have heard it pronounced both ways from either side of the Atlantic. Perhaps it is a variant of accent or dialect. For your information:
The correct Australian pronunciation of skein
is skayne and not skeen.
In Middle English, it was spelled skayne and it derives from the Old French word escaigne which leads me to believe that the Australian way, skayne, is the correct and proper way to say it.
|Bella Baby Evelyn 4 ply cotton|
Interestingly, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers alternative spellings, skean or skeane, which could explain the mispronunciation of the word as skeen (looks like bean), even though this dictionary's pronunciation guide states skayne ('skān).
The Online Etymology Dictionary offers the following information about the origins of the word skein:
fixed quantity of yarn doubled over and over and knotted, mid-15c., from Middle French escaigne "a hank of yarn" (Old French escagne, mid-14c., Modern French écagne), of uncertain origin. Compare Medieval Latin scagna "a skein," Irish sgainne "a skein, clue."
Just for fun, here are some definitions of the word skein:
|Moda Vera Marvel|
8 ply acrylic
2. Anything resembling this, as coil of hair or the like.
3. A flock of geese or similar birds in flight formation.
1. A length of thread or yarn, loosely coiled and knotted.
1.1. A tangled or complicated arrangement, state, or situation: 'the skeins of her long hair', (figurative) 'a skein of lies'
1.2. A flock of wild geese or swans in flight, typically in a V-shaped formation.
|Lion Brand Bonbons|
mini skeins of 8 ply acrylic
2. Something suggesting the twists or coils of a skein : tangle
3. A flock of wildfowl (as geese or ducks) in flight
1. 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.
2. (Wagon Making) A metallic strengthening band or thimble on the wooden arm of an axle.
3. (Zoology) A flight of wild fowl (wild geese or the like).
[Webster's 1913 Dictionary, American]
There you go! That's my lesson for today.
No more excuses.
No more excuses.
skein-dal scandal about skeins!
|Tonofwool cormo wool sample skein.|
The Macquarie Dictionary Third Edition, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia 1999.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/
Online Etymology Dictionary: http://www.etymonline.com
Oxford Dictionaries: www.oxforddictionaries.com
Webster's 1913 Dictionary: http://www.webster-dictionary.org
Updated 26 July 2017:
Shroyer, Lisa, "Lisa’s List: 12 Yarn Ball Types and How to Knit with Them", online article, Interweave, 23 February 2017: http://www.interweave.com/article/knitting/lisas-list-yarn-ball-types/
59% acrylic, 12.5% nylon, 17.5% mohair, 11% wool