Thanks for the needle sympathy! As Lauren pointed out, I used it as an opportunity to visit a yarn store. Unfortunately, my LYS had only short bamboo needles in size 9, and I prefer long. So then I tried Michaels, which carries long bamboo needles, but was out of 9s. Has there been some sort of bizarre run on size 9 needles?? This pretty much exhausts my local needle sources, but I am planning a trip to Petaluma (and Knitterly) on Monday. Maybe the size 9 fad hasn't hit there yet.
Meantime, I forged ahead on a circular needle. Because of my eccentric needle-holding method, I prefer straights, but the circular will do in a pinch. But then I decided that the back of the shell I was knitting was too long, so now I'm going to have to frog it. Sigh.