First pattern project

Hello everyone~
My first post here - the site has been so helpful to me as a new knitter!

On to the question - I want to make this shrug -

I think I am doing fairly well at reading the pattern but would like some reassurance on a few things:

First - knitting the sleeve, I should be casting on, knitting 5 rows, then stockinette starting with K, doing the first increase at 7th row of stockinette (12th total row), correct?

I decided to use the knit front & back method to increase - I’m doing it on the second stitch in from each end (after slipping the first stitch on each row (as I learned from watching some of the videos here)). Does that sound like a good idea or would something else be better?

And am I correct in reading the instructions as saying that I’ll knit the first sleeve and the back together in one piece, then knit the second sleeve, sew the two pieces together, and then stitch the sleeve closed? The pattern mentions grafting the two pieces, but doesn’t seem to say anything about turning the flat work into actual sleeves…

One more general question: I bought split stitch markers to use in this project as recommended by the pattern. I was just wondering what are some other times I might want to use stitch markers? I noticed in some other threads some people were using them to help count stitches when working a large amount of stitches in a row - any other tips for when I might find them helpful to use?

Thanks so much~

sound like a great plan–

i would change one thing–I would not slip first stitch on each edge–

this does create a nice edge for scarves or other things, but it is not the best choice for seams.
(you will only have half as many edge stitches, and it will be make a perforated (ever other stitch!) seam. for a smoother, evener seam, i would not slip the first stitch in ever row, unless directed to by pattern.
(slip stitch edges do make it easier to pick up stitches at times)

Now is a good time to learn another edge stitch.

1- (the hardest but the best, i think) knit 1, pull yarn snug, continue across row. do this ever row. in two rows you’ll start seeing neat tight edge stitches.

2- Knit first stitch on each edge–(a single garter stitch on each edge)
this stitch will “disappear” into the seam, so no one will see it. It will help you keep your seam neat too.
(but i find it hard to remember and find myself going merrily along in garter! i remember 10 or 20 stitches into row, and then have to tink back and start again!)

there are other edge stitches–but some like the slip stitch aren’t the best for seams.

Thanks for the tips~! Doing my best just to keep that first stitch on each row snug and it is working decently well.