Five Months?!

I have started my new, big-girl job with the library, and I am finally starting to settle down into something like a routine. My job eats up 45 hours a week of my time, and I keep an active family life, and I’m writing a novel plus short stories. Somehow, in all of that, I am squeezing in a bit of time here and a bit of time there for hair. Where do I find the time? It’s due to my new process of Spun Art Locks. It’s very easy to do just a little bit at a time. Twenty minutes here, an hour there, rather than the marathon 5-8 hour sessions I had to do making more standard wool dreads. I’m not being shy about my method for making Spun Art Locks either. I’ve already made the first of two (maybe three?) videos documenting my process. I’ll run through it here via text:

  1. Hand card roving colors (1-6 colors at a time)
  2. Spin hand carded clouds into yarn
  3. Felt yarn 1/4 set at a time in boiling water on stove
  4. Shock hot yarn with cold water
  5. Cut to length while still wet
  6. Dry in station in front of fan

The longest part is probably hand carding the colors. It also takes the most muscle. Spinning might take just as long, honestly, but it’s much more enjoyable to me. The whir whir of my spinning wheel is so relaxing. The rip rip, brush brush of hand carding isn’t nearly as fun. Alas, it is necessary to blend the colors and add in extra sparkle or texture. Another thing I’m concentrating on is decoration of my Spun Art Locks. Spikes and skulls and ribbon and thread and feathers and sparkle! It really brings a theme to life when the hair has more texture and interest to it.

Unfortunately, due to my limited time, I have to charge premium prices and turn down a lot of custom orders right now. A full set of 12oz of yarn starts at $150, and I’ll only take on a custom order if 1 you’re a previous customer 2 you’ve got a great idea. I’ll continue to make pre-mades for anyone ravenous to buy them. The pre-mades will be heavily themed and decorated.

Here’s me wearing some of my very own Spun Art Locks in gold, yellow, and dark blonde.

Here’s about 1/3 the set off the head.

Anyways, I’m going to keep faithful to my roots (pun, haha) and keep on keepin’ on with hair extensions. I’ll update this blog as often as I can.

Fads and trends in the dread world

I remember, way back in the early 2000s, when extra smooth totally flawless dreads were the hot item. We’d actually wrap dreads in extra KK hair and smooth it all out with straighteners. Then it seemed to move away from that wrapped look to super smooth regular backcombed, steamed dreads. The trick was a damp towel over the dread with a straightener to get that smoother look. Also, candy cane swirls were all the rage with printed (especially leopard) dreads right behind that. Colors weren’t as available then, with Plastik Haar being THE place for unusual colors. I even bought some neon cone orange for loose extensions (which did not go very well). There was a hot moment where barely sealed naturals were popular. Then came the almighty crochet hook, which has kept its powers over the dread world for quite awhile now. Question is, what will be next, after the crochet hook?

Also, color ways come and go. I cannot remember anything specific from the early 2000s, but it can be easily said wild Rainbows have always been popular. Lately, I see a lot of Lisa Frank inspired color ways, usually in an extremely blended kind of way. Then there’s the Galaxy theme (which I love) that can be attributed in my mind to one photo of dreads in the snow. Mermaid seems to be popular as well and runs the gamut from blue and green to purples and teals. Along with the demand for more naturally textured dreads, there seems to be a general but quiet upswing in demand for more natural colors as well. Autumn sets are now popular year round as they lend themselves to more subdued colors, and there never seems to be enough brown to blonde tipped dreads for everyone.

I wonder, will the dread world swing back in the other direction? More towards the wild and unnatural, or will this drive toward ever more natural appearing dread extensions continue?

Dread woolie making—easy concept, difficult application.

Hey, wool dreads, that’s easy! Rip, split, roll, done. I can do that!

