The first step, winding the very long skein into a ball, was a PITA. I don't want more gadgets in my house, and I don't really need one, so no winder for me. But I really could have used one for this yarn. I was being lazy lounging in bed so I was using my knees to hold the skein as I wound. Yeah, this was a bad idea for a very long skein. You knew that already, didn't you? I ended up creating a great big knot and having to make a cut in the yarn and wind it into two separate balls. I then used a Russian join to reattach the two ends as I knit.
For the first bunch of rows, I had absolutely no trouble. Look at that! The diamonds emerged like magic. I found that, even though they weren't suggested in the pattern, stitch markers were so helpful. As I got further in the pattern, it became more complex, so I found myself counting and recounting stitches. The markers made this obsessive mumbling much easier. I was using a lot of markers (almost all the ones I have, so probably nearly 3 packages or so) by the end of the project.
The deeper I got, I began to think the pattern had errors. I'd have extra stitches at the end of a row or be one short. In fact, the pattern is flawless. It's well-written and clear, with suggested variations that are also well-written and clear. The errors were all on me. The truth is, the lace was perhaps a little overly complex for my available attention span. But I was loving the shawl-in-progress so no way would I put it aside. Time for lifelines.
I put a life line in every pattern repeat or so. I think I only actually used one once, but it was so reassuring that they were there, given the number of minor errors I was making and fixing. Again, NOT the pattern's fault.
I always envy those people who just drape a shawl and go. For me, I often feel like I have to adjust and fuss. It's not always carefree. (Part of the reason my favourites are my favourites, like the Starshower, is because they are easy-breezy.) The Fruit Cocktail, at least in this yarn, is absolutely easy-breezy -- to wear, if not to knit. It hangs just beautifully, and I adore how the manta ray "wings" gently curl. So pretty. Happy sigh.
I finished this beautiful piece well over a month ago. It was about 6 weeks from start to finish, which is a very involved project for me. Did I mention the attention span thing? So worth the effort.