Talk about a failure. I'm still a somewhat new knitter, but I've been crocheting for over 10 years so I'm good with gauge and I'm very comfortable knitting continentally. I'd say I'm only a beginner because I haven't had enough time to work on more advanced projects. This hat is knit flat and then pieced together, and I had the proper gauge that the pattern suggested.
As I got round to decreasing to finish up the hat I realized that if I followed the pattern it would be 3 times as long as was needed, so I skipped the alternate rown and just did decreases every row to finish off the hat. It's still a little long on me - the tip of the ear flaps go down to my chin. As well the directions for the ear flaps don't seem to make mirror image triangles, though that may have been me misreading the pattern or something.
As I mentioned, it's knit flat, so you knit an ear flap, breaking the yarn, knit another earflap, cast on more stitches, knit over the first earflap, cast on more stitches and then after knitting a row cast on the last of the stitches. This means that the two sides that you seam are of different lengths, and makes for some creative stitching. Because of the colourway of this camo yarn, the seam is very ugly in general.
The short of it is that I will be a little ashamed to even donate this hat to charity, let alone give it to the recipient. The pattern calls for a ball of Main Colour and a ball of contrast, so I bought 3 balls in total. The had (complete with braided ties) took maybe 3/4 of a ball, so I've got plenty of this left. I'd like to burn this hat and just start over. On circular needles. Except I've yet to knit in the round. I've come up with a general pattern that I'd like to run by all of you more experienced knitters to see what you think!
on size 8 circs (the original pattern called for 8s and the fabric is nice), knit first earflap, break yarn and leave earflap on cable. Knit second earflap, cast on enough stitches for front of hat, join second earflap, cast on enough stitches for back of hat. Knit in the round (you just keep going and going in a spiral, right?) until the hat is long enough, then start decreasing evenly to finish off hat.