Not Martha

big cozy wool-free cardigans

I have serious cardigan envy. I cannot wear wool, not even cashmere, so each year I gaze longingly at the cozy sweaters other people wrap themselves in. This year I decided I needed a big, enveloping Vince-like sweater coat. (A note to Vince: I will pay your Vince-prices if you make me a wool- and yak-free sweater to buy. Please?) I need this sweater so I have something appropriate to snuggle into when I am inevitably seated too close to the front door of a restaurant where the oh so cold air keeps getting let in, my current plan of many layers of fleece and multiple scarves is getting old. Here is what I’ve found so far:

On the left: The Manon cardigan by Line, at Saks Fifth Avenue. I love this sweater so much I’m considering buying a second. The collar is snuggly like a scarf, the sleeves are tight enough that they don’t get in the way when you’re eating dinner, and the nice deep pockets give you a spot to hide your phone. This looks dark gray from a distance but it’s made up of teal and taupe yarns that add some nice depth up close.

(You can also find the Manon in charcoal being sold under the John&Jenn label right now. It’s on sale, so no returns, and note that shipping from that Line specific site, which is in Canada, to the US will be about $30.)

On the right: The Hinge Scallop Cardigan at Nordstrom. This is nice and slouchy, the knit is dense and it feels like it’s hugging you. The sleeve cuffs won’t get in the way, but there aren’t any pockets. As far as beige goes this is a cool toned beige (Stone Cobbler is the listed color). The only reason I won’t be keeping this one is that I personally look terrible in the color no matter how much I keep trying to convince myself I can pull it off.

Does anybody out there have any secret spots where one can find cozy knitwear that is great looking and doesn’t have any wool? Please do share, I’m running out of places to look!

· comments [40] · 11-1-2012 · categories:shopping ·

40 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Melissa // Nov 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I have the same problem with wool! So much so that I am considering knitting myself a cardigan this winter, boring though I know it will be! Thanks for the ideas. I’ll give you a shout if I find anything!

  • 2 Alison // Nov 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Those pictures are giving me serious Lululemon wrap sweater vibes (link in website) but it is part cashmere. :( “A blend of rayon derived from bamboo, TENCEL® [wood pulp] and cashmere”. For that price you don’t want to risk itchiness. I think you’d really like the shape, too bad!

  • 3 megan // Nov 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Melissa – I’m looking at knitting myself one too, have you tried Berroco Remix yarn? It looks great, despite myself the Comfort looks like acrylic yarn, but I’m not sure how much fun it is to knit with Remix yet.

  • 4 megan // Nov 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Alison – I’m take a look but I’m allergic to animal fibers, I get a rash when I wear it so it’s beyond just that I find it itchy. Which suuuucks.

  • 5 Katy // Nov 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    What about a cotton/silk blend? They tend to be less chunky but silk is very warm.

    ps. I’ve seen the Remix in my local yarn shop, I liked the look of it.

    Maybe this??

  • 6 Melissa // Nov 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Have you looked at Urban Outfitters? I picked up a big slouchy one earlier this year and its holding up well. I’m mobile so I can’t do any links, but it looks like they have a number of wool-free comfy looking sweaters. And bonus, you can get two or three for the price of that lovely Manon sweater :)

  • 7 megan // Nov 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Melissa – I did look at UO and the only one that appeals to me at the moment is part wool. I’ll keep an eye there for new ones that might appear, thanks!

  • 8 Ginny // Nov 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks for this! I have the same problem and I have a really comfy blanket-like cotton cardigan that I absolutely live in. It’s from Old Navy last year, but they don’t have it anymore. I found a few that I like now though:

    1. This one is pretty light, but looks cosy and comes in a few colors:

    2. This one has a snap closure, so it’s a little more versatile:

    3. This one is really cute too!

    Next I need to find some good coats that aren’t made of wool.

  • 9 sprizee // Nov 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I just bought this drapey cardigan and it’s wool free although it sort of feels like a light weight cashmere/wool. The model photo doesn’t really do it justice. Gap and The Loft tend to have a lot more wool free sweaters than any place else.

