Thanks, all. That was EXACTLY what I was doing wrong. Amazing how you can stare at something and can't visualize the solution, then when it's pointed out you go "DUH!"
Sandy, great drawing and explanation. I like the 'bottom of the circle' image. Made total sense.
I've done two things on circular needles and, looking back, even then I was knitting at the 'top of the circle'. But in one case it was a flat project, so even though my needles were away from me and my completed work was against my chest it didn't matter. In the other project I was doing seed stitch, so front...back....no problem.
Thank God I caught this and y'all explained it to me before my motor skills got too ingrained.
A couple of observations: Looking at my knitting 'how to' books, they are NOT clear about this whole point. Some of the illustrations seem to indeed show knitting 'at the top of the circle' vs. at the bottom. Others are totally ambiguous and could be construed either way.
But it leads to a question (or a related series of questions): are patterns all written assuming the 'right' side is out? Sandy said some people just turn the project inside-out when finished, but would that always work for every pattern?
And thanks for taking the time out to help this newcomer. I'm enjoying this new-found hobby but there is a LOT to learn!!! (In other words, it probably won't be the last time you hear from me!! (grin!))