Finally! I've gotten over the row 15 hurdle. I've started the Feather and Fan Shawl from "A Gathering of Lace" many, many times. It wouldn't surprise me if it was in excess of 25 times. Each and every time I lost it before the fifteenth row was complete. I'm sure this was due in part to my choice of yarns. I'm using an ultra slippery, laceweight, handpainted tencel.
I was given several good hints for starting a circular shawl, from the helpful knitters at "Lace For All Seasons", and I am now finished the first 20 rows.
One person suggested that I start the work with the needles laid out on a pillow, only picking them up just enough to knit the stitches. The pillow can be rotated to the next needle when necessary. Another person said they used a folded towel. The pillows I had available were too fat and rounded so I went with a folded tea towel.
I still wasn't having any (lasting) success though, until someone wrote to say I should try knitting the center portion on bamboo skewers (the yarn slides less) and then once I got it going I could transfer the knitting to the regular needles. Even with this final hint it took me another couple tries before I got it right.
When I first looked at the picture close up I thought perhaps I had made a mistake as it looks a bit wonky, but I dragged out the book and as far as I can tell the shawl in the book looks the same.
Hopefully my luck will hold and I'll be able to get far enough to justify a lifeline. Once I get the center petaled flower done it gets much, much easier (and quite boring I hear).