Definitely sign up for ravelry, you can search patterns based on yardage and yarn weight, as well as see what other people have made with that exact yarn. It's great for when you spur of the moment buy some yarn without plans for it and work backwards to find a pattern.
Elizabeth Zimmerman has good books, they tend to be about design and customization. You might want a stitch dictionary. You could also ask for some sort of yarn that you don't have easy access to, like cotton or silk.
I would suggest a set of interchangeable circular needles, so you easily get every combo you might need, and most of the sets have end caps so you can use them as straight needles too. If you plan on either doing garments or lace, a blocking board/set might be nice too. Nice scissors, a tapestry needle or two, and a quality tape measure are pretty important. I've told my husband that for my upcoming birthday, the best thing would be to look at my Ravelry queue and see which patterns need to be purchased; as I'm less likely to buy them for myself than I am to buy yarn.
This might not be helpful, but I put (some of) my stash in a large tupperware container and then cover it with a tablecloth and use it as a night stand. This way it is out of the way and doesn't look messy, but as a nightstand, I'm ensuring that the only things on it are my alarm clock and maybe a book, so it's always easy to get into the container.
No problem. It is "6 foll 6th" rows that is the problem. A lot of knitting patterns have shorthand like this, or they ask you to do two or three things at the same time, and I've found that I can wrap my brain around it best if I sit down and write it all out longhand, no matter how annoying and boring it is.
you knit 10 rounds, then you do the next instructions all the while keeping it in garter stitch. Since this is flat knitting, garter stitch is knitting every row. the instructions expanded are:
knit the 10 rows. Row 11: knit the stitches, increase at end of row.
Row 12,13,14,15,16: knit Row 17: knit the stitches and increase 1 at end row 18,19,20,21,22: knit row 23: knit the stitches and increase 1 at end Row 24-28: knit Row 29: knit the stitches and increase 1 at end Row 30-34: knit Row 35: knit the stitches and increase 1 at end Row 36-40: knit Row 41: knit the stitches and increase 1 at end Row 42-46: knit Row 47: knit the stitches and increase 1 at end
Now you should have 36 stitches on the needle, and something that is beggining to look like a bear tummy. Knit seven more rows in garter, no increasing or anything
They're telling you how to arrange the stitches on the needles. It may end up being easier to increase and/or decrease this way, it looks like you could use markers to separate groups of stitches if you wanted to follow it exactly but it probably wouldn't matter if you ignored them, either.