  • 10 Alison // Nov 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Well now I feel silly for making that terrible suggestion. :) On a more useful note, Asos has a bunch of cardigans you could wear – River Island brand especially has no animal fibers. The Hilfiger Denim chunky cardigan is also super cute, plus pockets!

  • 11 megan // Nov 1, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    Alison – Oh no, don’t! I mean, when is the last time somebody complained about how itchy cashmere is? (Maybe I should complain more often?) I’ll check out River Island at Asos — thank you so much for that recommendation because Asos has so much stuff I usually give up on sorting through it all. I’ll also have a look at the Hilfiger Denim stuff!

    Perhaps I should seek out more vegan focused fashion lines?

  • 12 Stacy Spensley // Nov 1, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    I actually got a super cozy acrylic sweater at H&M that I get tons of compliments on and wear all the time. Side benefit – very inexpensive. I’m positive there are no natural fibers involved!

  • 13 Adina | Gluten Free Travelette // Nov 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I can’t handle wool or most animal fibers either and recently got #2 that Ginny suggested from anthropology and I love it! Also got a great lighter one at Nordstrom Rack – I think the brand was LA something.

  • 14 brianne // Nov 1, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    I don’t mind wool, but I also look TERRIBLE in any sort of soft grays or soft beiges. I need jewel tones all the way. That one on the left looks intriguing, though.

  • 15 k // Nov 2, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I like Garnet Hill. I see a lot of them have animal fibers, but there is this one and at least one cotton one:

  • 16 Lee Ann // Nov 2, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Vegan lines would be wool-free, & are getting a lot cuter. I like Alternative Outfitters. They don’t have any sweaters right now that I saw, but for the person looking for a non-wool coat, they have a few.

  • 17 Miss B // Nov 2, 2012 at 10:09 am

    I’d commit to spending some time searching through Etsy if I were you — not only will you certainly find at least a few things that would work, but also, if you find a style you love that is handmade with yarn you can’t wear, you could probably do a custom order with the seller for a similar piece in a yarn that works for you. Depending on who you were dealing with, they might even just let you send them the yarn you want used or something. Searches on etsy can be a little bit of a pain sometimes — it’s hard to set really specific parameters without cutting out things you might actually want to see — but if you spend the time, it usually pays off.

  • 18 simone // Nov 2, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I’ve liked everything I’ve bought at Lucy. I don’t own this but this looks cute:

  • 19 regan // Nov 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    I don’t know how their quality is, but I was just flipping through a Wrap London catalogue and found this:

    100% cotton! I like it, but it might not be thick enough for you.

  • 20 megan // Nov 2, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    regan – I have never heard of that shop, the cardigan is great, thank you.

  • 21 Melanie // Nov 2, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Megan if you do knit one you might want to try Patton’s “Silk Bamboo” blend for the yarn. It’s sooooo soft and feels nicer then cotton.
    There are some great cotton blends too, but specific yarns aren’t coming to mind.

    Had a thought… have you checked if you are alergic to Alpaca? I’m alergic to rabbit wools (merino), and some sheep wools seem to bother me, but Alpaca doesn’t. Baby Alpaca yarn is also super soft and snuggly. It’s my current fav. for holliday hat and scarf knitting.

  • 22 Chloe // Nov 3, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Have you considered etsy for someone to craft a bespoke sweater? If you shopped for your own yarn, it’d be easy to get the colour and pattern you wanted, and you’d know ahead of time that it’d work well with your skin.

    Then, on etsy, you’d only have to find a seller who was selling a style you liked, dicker a custom order (that’s usually very easy: everyone I’ve talked to has been amazingly helpful) drop your yarn in the mail, and you’d be good to go.

    Just a thought.

  • 23 regan // Nov 3, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I think, but don’t hold me to this, Wrap is owned by Boden. I’m thinking I’ll place an order in the next day or so but it all ships from the UK so it might be a couple of weeks before I can report on quality.

  • 24 megan // Nov 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    regan – I suspected the same thing after clicking around the website for just a few moments. Do let me know how it goes, I might get that cardigan soon.