Oh, grasshopper, it’s not so easy. Yes, those are the basic steps, but that “roll” bit can be a bitter bitch to get through if you’re doing it right. Remember there’s hot hot, soapy water involved that will inevitably get everywhere as you move the sopping wet wool from the pot to the rolling surface. Then the rolling surface will get sopping wet as well and the water will fling everywhere as you roll if you’re pushing hard enough. Keeping your hands in soapy, hot water that long leads to major skin dehydration as well. And of course, the sore hands! Pushing and pushing and pushing while rolling again and again can cause some serious pain in the fingers, palms, and arms, even shoulders. And if you’re only doing this basic technique with solid colors, you’ll wind up with basic solid color stick dreads—want neat effects like wraps and sparkle and swirls and transitions? Even more hard work must be put into each dread.

So yeah, it may sound easier than synth dreads, but it’s still not easy. The best part about wool dread making is no specialty tools. Just wool, hot water, soap, and your hands. Keep rolling y’all!

Thin vs thick and why they’re both lovable.

I am a lover of both thin and thick dread extensions. There are pluses and minuses to them both, but depending on how you want to wear them and the look you’re going after they can both be great. So let’s start with thin dreads; I’m talking super thin like this:


These are actually wool yarn dreads that were hand spun for me by LIVEtheHAPPY of Etsy. Major plus of thin dreads is that they will lie more naturally than thick dreads. There’s not a problem of them sticking out here or there because they are more flexible (wool yarn dreads even more so flexible than thin synths). You can toss your head around a bunch and the thin dreads will lie back down easily. They are great for a more natural look and wild colors too. Don’t think that thin = less volume either. You just have to stuff more on your head. For instance, the wool yarn dreads I’m wearing above are installed 2 at a time, so that I’m wearing somewhere just over 100 DEs, but only roughly 50 sections. That’s how I install thin yarn dreads all the time. Quick + lots of volume. They can be put up into buns and ponytails easily as well. They can even be braided together in sections for a Mohawk look:


The downside? Well because they’re more flexible it can be harder to achieve really big, high styles. It can be done, it just takes more work and time that’s all.

Now let’s talk thick dreads. Here I am wearing some:


Thick dreads are great because they go up into insane styles so easily. A few rubber bands and you can have horns; case in point:


They’re also great because it doesn’t take as long to get lots of volume. Each dread can be put into a pretty big section of hair. The down sides here are that they can get a bit out of control and not lie right. This usually resolves itself after a few days of wear once the roots loosen a bit, but it can still be a bit awkward. They’re also harder to sleep with since the individual dreads are bigger and therefore not as easy to move around/squish. Weight, especially with long, thick, synth dreads, can be problematic for people as well.

All in all, it just depends on what you want. I’d suggest trying both if you’ve got the money to spend. Myself, I wear long, thin, wool yarn dreads the most because these days I’m not much into high, spiked, big hair styles. When I do wear thicker dreads, they’re usually short so the weight doesn’t bother me. If you’re new to all this, I’d say go down the middle with some sharpie thick dreads to start; then you can decide what you want more—more natural, lay down dreads or more spiky, stick up dreads. What’s your preference, vet dread extensionists? And why?

Contests, used, discounts, cost of materials. Always an opportunity for reduced cost hair.

For some reason, I notice that a lot of hair enthusiasts are often skint. Me included. Not sure why; maybe because most of us are just normal folks working for a living and life’s mishaps often keep us down. Though it does make me wonder why more well off folks don’t like dread extensions… hmph. Anyways, off point. If you are struggling to get your hard working hands on some dreads, I want you to know that with enough digging, luck, time, and compromise you can get dreads at discount prices.

I’d like to emphasize that last word in the list: compromise. When trying to buy anything at discount prices you’re probably not going to get exactly what you’re looking for. It’s great to have a dream set of dreads in mind, but it’s also good to aim for something close-ish to that dream that’s the right price. Be flexible with length, thickness, texture and especially color.

So how do you find these reduce cost dreads? Pay close attention to the various Facebook groups that cater to dread extensions. Some of these English language pages are: Dreadlock Kingdom, Synthetic Dread Society, Dreadlocks Appreciation and also checking out Alternative type trade/sell pages.

On these pages second hand dreads will pop up often, and they are roughly ¾ to ½ the price of new dreads dependent on how many times they’ve been worn, if they are resealed/washed, and the original maker. Also, individual makers hosting sales will often advertise such sales on these pages; JUMP on these sales fast as makers usually limit the number of kits they’re willing to do at reduced prices. And dread makers will also advertise their contests for free dreads on these pages as well; we’ll talk a little more about this later.

