Black hole of knitting is done... thank goodness.... and I have to say, I'm happy with the results. It looked pretty awful pre-blocking -- very uneven, and sorta lumpy.
I ended up steam blocking the piece, and I was pleasantly surprised at the different it made. To be precise, I filled my iron with water, cranked it up to maximum, held it about an inch above the piece and pushed the "steam jet" button.
(Sad but true, I use my iron more in this way than actually putting it onto a fabric.)
The stitches evened out nicely, and the fabric looks significantly better.
A reader, AuntieAnn, posted a comment about her experience with the Soxx Appeal... she said that she had trouble getting a good fit because of the elastic. My first pointer is to work a little smaller than you would normally... if you're using my sock template, instead of calculating the cast-on stitches using ankle circumference less 2 cm, I'd subtract 3 cm. And I'd work a little shorter than you usually would. My foolproof technique for figuring out if the sock is long enough before the toe decrease... ?
Halfway through working the instep stitches (so that the sts are distributed across four needles), I try the thing on.
This works best, I find, because the sock will stretch as it needs to, to fit your foot, and you'll get a good sense of what length you need to accommodate the stretch. I used to start working the toe 2 inches/5 cm short of the full foot length, but I tend to start a cm or so earlier than that now. A non-stretch sock yarn naturally stretches out during the day with wear, and I found a sock that was precisely the right length in the morning was loose by the end of the day. A sock that has to stretch a little -- just a little -- in the morning remains a good fit at the end of the day.
(Very attentive readers will recognize this yarn as one of my purchases from this year's Knitter's Frolic. Shelridge Farms Soft Touch Ultra Fingering. Newsprint socks.)