If you have a sock machine, you know.
If you are getting an antique sock machine, it will most likely come with one of these. My advice:
Take this to the nearest lake and throw it as far as you possibly can. Or if you don't live near a lake, dig a hole as deep as you possibly can and bury this. Yes, I know there are environmental implications to this advice, but frankly, some things are more important than a green earth, and this is one of them.
This wire and metal horror is the dreaded Set-up Basket - what you use to get work started on the machine. Your Cast-On Assistant.
The basket is shown upside down. Right side up, you hold it inside the cylinder and wrap your starting scrap yarn around one needle, then one little arm thingy on the basket; then the next needle and the next thingy and so on until you have gone around the cylinder. Then you hang a weight on the rod protruding from the centre, to apply your tension.
This @&^@*&!$##@ basket is what took me, and I expect many, so-o-o-o long to finally get the machine going. It seemed an easy task when first contemplated, and I'm sure my large man's two left hands stuffed inside a 4.5" cylinder from both directions exacerbated the situation, but honestly....this little beast is the reason I had to 'walk away' so many times before battling the machine into submissive, albeit tentative, functioning mode.
When I FINALLY got this thing happening, the first thing I made was this:
This is a Set Up Bonnet, and it takes the place of the wire monstrosity from Hades.
The Set Up Bonnet is just a hem top sock, with a pico edge, that has no heel or toe to make - pretty much the same as the Arm Warmers I showed a few days ago.
With a pico edge, you have the 'bar' of the skipped stitch, hiding between the real stitch on either side. To use the Set Up Bonnet, you snag the stitchless bar with your hook tool and place it over one the the cylinder needles. Then you fish the next bar and put it on the next needle, and so on all around the cylinder. You can even skip every other needle and you will still have enough 'contact' to get going.
After a few uses, the bars become stretched into actual loops, as seen in the picture. Setting up for work becomes quick and easy.
The Set Up Bonnet should always be Job #1.
I've also heard of people using things like the string bags oranges come in. And at a demo one time, when I forgot the bonnet, I actually took off one of my socks and pulled stitches from the hem over the needles to get started (yes, the sock was ruined!).
I've got several bonnets (and one former sock) - one for each cylinder. The one pictured is the one in the best condition to show publicly. I should probably make some new ones, but they get the job done.
Meanwhile back at the farm...
Some of the earlier born lambs are really getting to be a size. Here are two ewes, each with twins. I think they are suckling more pounds of lamb than they are carrying on their own backs. They will want weaning soon! The lambs have learned to graze from their dams, and she will kick them off the teats as her milk declines. These lambs are about 8 - 9 weeks old.