April 29, 2009

Combining Locs

These locks are old 2-Headed Dragons and they were combined six months after my installation:

These two locks were thinning from the root and needed support:

Notice the difference in size since I combined these two locks to match the one lock below it. Most of my newer 2-headed dragons are like the one in this pic. and I had a few micros:

About 95% of my locks are size small. Only a few locks in the front are micro due to how thin my hair is in that area. I believe that this medium lock is the biggest lock on my head and I have more thickness and density in that area even though it was started the same size as my smaller locks:

I decided to combine several locs after contemplating doing this for several weeks now. Here is my story: I started out with 450+ locks on my installation day and as much as I enjoyed them, self-maintenance took longer than I had expected as they grew longer. I combined a few after the first six months because I found some locks to be too skinny. When I became a DIYer, I spent an entire day tightening them which slowly turned into two days, then three days and so on. I will be completely honest with you,
for the past 4 months I dreaded every time I had to re-tighten my locs because my sessions were longer, tiring and my arms ached every time. Some people enjoy these long sessions but frankly I never did since the first day. I couldn't see myself keeping this up years from now and knew that if I made a change, then it had to be sooner than later. I had thoughts about combining all my locks, starting over with bigger locks, even switching to the twisting method....anything to avoid these long and tedious sessions. I kept delaying my re-ti sessions and developed less than desirable feelings about them because it was labor. On top of all of this my hair is very thick and dense and my roots grow out quickly. I was really torn until I came across NappyRina's journal entry about her transition from SLs to TLs. After reading her entry about how she experienced similar issues and what she did to resolve them, she really helped me through this grey area with suggestions, support and a lot of love. I'm really grateful for her entry because she helped me to make a very important decision especially during the week of my next re-ti.
I discovered two things as I went through my locks during my last re-ti: 1) I had several weakened locs that were way too skinny and, 2) the locks in the back of my head are smaller than the ones in the front. If I married a few together then they would end up being the same size as the ones in the front. So I combined several locks in about 3-4 rows and then recounted them. So now I have a total of 436 locs which doesn't seem like much of a difference from 451, but that means that there are 15 less locks to tighten. Then I totaled all of my two-headed dragons (old and new) and now I have 26 of them which means i've combined 52 locks since my installation. I'm not crazy about numbers, but i'm posting this information for those who really want to know.
How did I combine my locks? Simple. I grabbed the roots of two locks and inserted my NL tool using my 4 pt. pattern and made 1 rotation. I don't plant to twist, braid, or sew my two-headed dragons together, but instead let them grow out in an upside down 'Y' shape because I like them this way, how they look and the fact that they add volume to my hair. Once my locs have reached a certain length then i'll consider snipping off the extra locs, but for now they are here to stay. Besides, they are not that noticeable anyway so why cut them?
So how do I feel? I feel so much better and a lot happier now that i've done this because this should help solve my re-ti woes at least a little bit. If anything, i'm expecting my re-ti's to be a little faster and i'm so glad that I combined the thinner/weaker locks in the back of my head for more support. I also received feed back from another SL-er (marissasensei) who had 600 locks and combined all of hers so now she has 300 and they are beautiful! She explained that her locks dry faster and her re-ti sessions are shorter. I just felt so inspired and encouraged after she shared her experience with me. Personally, I feel that I made the correct decision to combine some locks because my growth and thickness are hard to keep up with at times during my re-ti's. If anything, i'm looking forward to shorter sessions and fewer aches and pain in my arms when holding them up.
Update 6/6/09: I combined several more locks and now i'm down to 425.


Moosiko said...

Once again, thanks for the great and honest information. Since I am DIY tightening my locs now I have been a bit overwhelmed at the sheer amount of hair that I have on my head. I will probably combine some too. Still, I'm glad to be doing it myself right now.

Kicukalah said...

Good for you Kalia! When my locks were installed, I told my loctician that I wanted them slightly bigger than the usually SLs. I ended up with 375 locks and thought to myself, OH No! They're going to be too big!! But now, it's actually been about 5 months and I can see my locks start to take on a different shape and become more "rounder" and the size is just fine. I took a stab at retighten my locs myself about a month ago. It took 1 week just to get the area in the back of my head just below the crown done. I understood it was my first time, but I also understood that even as I build up my speed it was still going to be a time consuming task. I've decided, I'm not ready to do it myself and that's ok too. :-)

Sonya said...

You have done nothing but been an inspiration to me. I really enjoy your posts and learnng from your journey. As you know I started reti my own hair and in doing so I came to the point of combining locks. Because I started reti myself I found I had locks that were merely about 8 strings thick and and breaking they were side by side and some next to thicker locks. I remembered your tutorial on fixing stray hairs. I used that technique to combine those locks, only I went through the base of one lock to join the other. You've helped in more ways than you know.

