Bah!!! I'm an idiot.
This is my very first lace project AND my very first time using a chart. Well, I've been reading the chart from left to right! I don't know how I missed the right to left thing in the directions but, ack...how dumb. And hey, surprise, surprise, it's made a huge difference.
Are all charts read from right to left, or is this one different? Obviously, the moral of the story is to READ the pattern before jumping in.