As a first time puppy mom, I got a little carried away buying toys for Hunter. Plushies with squeakers? Check. Classic Kong? Check. Puzzle balls? Check. But after paying $10 for a glorified rope and fuzzy tennis ball that shed into a million tiny choking hazards from a pet store, I became a lot more skeptical that buying toys was the way to go.
And with several rope and knot tying projects already under the belt, I made the rope toy I wish existed. An all natural looped pull toy perfect for tug-o-war that I don’t have to worry about becoming a choking hazard.
Some Pre-Project Notes:
I like tying the toy first before dyeing to see where I want the dye, but if you want an all-over dye look, dye & let dry first. Takes way less time to air dry that way.
I used 1/2″ thick rope for these, but they took so long to air dry I’d recommend a smaller size. The skinnier the rope, the easier to knot as well!
100% cotton rope
natural dye (recipe for Pantone 2018 approved Ultra Violet down below)
This toy boils down to two knots: the Matthew Walker & Perfection Loop Knot. Honestly, videos are a million times better at demonstrating knot tying than pictures, and this video for the Matthew Walker and this video for the Perfection Loop will show you the ropes in no time.
Tape the cut end with washi tape make the Perfection Loop. From there, measure out ~10″ for the Matthew Walker knot + the length you want the middle of the toy to be. Tie the Walker knot to the end.
Wash the rope with mild soap to remove anything that could prevent it from taking on dye. Soak toy in salt water for 1 hour in 1 part salt to 16 parts water solution. This helps the rope retain its color and reinforce the knots. Seriously, try untying the toy after the bath.
While the rope is soaking, make dye.
Natural Purple Dye
This was my second time experimenting with natural dyes and I am completely in love! I really wanted an ultra violet for Pantone’s 2018 Color of the Year, and everywhere online kept mentioning red cabbage & blueberries. Red cabbage had the most consistent swatches but with more room for controlled variance (like adding vinegar instead of salt will make your purple more pink or baking soda turns it blue!) so here we are!
1/2 a red cabbage
1 T salt per 1/2 cabbage
enough water to cover the cabbage
Cut the cabbage leaves roughly into strips and transfer to a stainless steel pot. Make sure the pot is big enough to give you enough dye to completely cover the rope later!
Add the salt, cover with water, and simmer for an hour. Strain out the cabbage leaves.
Transfer the rope to the dye bath and simmer until the desired color is achieved. The color will lighten once the rope is dry, so go darker than you think. Air dry before rinsing in cold water.
The looped toy was soaked in salt while the basic, and you can slightly see the pink tinge in 2 Walker knots version that was soaked briefly in vinegar. The color difference is more dramatic when fully dry.
So do they pass the puppy test?
Oh ya. This is the ‘you’re never getting this back’ face. 2 weeks later, the knots have held up extremely well- better than Hunter’s store bought ones. The color has faded dramatically, but I partially blame that on handing the toy over before it was fully dry (again, 1/2″ is wayyy too thick). This has easily become our favorite toy! Are there any other dog DIYs you’d want to see? Let me know!