it's done. my mother finally has the birthday gift that was intended for her January 2005 birthday. better late than never i hope.
the cotton yarn started out as a cable and lace cardigan (see picture below), which, as i mentioned, turned out rather shoulderless. it has been reincarnated into the Caftan Pullover from IK Spring 2006.
my mum was here on the weekend, she tried it on before i weaved in all of the ends (i didn't dare do it in case i had created another disaster and had to rip it out again). it fits. she likes it. she took it home to weave in the ends herself (personally i think she might have been a bit wary that it would take me too long and she's already been waiting more than a year for her gift).
i'm so glad it's done and turned out okay. now on to other projects.