For months I charted and swatched, trying different variations of the idea. All of them were slightly "off," and for a while I thought the design wouldn't work on a sock. It was too big, traveled too quickly in its diagonal spiral to fit around a foot--I was dismayed to realize that it would probably work better on a hat.
And it was working. As much as I liked the first sock, the second was fantastic--until I got near the ankle. The changes I'd made to improve the design on the foot caused a problem when it got to the ankle. I couldn't solve it, and in frustration, I set the sock aside.
This morning the answer came to me: it's not a toe-up design. This sock will be so much easier to knit if constructed cuff-down.
I should have realized this earlier. In fact, I kind of did, but I was disappointed, and wanted to push through. It's possible to make this design toe up, and I can pretty easily do it myself, adjusting on the fly to make the design work on any sized foot. But that kind of improvisation doesn't fit in a written pattern. So cuff-down it is.
Back to the drawing board, which has accumulated quite a layer of dust while this design was in time out.