Linda, The 'life line' is, of course a very big help. I've found that it helps me if I put markers - I just use little hunks of contrasting yarns - at the beginning and end of each repeat pattern in a lacy project. That way while I'm getting used to the pattern I can check for the correct # of sts. when I finish a section and if it's wrong I'll examine that section for the mistake and hopefully just back up to the previous section. It's just another way that might help and save time.
I'm doing one now that's supposed to be rather easy, however, the st. amount changes after the first row and doesn't return till the last row and I'm adding it to other things in my own design. At first it can be like opening a can of worms, but it sails along with some time and practice and if the math is right.
When I first tried the pattern I did what Lana's tag suggests:
knit, rip - rep. between *'s as often as necessary. I think that's an outstanding observation!
I've also had lots of time to make mistakes. Now I can back-up and fix yo's, ssk's and all kinds of nasty animals . . . usually(lately, yo, sktp backwards has been my downfall.) But you haven't made enough mistakes yet to have that kind of experience :<)