Another longer, more time intensive way to get dreads at cost of materials is to watch the up and coming talent; many times when a dread artist is first starting out they will offer kits at cost of materials plus shipping. Of course, they are also new comers to the hair world—extra attention must be paid to the photos they post of their work, how seasoned vets respond to those photos, and lastly checking up on the newb’s selling/buying reputation. It’s not so hard to find out the reputation; ask for the new seller’s Etsy name or eBay name and go through their feedback on both. If the feedback is spotty, STAY AWAY! If it looks stellar then the person is probably trustworthy. But, keep in mind that a new seller may burn you, so be sure to always pay with Paypal (NOT as a gift) and do not hesitate to report them within the 45 day time period should you believe something fishy is going on.

A note on contests. Some contests are run like raffles; buy tickets, the more you buy the higher your chance to win. Some contests are completely free and randomly picked by number. Some contests are based on photographs or descriptions. This last type of contest is not “easy” to win, but as a maker that has hosted one I’ll give you some pointers. First of all, dread makers are by nature creative artists so you want to wow them on a creative level. If it’s a photo contest, that happy slappy photo of a rainbow over a lake with butterflies probably isn’t going to win; and even though I don’t feel like I should have to say this, sending in a photo of another dread maker’s work will only piss off the dread artist running the contest. Find a photo that is 100% unique and also tell the dread artist WHY you chose it. If it’s a “dream dread kit” type written contest don’t think that an entry for “red and black swirled dreads” is going to win. That may be what you want, but that isn’t going to tickle the creativity of an artist. Remember, you’re not placing a custom order here; your inspiring an artist to exercise their own creative muscles. So don’t say “20 DE sharpie thick dreads in red, black, and burgundy that are 20 inches long.” Give them a description “I want the teal tentacles of a sea witch that curl around her gold, scaly tail.” Give the dread artist a story, a photograph in words. That will get you at least put in the “considered” pile rather than tossed away with the “rejects.”

Yes, dreads at reduced cost are possible. It will take longer, it will not be exactly what you want, and it will take work, but it can be done. Just pay attention to the dread pages, compromise on your wants, amp up creativity in those contests, and keep a wary eye out for new makers.

M4034S-4211My very first self made dreads; also a way to avoid high costs!

Dreads as part of self or just a hair style?

Now this debate will definitely take on different meaning depending on if we’re talking natural dreads or extended dreads. I do not have natural dreads, so I can only speak from the perspective of extensions. I do invite conversation and commentary from those of you with natural dreadies, or the combo of natural with extensions. So, are my dreads part of my inner self, or are they just a hairstyle? I’m not sure, to be honest. I know that the proposition of not wearing them ever again (or at least for extended amounts of years) makes me feel as though I would be losing a part of me. So I guess if I look at it that way, yes, my dread extensions are a part of me. However, if for some reason (job, illness, sudden zombie apocalypse) did occur and I could not wear them, I would go on. It wouldn’t be the death of me or anything, it wouldn’t stop me from living life; I’d just feel like a bit of a poser. I’m not being 100% honest with the world if my outside doesn’t match my fabulous inside. And for me, that’s what dread extensions are; they are an extension of the fabulous, sparkly, unicorn I am inside. I suppose then that it is more than just a hairstyle, for me. I’ve been making/wearing some kind of alt hair extensions since 2002. That was around the time that I went through a major interior change as well. Perhaps another major interior change will happen again for me, and the dread extensions won’t be as important later on down the road. But for now, yes, they are a part of me and not just a fashion statement. In fact, I’ve never been much of one to be interested in “fashion” anyways; I don’t care if dread extensions are popular or not, I just want to wear them to express my inner self. Do you feel like your extensions or natural dreads are part of your inner self? Or have you chosen them because of the fashion statement they make? Or maybe a combo of both?


Me wearing my Cruella inspired dreads; yes, I wore them to Disney World.

Faux-hawks and dreads: brilliant or not brave enough?

