One of the common questions I hear from beginning knitters and crocheters is, "What is a skein of yarn?" That's why I have prepared this comprehensive guide for you! My guide ensures you gain enough knowledge you'll need before purchasing and using a skein of yarn.
What Is a Skein of Yarn Tutorial
What is a Skein of Yarn? Definition
Pronounced “skayn”, “skeen", or “skine", skein refers to a unit of yarn or how the yarn is wound and sold. It's a type of yarn packaging wherein the thread has been loosely twisted, wrapped, and wound into a long, oblong shape.
DEFINITION: A skein is an oblong-shaped, wound yarn.
How Heavy and Long Is a Skein of Yarn
The weight and length of a skein of yarn are important for any knitting and crocheting project. These features will help you determine how much yarn you would need for your specific piece.
Skeins of yarn are available in various weights, depending on the material used to make it and the yarn thickness. That said, the weight of the skein usually ranges from 50 to 450 grams (1.76 to 15.87 ounces).
Length-wise, it will depend on the yarn's brand, weight, and fiber content. Overall, it ranges from 50 to 1,000 yards (45.72 to 914.40 meters).
The good news is you don't have to second guess and research each time you purchase a skein of yarn for your specific project. That's all thanks to the yarn label, where you can find the following:
- Specific skein yardage or length
- Skein weight
- Yarn weight (the strand's thickness)
- Fiber content
- Gauge or the recommended size of the knitting or crocheting needle
What Is a Skein: Pros and Cons
Apart from a skein, yarns are wound, packaged, and sold in various ways, such as yarn hanks, yarn cones, yarn donuts, and yarn cakes.
Of course, each comes with pros and cons. Knowing these will ensure you choose the right one for your skills and specific project.
So, apart from knowing the answer to "What is a skein of yarn?", you should be aware of why you should and why you shouldn't choose a skein over the others.
Benefits of Using a Skein of Yarn
Here are the top reasons why you should choose skeins of yarn over other yarn packaging:
- Convenient To Purchase and Sell
- Can Be Used in Many Projects
I highly advise beginning crocheters and knitters to purchase a skein of yarn instead of a cake of yarn or a cone of yarn because it's easier to work with it. You won't need to unroll and re-roll your yarn repeatedly while using it. You can also easily find the yarn end and start working.
Not only that, but you won't have to deal with the many annoying tangles and knots when pulling the yarn strand out of the skein. This mess-free design is all thanks to how carefully the yarn has been wound into its perfect shape.
Most knitting and crocheting patterns also include the number of skeins you need to use for your specific project. It means you won't have to do additional measurements prior to beginning your project. Simply look at the label and purchase the right amount of skeins.
Convenient To Purchase and Sell
When you shop around for yarn for your craft, you simply don't need to ensure you pick the right yarn weight, color, and gauge, but also its texture.
The good thing about skeins of yarn is you can easily and quickly unravel a tiny portion of the skein to get a test sample or create a swatch without the entire bundle of yarn unraveling.
It means that you can assess the yarn or have a feel for it. This also makes it very convenient for sellers or yarn stores.
Can Be Used in Many Projects
Different types of yarn are packaged into skeins, so it's easy to have yards of yarn for different knitting and crocheting projects. Whether you need fine yarn for your mitten and baby bootie projects or heavy DK-weight yarn for your shawl, scarf, or thicker blanket craft, you won't have to worry about finding a skein of yarn for your specific task.
Drawback of Using a Skein of Yarn
Of course, a skein of yarn isn't perfect, but it only has one drawback:
- Can lose its shape as you get to the end and tangle more easily.
Can Lose Its Shape
While you don't need to unroll and roll the skein of yarn at the beginning, the yarn skein will lose its shape once you get to the end. It means that you will have a shapeless, easy-to-tangle heap of yarn left that will be annoying to use.
Experts and crafters like me recommend that you re-roll it into a ball once it loses its shape at the end.
