I'm really loving this Super Easy Baby Blanket design that I keep on coming across lately (PS it's free on Ravelry). My favourite versions happen to be made with Sweet Georgia Tough Love sock yarn. These minimalist blankets are quietly revealing a hot knitting tip: If you're going to go simple with the design go gorgeous and hand-dyed with the yarns, the outcome will be brilliant.
These designs are SO do-able for the beginner knitter. I have always thought that one's first project should be with 'good' yarn, it makes the process a lot more enjoyable, and the finished product will be great no matter what.