Although I've not said much about it, the Periodic Blanket is in full swing!
I finally found the right yarn for the project: Sirdar Snuggly DK. Although it is missing a couple of colours (that should not be hard to substitute), it fills all the requirements: good colour range, soft, not too expensive, and available at my LYS. I have now purchased the yarn for all the element squares, and have done the right hand size block.
I have now 31 squares made (out of a total of 240). I've been averaging 1 square a day, which is my target. However, because I am now knitting a lot after a year-long very quiet period, my hands and arms are complaining a little. They don't get sore if I knit very slowly, but it is very difficult to do that. And yet I must try, because I really don't want to screw up my hands. The blanket would never get finished otherwise (plus, I also need my hands for a living).