What Is a Skein of Yarn: How To Use It
Now that you're familiar with the skein of yarn, it's time for you to learn how to use it in your projects. That said, here are the steps I recommend you take to use it efficiently:
Step 1: Find the End
Of course, the first thing you need to do is find the end of your skein of yarn. Remove the tag or label and lay it on your yarn bowl to help hold your skein of yarn in place. If you don't have one, you can use any clean bowl to hold the yarn. You can use the end from the outside or the inside.
The outside end is easy to find as it is usually revealed as soon as you take the band off. The disadvantage of using the outside end is that your skein of yarn will jump all over the place when you knit or crochet. You will also be forever pulling the end loose which can affect your tension.
Most crafters use the skein end from the inside as it pulls easily as you knit or crochet without the yan skein jumping all over the place.
To find the inside end, look for the loose end located inside the yarn's center. To do so, insert your index finger and thumb into the skein's center and start feeling for the loose end. In case extra yarn, aka yarn barf, comes out from the skein, don't worry, as this is normal. Once you find the skein's end, gently pull the yarn out.
Now, don't be surprised when I tell you that if the yarn's ends are in the center of the skein, you can have some trouble locating them. The good news is there are some hacks to make it easier.
I suggest you use any of the following tricks:
- Teasing: Gently squeeze the skein of yarn and tease it with your fingers to loosen the fibers.
- Using a Hook or a Needle: Grab a crochet hook or small needle and use it to tease out the yarn's end.
No matter what technique you use to pull the yarn out from the skein, make sure you keep the outside strands in place to prevent any tangle.
Step 2: Wrap or Wind the Yarn
You can work directly from the skein or rewind the ball so it doesn't lose shape and affect your tension. This is optional of course.
You can use your hand or a yarn winder (swift or ball winder) to do it without seeking any help. Nevertheless, you can always ask someone to hold the yarn for you.
That said, here's how you turn your skein of yarn into a ball using your hands:
- Grab the yarn's end and wrap it around your palm a few times.
- Slowly remove the wrapped yarn from your palm and fold it to create "bunny ears."
- Hold the top of the bunny ears and wrap the yarn around the bottom of the ears multiple times, making sure you don't wrap it too loosely and too tightly. After a few wraps, make sure you slightly change the direction to create a ball. While doing so, ensure you keep holding the ears to prevent them from getting consumed by the ball.
- Continue wrapping the yarn until you’ve reached the end of the skein of yarn. Be careful with the last few meters or yardage of yarn, as they're more prone to tangles.
Step 3: Create a Slipknot
Once you have a ball of yarn made from your skein, grab one of the loose ends and create a small loop. Pass the yarn's end through the loop you created to make a slip knot.
Grab your crochet hook or knitting needle and insert it into the slipknot loop you created. Next, tighten the slipknot to secure the yarn in place.
Step 4: Start Knitting or Crocheting
With your yarn securely wrapped around your crocheting or knitting tool, there are no other things to do but to begin your project!
Alternatives to Skeins of Yarn
While skeins are one of the most popular types of yarn winding styles, it is not the only one. Here is a comparison of a skein of yarn to other types:
|Skein||Loosely wound yarn in an oblong shape.||Easy to start using directly for projects.||Can get tangled if not used carefully.|
|Hank||A looped bundle of yarn twisted into a ring.||A looped bundle of yarn is twisted into a ring shape. Wind into a ball or skein before use.||Must be wound before use; can get tangled easily.|
|Cake||Flat cylindrical shape. Pulled from center or outside.||Sits flat, easy to use, color transitions.||Can collapse or get tangled if not handled properly.|
|Cone||Wound onto a cone. Larger quantity of yarn.||Large quantity, efficient for big projects.||Bulky and not as portable as other yarn forms.|
|Ball||Yarn wound into a round shape, by hand or machine.||Portable, easy to use.||Can roll around if not contained.|
What is a Skein of Yarn - In Conclusion
A skein of yarn is just one of the many ways yarn strands are wound, packaged, and sold. It's highly recommended for beginners for many reasons, like its ease of use and storage, mess-free design, and versatility.
While the thread or fiber can lose its shape once you unwind it from the skein, there is a trick that I highly suggest you do: wind yarn into a ball. Yes, you will need to spare some time, but it's better than having crocheted and knitted projects that won't perfectly hold their shape.