I've been "hank"ering to use the hank* of 100% baby alpaca I bought in Kennewick on Black Friday and was finally successful.
*Hank: a unit of yarn or twine that is in a coiled form (aka unknittable form).
In order to use the hank, you have to first put the coil on a yarn swift. A swift will rotate and allow the yarn to be pulled off without causing twists, knots, or other irritating fiascoes. A yarn baller is the mechanism needed to pull the yarn off the swift and twist it into the tidy little skeins you can find at craft stores. Yarn ballers create "center-pull" balls so you can set them on the table or couch and not have it roll away (and entice your cat) when you pull on your yarn.
Swifts can get pretty pricey (some up to $90! For a couple pieces of wood!), so asked for one for Christmas. On Christmas morning I got to open a beautiful collapsible swift, handmade by my pops! Supposedly I'll be getting a baller, too, but it's backordered. I borrowed my coworker's on Thursday to ball my alpaca, and this is what the operation looked like:
Also balled up some handspun wool I ordered on Ebay about three years ago and never got around to working with. Maybe now's the time?
Couldn't stop the "Balla!" jokes while I was winding. Made me wish I was a little bit taller, wish I was a baller, wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat...
....Three and a half knitting hours later, with Skee-Lo still in my head, I finished my baby alpaca hat for myself.
Only three hours!!!
Pattern: Unoriginal Hat by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Chunky Solid, Gray
Needles: US 10.5 DPN
I love it. It's suuuuper soft and warm and fits me perfectly!