Dyeing Wool with Natural Plant Dyes

Learning to Use Nature for Dyeing Wool 

Dyeing wool with plant dyesDSC_5286After years of producing yarn from our home grown wool, I reviewed  A Garden to Dye For by Chris McLaughlin and I was thrilled to dive into the world of naturally  dyeing wool. ( Click on this link if you want to read my review on Amazon.)

We raise our own fiber animals on the farm and send the raw fleeces to a local mill to be processed and spun into yarn. A goal of mine has been to start dyeing wool  and yarns to add to our shop. I dream of offering all naturally dyed yarn and fiber to complement our natural color, home grown wools.

Dying woolDSC_0334 dying wool

It did take me quite awhile to gather plants and flowers and actually begin dying wool. But, once I got going, I was hooked! I started looking at all the plants around me in a new way. Could I harvest that color from that flower? Would that green leaf produce green or some other color?

IMG_0347[1] dying wool

Dying wool

In the book, A Garden to Dye For, Chris Mclaughlin takes you step by step through the process, all the while keeping in mind that this is a creative process. From the planting of a dyers garden, gathering the correct equipment, the pre-dyeing and dyeing process is all there at your fingertips. The book is not a science manual but, rather speaks to your creative side.

While I was creating color, I noticed that one small step to either side can change the color both subtly and significantly. Adding a modifier such as washing soda, or vinegar, can change the pH and the color. Also, the color you see in the plant or vegetable may not even remotely be the color of the dye you end up with.

Another important point to remember is that the color you receive one day from a particular plant may vary greatly from the color you develop next time. Dyeing wool in enough quantity for one particular project ensures that you have enough of the dye lot.

DSC_5279 dying wool
Above photo is two separate dye baths using marigold flowers.

So, with the book by my side, I began to experiment. Here are the results of a few different skeins of yarn made colorful with natural garden dyes.

Keep in mind that I was dyeing sample skeins of yarn, approximately 20 yards in length. Adjust the measurements accordingly.

Red Onion Skin

Result: Amber/Brown


Remove the skin from a red onion. Simmer the skins in 6 cups of water for approximately 30 minutes. Onions are a natural mordant, with the tannins, so the yarn does not need to be pre mordanted.

Soak the yarn so that it is soaked through. Add the wet yarn to the dye bath and continue to simmer the yarn until the color is developed enough. Rinse the yarn in lukewarm water, do not rinse in cold water as shocking the fiber can result in felting.




Dry completely.


Result: Pale yellow to orange range

1/2 cup of marigold blossoms.
6 cups of water
Begin to warm the mixture in a pan.


Mordant for the yarn: 1/2 teaspoon alum and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter in 8 cups of warm water. Add the yarn to the water bath and slowly bring to a boil. Simmer for one hour making sure the pan does not run out of water. If the water starts to get low, add some additional warm water
Using a long handled wooden spoon, lift the yarn from the bath and let it drain back into the pan.

Immediately add the yarn to the dye bath. Warm the water and keep the dye bath warm for as long as needed for developing the color.

Madder Root

Result: Deep reds

DSC_5281 dying wool

Madder does not naturally grow in my area. I think you can find some seeds to plant and maybe have it in your garden but I was a bit impatient and ordered some dry madder dye from Dharma Trading

Use yarn that has been mordanted. If the fiber has dried, re wet before placing in the dye bath.

I loved the deep red color that madder produces. After dyeing, rinse in warm water until water is clear.

Just for fun, I also tried some other things we had available. The roses in the side yard are deep pink. They look like there would be plenty of color available, so I gathered two cups of rose petals. I boiled them, and after straining off the dye liquid, I placed a sample skein into the dye. I was a bit surprised to find that the color that developed was more of a brown. I tried to vary the color by adding some washing soda but it just became more of a brown. that’s the fun of experimenting with gardens and dying. You never really know what you might get!

Another note: try to take good notes while you work. I thought I had but I now have this beautiful shade of amber/orange and no idea how I got it. I do remember using a modifier on a brown result but that is as far as my memory goes with it. So here it is. DSC_5285

I am working on creating a pallet of sample colors, all the while, keeping in mind that the color will vary based on many factors. This is truly a creative process that should be enjoyed. Gather some samples from your garden, your woods, or ask a friend for some materials from their yard. Before long, I am sure you will be hooked on natural dyeing wool, too. Pick up your copy of A Garden to Dye For.

dyeing wool

Other helpful resources:

A Weaver’s Garden by Rita Buchanan
Harvesting Color, How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes by Rebecca Burgess

This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission.

