Up until recently I have been a rather timid knitter. I was content to knit and purl on straight needles and stuck to single-color patterns that required as few increases and decreases as possible, and preferably on nothing smaller than US 6 needles. I finally decided last month that, since I have been knitting off and on for the last five years, it is time to move on to some more advanced techniques.
My first major discovery was ravelry.com! Yes, a majority of the patterns they list are not free, but there are so many that it doesn't matter! Excellent, cute, creative, impressive, stunning, and unique free patterns abound even if they are not the majority! One morning I casually browsed through patterns I ended up with ten saved that I "had to make," so it's plenty to keep even the most skilled knitter busy for years! I picked one called "Tillamook Cabled Hat" by Rilana Knits mostly because I loved the look and second, because I love the Pacific Northwest and Tillamook cheese, so the title made me happy!
My first challenge: learning a cable cast-on. This site was extremely useful, with videos for both Continental- and English-style knitting. The cast-on itself wasn't hard at all... so why, you might ask, was I struggling and grumbling and hurling curses for three hours straight trying to cast-on a silly hat??? I'll blame that on my double-pointed needles. I had never previously used DPNs, but friends had assured me that they are harmless good fun and nothing to be scared of. Now surely a somewhat experienced (and timid) knitter like myself would be able to tackle them without a sweat, but apparently DPNs, cable cast-ons and myself do not work well together. Maybe the relationship just needs some work. In any case, at long last, I was fully cast-on and ready to start knitting-in-the-round.
After the cast-on, DPN's became increasingly less aggravating with each row, and by the time my 1 1/2 inches of hat ribbing was complete I started to pick up pace. After conquering those two hurdles, the challenge I had originally been scared to face, cabling, was a piece of cake. It was an "....oh, that's it?" moment in knitting for me. My progress so far is in the picture at the top of this post.
So take it from me, if you can knit and purl, don't be afraid of cabling! But you can go ahead and be afraid of your needles. After all, there's ten pointy ends to watch out for in a pack of DPNs. That's a lot of points.