Red Heart is scratchy. I don't like Lion brand or Vanna's Choice (by Lion) because they split. I'm always having to rip out my work or fix stitches because the needle tip didn't get it all. For acrylics, a good one is Bernat. Using wool or acrylics is up to you. I think the natural fibers feel heavenly to knit with. Knitpicks would be a good choice. If you want easy care, the Superwash wools are good. For a beginner, I would suggest a sport or worsted weight with a size 8 needles.
Another advantage to using wool is that it stays warm even when wet. This can make a big difference if you're walking in a snowstorm, shoveling snow, or sledding and get your hat and mittens soaked. I found this out the hard way when waiting for a bus in cold winds, shivering in wet acrylic mittens. I'm currently getting ready for winter by knitting mittens in wool this time. I'm not going to make that mistake again.