I love Birch. It is the prettiest thing and I love looking at it as you can probably see by the number of photos I posted. I'll tell you what I learned along the way.
Mason-Dixon created a Top Ten Things to Remember When Knitting Birch which you might want to review if you're planning on knitting it up (you really should). I don't agree with all their suggestions, but here's what I learned:
1. The 299 stitch cast on was not a problem. It took me about an hour and I just took my time and placed markers every 10 stitches.
2. There are actually two versions of Birch. A stockinette and a garter version. I went with the stockinette because I like a right side and a wrong side. It's difficult to even find a garter version online, but I imagine that the lace work would appear looser.
3. I wrote out the 4 row pattern (not including purl rows) on a sticky note to carry around with me. You don't need a chart. It's a very simple pattern that you'll have memorized pretty quickly, but if you'd like one, here you go: Birch Chart.
4. I kept those stitch markers on the whole way. I wasn't taking any chances and it paid off. The only thing I would suggest is to use moveable markers because after you finish a repeat they'll always be off and you'll be shifting them one stitch to the left. Don't panic when this happens!
5. I followed the pattern, using 3 skeins of Kidsilk Haze and 5.0 mm needles. I found many people were buying extra yarn or going down in needle size because of probably running out. I was paranoid the whole way through, even though I did some quick math, but I was left with about a thumb sized bit left (see above)
6. Blocking it was hard work. It's a HUGE shawl. The top of my shawl measured about 7 feet wide, so you're going to need a lots of space to do this. I used my back deck. Check it out.
7. I'd knit this again, but who has the time!