E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A fruitless errand. It should be written sleaveless, as it comes from sleave, ravelled thread, or the raw-edge of silk. In Troilus and Cressida, Thersitës the railer calls Patroclus an idle immaterial skein of sleive silk (v. 1).