Allergic to wool



Hey! I’m new here and want to say hi! I can only knit with acrylics but most knitting patterns, videos, advice seem to deal with wool. I’m not a new knitter, just a bad one. Right now, I’m making hats for charity with Cake and Cupcake yarns. I get gauge but my ribbing and stockinette become much larger after wearing or washing. I am a very loose knitter (which I’m working on) so to get gauge I have to reduce by one or two needle sizes. Then the fabric becomes so tight. Tips for non-woolers? Thanks!


I almost always use acrylic yarn. My hats, scarfs, potholders and blankets all come out of the dryer slightly smaller than when they went in.
I was them on the regular setting with cold wash and cold rinse. And I dry them on High dryer setting.
They are usually mixed in with colors, towels or denims.


Thanks for your comments OJJ!!! I thought I was the only one using acrylic. The people at the local knitting store act “superior” when I tell them I use acrylic yarn.

I usually ignore their comments!!


Hi and welcome!

Curious… Are you actually allergic (rash, hives or anaphylaxis?) or are you sensitive? I’m not allergic to wool, but I’m very sensitive to it personally. I can however knit with it just fine.

When a pattern suggests a wool just check the gauge and find a yarn you can use that has that gauge. Generally speaking a worsted weight acrylic would work as well as worsted weight wool. Actual wool can look and behave a little differently than other fibers, but it’s usually not a big deal. I use wool sometimes (for other people or charity), but most often I choose acrylic blends, bamboo, silk or other blends.

I’m also a very loose knitter and have to go down a needle size or two. If a pattern suggests a needle size I start one size smaller and then adjust accordingly after I start knitting. I mean I rip and restart smaller if need be. Some yarns that call themselves a certain weight like worsted can be slightly thicker or thinner due to spinning and plying.

BTW I also knit a lot of hats for charity. I often don’t follow a pattern because I’ve figured out what works for me. I can share if you’re interested.


Oy, I forgot to mention that acrylic hats and sweaters both get stretched by use. But acrylic yarn does not have elastic recovery. But it does seem to me to have a heat activated memory.


My hands break out in rashes and swell up! Please share if you would. I am trying to learn to create my own patterns based on my own knitting. It seems so simple but I’m still struggling.


Do you block swatches or finished garments made with acrylics? I am hoping it was my horrendously loose knitting that made my hats come out of the wash twice as large as they went in.


Here’s the basic stockinette hat “pattern” I make using worsted yarn at my gauge (loose). For worsted weight yarns I usually use size 7 needle, but sometimes a 6. Some yarns are a little thicker than others. For acrylic yarn I use the washer and dryer and they don’t grow.

Cast on 80
Rib either 1x1 or 2x2 for about 2 inches
Stockinette till work is appx 7 inches
For a multiple of 10 decrease by knit 8, k2tog, PM around hat
Knit a row plain
Decrease by knit 7, k2tog, around hat

Continue in this manner till you have appx 10 stitches. Cut yarn about 10 inches or so and put on yarn needle. Run yarn needle through stitches and remove your knitting needles. Pull tightly and run through stitches again then weave in ends.

If you use another cast on number you’ll need to figure out an evenly space decrease pattern. If you want to a different stitch pattern you may have to use another cast on.


How do you adapt for stretchiness of the hat pattern? I am knitting mostly for kids. Do you reduce the finished diameter/circumference to allow for stretched size?


Kids have large heads in relation to their size, but you can cast on less if you need to make it a little smaller. Remember though knitting is stretchy so it can adapt to several sizes unless it’s a big difference. You could probably make a ribbed hat standard size and have it fit a child because ribbing pulls in so much.

I just remembered I have this so it might be of help to you, too.


Thank you so much for that link! I’ve never come across it before. I think it will be very handy for our charity knitting group, as we work with all sorts of donated yarns and sometimes have to search a bit for an appropriate pattern. I’ve done some of this on my own, but it sure makes it easier to have all those options “ready-made” to work with.


The chart is wonderful! Thank you so much. This is a huge help for figuring out what I need to do to use up some of the mystery yarn I have, when working on hats for charity.


Not sure where you are but here in the UK we tend to call all knitting yarns “wool” and then choose whatever we want to knit with! Pure wool knits up a little differently to acrylic but I think the acrylic we get now is so much better than it used to be that there is no need for people to feel superior about us not using wool. I knit all baby blankets, clothes etc. in nice soft acrylic baby yarn because it can be machine washed with no problem whereas wool is better hand washed - and what new mum has time for that?