I finally realized my devil-may-care attitude toward learning to crochet was getting me nowhere. I've always heard that crochet is so much easier than knitting--but not, apparently, if you're a knitter first.
It nearly killed me but I asked for help. And got it from someone who is knowledgeable enough explain to explain the pattern, patient enough to watch me screw up, and generous enough to finally do the first row for me so I could get off to a good start. And she was right--one she got the tricky first row done, I was off and running. I've made it to row 7 and my fourth color change. I realize I'll be working on this for a very long time, but luckily I am enjoying it a great deal.