I knit an afghan made of five panels, by simply casting on the number of stitches I wanted for each panel's width.
I knit for 4 or 5 or 6 inches in one pattern, keeping 5 knit stitches on each end for the binding; then I would change the pattern and keep on knitting. I used a book of 100 or so knitting stitches as my guide. I also changed colours for each new pattern.
This way, I taught myself a goodly number of new stitches, and enjoyed seeing the creation as it knitted up. It was fun, and made a stunning afghan. I gave it away without taking any photos of it, unfortunately. Craziness!