I'm usually very good about making and following gauge swatches. It lessens the chance of future wailing and gnashing of teeth. For socks though, I never bother. My norm is to start toe-up and keep increasing until the toe is "wide enough" to fit my foot. Of course most of the time I am knitting a basic, generic sock where the final number of stitches on the needle is not important.
Then in waltzes a sock pattern that specifies a set number of stitches you must work with (at least the first time through until you can make an educated guess about where you can and can't make adjustments). Did I swatch? No. I picked up my favourite sock knitting circular needles, and cast on for my standard toe, did the usual increases and stopped when I had the right number for the pattern. It worked!
Luck was with me and the sock fits perfectly, despite the fact that when measuring gauge after the fact, I found out I'm working a little tighter than the pattern suggests. I had to fudge a bit with the length to account for the tighter gauge and my foot being a little longer than the stated size 7-8. I added one more repeat of the little cable dealie running down the foot, but I kind of like the look of it better that way anyway.