Okay, I guess I am sort of a dingbat! I have a 16 in circular needle, and the yarn I have is very chunky velour-like baby Bernat. I tried casting on 60 stitches, and it was easy to join initially, but then it would become sort of "unjoined." with a longer and longer piece of yarn that I wound up pulling through every stitch. Did this, frogged, and started over a few times. I then got a good join and knitted quite a bit. It then became apparent that the finished "hat" would be the size of a hula hoop! So then I just cast on 45 stitches, but had great difficulty stitching around because they got spread way out, and I had to DRAG them up the needles for each stitch. Not fun, and my hands (which seem to be a real weak link in this knitting thing) were hurting. The bases of my thumbs hurt so much I actually put a microwave corn bag on them so I can fall asleep.
I then tried a smaller needle (12 in., I think) and the hat looked too small, and it was sort of cumbersome to knit. I think I need a needle size that falls between the two. I really think it's just an equipment issue. I also got the book "Circular Knitting Workshop," so that will help as well as the input from the 'collective knitting brain!"