How Do You Pronounce Skein?

By Rachel Choi – 83 Comments
While hanging out with a bunch of crochet folks I realized that there are many ways that people pronounce the word “skein”. Perhaps it’s due to the region we’re from or the crochet influences that we’ve been around. The most common pronunciations that I’ve heard are “skane”, “skeen”, and “skine”. According the dictionary (yes, I looked it up), the proper way is to pronounce it as “skane”. Personally, I say it as “skeen” and any other way just sounds funny!

So which way do you pronounce “skein”? Skane, skeen, skine, or maybe just ball?

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  1. Michelle says:

    I say ‘skeen.’ Never heard it any other way. I grew up in Ohio and now live outside the US. Most of the time though I just say yarn.

    • cora asuncion says:

      I pronounce it “skane”.I am from the Phils and has been living in the US for 21 yrs. i avoided pronouncing it in front of Americans bec I wasnt sure how it sh/ be pronounced here in the US.Thanks for the info.

  2. Melliza says:

    Good question! I never really thought about it…I know I never pronounce it correctly, I sometimes pronounce it as “skin” or describe it (worsted-weight, wool, cotton, etc.) Now I know how to correctly say it, Thanks! 🙂

  3. Sybil J. Chialiva says:

    I’ve always pronounced it “skane”, as everyone I know does in the Chicago area, and as my mother does, and as my grandmother did (from Scandinavia). Anything else sounds strange to me! 🙂

  4. Karen says:

    Its funny how just a few hundred miles can change pronounciation. Im from Northwest PA I say skane, hubbys family says Skeen. But then again I say warsh and hubby (whos from Central part Of PA says wash. lol

  5. ladytigger54 says:

    I would like to pass along that in the very olden days it wasn’t called a skein it was known as a hank of yarn or wool. Checked with some of my old relatives

    • Michelle Carter says:

      A Hank and skein are different things. They called it a Hank so long ago bc that’s what it was and still is today. They didn’t have skeins of yarn. A Hank is when they just wrap the yarn around something in a circle and then tie little pieces around it on a couple sides so it won’t tangle, then then they twist it into a Hank. A skein is typically a machine wound yarn ball like you buy at the store. A Hank needs to be put on a swift (or someone’s arms) and be wound into a ball.

      Anyway, I say “skayne”, which is the proper pronunciation. However, with accents bring what they are, I think a lot of people say it as “skeen”.

  6. Sheila says:

    “Gauge” rhymes with rage or cage. No clue why the “u” is even in there. I question why there is an “L” in the word “soldering” also, when the word is pronounced “soddering” (as in, soldering iron…. the “L” is silent.) Crazy world, indeed. haha

  7. Hannah says:

    In the UK I’ve only ever heard it pronounced skane – imagine the mispellings I get of my surname – Scane.

    And Sheila, we pronounce the L in soldering – it’s said as it’s written

  8. Metta says:

    I grew up in Texas, and have lived in Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, and have never heard it pronounced any way except skane. I learned to crochet from my mother, and she said skane.

  9. Panya says:

    Skein is skayn [skeɪn], rhyming with rein and vein. My family is from Northern Indiana and we all say it this way, which is the pronunciation listed in every dictionary I can think of.

    • Michelle Carter says:

      Exactly. I’m from Indiana as well but live in Germany.

    • Nikki says:

      But what about…when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking….personally, I say skein with a long e sound I’m from New England and live in Ohio. Everyone says Skeen. But my fave Canadian crochet vlogger says Skein with the long a sound. We only giggled the first few times we heard it! LOL!

  10. Patricia G Pahoski says:

    I just joined a knitting/crochet group. I have always said skane but this group of ladies pronounce it skeen. They are from northeast and central Penna, northern New Jersey and one lived in the midwest for a few years. Oh well, to each his own. We get together every two weeks and have the best time. Thanks for your help. :o)

  11. Susan says:

    I grew up in California. It is Skane here. I have heard Hank but that was something we had to wind off into a ball.

  12. Raidell says:

    I used to pronounce it “skine” (rhymes with “nine” and “stein”), but my parents corrected me and said it was “skane”, so that’s how I’ve pronounced it since.

