I own a swift (well, actually, I own half a swift. My friend and I share it.) but I don't like it very well. The wood swells and sticks, so my balls of yarn are wound impossibly tight. This is what I do instead:
I place two straight back chairs back to back, which produces a wedge shape that the skein rests on. Then I run the yarn straight up to a plastic coat hanger on a curtain rod above, and then down to the ball winder. Having the yarn go straight up lets it reel off the chair backs quite nicely, which feeds yarn into my ball winder way better than the real swift.