March 04, 2010

Combining Locks

What have I done with my locks?

I had combined my locs to make them larger. Initially I had 500+ SLs,  combined them to create and maintain 425 microlocks as
a DIYer, and now I have 226 TLs.

My 3 year lockversary was last month, and last week I had contemplated doing something different with my locks, because it was time for a change. I didn't enjoy my maintenance routine and I had to address certain health issues. The idea of latching 425 little locks every month for days did not appeal to me anymore and I chose to stop until I came up with another solution. I had to think fast since my next re-ti was this week and I had social events coming up. As a DIYer, going to a lockitician was not an option because I prefer to take charge of my own hair and maintenance. For several days I sought the advice of nappies who were supportive and provided great suggestions. After weighing the pros and cons I proceeded to combine my locks simply to strengthen my roots bed and reduce my hours of latching. This decision was made based on what is best for me and my health including other reasons: 1) to simplify my maintenance 2) strengthen my root bed and locks, and 3) to grow healthy hair.


I visited several albums, blogs and videos of women who had combined their SLs. NubianLockedPrincess and Jazzyslim2005 provided me with great information because they went through this journey themselves. Thank you for your feedback, support and wonderful suggestions ladies! The idea of having larger locks was something to look forward to. I had larger locs before years ago when I was new to Nappturality, but only for a short period of time. I missed my old set too, but my hair was so damaged from excessive coloring that I had to cut them off.

Pros & Cons of combining my MLs

Pros: Simplified maintenance (i.e. fewer hours of latching, fewer locks to latch, longer periods between re-ti's), managing my loose strands a little better and not having to deal with a sore body after lengthy sessions. Overall, I feel really good about making these changes for the sake of my health and happiness.
The Combining Process

Over the weekend I combined my locks two at a time, sometimes three, working on the back on Sat. then the front on Sun. My arms were tired, my eyes burned and my back ached because it's not easy to see the top and back of your head in the mirror. 95% of my locks were combined except for a few that were already big or did not have a neighboring lock. Funny enough, I new that some of my parts were crooked to begin with, but I didn't expect to find so many uneven rows! This explains why wearing evenly spaced flat twists in the front posed as a challenge. I had to really go through each row to see which locks to combine or leave out in order to form more even rows when I finished. Flat twists have always been one my favorite styles and wearing them again felt great (pictured at the top of this post).

I plan to maintain my new growth with the latch hook tool since it's obvious that my NL tool is too small for most of these locks, except for three or four. Ideally I would like to continue using the 4pt. pattern, but i'll adjust it accordingly as I tighten. In fact, i'm not sure how long to wait before my next re-ti in order to complete a full rotation since my lock size is larger now. I'll play it by ear and be sure to update you once I know. With my MLs i've tried extending the period between each re-ti, but it only meant longer latching sessions and this wasn't fun. Another observation is that as my MLs expanded and matured, some of them were hard to pull through my new growth because pulling fat ends through my small new growth resulted in strands being torn in the process. Continuing down this path would result in lost or weakened locks, so I determined that it was better for me to form a stronger/larger root bed.

Lock Size

Right now my lock count is 233 (I may combine more, but it depends) and the root bed
of each lock ranges between 1/2"-3/4". I have squares, rectangles and even triangles because I had to determine each lock combination as I went along, even if they were already uneven in size and space to begin with. My locks started out micro-small and had swollen to three times their initial size due to my density and thickness, and some locks were thinning as they grew out while the root bed began to weaken. I also had so many loose clumps of new growth (not stands, clumps!) sprouting in between rows which had made more of a statement than my tiny locks did. LOL! It was work to sew them back into each lock, but I think it will be easier with this new set now. Only the roots have been combined meaning that my MLs will grow out as two-headed dragons since they're solid/mature and won't stay together if I twist them. I don't want to sew them together either because that's too much work for me.