  • 25 megan // Nov 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Chloe – I’ll take a look and see what I can find, but the last time I hired somebody to knit for me the non-woolness of the yarn was something that she disliked quite a lot so I suspect I’d have a difficult time.

  • 26 megan // Nov 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Melanie – Thanks for the tip but the Silk Bamboo yarn is far drapier than I prefer in this case. Also, thanks for the encouragement but even baby alpaca feels like it’s make from tiny delicate shards of glass to me.

  • 27 birdlime // Nov 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    I also don’t do wool or animal fibers, and I loved knitting with Remix, and it also has a nice tweedy look to it. I enjoyed knitting it much more than Berroco Comfort. Terrible pictures here:

  • 28 Cindy // Nov 4, 2012 at 6:23 am

    I also, can not wear wool of any kind, prickly itchy rash, is all I am saying.
    I found a BEAUTIFUL 100% acrylic but feels like cotton, shawl collar longer sweater coat in a catalog I got in the mail. Its called Soft Surroundings. they have other longer sweaters also, mine is a tan and antique blue paisley design. LOVE their stuff. (a little spendy, but nice items)

  • 29 fert // Nov 4, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Just a couple sweaters. Good luck!

  • 30 Jen // Nov 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    I love wearing wool, though the big cozy sweater I’m wearing at the moment happens to be an acrylic, cotton and polyester blend. I always look at fibre content labels. I bought it at least a couple of years ago, so can’t link it or anything, but it is much the same length as the ones you’ve featured and open front. It’s from Mexx, which I’m not sure you have in the United States.

    Anyway, I love my sweater. Its sort of a giant circle with sleeves in it (though it is actually seamed down the sides, so not a true circle. It’s edged with a wide ribbed section that folds over as a shawl collar, and has a chunky cable design next to the ribbing. The front overlaps and it has a belt, but I don’t usually bother with it.

  • 31 elle // Nov 6, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Was just at Eddie Bauer at N. Bend outlet mall, and they had beautiful big cardi’s = no animal fibers listed on the labels. If I had’t just scored big at the local thrift store, would of bought a few of them..

  • 32 kairu // Nov 6, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Megan, did you see that Hinge has an acrylic shawl-collar cardigan that comes in gray/black or navy as well as beige? I think I also saw some cotton cardigans that looked pretty cozy at The Gap.

  • 33 megan // Nov 6, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Jen – The sweater you’re describing is a favorite of knitters who like to take inspiration from designs that have appeared in Anthropologie stores, I’m very familiar with what you’re talking about.

  • 34 megan // Nov 6, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Elle – Looks like the website doesn’t have much that I’m interested in but I’ll stop if I should find myself near an out let any time soon.

  • 35 megan // Nov 6, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Kairu – I did see that sweater in the store and it was already pilling on the hanger so I passed it by. I’ll take a look at the Gap to see if they have anything since I last looked. Thanks!

  • 36 sarah // Nov 6, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Nice v-neck:

    Black cardi

    Hoodie cardi thermal weave

    Light cardi×1-ribbed-tab-sleeve-cardi-wrap-black-berry

  • 37 sarah // Nov 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Oddly enough, I’m allergic to acrylic. I get a nasty rash from Orlon in particular (the preferred yarn for all those awesome vintage beaded sweaters).

    Cashmere should never be itchy. If it is, then it’s a blend and the label is a lie.

  • 38 Jane // Nov 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    This is the most wonderful store ‘up north’ in Michigan “Haystacks”. Great customer service and THE MOST comfy skirts ever, shirts too for that matter but, everyone at my office loves the skirts! Here is a cardigan that’s cotton – but, seriously comfy skirt, this is the place.

  • 39 Cayenne // Nov 17, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I also am allergic to wool/animal fibers which is so frustrating. There were lots of good links and suggestions here so thanks for asking the question in the first place. I have not found anything great recently but saw this sweater in the Gaiam catalogue and thought of you – cotton and bamboo:,default,pd.html

  • 40 mary christin // Nov 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    I have been searching for the perfect warm, button down or wrap sweater in bright, saturated colors, non wool for 2 years! What is the problem? Any suggestions appreciated, especially with the link included.

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