The first time I heard that you could use yarn or actual wool to create your own version of "hair" extensions, I was intrigued. I was also clueless about how to go about doing it since it was a completely new concept to me.
I decided to research the technique as completely as possible to determine the answers to the most basic questions such as:
1. Advantages and disadvantages of wool and yarn hair extensions 2. Where to buy the wool and/or yarn supplies 3. How to attach them 4. Maintenance and care instructions 5. Where to wear them
One thing to keep in mind is that if you are a novice in dealing with hair extensions, you may want to work with a professional who specializes in doing either braid or dreadlock extensions with wool or who has a lot of expertise with hair extensions.
Advantages Of Wool Hair
If you are wondering why wool or yarn might be used to make extensions, the answers are varied. One obvious reason is that yarn and/or wool is usually less expensive to use than human or synthetic hair.
Wool and yarn are both much lighter than hair and the difference in weight is a factor for some people. If you think about it, the original Rag dolls were made with yarn for their hair. Of course sheep wear wool instead of hair.
Since wool or yarn is usually attached through pinch braiding, merging the wool and yarn with natural hair into braids, as dreads or wrapped around existing strands, no glues, waxes or chemicals or used. It is also considered easier to extend hair with dreads, braids or wraps.
Depending on if you are a Goth fan, you may or may not wear your wool and/or yarn extensions to a major Goth festival or clubbing. Some people who love dreads and don't have time to develop their own long dreads, will use wool for "instant" dreads.
Some people will use wool extensions to fill in for real dreadlocks or as temporary dreads. Since yarn and wool can be braided, wrapped or as fill in "hair" it can be very handy.
Wool Hair Is Lighter
Wool hair is often recommended for people with very fine hair that is not suitable for real hair. Any type of health problems such as chronic headaches, scalp or skin conditions which would be problematic due to the weight of extensions hair would warrant wool.
There are light wool strands that can be combined with your natural hair to create dreads Many people will use multiple colors for a dramatic look.
Light wool dreads can be purchased in brilliant colors, standard colors, two-tone and even three-tone shades. Some supplies offer up to 4 different colors. Basically there are not limits to what can be done with the wool dreads.
There are different wool hair installation methods. If you are merging the wool with your own hair a very common method is the pinch-braid method.
Some people prefer pinch-braid because this eliminates the need for chemicals, glues or special treatments. With the pinch braid method, your own hair is usually braided down one side of the wool strand so you have an intermingled braided effect. The actual wool strands are attached right at your root.
Depending on the length of your hair and how much wool is added, the installation time can take approximately 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours. Keep in mind that every person is different and thus the times will vary.
Disadvantages Of Wool Hair
When utilizing wool or yarn it is important to buy the right product. This is true if you prefer to buy hair. The right hair makes all the difference. This is true of yarn and wool. Some wool will shrink when it gets wet or is washed.
This may not sound like a concern unless you are wearing the wool at the time and it shrinks into your hair, causing it to become difficult to remove.
Wool fibers can break off and tangle around your real hair which means that in extreme cases you may need to cut the tangle hair out to remove the wool. Or be content with permanent wool infused dreadlocks. You should check the wool attachments on a weekly basis.
Wool also may develop an intense aroma with it gets wet. Some people would describe wet wool as having a pungent smell.
Maintenance And Care
Most experts that work with wool hair state that the wool can last for several weeks, if not months, with proper care. This means that at some point during that extended period you will need to wash your scalp. It is important to avoid getting the wool wet as much as possible.
Wool, which is very light when it is dry, gets very heavy when it gets wet. If you wish to wear wool intermingled with your hair which will require that you shampoo on a regular basis, consider the following popular wool washing options:
1. Wrap as much of the wool in plastic wrap or plastic bags and segregate from the rest of the hair before washing. This will keep the wool part of your hair dry. 2. Use only dry shampoo formulas like cornstarch or cornmeal and focus the dry shampoo ONLY on the scalp or your natural hair. 3. Have someone help you shampoo and apply a very small amount of diluted shampoo to your scalp and then rinse carefully to avoid getting the wool wet.
To help the wool hair extensions to last as long as possible, experts recommend regular maintenance visits that will maximize the life-span of the extensions. During maintenance visits the rows that have loosened due to hair growth or other normal conditions, will be re-tightened.
Many wool hair wearers have different opinions about whether to completely abstain from washing or not. You will have to find your own appropriate care methods.
If you want wool hair that is already "dreaded" or "knotted" you do not dread it yourself. You buy it already dreaded up. You can buy what is known as roving which needs to be processed to form dreaded shapes. This process is known as "felting".
Roving is a very thick untwisted yarn which can be couched in embroidery, used in the knit weave process to give extra warmth and texture or for making Hair Extensions. To buy soft roving check out 21st Century Yarns and type "roving" into the search.
Where To Buy Wool & Yard For Hair Wear
One of the most popular types of pure wool used to make dreads is called Point 5/5 and is made by a company known as Colinette, which is a Welsh company. The company has a United States distributors as well as distributors in Canada, Germany and other locations.
If you prefer a wool blend consider Patton's Bella Yarn, which is 80% acrylic and 20% wool.
The suggested minimum amount of wool you would need to purchase to do an entire head is approximately 4-6 skeins. The Colinette wool can be used for dreads or the Colinette yarn can be used to create yarn braids.
You can also buy gorgeous wool and yarn for extension braids, dreads and wraps at Kangaroo in the UK.
Gedifra Yarn also have great options. One of the best Gedifa Yarns for hair braiding is Gedifra Gigante.
If you wish to dye it yourself ask for Gedifra Gigante #2325 or similar which is white wool.. It is as close to white paper as you will get. Next to any other color it's going to look stark white and would be great for dying.
The Yarn Directory is a great resource for learning about all the available yarns on the market.
Wool or yarn "hair" is most often used in dreads or braids to extend natural hair. Because wool and yarn does not look like either synthetic or human hair, it is often worn as a joint form of adding volume and length as well as adding decoration. Almost all wool or yarn "hair" is either attached to the hair after being dyed or in pre-colored strands.
To talk more about DIY Hair Extensions or Hair Extensions in general visit the HairBoutique.com's hair extension talk forum.
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- Revised Publication Date: 04/28/11