A lot of ladies and gents that wear dreads regularly also choose to shave a bit of their head here of there to make installs more comfortable or for fashion reasons. But some people choose to go another route: enter the faux-hawk. Here’s a picture of me with one. Question is, is this a brilliant hairstyle or is the wearer not brave enough to cut it all off? I have about 1 inch of my sides shaved at the hairline, see here. I dye it regularly to match my dreads, but I keep the rest of my hair about 10-12 inches long, and undyed. Basically, I don’t want to kill my hair with dye because I like my natural hair, and shaving off large amounts would only lead me to being very upset later that my hair was gone. So I go faux-hawk from time to time. But there has been criticism out there that faux-hawks are for the weak and afraid. Maybe I am afraid of the commitment? Lots of people say “it’s only hair, it’ll grow back.” But me, I have a bald spot right at the front of my hairline on the right side, so I believe it might just not grow back. In fact, at any time more of my hair could mysteriously fall out leaving bald patches because my body obviously has the ability (I saw the doctor, and he warned me of future bald patches appearing.) Should people criticize others for not taking the plunge with the clippers? Does it really matter, faux or real hawk?

Other materials, we should love them more

The battle between synth dreads and wool dreads rages on, the sheep and production line spraying sweat and blood across the land. Meanwhile, in a quiet corner, other materials weep to be so popular. There are, in fact, alternatives inside the Alternative Hair Extensions world, and we should all keep our ears perked up for them. The one I am most familiar with is Faux-Roving, or fleece dreads. Basically I cut long, thin strips of fleece with pointy ends, then stretch the crap out of it until it curls back on itself creating a tube kind of shape (tutorial here). They’re light, cheap, fast, and great for installs or falls (click for Pinterest gallery of Faux-Roving). But there’s so much else! Yarn is also one of my favorites. Yes, it could be argued it’s “wool” but yarn comes in a HUGE variety of materials, and they should ALL be used. Here I am wearing 3 types of colinette yarn which I cut, braided together, then braided into my hair. It’s fabulous because of the multi-textural quality to the hair. Yarn is easily accessed as well, and I’m willing to be it’s where many people start their hairy adventures. But I don’t think we should turn our back on it once we can afford synth and wool dreads; go back to the roots and try it again! Cyberlox. Yes, crinoline, what was once made of horsehair and helped women’s skirts stand out is now braided into people’s hair, and I could not be happier about it. Need a metallic or iridescent flash in your already established dreads? Go CYBERLOX! (Installed here with yarn, yep, 2 alternative alternative hair extensions) Scoobies, rexlace, foam, bubble wrap, rubber, wire! Anything we can manage to wrap our hair around, we should! Let’s try to push the boundaries even more and leave “natural” in the dust. Have you tried any of the alternatives to alternative hair extensions? What was your experience?

Sparkle Dreads: Why not more popular?

There is an amazing, heat reactive fiber out there that is metallic, iridescent, holographic! It’s called Angelina fiber, and I cannot understand why more sellers and buyers don’t use it. It can’t be used alone to make dreads because the fibers are too short, but it certainly can be added to either wool or synthetic dreads. I use it frequently in my wool dreads, and it just doesn’t seem to make an impact online or in real life, but I really don’t get it. What’s better than mermaid dreads? Mermaid dreads with the sparkle of the ocean. What’s better than rainbow dreads? Rainbow dreads that flash and shine. What could make a natural set really pop? Subtle metallic highlights. It comes in every color of the rainbow, including several natural colors like pure black, copper penny, rusty nail, and forest blaze. It’s not the cheapest fiber out there, costing about $5 per oz. However, that little bit goes a really, really long way. It’s near impossible to catch the rare, sparkling beauty with a camera, so I suggest just buying an ounce and taking a look yourself. There’s some great deals on Etsy for buying 3 packs of color. Seriously, I suggest considering this for your next set. Here are some of my (badly photographed) sets with Angelina in them:

Purple and Jade:

Rouged Knees:

Black on Black:

Grass at Lake’s Edge:

Native American Inspired:

How I install and wear my extensions

I’ve been meaning, for many years, to create a tutorial about how I choose to install and wear my extensions. It’s changed quite a lot over the years, so I’ll start with my most recent way and move backward from there. First, you’ll need to check out this head chart to understand what the heck I’m talking about:


The crosshatch areas represent where my head is shaved. It’s just about even with where my ears connect to my head shaved up to where my hair becomes thick, near the temples. I decided a few years back to shave in my sides; a major reason being that I have a bald spot the size of a silver dollar just above my right temple. I couldn’t install dreads to my hairline for that reason and it was very visible when wearing my natural hair in a ponytail. So now, when I shave my sides, I simply let alone the hair just above the bald spot so that it is longer and covers the bald spot. Anyways, if you don’t have shaved sides, that’s okay. Just create more sections with that hair.

Let me say first that this is NOT the bricklayer hair sectioning. I never found that style suited me the few times I tried it, and it’s awkward for pigtails when wearing DE. Also I ONLY wear DE dreads, so there’s been no thought given to SEs at all in this post.

This head chart has room for 54 DE dreads. From the front of my head to the back, I do 4 rainbow rows; in other words, I do 4 rows that go across the head like a headband, from ear to ear. After those first 4 initial rows, I change to a horizontal pattern. If I have more or less dreads to install (minimum 44, maximum 60) I only change the horizontal pattern. I always install the 4 rainbow rows exactly the same, every single time, no matter thickness of dread or number of dreads. Why? Because I mostly wear my dreads straight back from my forehead like the next picture so I need the most coverage on top and in front.


This isn’t to say my install pattern cannot be used for wearing the hair split down the middle. Here I am, same pattern, with a middle part.


I don’t like the bricklayer pattern because when wearing DEs the part wouldn’t be straight; it’d swing from side to side and, to me, look a bit weird.

The only time I wear my hair parted down the middle is when my extensions match my natural hair color well. If my natural hair does not match my extension color, I usually fake it. Sometimes I lighten then color my shaved sides to match my extensions:


More often though, I simply use water activated cake makeup to actually paint my shaved sides and roots to match the extensions, like this:


Because I wear my hair straight back, all I need to paint with the makeup is my front roots and shaved sides. I wash the paint out when I shower and reapply while doing my makeup. Here’s a good example of not painted roots VS painted roots.


The only pain is getting caught in a particularly watery situation. Since the makeup is water activated, it will melt when water and friction are applied; this means swimming and rain can make you melt a bit. Also, there’s some rub off on pillows. But really, this is not so much different from many temporary, bright colored hair dyes. I put up with it, and I’ve never had any embarrassing moments of melting in public. During this current install I even went swimming with my painted roots; really it didn’t budge much as long as I didn’t touch the paint. So it’s really not that bad at all.

Sometimes now, if my hair matches the extensions somewhat (or I just don’t feel like it) I’ll leave out the first 2 rainbow rows and wear a “fringe” or “bangs.” I put that in quotes because my hair is 10 inches long so it’s not a traditional fringe. I wear it in a French braid to the side,

or I wear it in a quiff


Mostly it just goes into a quiff of varying sizes.

I didn’t always install at my hairline though. Many moons ago, I didn’t have shaved sides, and I didn’t install to my hairline at the front or the back due to sensitivity. I left out the first 2 rainbow rows and the bottom horizontal row on my chart and simply braided that hair to keep it out of the way. The bottom braids were hidden by the extensions on top, and then for the front I’d wear a headband and hand tied fringe, like this:


It was hot and somewhat uncomfortable and could shift easily, which eventually led me to shaving those sides and slowly installing to the hairline. Installing to my hairline didn’t happen all at once due to sensitivity. I installed with large, loose sections and light dreads first, then got smaller, tighter, and heavier over time. If it hurts, that’s a bad sign that hair follicles could be getting damaged. Move slowly, give your scalp time to adjust.

Now as far as how I actually “braid” the things in, I first use the blanket stitch braid near the scalp, then switch to a regular three way braid about half way through my natural hair. This gives me tightness at the scalp and the pretty wrap at the bottom. My hair is anywhere from 9-14 inches long, and with that length I can manage to squeeze in 6 inch long dreads, or of course as long as I want.

What type of install pattern do you use? Do you find one better than another?