My Health Goals

Last week as I contemplated what to do with my locks, I took down five locks in the back (with H20, conditioner and a push pin) only to realize that pruning and coloring had greatly damaged my hair. My hair was considerably soft, but these two factors made me evaluate a few things.
1) My first goal
is to grow healthy hair even if it means not coloring my locks anymore. I've spent the last three years experimenting with different colors and now I want to calm down. As resilient as my hair is, coloring had thinned out my hair shaft. My plan is to grow out my dyed part or use a demi-permanent color (maybe dark brown) to cover up just this part if I really need to.
2) My second goal is to stop pruning my locks (snipping loose strands of hair along the loc) because this caused me to lose entire strands of hair from the root (and i'm not talking about hair which had already shed from before either). I had strands of hair in the same section that were either 9 inches short or 15 inches long. This drastic difference in length was an indicator that my entire head must have been the same way. Personally, I don't think pruning is the best idea if you plan to take down your locks later on (I don't mean the Big Chop either). My hair is naturally fuzzy always will be, so i'm learning to work with it and not against it. Instead of snipping i'll just continue sewing loose strands back into my locks.
3) My third goal
is to hopefully begin using a homemade moisturizer to keep my locks/roots conditioned. My scalp condition, Seborrhea Dermatitis, prevents me from using all kinds of products but i'd like to try a honey/water spritz or aloe vera gel/water spritz. I used these two natural products before as a loose nappy and my scalp tolerated both. I cannot use any oils what so ever or E.O.'s since they will cause a flair up, but I welcome other suggestions.

My Feelings

The night I finished combining my locks I felt as if a burden had been lifted off my shoulders. There was an immediate difference in my mood and feelings of excitement took over. Each person's journey is different and you never know in what direction life will take you (or your hair), but i'm glad that I analyzed my situation and was able to make the right decision. I think that all locks are beautiful in their own way and this is something to celebrate! Being a DIYer is even more empowering! Some people may be disappointed about my choice and others thrilled, but what i'm most happy about is that I can still enjoy my locks while maintaining them in a way that works for me and accommodates my health. So what does this all mean now? It means that I officially have traditional locks which i've started myself. I'm excited about how they will grow and mature as I care for them with their health as my primary focus.

Thank you Nappies!

I want to thank you so much for your support, because I don't regret making this decision for the sake of my health and happiness and i've enjoyed having them up to this point. This season of my life just felt like the time to do something different and I hope to continue receiving your support since I don't really receive much of it from anyone else but my nappy family. This is a new journey for me which i'm totally excited about and I will continue posting updates to let you know how i'm enjoying the ride. All of you are wonderful and influential teachers, supporters and advocates and i'm grateful to you for all the information you continue sharing with me. I appreciate every one of you and i'm thankful to God for this wonderful community because He knows I need it. I absolutely welcome advice, suggestions, encouragement, thoughts and lots of love.
Nappiness is a journey, so enjoy the ride. Be happy and keep it Nappy! ~Dewdrop


kohlprincess said...

I totally understand why you combine your locs. They will still be beautiful and they are still small enough to do several different styles. I start off with really small braidlocs, but decided to combine some of them cause they just looked to fragile. Healthy hair is first. Plus I think my mindset was in the wrong place, thinner locs looking more like relax hair. I love the look of larger loc even the uncultivated lock. So congratulation on your journey! PS: I LOVE your blog. You should really write a book.

Mimi said...

your hair is beautiful with SL's and TL's. You inspire me but I don't think I wanna become a DIY'er anytime soon! LOL. I love all of your tips. PS: I agree, your blog is wonderful.

Fuesha said...

I just saw the video she did for you and yt. I was like is she talking bout dewdrop. So i ran over here and saw the blog. I think its cool. Honestly i really dont see much of a difference but I know you will see the difference where it matters and thats in maintenance time! Whew i know its going to be a breeze for you now especially when you were knocking it with all you had before.

Im only a year and change in and not fully loced at all but i understand your struggle! Ive got hundreds of locs as you know and thick hair too.

When you get to that point and its just not fun anymore you gotta do what ya gotta do. I love it for you! Now just slow down with the coloring and you will be good to go!

Gigglz said...

Wow!!! This was a shocker to read! I do understand all your reasons and you seem like you made a rationale decision and not based on emotion. I just colored my locks and I can see that if I consistenly color I could see how it could become an issue with thinning. You mentioned that it started becoming difficult to pull your thick locks through your new growth, do think this was based on the latch hook? Or just overall?

Either way, your locks look great. And I can't wait to see the styles that you come up with!

Newness of Life said...

Your hair never ceases to amaze me. No matter HOW you wear it. I look forward to watching your locs change form again.

*Coop* said...

I just reached my 3 year mark and I've been thinking about combining too. I feel the same as you -- a change is needed. I still have some loose ends and I have hair thinning at the scalp. It's best that I wait a while before I make any sudden changes (combining or cutting off, more likely), but somethings definitely gonna change.
Your hair looks great. I really love the pictures you post.

Sweet Ducky said...

