Thank you for all your good wishes for the state of the sock and the state of me. I have finished the sock - voila!
And, more importantly, it is a perfect fit:
I am so relieved!
In the end I had 5 pattern repeats before the increases and 9 up the leg (counting to include the heel) and ended with 8 rows of rib and a sewn cast off. I had to pinch a bit of yarn from the other ball to finish the cast off but I know that that ball is heavier so I should have no problem completing the second sock (in terms of yarn - whether I can take the mental strain is a completely different matter!)
I also played around with the rib at the top - the pattern calls for a 1 x 1 rib but I wanted the pattern to flow into the rib rather than be an abrupt line so I substituted p1, k1, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2, k1, p2, k2, p2, k1, p2, k2, p2, k2,p2, k1, p1 across each repeat and that way the pattern swoops int0 the rib - it looks a bit like this which will make far more sense:
This sock will be forever mingled with memories of Anna Karenina (on the train), court appearances (the reason I was on the train and so tired) and the Poirot marathon I finished it to. One of H's Christmas presents to me was the entire David Suchet Poirot series and I love it - I just wish they would do the Orient Express - it's one of my favourites of the Christie novels.
Having completed the sock (and pranced around wearing it for a bit), I settled down to some soul restoration in the form of my Icarus scarf. It's not very photogenic at the moment because it's all scrunched up on the needles but this is as good as I got:
I'm now on the fifth repeat of the main body section which according to the pattern is the last before the edging. I think I might add an extra repeat though as my gauge is nearer 6 sts to the inch rather than the 21 to 4" called for in the pattern. By my reckoning that should make the shawl 60 ish inch wingspan rather than 72 and as I am not on the small side I think I should go big and add the extra repeat.
My aim (over optimistic as usual) is to finish this in time to wear it over an orange-red dress to a friend's wedding on the first weekend of February. If I am too optimistic there's another wedding at the beginning and end of March, we will just have to wait and see.....