Thanks! and progress notes
Well, I bit the bullet and started my Ribby. Liesel, thanks for the suggestion! I did the long-tail cast on and the purl row before starting the ribbing and it turned out beautifully. Josephine, thanks for the link to the videos! That will come in so handy! And Kim, how awesome is the magic loop method!? I splurged on a set of interchangeable needles so I think I can manage that just fine. (Finally, I'm free of dpns!)
I finished the three inches of ribbing, and started my flat panels. But my gauge swatch lied to me! Instead of what it told me, just barely under 4" for 19 stitches, I'm getting the whole thing laid flat and somewhat stretched out at 30"! Oh no! So in the privacy of my own apartment, I pulled the thing around my chest and, thankfully, it still will work. It'll be a snug fit, but at least I don't have to frog the whole thing. And the flat panels seem to be making it a bit bigger, so there's hope. Next time I'll either buy thicker yarn (even though I'm loving the wool/acrylic blend), or go up a size or two.