If you always cook with a recipe, you're probably not the type to knit without a pattern. But it's not as hard as it may seem, and Knitting by Design (Bantam Books, $14.95), by Mary Anne Erickson and Eve Cohen, is an excellent book for those who want to try. This book is full of ideas, tips, and explicit instructions on how to design and knit your own garments, as well as help on basic knitting, fixing mistakes, and finishing techniques. Designer Knitting (the Westminster Trading Corporation, Amherst, N.H., $17.50), by Hugh Ehrman, is a collection of patterns by some famous (e.g., Kaffe Fassett) and some relatively new British designers. It's similar to ``Summer & Winter Knitting'' and ``Glorious Knits'' (see accompanying article), in that there is a beautiful intimacy between color and texture in the garments which seems to be the trademark of British designers. Some of the patterns are available as kits. Another book that is strictly patterns is Knitting Masterpieces (Pantheon Books, $19.95), by Ruth Herring and Karen Manners. The authors have taken famous paintings, coins, comic strips, etc., and transformed them into knitting designs, some of which are quite stunning. Monet's waterlilies cover a delicate mohair sweater, for example, and a prehistoric cave painting is knitted with bulky earth-tone yarns. For people who are tired of common or traditional knitting patterns, this book is a good choice. Kids' Knits (Ballantine, $8.95). British knitwear designer Lesley Anne Price has assembled an eye-catching book full of patterns for children's clothes, hats, booties, and toys in traditional designs ranging from British Fair Isle to Tyrolean motifs. Nicely photographed, with clear instructions. Knitting Know-How section in the back of the book is exceptionally helpful. Baby Knits (Ballantine, $9.95). Taken from the French magazine 100 IDEES, this charming collection of items for babies and toddlers will inspire knitters to pick up their needles and get to work. The designs are fun, the colors bright, and the photographs irresistible.