What you need
A solid comb (a thin plastic comb will break)
A crochet hook (more explanation below)
At least 5 hours
Music, television or some friends
First, a more detailed explanation on the required items before we delve right in on how to actually make a dreadlock. Or you can just watch the video.
The reason you need a solid and strong comb is because you are going to use it to back comb the hair. The pressure and force exerted on the comb might cause the comb teeth to break off, thus making it not as efficient when back combing. If possible, get a metal pet/flea comb which has a really narrow gap in between the teeth.
We need a metal crochet hook with a really, really small hook at the end. They usually come in just plain metal, no plastic handles at the end. The sizes differ depending on the region you are getting them and the brand. Just for reference, to make dreadlocks I use a Tulip crochet hook from Japan which has a size number of #10 and the actual size measurement of the hook is 0.75mm. For maintenance purposes, I usually use a #12 hook (also Tulip) which has a hook size of 0.60mm. If you are thinking of doing really fat and thick dreadlocks, you might want to get a #8 hook to speed things up.
Time and Entertainment
Time is your real enemy here. The longer the hair, the longer time it takes. Generally, neck length hair (on all sides) will take from 5 – 7 hours with one person working on the hair. Longer hair which reaches onto the back will probably take anywhere from 8 – 15 hours to make. Try making each session around 6 hours, then continue again the next day. You might have major muscle aches if you try to go on for longer hours.
Considering the long hours required, entertainment is a must. Talking with your friend while working on his/her hair is perfectly fine, but with more friends goofing around (maybe recording the process as it goes), it will be much more enjoyable. Music (preferably reggae) will help as well.
Step 1: Sectioning
There are a few strategies on how to section the hair. It also depends on the density of the hair and also how thick you want the dreadlock to be. Generally, a 1 inch by 1 inch SQUARE section (try to form square sections) will form a dreadlock slightly thicker than a pencil. You can either section the whole head at one go at use rubber bands (those small tiny black/white ones) to hold the sections or you can section on the go.
If you have no experience, I recommend sectioning the whole head first, that way, you won’t end up with tiny or weird section shapes later during the dreadlocking process. Start sectioning from the front of the head (above your forehead) and branch out from there, covering the top, going down both sides and then ending at the back. The guy who did my dreadlocks sectioned my hair on the go, picking the next section after completing a dread.
By the way, try not to have a long straight section line going from the front of the head to the back, it will look weird after that. No center parting. A brick-like formation works and looks the best. But by all means go ahead if you are looking for the center parting look.
Step 2: Backcombing
Now it’s time to start making dreadlocks! If you have sectioned the whole head, you can start out with any section. If you are planning to section on-the-go, then I suggest starting from the front of the head, up the top, down both sides, then finishing with the back (as I have mentioned before).
Hold the comb in whichever hand feels comfortable and use the other hand to hold the hair. You would want to grab the hair around 4 inches from the scalp and hold in firmly, perpendicular from the scalp. While holding the hair firmly (not too tight), insert the comb into the hair, just slightly above the hand holding it. Now, push the comb straight towards the scalp. There you go. What you will get is some mashed up hair near the scalp (slowly forming a root). Your objective now is to mash up more hair until the mess won’t undo by itself. Depending on the thickness and the density of the hair, you might have to backcomb anywhere from 10 to 25 times. After you get about 1 inch long of mashed up hair which looks like a bird’s nest, it’s time for step 3!
Step 3: Crocheting
I’m sure some of you might have watched the KnottyBoy video on How To Make Dreadlocks where they perform backcombing on the hair to mash it up and then use wax to tighten the backcombed hair up. This, in effect, will create nice rounded dreadlocks which are tight and held up by the wax.
The technique I’m explaining here has the same objective, tightening up the backcombed hair and to have nice round dreadlocks without any loose, frizzy hair flying around the dread. The only difference is that we use a crocheting hook to bring in and tidy up all those loose frizzy hair into the dread instead of using wax. I personally think that the crochet hook method works much better in making dreadlocks. The downside is that it takes longer time than using wax. Nobody will really notice the difference after your hair tightens up (might take around 4 months). I’m not trying to advocate that using wax is the wrong way, just do whatever feels better for you. But a crochet hook costs much cheaper than a jar of wax (maybe you need 2 jars?).
Ok, back to crocheting. The basic idea is to poke the hook into the backcombed hair and right into the other side of the dread, grabbing some loose hair with the hook, and pull it back all the way into the dread (or maybe to the other side). You alternate between poking all 4 sides every once in a while to get a more consistent, tight dread. It’s kinda hard to explain it in words, you should really watch the video on how I crochet the hair. Once you get the hang of it, you can achieve a 4 to 6 stabs per second speed, but be careful not to jab your finger in the process!
Crochet all sides of the backcombed hair until it is tight and round, and then continue backcombing another one inch of hair, and crocheting it, and repeat, and repeat and repeat, until you are left with a thin amount of hair left around one inch long, where you will have to perform Step 4.
Step 4: Cleaning Up The Tip
You can either have a loose tip or a rounded tip. I really recommend a rounded tip so that the dread won’t undo itself from the tip while you are sleeping or washing it. Hold the tiny amount of leftover hair and instead of using a comb to backcomb, use your fingers to perform a mini backcomb. After a few pushes, fold the hair right back onto the dreadlock. This will make the tip of the dread nice and round.
Poke the crochet hook from the opposite side of the folder back hair right through the dread. Wrap the hair around the hook a few times and pull the crochet hook back out. Then, poke it into the thread from the other side, just slightly higher (so that we can ‘weave’ the leftover hair nicely back into the dread). Wrap the hair around the hook, pull out, and repeat the poke/wrap/pull process until all the hair is inside the dread.
Step 5: Finished Dreadlock
Once you have done the tip of the dread, look for some spiky and loose hair coming out from the dread and use the crochet hook to pull them into the dread. After all that has been done, perform a nice palm roll on the dread, and time to move on to the next dread!
How to perform a palm roll? Well, position your hands in a clapping position, put the dread in between your palms, starting from the root of the dread. Now, put your hands together, and roll the dread with your palms, moving back and forth. While rolling the dread, move your hands slowly towards the tip of the dread.
That’s about it. Your dreads might stay upright for a few days to weeks, depending on how tight the roots are, the length of the dreads and the hair growth speed. I will try to come up with an article on how to maintain your dreads when I have the time! In the meantime, good luck!