The Dread Dream
I wanted dreadlocks for a long time. In college, I couldn't get them because it was considered an "extreme hairstyle" which was prohibited by my school's dress and grooming standards. Which was fine, that's what I agreed to, so I was okay waiting. After I graduated, my desire for long, luscious, beautiful hair on my wedding day superseded my desire for the amazing dreads of my dreams. Problem was, I was very very single, with no indications that my wedding day was anywhere on the horizon. Inner conflict ensued for quite some time. So, I let it grow, and loved it most of the time...
But, God is a God of miracles and I got the man and wedding of my dreams. And my hair was PERFECT on my wedding day!! Faith and diligence rewarded!
|I add this pic of me and my dear mother because we have exactly the same hair.|
The time soon came to fulfill another dream--my dreadlock dream! So on June 6, 2011, I invited my friend Brittney over to help me start the process.
Aches and Mistakes
Okay, I did something stupid, feel free to laugh, because it was silly. I couldn't have known it would waste hours and cause much pain, but, to keep myself humble I will admit to this foolishness and show you the documented proof. But first, an explanation...I have done this to my hair before--you separate your hair into sections, twist it until it wads itself up to your scalp, tie a rubber band around it, sleep on it (very painful) and when you undo it, you have an afro. If your hair is short, it works really well. I thought that this strategy would make my hair easier to dread---it would be kinky and curly and would knot better. This was a mistake. First--my hair the night before the foolishness started.
|It stretched to about an inch above my belt.|
|Its pretty huge.|
|Hello Cowardly Lion. It was nearly impossible to get through.|
The Road to Success
Brittney sectioned my hair in one inch, brick-layout sections. This took about 2 hours. Then she started at the bottom dreading the sections. That day, she was at my house doing my hair for over 8 hours. We finished about 6 dreads.
Bless Brittney for her patience--I am certainly grateful for her help! It took me about 2 months to finish dreading my sections on my own after that. I worked on it a lot those first weeks; it took at least 1-1.5 hours to dread ONE section of my hair when I first started. So I spent 1-3 hours on my hair every day, dreading and tightening. Luckily, my life wasn't particularly busy during that time. I wore a lot of scarves, do-rags, etc. So basically, half of my head (the bottom half) was dreaded and the top was in braids. It didn't look bad, especially because I covered the top of my head most of the time, so it just looked dreaded. Here are some pics from that time:
|You can see the hair that is wrapped in the bun is braided, not dreaded.|
|Same thing here, a few weeks later.|
|Braids and Dreads.|
|This was the end of July; dreads about 6 weeks old. I only had about 6-8 braids left.|
I finished dreading the braided sections some time in August. I wanted to be diligent at taking pictures of the process, but at the same time I didn't want to show off the nappiness. There were days when it looked pretty crappy.
If we liken dreading my hair to a journey driving across the US, then maintaining the dreads is like the long, flat stretch from Nashville to Denver. The scenery is all the same, it takes forever, but you have to do it to get where you're going.
In mid-August, I started the first full round of TIGHTENING. So, this is how it goes: You dread the hair--it takes forever and is a bit painful. Then you have to wash your hair. I wash my hair once a week. With undreaded hair, that's definitely not enough, with dreads it seems like too much. I hate to use this word, but I really dread washing my dreads. At first, they unraveled like crazy--by which I mean they came loose and tons of loose hair formed at the scalp and along the body of the dread. When they are new, they are weak and fragile; the knots slip and come apart and they get really frayed-looking. This is why you have to tighten, or your dreads will look AWFUL. And people will judge you and call you a "dirty hippie" behind your back. There are worse things to be called, but still.
The Crochet Hook Method
There is debate in the dreadlocked community about the method by which you form/maintain your dreads. I used "backcombing" and a crochet hook. Some people use the "natural" or "organic" method; which means they don't touch their hair at all and eventually it forms dreads. This takes a LONG time--watch youtube videos on dreads, and you'll see what I'm talking about. I watched just about every video on youtube on the subject of dreads before I started, and I definitely think the backcombing/crochet hook method is the best.
Reason #1 that the crochet hook method is the best way to go: It accelerates the dreading/locking process better than any other strategy. Your dreads will be tighter (more mature) if you use a crochet hook than any other means I've seen. Do it. You won't regret it.
Here is an example of a loose dread:
|Two dreads forming into one at the root. I call these Thelma and Louise.|
|Here you can see the loose dreads in the middle, and on the right side are the dreads I had recently tightened. BIG DIFFERENCE!|
How To Video #1
How To Video #2