For the umbrella swift and ball winder method-
I have this umbrella swift and this ball winder. I got them as a Christmas gift off of my Amazon Wish List. At first I was hesitant to put them on there because they are expensive but I am so glad I did, I love using them!
First you unwind your skein.
Next look closely and find the point(s) where the skein is tied and untie it. In some lace weight yarn, it is tied in numerous places but in thicker yarns its only once.
Once you have it untied, carefully lift it onto the umbrella swift and secure the swift.
Then set up the yarn on your ball winder as per the directions that came with it.
Next start winding.
When you are finished, which will only take a few minutes, you end up with this-
Slip it off of the center of the winder and you end up with a beautiful center-pull cake.
For the low-tech "leg" method-
You start in the same way, first, you unwind your skein.
Next look closely and find the point(s) where the skein is tied and untie it. Again, in some lace weight yarns, it is tied in numerous places but in thicker yarns its only once.
Now, I sit on the floor with my back leaning against something comfortable and bend my knees up then carefully lift the untied skein onto your legs. Spread your legs out to the sides until the yarn is pulled tight. That is important. If there is not enough tension on the yarn, you will end up with a tangled mess.
Then you unwind a few rounds from your legs and start forming a ball. When I start my ball, I wrap the yarn around two fingers a few times then I pull that off and fold it in half and then use that as my base for the ball and continue winding on that.
Continue in this fashion- unwind a few rounds from your legs (don't do too much at once of it will tangle), and then wrap it around the growing ball of yarn. I usually do ten or so wraps in one direction, then turn the ball slightly and do ten more and so on.
Each time I turn the ball, I make sure its growing evenly at all angles. Keep going until you have used up all the yarn on your legs and you end up with this-
Both ways work, and while a ball winder gives you beautiful center-pull balls of yarn, the leg method still gets the job done and leaves you with a nice ball of workable yarn.