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Manic Mother

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats Recipe


 Dog Treats Recipe | Timber Creek Farm

 Dog Treats Recipe and a Gift Packaging Idea

We treat them like family. Sometimes they go to work with us. They take a seat on our couch. And they keep our homes and livestock  safer. Yes I am talking about the family dog. And yes, I do buy or make Christmas gifts for the dogs in my life. I also like to give a small gift to my friends dogs. I came up with a quick dog treats recipe that you can make with simple wholesome ingredients. No more worrying about the possible origin of the ingredients in the dog treats you buy. Give this dog treats recipe with confidence. Your friends and family member’s pups should be just fine eating them too.

The ingredients in the dog treats recipe are simple. Fresh pumpkin (or canned), peanut butter, dry milk powder, fresh eggs, rice flour, salt and dried parsley. Compare that ingredient list to the listing on the box of your regular dog treats. I think you will feel good about making the Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats recipe. But, remember, even though they are healthy, use these only as a treat and a reward, and not as a regular diet. 


Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats
A healthy biscuit treat for your pup that is made from wholesome ingredients
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr
  1. 3 eggs
  2. 1 cup pumpkin puree
  3. 3 Tablespoons peanut butter
  4. 4 Tablespoons dried milk powder
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
  6. 3 cups rice flour
  7. 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  1. whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, peanut butter, dried milk, salt, and parsley. Add the rice flour a little at a time to the mixture. Mix well.
  2. You may need to use your hands as the dough becomes stiff
  3. A biscuit like dough should form. It will be dry but should be moist enough to hold together.
  4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Use some of the extra rice flour to dust the board to prevent sticking
  6. Using cookie cutters or a knife, cut out cookie shapes.
  7. Place the shapes on a cookie sheet (ungreased)
  8. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees
  9. Turn cookies over and continue to bake another 20 minutes until desired crispness is reached.
  10. Cool completely before feeding the treats to your dog.
Timber Creek Farm https://www.timbercreekfarmer.com/
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Ok. So now that you have the dog treats baked and completely cooled, lets get ready to turn them into a gift.


Dog Treats Recipe | https://timbercreekfarmer.com DSC_4339


I used two different types of mason jars. To personalize,  use a picture of the dog and glue it to the top label area. If using a traditional two piece lid, you can glue the picture to the round label and then replace the canning lid ring. If using a different type of lid system, glue the picture onto the top of the lid. Add a holiday ribbon. 

DSC_4348 Dog Treats Recipe | https://timbercreekfarmer.com DSC_4347

Most importantly, add a tag detailing the ingredients so the dogs owner knows how healthy the treat is.

I hope you will enjoy making this quick gift for the furry friends in your life. Please share the type of gifts you give to your dog friends in the comments. I’d love to hear what you are doing.

Chicken Wire Memo Board – Do It Yourself

Easy to make Chicken Wire Memo Board 

chicken wire memo boardYou can make this Chicken Wire Memo Board in any size that fits your space. I made my chicken wire memo board in a rather large empty frame that I found in a trash pile. It sure wasn’t very attractive to start with but I really like the end result. If you need a quick handmade gift idea, this can be adapted to any size and theme.

I had this design in my mind for a long time and finally I had an afternoon free and time to put it together. The theme could be adapted to what you like best.

Here are the steps I used to put together my chicken wire memo board

The sized of all the materials will depend on the size of the frame you are using. The technique will be the same.

Step 1     Gather your materials

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chicken wire memo board



You will need:  a picture frame. with out backing or glass, a piece of foam core board larger than the frame opening,  fabric, chicken wire, wire cutters, staple gun, ruler, hammer, finishing nails and sturdy gloves. I used craft paint to repaint the frame color that I didn’t like.

Since  bright pink wasn’t going to blend well with the fabric and burlap, I painted over it with craft paint. 


Step 2

Cover the foam core board with the fabric and use a staple gun to attach it to the board. 

chicken wire memo board chicken wire memo board

Hint. to get the fabric tight, attach to one side and then pull and slightly stretch the fabric tight and adhere to the other side. 

