This is the pair of socks that made it all better.
Same pattern, same size, same needles and techniques... but a different brand of yarn. After my misadventure with the last pair, I cast on with some Patons Kroy. I can't remember which day I cast on, but these socks knit up fast.
I'm not sure I love this particular striping pattern (what's with that white?) but the way the yarn works up is just wonderful and makes thick comfy socks that I love. And if it keeps my toes warm, even better!