The Fool went out shopping yesterday and returned with some liquid laundry soap and washed a test load of socks - so far, they are not encrusted with crud. Hooray! It's just as well, because it's gray and drizzly today. In other words, perfect wool sock weather.
We also did some preliminary research into getting a water softener. We're a little concerned because we're on well and septic, and water softeners are not supposed to be the best thing in the world for a septic field. We do know of a company in the area, the one that installed a well pump thinger for us, that rents softener units, so we might just rent one for a few months, see if it solves our problems, and then make a final decision.