I like my yarn wound into cakes. For one, I want to know what the yarn is like, ie; joins, badly wound spots, etc. And if it's self striping yarn and I want the strips to match on socks or something, I want to be sure I'm using the colors in the same direction. BUT I don't always want to use the center pull.
At a recent function at my LYS one of the ladies had a Yarn Spinner and I had to have one. The wound cake sits over the center of the spinner, which spins on the base. Now I can use it from the outside, the yarn stays contained and clean...and it's very pretty! It's also very easy to rewound yarn when I have to rip out. I got it on Etsy... http://www.etsy.com/shop/Craftiness?ref=top_trail
Take a look....
Cocobolo Rosewood Single
I have a swift and a ball winder. I wind all mine with the thought of drawing from the center. I sometimes have to put yarn that is in skeins on my swift and then rewind them to my satisfaction. Thank you for the smooth / rough yarn direction tip. I will pay closer attention to that the next time I wind my yarn...that may be why I find some yarn more irritating to my hands when I knit. Rewinding also helps to find knots and allows you to correct them before knitting. I use a bowl that my SIL gave me many years ago and that keeps the cakes of yarn right where I want it.
I wind all of my center pull skeins into center pull balls on my ball winder. That wasy I get all of the tangles out as I am winding and don't have to deal with them while knitting. When I get to the end of the ball I just pull the yarn out carefully to avoud tangling it myself...putting it in a bag helps with this. By winding center pull to center pull I keep the yarn going in the correct direction.
Thank you for the many wonderful responses about the "why" of center-pulled skeins. Ya'll are definitely an enlightening group. I can't wait to share your responses with my knitting friends tomorrow. Thanks again!!!