I finished binding off the first border of Blanche last night and it looks good. I'm waiting until the rest of the yarn supply arrives before I start the other border -- not sure why, but maybe it's some sort of superstition. In the meantime, I am working on J's socks. Here they are as of a few minutes ago:
I've just started the gussets after turning the heel. I think I should add that I turned the heel, completed the gussets, and had about an inch of foot done last night. When I picked it up today, I discovered that I'd somehow dropped a stitch several rows, and when I ripped back I discovered that somehow I did not have enough stitches. I didn't have the patience to try to figure out where I went wrong, so I just frogged back to the heel and started again at picking up the stitches from the heel flap. At most I lost an hour of knitting time, which is no biggie (especially as I do not have any time restrictions on this project). I was going to have to stop soon anyway to measure J's foot.
This sock is knit in Knit Picks Essential (75% superwash wool, 25% nylon). To answer your question, Jen, this yarn is not nearly as soft as the Sock Garden; but then again, this yarn is not 100% merino. I think it'll soften up a little when it's washed, and frankly I didn't want to give J something that he'd have to handwash. This way he can just toss 'em in the machine.
I expect to have the needed Merino Style in hand by sometime next week. Until then, it's all socks, all that time!
Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes!