How do you wind your yarn? This is my usual technique...the knees. I have a beautiful Swedish swift, and once had a little twirly ball-winder, but needs arise away from home...or I'm too lazy to go upstairs and dig it out. I always have my knees avaliable no matter where I may journey.
My other trick is to wind the yarn around my thumb, keeping a hollow center, with the beginning of the yarn easy to snatch. This way I have a pull-from-the-center ball. Voila!