Thanks, Marria - good advice, I'll try to be disciplined enough to follow it.
Incidentally, I'm technically not a brand new knitter (though I'm certainly not advanced). After an abortive attempt to teach me when i was very young (I think I managed a scarf for my Teddy Bear...), my Mum sat me down and re-taught me the basics in one evening before I went off for my second term at University (during my first term, I had discovered that a needlepoint on a very large frame is NOT practical when (a) you have no chair with arms the right distance apart on which to balance it while you work and (b) you're transporting all your possessions several hundred miles by train every few weeks.
After some deliberation, I decided to knit small squares that could eventually be made up into a (probably very odd-looking) blanket. I have to say, I would recommend this it to anyone learning to knit. I could knit a square in a few hours at most, so I always felt that I was making progress and didn't get disheartened because a project seemed unmanageable. It allowed me to practice any number of different types of stitch and I could experiment to my heart's content without fear of ruining months of work (I did stocking stitch, garter stitch, ribs, moss stitch (single and double), bramble stitch, endless cabling (I love cabling), and more. I think I must have learned more from knitting all those squares than I could have any other way. I was also able use pretty much any old bits of left-over dk yarn, so it was cheap! I still have all the squares - clashing colours, some curling, some misshapen, some just a bad design, but some really nice - and I really will make them up into a blanket (it will be very odd-looking, but I don't care). I also suspect I will carry on adding new pieces onto the end of the blanket throughout my knitting career - when I'm between projects, or when I want to try out an idea.
I'm now concerned that I sound unbearably smug - I assure you you would cry with laughter if you saw some of the things I produced but, in all seriousness, it was (and is) a brilliant way to learn.
Anyway, all this waffling is really saying that, although I'm not a particularly advanced knitter, I have more experience & know more stitches than you might think. What I don't have experience of is following patterns, and that's what I need to learn next. I'm working on it!