I'm happy to report I have a better attitude today about my knitting. And just look at the lightly blocked scarf now - oh yes!
Thanks for all the suggestions and advice. It was especially amazing to have the pattern's author stop by and give some help! I feel very special now, which is probably most of why my attitude has picked up.
My recent lace education: it's time to be the boss of my knitting!
1. I absolutely should have cast on with larger needles. Alpaca has a halo and could have handled it, and I would have enjoyed the knitting more. I don't have the heart to rip it out, so I will continue as established anyway.
2. If you can't switch the size, switch the needle. It's okay to prefer circulars to straights, wood to metal, etc. I am now considering the knitpicks harmony needles and the initial feeling is that I am about to spend a bunch of money.
3. Charts. I will play around with this too as soon as I find the graph paper I put in that really great hiding place.
4. Block as you go. Not the big wash and pin method, but the quick get it wet and lay it out to dry method. I suspect this will make it easier to do the proper blocking at the end too, since the scarf will be in a reasonable state.
5. It's okay if I don't ever catch the lace bug. I have already been struck with the washcloth bug, the spinning bug, and now the sock bug. How many infections must one endure?
6. Finally, and this is silly to most people but of epic importance to me, it's okay to have more than one project going at once. I plan to work a little lace, set it down, and work a little something else until I finish that scarf.
Who knows, when all is said and done, I may itch to cast on another lace project when this one is done. It could happen, right?