Finished that cat blanket I've been working on. It was a great learning experience.
More or less, from this project I learned about larger projects (80 stitches to the row), how to keep yarn away from the cats while knitting (poke a hole in the lid of an empty oatmeal box - it holds a skein beautifully), and that I don't know how to crochet.
I made mistakes. A lot of them. And I'm okay with that because making mistakes is how I learn and really the cats don't seem to mind the flaws at all.
If you are a stubborn novice, here's the basic pattern:
Yarn: Red Heart acrylic, medium worsted weight, color 0633 Dark Sage, one skein (7 oz) plus enough contrasting color for the border. Acrylic makes a lot of sense with this, since anyone who owns cats knows that vomiting can be a team sport and their garments will require nearly constant washing.
Gauge: Beats me. I used US size 6 4.25mm needles in 14" length.
Cast on 80 or so stitches tightly. Pull needle out, rip stitches out of yarn, and repeat cast on loosely. Work in garter stitch for 4-5 inches, or until you remember that the needle goes in front when you purl. Work another 10-11 inches in stockinette, then switch back to garter stitch and try to make the same size mistake on the other end. Ignore any dropped stitches, accidental reversals, odd loops, and so on - the cats won't care, and you'll have a record of what you need to work on. Don't worry when the edges curl up - stockinette does that. Bind off when the garter stitch sections approximately match widths. Attempt to crochet on a 1" border, or as many rows of near-crochet slip stitch as you need to do for the edges to uncurl. Tie off and weave in ends. Give to cats.
This was a great time waster sort of project for me that let me try different things out along the way such as doing a couple of rows in continental method, feeling a large swatch of stockinette against the skin (sweater research), learning why we don't put our fingertips on the points of needles to pull off stitches, and getting a feel for how long a really significant project might take. As far as projects for the rank beginner goes, it wasn't bad. The finished product is about 15" x 20" and comfortably seats two small friendly cats or one larger antisocial cat.
Oh, and that oatmeal box - once your project collapses the skein a bit, it may fit in there along with your needles, which gives you a way to carry your current project around in a box. I stuck mine in a backpack for carting to the local park on sunday morning for some outdoor people watching and knitting.