Reporting in after my trip to the yarn store. I am happy to say this was not me. The woman who owns the store looked at the photo and the instructions sat down at a table and started knitting. She ripped out her work three times and finally said the best solution was to Pick up stitches knitwise. She also suggested I not do the 154 stitches called for and to make sure I just did enough stitches to follow the pattern.
What a relief! Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to give it a try tonight.