Hi there. So what I'm seeing from the reference picture, knitting would be a good way to go with Astrid here. Now, I've got 2 suggestions that doesn't concern knitting:
1. Would be to find some cloth bandages and just some some fabric paint with it and experiment with it for a while. If the paint seems to work, then it's an option
2. The second would be get some white cotton fabric and dye it in a tan color first. When dyed, you can go in with a design with fabric paint.
You can do this with the wristlettes as well if you wanted to. The other style of knitting that you were describing does seem daunting, but did you ever try looking up a tutorial for it just to see if someone does it still? If people do, just review it and see what it looks like. It may not look so bad when you review it, but again, I'm not a knitter like you are, so I wouldn't know
In terms of the wool, if you're allergic to it, then don't do it. However, if you just don't like the feel of it in general, then you can easily create a base wristlette and shirt for them from cotton fabric and just find a way to attatch them to the knitted shirt and wristlettes.
Anyway, I hope this helps and good luck