I'm exciyed about this journey just as much as I was excited about you SL journey. I can't wait to take the ride with you! It's going to be loverly!

A Sista Who Locked said...

You are still my Lock-Idol! They look great, it's about what makes you happy, and it's all about what IS BEST FOR YOU. I am only a year in (as of March 12th that is) and I have already thought about doing the same thing. I will keep monitoring your journey!

dewdrop said...

@KholP: Thanks for the encouragement and i'll certainly consider your suggestion.

@Mimi: Thank you!

@Fuesha: LOL! I was trying to post this entry before people saw her video response and started flooding my inbox with questions. Thanks for keeping me accountable with not coloring my hair and i'll try my best. :-)

@Gigglz: Thanks! I used my NL tool the entire time. My ends just naturally became thicker, so how I used the NL tool or latch hook(rarely) had nothing to do with it. This just became the issue overall.

@Newness: I know! My hair still surprises me sometimes.

@Coop: Thanks! Let me know what you decide to do.

@SweetD: Awe, you're so sweet and I like your blog name!

@ASWL: Keep me updated if you change anything. :-)

DeBe said...

Wow! Now there's a surprise! As one with thick hair I can very much understand the push to combine. The most important thing is that you're happy with your locs. I'll be watching closely as I plan to combine my own over time so I'm interested to see the effect. Love the notion of keeping your two headed dragons rather than trying to combine down the length.


CycleBreaker said...

cheers to you. Your locs look great either way and I truly believe you will be happy with the results!

Salone Queen said...

I recently had my sisterlocks installed and viewed your blog many times before making the decision. What I have learned over these last few months is that a loc is a loc and your hair is beautiful just the same. I really admire your ability to start something without looking back. You are an inspiration to all!

Anonymous said...

Your locks will still look great, as long as their locs who cares about the technical name, all the best!


mogirl said...


Whether it's SLs or TLs, your locs are and will continue to be beautiful. I've learned so much from your DIY tips, and I hear you on the loose "clumps" between locs. Not fun at all.

When it comes to hair or any of life's choices, the most important thing is what Shakespeare wrote centuries ago...This above all: to thine own self be true.

Thanks for all your help on my loc journey, and kudos for doing what it takes to continue to enjoy yours.


QueenLi / Rad-Hatter said...

WOW! I feel you though. I combined my first set after 4.5 yrs. and even though I like the look of this new set, I don't see myself doing my own Re-Ti after age 50! so sometime during this decade, I may combine this set of locks as well. I did a count over the weekend, I have 315 braidlocks. I take up to 5 days to do my Re-Ti, and only when I am happy and bored.
It is more of a *Finance* thing then a DIY thing. If I can't afford a 50 creamy-crack, I most def can't afford 125.00 for Re-Ti.
I have a few new pics on my blog now, and plan to put a few more up this month.
(sorry so long a comment)
Take Care~

Queen Nat said...

I totally understand and am glad you are finding peace with your lock journey. SLs are beautiful, but definitely a lot of work. I want to lock again, but keep debating whether to go back to SLs or just do braidlocs. Those long re-ti sessions and achy arms are not missed! LOL. All the best in your new phase; we support you!!!

The knotty Truth said...

I hope no one is judgemental of your decision. Your decision was a healthy decision. I totally understand the 'weight being lifted'. After 3 yrs of the tediousness of latch rotations've been there and done that. Congrats on your new journey and we're right here with ya! Its absolutely fun to watch your locks transform and I love what you've done! Its like the best of all worlds w/o cutting off and starting over.

LRA said...

They look great! Can't wait to see where this new journey takes you sister!

paula said...

You have a beautiful soul and I love your spirit. Always hands-on and on top of the matter. Whether you're sporting sls or tls, you know exactly what you're doing and where you're going. Your blog will remain a trendsetter and an inspiration.

Epek said...

I never heard of the condition Seborrhea Dermatitis until i read your blog, but after reading up on it it sounds like i might have some of the symptoms like flaking skin in my eyebrows and over my forehead and ears. Anyway what has worked for me is this product called Na-PCA. Its something that's naturally found in the human and i've used it for about a month now and i've seen no flaking or sebum. I used to have to wash my hair every 3 or so days because the build up was so bad so this product is like my miracle drug. I bought mines from this store called "the vitamin shop" they do have a website but it should be available at your local G.N.C.

paula said...