Step 3

Layer on any embellishments that you like. Lay the open frame over the layers to check for positioning. Attach the embellishments using the staple gun or hot glue. I had a vintage looking burlap feed sack so I put that on over the chicken fabric. I like it because I can use safety pins to attach things to the board or push pins right through all the layers into the foam core. 

chicken wire memo board

Step 4

Cut a piece of chicken wire for the bottom third to half of the foam core board. This will be wrapped around the foam core so,  cut the chicken wire a few inches wider than the board. 


Attach the wire on the back using the staple gun. Carefully flip the whole sandwich of  layers over, to make it right side up.

Step 5

Layer on the open frame and position. Carefully flip it over again. Using the hammer and finishing nails, attach the foam core board to the frame. 

Chicken wire memo board chicken wire memo board


Step 6

Add snap clothes pins, paper clips,  push pins, thumb tacks, or what ever you want to use to hold your pictures and memos in place. I added a small burlap bag to hold store receipts.


I am already planning on making some more of these memo boards. I  would like to make a smaller version of this one too. Thanks for visiting! Let me know what you think. I love comments and try to answer them all.

 chicken wire memo board


chicken wire memo board 1

Simplify Christmas This Year

Handmade and Homemade Gifts to Simplify Christmas

December first is tomorrow. We move forward into one of the busiest times of the year for most people. The extra stress on the budget, time and our soul can take it’s toll on us. How do we simplify Christmas, when it is the most beloved of Christian celebrations? Maybe this is the year to put it all on hold and do only the things that are really meaningful to you and your family, as you celebrate Christmas.

simplify christmas

There surely is no scripture reference to justify wearing ourselves out, shopping, cooking and cleaning, not to mention attending every social or entertainment opportunity that presents itself. Those are just my thoughts for you, as we head into the Christmas season. It may not all change at once. I know for me, I have been making small steps to simplify Christmas celebration the last few years.


 simplify Christmas
One thing I have tried to move toward is making more homemade gifts. If that is something that appeals to you, I will be highlighting more ideas in the coming days and I invite you to stop by the website frequently to read about some wonderful ways to simplify Christmas. I hope you will find this series uplifting and encouraging. I know the feeling I battle most often, when trying to simplify Christmas by buying less and looking for meaningful, thoughtful gift, is that I am not doing enough. Is the cost of the gift a concern of yours, too? I prefer to just buy one gift for a loved one, wrap it beautifully, and deliver it in person. I know that isn’t a possibility all the time. Where did we start to think that we need a wish list from someone in order to buy them a gift? Don’t we know the people we are buying gifts for well enough that we don’t need a list from them? We raised four lovely children so I understand that when they get older, it is hard to always know a size or brand that appeals to them. It was hard to keep up with the technology too! I like the idea that has been circulating about gifts. It goes something like, one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they wear and one thing to read. Now as we are starting to buy gifts for grandchildren, I hope I will remember this and not just go into a buying frenzy in some sort of grandmotherly lapse of judgement!

 Anyway, back to the homemade and handmade gifts. When you give and make something with love for a gift, do you second guess yourself? These beautiful gifts, from our hearts, should be treasures. I am doing more and more of this type of gift giving. Last year my friends loved receiving our homemade vanilla extract and vanilla sugar. It was fun to create the labels that represented our farm and crafts. Some did not know that it was possible to make extracts at home.   Another great idea for the do it yourself type person would be a kit like this one from Learning and Yearning. Give a Make Your Own Extract Kit.

simplify christmas

Other years I have crocheted numerous pairs of hand warmers for family and friends. After all, people purchased my gloves from my Etsy shop to give to others so they must be an acceptable gift. Right? Maybe that is just my insecurity  But, what if the norm was to make something from the heart for your loved ones, instead of buying what the commercials tell us to purchase?

simplify christmas

This year, I still haven’t focused on what I want to make for gifts. The next few weeks will reveal it, as I look through patterns, Do it Yourself instructions and craft websites. Come along with me on the journey! Share ideas in the comments of the posts. Even links to other sites are fine. Lets start a new trend! Gifts we can afford, that are unique and made with love.

Here are a few thoughts to jump start you into thinking about Handmade and Homemade gift giving, this season.


Make fresh artisan breads and sew up these simple linen bread bags shown in the post from Attainable Sustainable

Make Linen Bread Bags in 15 Minutes


A yummy sugar scrub like this one from My Healthy Green Family

Chai Spice Sugar Scrub


There are many things you can quickly sew together using fat quarters. Here are a few ideas from one of my blog posts.

