Elizabeth Zimmermann is probably one of the most well-known knitters in terms of her innovation of the craft. Decades after her patterns were developed, knitters are still making them and discovering the magic of "EZ" all over again.
Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop is a wonderful introduction to her work, and is a great book for giving knitters of all skill levels the confidence to go their own way with their knitting to see what happens.
Knitting in Circles
Elizabeth Zimmermann is known for her loathing of purl stitches and seams, two dislikes that naturally brought her to developing patterns knit in the round that were as seamless as possible.
Knitting Workshop begins with the simplest such pattern: a knit hat. Students (since this book is meant to be worked through) will quickly learn how to cast on, make sure your stitches are on the neeld properly, knit ribbing, measure for gauge and use simple color patterns to complete their hat.
The book goes on to describe numerous techniques for sweaters, shawls, tams and more, mostly knit in the round.
Those who know about Elizabeth Zimmermann but haven't picked up one of her books yet should start here. Yes, they're all fabulous, but this one has a lot of solid instruction and patterns that will educate, entertain, and quickly become some of your favorites.
For example, the Surprise Jacket. This little feat of ingenuity is knit flat (if you can call the finished shape flat, anyway) in garter stitch, and ends up looking like quite a mess. But fold it and sew the shoulder seams, and you've got the perfect little stretchy jacket for a baby.
Here you'll also find instructions for the Rorschsch Sweater, a two-piece garment that's full of right angles, the Pi Shawl, a basic round shawl that's very beautiful, and many more patterns for sweaters, vests and hats.
Some of the patterns will make the more timid knitters out there very nervous, since they involve cutting the knitting to add the sleeves or put in a pocket at the last second. If you're afraid of these patterns just from reading them, try the technique on a swatch before you commit to it on a full sweater. You'll feel much better.
Learn from a Master
Elizabeth Zimmermann was known as the Opinionated Knitter for a reason. She had her own rules and ways of doing things just like any other knitting teacher. But you'll find that the reasons behind her choices usually had to do with that method being the best, rather than the way its always been done.
Zimmermann is a warm and engaging personality on the page and in the companion DVD to this book. It's almost as good as having your own wise knitting teacher in your living room to guide you through the basics and encourage you to try the more difficult things. By the end of the book, you truly will be a master knitter.