Want a great, simple hat for yourself or for a gift, and you want it done in a snap? Take a look at Snappy Hat at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/snappy-hat. I helped my daughter--a newby to cables--this past weekend with this hat, and I can recommend it as a first cable project. She used 1 skein of Cascade 128, in dark purple. She used a 16", 6.0 mm bamboo circular (from ChiaoGoo, of course). She is finishing it on the plane back to Oklahoma today. I didn't get a picture of her hat before she left, but the picture below is taken by the designer, Picnicknits on Ravelry.
This is a great project to practice cabling without a cable needle. The pattern is very simple and brief. After 8 rows of modified ribbing, the main body of the hat is a 6-row repeat.