First of all, I love the Berocco Pleasure yarn - it's incredibly soft, easy to work with and shows stitch detail very well. It's a heavy worsted weight yarn so it knits up really quickly. I used size 9 (U.S.) needles for both projects. The yarn is not being made any more, but you can find it on eBay at reasonable prices.
When I made the Human Genome scarf, I learned how to cable without using a cable needle. I did great with this technique as long as the "loose" stitches were held in the front...When they were behind the needle, more often than not, they would begin to "drop" and I would have to fish them back up again using a crochet hook. This took longer (and was more frustrating) than using a cable needle in the first place. I kept trying to analyze the process while I was doing it - why are those stitches wanting to run away? But didn't get to the point of fully understanding the problem - at least not enough to prevent it from happening. So, I'd have to say that my success rate with this new-to-me technique was only about 50%, but it was/is still worth it. Not having to keep track of the cable needle, pick it up and use it for every single cable crossing (and there were lots of them in that scarf!) was a good thing.
My everyday shawl is very plain. One of the things I "learned" from it when planning it out beforehand was that knitting-math, even the most basic, can cause me grief. (Oh, sigh.) It has a garter stitch border with selvage stitches and the main-body pattern is "Diamond Brocade" from B. Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. The directions in her book are written out so I made a little chart to follow. I love charts! I find them much easier to use than written-out directions. (If you look really closely at yesterday's picture you may be able to see the cute little stitch markers!)
By the way, I apologize for the sock pic. It doesn't do those socks justice at all!