Knitting without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann, first published in 1971, is still a wonderful book for new and beginning knitters.
EZ, as the author is frequently called, writes in a wonderfully irreverent and humble style. She claims to be opinionated and even cantankerous about knitting. Her goal is to teach all knitters to “be the boss of your knitting.”
For the beginning knitter, it’s like having the best of instructors available to you any time and every time you open the book. She starts at the beginning, discussing needles (mostly out of date), yarn, and the basic tools you’ll need. Basic techniques like casting on, casting off, and sewing up are explained. Gems like ‘what do when you run out of yarn and the same dye lot is no longer available’ fill the pages.
My only complaint is that great information is salted throughout the book, with few headings or other indications of the treasures hidden on the page. However, the margins are large, giving you lots of room to add your own arrows, stars, comments & subheadings. (I’ve never found highlighting to be particularly useful, but that’s my preference.)
At all times, EZ encourages knitters & non-knitters to follow their heart. She advocates for knitting to be enjoyable, relaxing, and meditative. She encourages experiments and gives advice on what to do when things go wrong. There are few pictures, but with one or two exceptions, her instructions are clear & easy to follow, even without photos or diagrams.
Above all, EZ felt that knitters should be the boss of their knitting, not fearful of making mistakes or of our own creativity. Decades after it was written, EZ and this book are still inspiring, informative, and empowering.
Don’t expect to find this book used. As with every other knitter’s classic, once they’re bought, they’re never sold. You can find it new wherever you buy books for about $15 (paperback) or $30 (hardcover), a bargain at either price.