Well, what a difference a day makes.
I was able to successfully get one heel and one toe done today - and they're good.
Here's the heel - there are no holes!
And the toe:
I've been putting off buying a ball winder mainly because a friend of mine has one and we occasionally have yarn winding sessions at our local Stitch n Bitch. But I really need one now because it makes ripping out practice socks quickly.
I'll have to wait till there's a 50% coupon from Joann's.