  13. Karin says:

    I say it like “scan”

  14. kaylee says:

    i have always pronounced it as “skeen” as that is the only way i have ever heard it pronounced

  15. Sarah says:

    My mother always called it “a thing of yarn.” She only ever used RHSS, and never gave me a colorway name when she sent me to get it, but I knew enough about color shades to know the distinction between “a thing of baby blue yarn” and “a thing of light blue yarn.”

    Sometimes I call it a skein (and I pronounce it skane), and sometimes I call it a ball. Having grown up with a skein of yarn being as big as my forearm and 300+ yards, calling that little 102-yard string of Patons Silk Bamboo a “skein” just seems silly!

  16. Jennifer says:

    I pronounced it skin at first but i think i’ll pronounce it skane for now on lol.

  17. Na No Da says:

    I called it a “seeking” like sea king the Pokemon lol. But that’s because I’m mildly dyslectic so my brain adds letters that aren’t there. I finally bothered to look up how to pronounce it because I knew I was saying it wrong. Lucky me I usually just call it yarn! I only recently read the word on a web comic about knitting or else I wouldn’t even know of the word. And thank you Panya for the “rein & vein” it makes much more sence now when I look at it!

  18. Carol Scott says:

    Honestly, I’ve never heard it pronounced any other way but ‘skane’, and wouldn’t have even considered another pronunciation. I suppose that’s because my mother, both of my grandmothers and several aunts and great-aunts were crafters, so I’d heard many of them referring to the skeins as ‘skanes’ ever since I was an infant. Another crochet material with multiple names appears to be the thinner, doily-making substance, which my relatives always referred to as ‘crochet cotton’, but which younger women nowadays simply call thread. That bothers me because there’s a definite differentiation between this and what is commonly referred to as thread. Has anyone else run into this contradiction?

  19. Panya says:

    @ Carol Scott — I usually call that ‘crochet thread’ or ’embroidery thread’ — sometimes just ‘thread’ if it’s obvious which type I’m talking about [i.e. not the type for sewing]. I also see it called ‘floss’ or ’embroidery floss’, but I never say that myself.

  20. Jenn says:

    I’m a third generation California and learned to crochet from my mother and grandmother. They always pronounced it “skeen.” I hadn’t heard it pronounced “skane” until I moved to Oregon.

  21. I’m Australian and I’ve always pronounced skein as ‘skeen’ even though I know it’s supposed to be pronounced as ‘skane’. It just rolls off my tongue better when I say ‘skeen’. 🙂

  22. carol stevenson says:

    Tomatoes – toe-mah-toes!

  23. AM says:

    I’ve always said skane. Perhaps I just used the addage that it’s ‘i before e, except after c, and when sounded as a (long a) as in neighbor and weigh. I have looked it up to make sure I’m not mispronouncing it, and if there are alternate pronunciations–there are not. I just realize that if people say skeen or skine, they just don’t know the correct pronunciation, and don’t realize they are mispronouncing it. And if one only hears people mispronouncing it, you wouldn’t realize anyone IS mispronouncing it! If they hear me say it differently, and ask why I say it like that, then I tell them I’ve looked it up, and explain the phonics too!

  24. Stacey says:

    I grew up in West Virginia, saying “skeen” – it was how my mother, grandmother and aunt said it. When I visited the LYS after moving to southern Maryland, I noticed the ladies there called them “skanes”. It sounded so odd to my ears, but imagine my surprise when I looked it up! Oh, well, I just call it “yarn” 99% of the time, and am fine with my ol’ hillbilly pronunciation. 🙂

  25. Nikki says:

    Leigh is long E yet sleigh is long a.

  26. Nikki says:

    Oh how about Ashleigh, ceiling and leisure for the skeeners. I have one for the skiners Heist. But there are plenty for the skaners. I say, say it any way you want loud and proud! Let’s promise to giggle to ourselves and mock not!! 😉

  27. aardvark says:

    skane (long a)

  28. Lisa says:

    I’m from the Midwest. I’ve lived in Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. I pronounce with a long e- skeen.

  29. Murf says:

    It’s skane, with a long A; In Middle English, it was spelled skayne and it derives from the Old French word escaigne, meaning a hank of yarn. I had never heard it pronounced ‘skeen’ until one of my best friends said it that way and every time I hear it, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. Methinks I’m going to take her to task on it LOL.

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