I got so many encouraging comments and personal emails that I decided to take much of the advice you have given me and I have come up with a nice looking stocking hat. It took me a while to the hang of k2, k2, and I ended up getting confused about which stitch I was to knit next. So, after tearing out the thing several times, I decided last night to really think and pay attention to the knits and the purls and actually take notice of which stitch goes where. It worked! So, here is a partially completed. Notice the rib stitch around the base of the hat and then just regular knitting around all the way to the top. I have a couple more inches left to go before I start my reductions, but I am so please so far that I wanted to share it with you all.
The other photo is my efforts at learning the cable stitches. I can't tell you how many times I ripped this one out as well, but I seem to be getting the hang of it.