Using Fat Quarters to Make Gifts


Do you have a friend or family member that just moved? or is redecorating a room? Make one of these fabulous light switch covers or buy a hand made one from Ann over at A Farm Girl in the Making.

DIY Customized Light Switch Covers

Ornaments are always an appreciated gift. Here’s a link to super cute scrabble ornaments from Fresh Eggs Daily!

Wooden Scrabble Tile Ornaments


A spa gift set would be a welcomed homemade gift like this one from Schneiderpeeps.

DIY Spa Gift Basket


15 + Homemade Bath and Body Gifts from Grow a Good Life


Using Fat Quarters to Make Gifts

Sewing and Crafts Using Fat Quarters 

What do you do when you are offered five pieces of a new fabric line to test drive? If it’s fall, you may  be like me and decide to make Christmas gifts! The last few weeks I have been reacquainting myself with my sewing machine. I have enjoyed the quality of the fabric from Andover Fabrics Little House on the Prairie Collection. Using the fat quarters to make gifts has been inspiring and I have so many more ideas for the near future! Using the fat quarters from five patterns in the Little House on the Prairie collection, I was able to make quite a few gifts and some little extras. Not all the projects required sewing! The quality of these fabrics is second to none. I did actually make one small quilted project using fat quarters and I know these fabrics would be amazing to work with on a larger project. 


using fat quarters


(Read all the way to the bottom of this post and enter the giveaway!)

What did I make using fat quarters? Well let me show you the various projects I have been working on.  

Christmas Stockings Using Fat Quarters

Using Fat Quarters

First, I started by using a few of the fabric patterns to make toppers for the canvas Christmas stockings I like to make. I added the top cuff and a gift card holder pocket to the outside. Embellishments such as lace and other edge treatments are fun to add when personalizing the Christmas Stockings. For the Complete Instructions on making a Christmas Stocking go to this post

A Large Quilted Hot Pad Made Using Fat Quarters

Since the fabrics are quilting quality, I thought it would be interesting to see how they handle when cutting small patchwork pieces. I did a large casserole hot pad in a 2 inch charm quilt pattern. Using fat quarters in five different patterns, I was able to vary the squares and come up with a very pleasing pattern.

Using Fat Quarters


Mixing Patterns for Toys From Fat Quarters 

Using Fat Quarters

I saw this pattern for a cute stuffed elephant a couple years ago and pinned the pattern to my Pinterest board. I really don’t know why I thought of the pattern when deciding on a toy to make with the fabrics. I loved how the different variations came together to make this cute herd of soft elephants! Stuffed with a washable poly filling, they are washable and a baby safe toy. For the tail I braided three strands of bakers twine and sewed it securely into the back seam. In order to make them baby safe, I did not attach any eyes to the elephants but for decorative purposes or for an older child, the elephants could sport button eyes or sewn on eyes with embroidery thread. 

No Sew Gift Tags Using Fat Quarters Scraps 

using fat quarters

Last, I wanted to try to use as many pieces of the scraps as I could and I made up some rustic gift tags. These were very simple and this would be a great idea for a kid’s craft. I used a tag shape cut from lightweight cardboard. A cereal box would be a good weight of cardboard for this project, but really any cardboard will work. Punch the hole in the top for the string first before adding the glue and fabric. Trim the fabric to the edge of the cardboard. If you like the effect, leave the bottom fabric a little too long and fold up over the bottom of the tag.


Using Fat Quarters to make gifts

Not Much Fabric Left!

The last thing I want to make using the very limited amount of scraps left is this very awesome fabric twine. It uses pieces over a couple of inches long. These can be thin strips and even using the selvage edge is fine. I didn’t get too far yet on my twine but you can see here where I found the idea. Can’t you just imagine the way a package would look tied up with this very cool and frugal “ribbon”!


I hope you are inspired to make your own handmade gifts this season.

If you are wondering where to purchase the Little House on the Prairie Collection from Andover Fabrics, they have this convenient shopping locator here.

Interested in purchasing copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder?s endearing series of books about growing up in a homesteading/farming family?

Click Here.

For a limited time you can enter the following giveaway. The prize from Andover Fabrics and Little House on the Prairie is a huge gift pack including the new fabrics, videos and books.

 You can enter to win      here>>>

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