This is a swift:
(Photo credit: Cats-Rockin-Crochet-Fiber-Artist although I'm not sure where she got it)
The reason for this rather elaborate contraption is because a lot of really nice yarn purchased from really nice yarn shops come in hanks like this one:
Once you've undone the braid that looks a lot like those fancy loaves of bread (what would you bet that both bread and yarn are folded in almost the exact same fashion?), you have a really wide and long coil of yarn. Since I do not have a yarn swift ... yet ... I have to jury rig one with dinning room chairs:
I had to use two chairs. The gizmo you see on the chair is a ball winder.
Here's another view ... sort of a side view which should give you an idea of how big the hank of yarn actually is.
With this set up, I'm standing on the chair so that the ball winder is above the chair pulling the yarn up, hopefully without tangling, as it winds the yarn into a usable ball.
About one hour later, give or take, I have these nice center-pull yarn balls which is much, much easier to work with than a huge loosey-goosey hank.
It would be nice if really nice yarn came already in nice, easy-to-use center-pull yarn balls, but that would add a few more $$$ to an already $$$ ball of yarn. Handcrafters like to be frugal so we are willing to wind our own yarn, providing we have the right tools for the task. Which, by the way, also cost $$$.
Anyhow, speaking a really nice yarn, the two blues (one called "water" and the other "wine gum" ... wine gum????) you see in the above picture are definitely really, really nice yarns! Both are made from 45% silk and 55% Merino wool. They are aptly named! The term "lace" refers to the thickness of the yarn, which is super fine and perfect for knitting and crocheting lacey things. This is my favorite weight of yarn to work with. Not necessarily for beginners, but you don't need a gazillion hours of experience either. Just some patience, the right size needles or hook, and consistent tension on the yarn.
Here's a close-up of the twist. Someday I'll be able to spin this fine!!
I found a lovely alpaca/silk blend variegated that complemented the "scrumptious lace" beautifully. While alpaca is usually softer then wool, the Merino wool is notably among the softest of sheep wool and at this fine a yarn, they feel very similar. All combined, I'm working with some seriously scrumptious threads!
Here's what I'm working on ... it will be a shawl someday, made from lacey snowflake motifs.
A different view with different lighting.
I'm not totally thrilled with the little filler motif ... took me about 10 different attempts to work something up to fill the space left after joining motifs together. I needed a square and I first tried using the variegated, but it look weak filling in the space. The darker blue (wine gum??? still not sure what wine gum is, all I get from a search are references to a candy popular in the UK) seems to work better.