As one who just made this shawl (and wasn't bright enough to look for another way to make the nupps), let me assure you that they aren't so bad. The key is not giving the yarn ANY tension whatsoever when doing the k1, yo, k1, yo, k1. Just wrap the yarn around very, very loosely with NO tension. It looks very strange on that side and goes contrary to everything we do as knitters, but it's the only way to make the nupps properly. When you go back and p5tog, it all works out because the stitches are loose enough to get the needle through.