My nappylocs tools came on Friday and I started on Saturday. I ordered two in case I lost one, but it was a good idea because some of my locks are smaller than others, so I pinched one tool with pliers to work with the smaller locks and left the other one original size. It was not my initial intention to tighten my whole head, but once I started, it was kind of addictive. It almost couldn't be easier. I really do like the tool. It is a breeze to use.
I was able to tighten up all of my locks that were threatening to slip out and I even started two new ones! I have hair that crawls something awful, so at first it was quite a challenge not to marry locks, and I did form at least a dozen unholy unions, but with practice I began to get a feel for whether I had caught stray hairs from adjoining locks before I pulled the lock I was trying to tighten all the way through. When that was the case, I would simply pull the lock and snagged hairs back out and start over fresh.
There were several I didn't catch in time, but since I had snagged only a few hairs (it was never more than 10 strands), I kept a seam ripper (yes, for sewing) nearby. I'm not saying I recommend that anyone else do this, but I just cut the stray hairs. The seam ripper is smaller and more precise than scissors, and I found out by trial and error that there is no good way to untangle locks that you can't see. (I actually had a casualty...and that is a post unto itself.)
I have so much more respect for my consultant now. (Which is amazing because I already had a tremendous amount of respect for her skill and expertise.) My hair in the back is really hard to work with. I shouldn't say that. That's not what I mean. It's softer and finer than I realized and actually quite prone to slipping while the lock is being tightened. Once it's in, it's in, but you kind of have to wrestle it in, and you can't really strong arm it because it is fine and the locks are small, so you kind of have to finesse it.
And she's always made it seem so easy.
It was quite challenging. I started at the back too because for some reason I thought it would be simpler than the top. Now I don't even know why. I think I intended to do only the back because it grows faster and I did want to leave something for my consultant to do at my next appointment, but then once I started it was fun, so I kept going.
It was a very challenging project, but it was an intriguing challenge and I felt like I was learning and getting better at it as I went along.
It was a really interesting experience. Although I loved my loose natural hair, I've felt more in tune with it since I started locking. And I feel differently about it again now that I can and have tightened it myself. I feel even more in touch with my roots...literally, tangibly.
When I gave up the relaxer I learned new things about my hair texture. I gained new appreciation for it's softness and strength. And when I started locking, it was the same way. I discovered new characteristics. I thought that now I knew all there was to know about how it feels and behaves, but alas, no. As I retightened I discovered new things about it yet again.
I'm still going to my consultant in about a week so she can look over my work, and I have a few locks that need repair.
I didn't know what to expect of self-tightening. I still don't know what this will mean for me in the long-term. It is relatively easy, so I have no longer have any anxiety about what might happen if Phyllis moves away or there ever comes a time when retightenings become a luxury that I cannot afford. And that is priceless freedom.
I still like the idea of having someone else do it, but as I suspected I might, I really like doing it myself. I have my hands in my hair all the time anyway. I love the texture and I enjoy monitoring the growth and changes. Now that I can retighten, I get to have my hands in my hair for a purpose, and I like that. It isn't just idle fondling. Combine that with my love of handicrafts and my obsession for neatness (and the fact that I like the feel of freshly tightened hair) and I may be doing it myself from here on out.
It is so different from doing twists or braids or straightening myself because it doesn't have to be done all in one day. I worked on it a little every day until now, and truth be told, I am still not completely finished, but it doesn't matter. No one can tell but me. It isn't the same kind of chore as other types of self-maintenance because it can be done a little at a time. I can tighten 5 locks or 25 locks or 50 locks.
There were times when my arms got tired and my fingers cramped, and I simply stopped for the day. I stopped and didn't have to start again until I wanted. I like knowing that if one or two feels looser than I like, I can just reach right up and do something about it on the spot. I like not feeling like I should wait until my next appointment. Some of my hair grows really fast and can be tightened at three weeks, but some of it doesn't need it for 6, so I've been holding out for 5 weeks to make it worth our while. There's no sense making an appointment for her to tighten half my head, especially since it isn't just the back or the front. I have fast and slow growing patches all over.
Now I don't have to do that. I feel like I might just find myself settling into a pattern of tightening them up as needed and only going to my consultant once every three months or so to make sure I haven't totally obscured my parts and that my pattern isn't completely corrupted. (I suspect there are at least 5 locks I might have tightened backwards, although I'm not sure what I did differently, but somehow when I was done, they didn't feel like the others...hmmm.)
Still loving my Sisterlocks, and the $35 I spent on the nappylocs tools was one of the best investments I ever made.