So, I present to you: a photo-entry of how I use a crochet hook to fix loose hairs! Please note: I use this technique on fairly mature dreads. Mature enough that they are pretty well-formed and have tightened significantly, as much as they are probably going to on their own. Baby dreads need some time to do their thing. It might be OK to use a hook just to pull loose hairs in through the root once, but I would not weave loose hair in entirely with young dreads, as using a hook on it too much up and down its length might cause it to form funny when it starts to tighten later. But anyway...
Step 1: Separate! This part is important. Before I start weaving in visible loose hairs into dreads, I always make sure to separate my dreads at the roots. This means pulling them apart and tugging on any hair that may have worked itself into a dread that it didn't belong in. Sometimes it hurts, and it'll cause even more loose hairs to have to work with, but it's better to fix it then let the hair keep growing in the wrong dread and get more uncomfortable later.
Step 2: Grab a bit group of loose hair and figure out which dread it goes in. This is where a mirror or a friend can come in handy. (My roommates no longer find it odd when I'll randomly walk up to them and say "Should this hair be in this dread? Or that one?")
Step 3: If your loose hair starts at the root, poke your crochet hook either up through the root at a bit of an angle, or down (depending on whether you're grabbing hair closer to above/below the dread.)
Dread separated, loose hair nearby clumped together that belongs in it, hook going through the root
Once the hook is through, wrap the loose hair around a few times and carefully push/pull the hook back through the way you came. If you wrap the hair around the hook enough times the hook should catch your loose hair and it won't snag when you pull it back through. Sometimes I find it helpful to push with my thumb on the hook.
After the first pull through the root. (For young dreads I don't recommend doing any more than this, and obviously, you'd probably want to pull it through going down to the underside of the dread so it wouldn't stick up!)
Details on wrapping:
Wrapped again, closer to the hook as I'm pulling to the other side:
Sometimes I get a bit of a loop, and have to pull the rest of the lose hair through to the other side with my fingers.
Step 4: Repeat sticking the hook through the dread, wrapping the loose hair and then pulling/pushing it back through. Move down the dread as you go (and occasionally back up) and around the sides, weaving in whatever way you like. I usually just keep going until the loose hair gets really short and the little bit that's left gets lost in the middle of the dread when I pull the hook through that last time.
This also works really well for loose hairs that are sticking out starting somewhere down the length of the dread and not at the root.
One more time in photos for you!
Crochet hook through dread and loose hair near it:
Pull/push through to the other side:
Oh, another tip: I've sometimes stuck the hook in and then decided I did't like that spot and wanted to pull the loose hair through somewhere else, and found that it's often easier to just push the whole crochet hook (handle and all) through to the other side. Pulling an empty hook back to the side it came from can cause it to snag on the hair in the middle of the dread. :/
And that's it!
My thoughts on some common and important questions about using crochet hooks on your dreads:
What kind of crochet hook to use? I find metal ones work best. They come in a large range of sizes, and should be relatively inexpensive ($2-$3 US at a craft store is average), so try out a few and see what works for you. Keep in mind, the larger the hook is, the larger a hole you're going to need to poke through your dread, and the more hair you'll need to wrap around it so it doesn't snag when you pull it through. Me? I have pretty solid dreads and it's easier to get a smaller one through. My preferred size is #7/ 1.65mm, but any smaller is too tiny, even for me. I'm guessing 2-4mm is what most people use?
Can you use a large sewing needle, yarn needle,tapestry needle, etc... instead to do this? Absolutely. I like crochet hooks cause I find it faster to wrap the hair around a hook then to try and thread a needle with my own hair, but this kind of weaving through a dread can be done pretty much the same way with these other tools.
Is this actually "crocheting" your dreads? No, this technique is quite different from how people crochet things out of yarn. DreadHeadHQ refers to a "crocheting" technique to fix loops of hair that sometimes form in dreads. Click here for a link. This is a little similar to how you would actually crochet something, although it doesn't use a crochet hook at all. I'll emphasize the warning for their "crocheting" technique, don't do it near the root of a dread!
OK, that's it for now! Comment with any questions, or if you have suggestions I'll edit the post to include them. Again, there are many ways to do things similar to my crochet hook technique, and no one way is 'right' but people were curious how I did it, so I thought I'd share. :)