You have a beautiful soul and I love your spirit. Always hands-on and on top of the matter. Whether you're sporting sls or tls, you know exactly what you're doing and where you're going. Your blog remains a trendsetter and an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog and visit frequently. Glad you have made a decision that is right for YOU! I sisterlocked 3 years ago with half natural and half relaxed hair b/c I was thinning at my crown. You know, when people part their hair and it looks a little too wide and you can see a little bit of scalp through the hair even without a part. That was me. My hair has flourished since stopping the chemicals.
This post is a timely reminder to not color my locks. I was thinking since I no longer have processed hair I could probably lighten my hair color and get away without damaging my hair. But if you with all that beautiful, thick hair noticed damage, it's probably best for me to be happy with what I have and just do a dark rinse if necessary to cover up those pesky white hair follicles/bulbs entwined in my locks from shed hair that make it look like I have dandruff! yuck!
Thanks for your blog. I use it as a reference whenever I have hair "situations."
Look forward to seeing your progress, especially with the two headed dragons!

ashleyjoy said...

You are my hero. And you always seem to be thinking what I am thinking (seriously!). I have been considering this for the longest, but google searches for sisterlocks to traditional locs, have always come up short.
I am so happy to see my favorite diy-er doing something I have been dreaming about! Maybe it is the 3 year itch? My install date is within days of your Jan 2007 one.
Either way, thanks so much! You are an inspiration to me!

dewdrop said...

@DeBe: Thanks so much. It seems like my thick hair wants to control how it grows out sometimes. ;-p

@CycleBreaker: Thanks!

@SaloneQueen: I'm glad that you have recognized this because you're totally right, a loc is a loc. Thanks for your encouragement.

@Anon#1: I love your attitude!

@mogirl: You're a sweetheart. It's funny that you mention this quote because my mom is always quoting Shakespeare and she mentions this one all the time.

@QueenLi: LOL! True words. I enjoy your updates, so keep them coming.

@QueenNat: Thanks so much! I definitely hear you on those achy arms and that was another issue. Your hair is gorgeous btw!

@KnottyTruth:I KNOW!!! You are so right about this. I'm also excited about watching my locks transform because I enjoy watching yours do the same.

@LRA: Thanks!

@Paula: You're so sweet Paula and thank you! It feels good taking charge and knowing what i'm doing, but my hair still surprises me sometimes.

@Epek: Oh ya, you most definitely have it then because I do too in those areas. Omg, I've ordered from the Vitamin shop online before, so i'll definitely have to look in to this product. Thanks so much for the recommendation and do you have any other suggestions about how to use this product?

@Anon#2: It's so wonderful to hear that your hair has flourished and I totally agree with you about using a dark rinse. Thanks for the compliment and keep me posted on your progress!

@Ashleyjoy: LOL! We're on the same wave length. My search was kind of limited too, and I was only able to find I think 2-4 people (the two mentioned and one of them didn't give any explanation, just pictures). Let me know what you decide to do and keep me posted. :-)

The Woman Inside said...

You are my Shero!! You are always taking chances and doing what's best for you. I wish you the best on this new chapter of your journey.

Yahvinah said...

It was a big step for you to do this, but I think that you did a good thing. What is best for you and your hair is all that is important!

My little 3 year old son gave my laptop a kiss when he saw your pic, so I think he likes the combined locks too! :D

Jeuel said...

I suffer from lupus and my scalp is hairless in many places. I am TL'd 2 yrs now. I too, diy because of finances. I colour with the Sta Sof Fro that my loctician used on me but I'm going to have to pass this through my 'sisters' to see whether its got any 'un-healthy' aspects cos I still use it. I've no idea how many locs l have but have also commenced to combine by palm rolling. So there are a couple of dragons there. How did you combine yours? By sewing? I too think you are lovely and know exactly what you mean about the time it takes to re-twist. This Sunday is my Pamper Day for my hair but I am not looking forward to it!. but it's just got to be done.... and in one sitting...

dewdrop said...

@TWI: Thanks!

@Yahvinah: It certainly was and thanks for your encouragement. How cute what your son did. Kisses to him too!

@Jeuel: I combined my locks by interlocking the new growth of two locks together with my latch hook. I made a video showing how I did this and will post it soon. Thank you for your wonderful compliments.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dewdrop,

Thanks so much for giving me the courage to combine my sisterlocks. I've been wanting to do this for a while. I've only had my SL 4 a year and 1 month but thought a lot of them in the front were too small. I started combining yesterday and I too am just combining 2 together. My locks are still small so I’m very happy. I decided to sew mines and things are looking great. I would still like to use the interlock technique and sewing has made this a lot easier. I am getting some help with the back lol.

