I taught myself to knit from an ancient Good Housekeeping Needlecrafts book and for several years slavishly followed patterns from library books, magazines and free leaflets. It's a worthy and satisfying activity to follow a good pattern, and my children had the sweaters, mittens and socks to prove it.
KNITTING WITHOUT TEARS, borrowed from the library as usual in those frugal times, was my first hint that you could really "own" your knitting. I had no idea of Elizabeth Zimmermann's stature in the knitting world, her amazing public television broadcasts, her legendary knitting camps. Her writing style is so down-to-earth, she could be sitting in the next rocking chair glancing over at your knitting and offering pithy, helpful commentary just to you.
The premise of this book is that you can find your gauge, plan your knitting, do the math, and come up with the garment you visualized. Don't like seams? No problem -- knit a tube and cut your openings. CUT your knitting? I was too inexperienced to feel the fear and cheerfully cut my first steeks with Elizabeth's words propped against the teapot in front of me.
I've long since bought this book, more than once in fact. It's not the sort of knitting book we're used to -- its appeal is in the concepts and the clarity of text, not in pictures or modular layout. Nor is it a how-to book for brand new knitters. If you can knit and purl, keep a steady gauge, and follow basic directions, why not "kick it up a notch" with the thinking knitter's approach?
It's fitting that Elizabeth Zimmermann is lovingly known as EZ. If you adopt her easy-going attitude, you'll find it "EZ" to love your knitting.