Thanks everyone. I think you all confirmed a lot of my suspicions. With things like this I do tend to bite off more than I can chew so all the suggestions about starting smaller are great.
I really should get different yarn. I've been wondering about my needles too. I got long ones (which was what my mom taught me with), but I think I'm finding them just too unwieldy at the moment.
So I'm going to sleep on this... back to the store tomorrow to get different yarn that won't mess with my head. New day, try again.
Choking my yarn... yeah, I think that describes how it seemed perfectly. LOL.