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Old 11-24-2008, 05:13 PM   #1
nbrome
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what's a skein?
I recently took up knitting again. I have lots of wool from years ago and I've found a market stall here which sells 50gm balls of wool for 50 "centesimi" (don't know what that is in dollars but it's REALLY cheap, like 50 cents or something).
The problem is that lots of the free patterns on the net talk about skeins and I don't know what that is. Is it the same as 50 grams?
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Old 11-24-2008, 05:18 PM   #2
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A skein is a ball of yarn of any size. You need to check your yarn label and see how many yards or meters are in each of your skeins, then check the patterns you are interested in and see how many yards or meters of yarn they call for. And make sure it's a similar weight yarn (thickness- like lace weight, worsted, bulky, etc). You may not have to use the exact same weight of yarn called for in the pattern, but if you can't get the same stitches and rows per inch then you'll have to find another way to compensate to make your finished article fit right (if it's something that has to fit).
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Old 11-24-2008, 05:20 PM   #3
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A skein is a thing of yarn that you buy. That's the best way I can explain the meaning of it. Skeins come in all kinds of weights and yardages, it just depends on what brand you buy from. Typically, a pattern will give about how many yards you need to make a project. If you look on the paper of your yarn, it'll tell you how many yards it is and the weight of it. Hope that helped!
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Old 11-25-2008, 09:35 AM   #4
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When I'm changing from one yarn to another, there are a few steps to it.

1) figure out how many yards/meters of yarn the pattern calls for (this can mean hunting down how many yards/meters are in each skein - www.yarndex.com is a good resource for this).
2) figuring out the weight of the yarn called for (again, Yarndex has been wonderful for this, since some patterns don't mention it)
3) then looking for the same number of yards of the same weight of a cheaper yarn (or simply one I like better).

So, if the original pattern calls for 5 skeins/balls of 150m of worsted weight yarn, then you can make sure you pick up 5x150=750m of any worsted weight yarn you like - and if you like the 50 centesimi yarn, that's better for your budget!
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Old 11-25-2008, 09:36 AM   #5
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Jen - love your grandbabies. My mom called them her "grandkitties" until the "real" grandbabies started coming along.
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Old 11-25-2008, 10:04 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by nbrome View Post
I recently took up knitting again. I have lots of wool from years ago and I've found a market stall here which sells 50gm balls of wool for 50 "centesimi" (don't know what that is in dollars but it's REALLY cheap, like 50 cents or something).
The problem is that lots of the free patterns on the net talk about skeins and I don't know what that is. Is it the same as 50 grams?
The short answer is that a skein is a unit package of wool (or other fiber) for sale. The manufacture decides how many ounces (grams) and yards (meters) they will wind up into a skein. They will (or should) provide this on the label. Patterns often specify a company brand of yarn and then give the number of skeins/packages needed for the project if you use that brand of yarn.

Here is a link to a tread, "Help with tangled yarn" that discusses one trouble with not knowing how the yarn is packaged and if it is a center-pull skein or needs to be wound into a center-pull ball or cake. (See the Packaged link for images of hanks vs skeins.)

If you don't have the length of the ball on the label, you can measure out 5 to 10 meters and weight it on a scale to find the mass (mg) per meter of length. Then multiply that ratio by the full mass of the ball (50 g) to find a close estimate of the total length of yarn in the ball.

The patterns also give the yarn weight (or thickness, really) used when the pattern was written. That used with the guage of your swatch will help you find how many meters you will need for the pattern.

Oy, I think I sent my head a spinning with all those links I've included. I hope it helps you.

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Old 11-25-2008, 11:41 AM   #7
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As stated a skein is ball of yarn a variable quanity
(think of a bag--)

yarn is sold by 2 measuremtents
Weight (50 gms) and Length (100 meters/109 yds)

(think of fruit.. 1 Kilo cherries is by count, way more cherries than 1 kilo of apples!)

the same is true for yarn.

50gms of sock weight (fine, thin yarn) is about 200 meters. (depending on yarn it could be as little as 150 meters or as many as 240!) (cherries)

50gms of worsted weight is about 100 meters (or less!)

50 gms of cotton would be even fewer yards/meters (cotton is a heavier fiber) (think of apples)

In many countries, there are requirements for sale of yarn
(weight, yardage, fiber content, country of origin)

but this is not true everywhere.
and frequently, even in countries that have requirements, yarn can be sold "as is" (at a very cheap price) with out a label--(and often is sold this way at sales/clearance bins. )
(let the buyer beware--you don't know what you are buying.. so you can't be sure of the value!)

the yarn is cheap--and it may be a bargain..

but its hard to know.

how many yards/meters in the 50gms?

what is fiber (there are several tests.. including a basic one like smell.. (wet smell is best) wet wool often smells (faintly!) like sheep. (other animal fibers so the same thing.. they smell like alpaca's, or goat (mohair--but very, very faintly!) or like, well, horrid (silk!)

there is a burn test too, (cut off 10cm of yarn, place in ashtray or other fireproof dish, and lite it on fire..
(wool and other animal fibers smell like burnt hair, and many will not remain on fire once the flame is removed. they have a fine ash, that will stay in place (till you touch it, and then, poof, its gone!)

synthetics will burn rapidly, remain on fire, smell like petrolium, and leave a small plastic beads for ash.

a photo would help, with a scale (a AA battery near by, so we could gauge how think or fine the fiber is (compared to a known size! )

And you can investigate for your self!
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Old 05-01-2014, 03:18 PM   #8
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How much is a skein
The best thing to do is see if you can find a length in meters or yards. But failing that....

Personally, I believe (particularly for free patterns) the pattern authors often intentionally make this ambiguous. They may say "2 skeins of BrandX SuperDuper yarn". If you don't buy BrandX SuperDuper, you have no way to know what the length or weight of a skein is, so they hope you'll throw up your hands and buy their yarn. I don't fault them for this. They are providing a free pattern, so it's only fair that they expect you to buy their yarn.

But, if you're using up other yarn, the best thing to do is to see if the pattern suggests such a particular brand and style. If so, go to the mfr website and see if you can find out the weight or length of a skein of that yarn. Then you have something to take to to the scale to figure out how much of another brand to use.

Good luck.
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