Queen Nat said...

I hear you Dewdrop. I have nearly 600 locks myself and self re-ti's are not as fun as I thought they would be when I first started. I thought about combining some or even going to traditional locs as well. By the time I finish my reti, its time to do it again and my schedule is too hectic to stay in my hair. Question for you: the locs you combined, are they right next to each other, above and below or what? I'm looking forward to your pictures.

Kris said...

I did the same thing. I started with about 500 SL and since I've been self retightening, I have realized I don't like very small locks. I thought seriously about combing them out and starting with traditional, but I'm already 16 months into the locking process, so I guess I'll just stick with it and see how they continue to mature.
From your experience, since you've reached the 3 year mark, have your locks swelled to a size where if you continue to combind others they will become bigger than locks you didn't combine? I would love to have 200 or 300 locks, but I don't want to combine my entire head?

dewdrop said...

@Everyone: Thanks so much for your comments and support. It's good to know that we are in this together.

@Queen Nat: I combined most of my locks next to each other because they were closer and I wanted to stay within that row.

@Kris: If I combine others, than they will become bigger, but the ones that I had already combined were still micro in size regardless of entering my 3rd year. Same as you, I wanted fewer locks but I didn't want to combine my entire head so that's why I only did a few rows in the back of my head.

Naturally Sophia said...

Have you considered being a consultant? I think you would be a GREAT one.

Docs Locs said...

Thank you, Kalia, for this post.

A consultant recently guestimated that I have 650 plus locs.

I know combining is in my future.


dewdrop said...

@NS: No I haven't and i'm sure I would be pretty good at it, but I prefer to keep my weekends open to my personal life and other activities. I know that people usually tend to book their weekends and I want to keep my open.

Chinue*s LLL Philosophy said...

Very informative as usual. I have never had to combine any of my locks, not even when I had traditional ones, but I am strongly considering combining a few at the back.

Anonymous said...

Good job Kalia, I combined some over the years, especially at the hairline which is weak and kept breaking due to my poor DIY (now I stick with my consultant, DIY is not my thing lol), I have 30 that I cut off in a bag, they are my tester locks for colours


dewdrop said...

@CLLLP: It's interesting that we go through these changes one day when we are not expecting them. Keep me updated with your locks in the back.

@Anon: Using your old locs as testers for colors? That's brilliant!

Luebella said...

I am so glad I stumbled across your blog! I have been fretting about how many locs I have been losing recently, due to thinning at the roots. It never occurred to me to combine them (on purpose) with stronger ones! I have been a DIY since December 08 at 6 months.

Excuse me while I go to do some repair work on my head.

Thanks so much for sharing dewdrop. It will be my 1st year anniversary and I still get lots of comments on my hair. Lovin it!

And on another note, I am learning how to run and have started to train for a half marathon in October in Victoria BC Canada. I will have to drop by your blog now to be inspired now.

dewdrop said...

@Luebella: I wouldn't want you to have weak roots so it's best to combine a few. In fact, since this post i've combined several more locks. I'm thrilled that you are training for your first half marathon and good luck to you! Keep me updated!

Nekea said...

I can relate to how you feel. My first set of locs were braidlocs that I latched maybe once lol. After that once I knew that it wasn't going to work so freeformed. With my second set, I started with fingercoils and KNEW that I'd be twisting the roots to maintain. I didn't care about what lasted longer, I just cared about what took me the least amount of time.

Fuchsia said...

This is great information. You seem to have the same hair type as I thick and more thick. But everything you said fits me to a "T" I just became a diy and while i love the freedom ive been putting off my second diy reti because i have so many . I will have to look into the other sl'er who went from 600 to 300. I also just had to combine a loc in the front that i saw was very weak at the base. Glad to know im not the only one that has dealt with that. I have several that my consultant combined so i have several double headed dragons. You cant tell and they do add great volume.
Thanks so much for your blog. Whenever im at a lost about something I come check your blog. Its like a sl bible for me lol

Fuchsia said...

Actually,if you know how i can get in contact with marissasensei that would be great. Does she have a blog or fotki?

dewdrop said...

Hi Fuchsia!

LOL at sl bible! I'm glad to know that you are taking charge of your locks fearlessly and that you're doing what works best for you. Take your time w/ your reti's and go at your own pace. Don't worry, your locks aren't going anywhere. Normally i'll wear more braidouts if i'm due for a reti because it makes my puffy roots less noticeable. I sent you a msg through NP w/ marissasensei's fotki album, so let me know if you got it. :-)