Your hair is beautiful so keep up the good work!!!


*~RBG~* said...

Your locs are lovely... best of luck on the combining/TL journey... here's to a healthier head of hair!

Epek said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you spray it directly on the scalp (not the hair)and the directions say to leave it on 5 minutes and rinse out, but i just leave it in and i haven't had any problems. It works great and i've seen an 100% improvement.

Thandi said...

OK wait.You interlocked the new growth..What about the rest of the length? Did you leave it uncombined?(We've got terrible internet speeds out here so the vid might not be visible for me :( )

Your blog is one of those I visit on a good day when I'm sure I WON'T feel any loc envy LOL.

dewdrop said...

@Anon: Thanks Dee! It's nice to know that you did what was right for you. Do you have any pics.? I'd really like to see them.

@RBG: Thanks!

@Epek: That's awesome. Thanks so much!

@Thandi: LOL! I interlocked just the new growth and left the rest of the length alone. Most of my locks are solid and won't mesh together unless I combine them with needle and thread.

Mile High Sisterlocks said...

Thank's so much for sharing your decision to combine your locks. As a newbie (7 months)I went through a phase where I had concerns because I didn't have as many locks as most other SL'ers. I only have about 225. I too came to realize that we are all different and the health of my hair is more important than lock number. My reti's don't take long at all and I love my hair. I'm happy that you did what was best for you. BLESSINGS!

anthia-ofo said...

Wow! It feels like I've been away on another planet! I just returned(from Ghana) and was catching up on loc news hehehe- and saw this. Congrats. You've done what you think is best. It must not have been an easy decision to combine ALL your locs. Once you begin to dread retightening, it's time for a change.It will be interesting to see how your locs develop from now on.

dewdrop said...

@MHS: Thank you so much for your support! Your locks are beautiful by the way and I can't wait to watch them grow and mature. I will definitely keep an eye on your progress since you have nearly the same lock count as I do.

@A-O: Actually, it wasn't a hard decision at all! Knowing what to do with them before combining them even crossed my mind is what made me concerned. It wasn't until a week later that it dawned on me, 'just combine them' and the rest was history. You are definitely right that once you dread latching, it's time for a change.

Anonymous said...

I must admit, when I first read the title of your post I said nooooo.... but then I read on and with every word my mind said yes! I've followed your blog for years because it is so informative, interesting and honest. I think my hair texture and density resembles yours more than anyone elses I've seen on the net so the experiences you've share through words and pictures have and will continue to help me. I look forward to this next phase your journey. Thanks!

dewdrop said...

@Anon: LoL! You are hilarious! I'm glad that you can relate to my journey and it only gets better from here. :-)

Queen Lioness said...

I, too, felt some sort of emotional attachment to your hair in sisterlocks - but when I read your experience and how YOU felt about it - I quickly got over it. Anyway, it's pretty irrational/nutty to be attached to another person's head. Your hair will be much healthier (I'm claiming that for you) and you will be much happier now that you won't be spending days doing the reti.

I also want to chime in and agree with the other women in saying that you do need to write a book or a pamphlet. Your blog was one of my greatest inspirations and guides when starting my SL journey in January. THANKS FOR ALL YOU ARE AND ALL YOU DO!

Allecia said...

You have to do what's best for you. On to the next stage of your journey!

Quietspirit said...

I've been following your lock journey for a long time and I just want to commend you on how well you take care of your hair and yourself. I understand your reasoning on combining your locks. It looks like you did an excellent job. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us. I have learned so much from your posts and videos already. I'm looking forward to the video on how you combined them.

A Sista Who Locked said...


I was just wondering... What made you choose interlocking over palm-rolling? I am thinking of combining my locks AGAIN and I am just wondering about the pros and cons of palm rolling. In order to do it myself, I could palm roll as I do not know how to interlock (yet). Do you have any advice on this?

dewdrop said...

Thank you ladies!

@ASWL: Interlocking is more ideal for me than palm-rolling because I have a scalp condition which requires me to wash more often (2-3 times in a week). If I p.r.'d then I would have to deal with constant unraveling. The other thing too is that i'm very active, so interlocking is easier for me. Why do you plan to combine your locks again? :-)

Pro's of PR: Your locks will have a more cylindrical, uniform look.

Con's of PR: You'll have to re-twist your roots more often (every 2-3 weeks) and use products to help your hair lock. If you sweat, workout, shower etc. then your roots will puff up, even after a fresh re-twist.