Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Yarn Extensions ~ SUCCESS!

I last blogged about my ongoing adventure in learning to do my two Ghana daughters’ hair HERE.

For the past couple of weeks I had thought that Jennifer’s hair was getting long enough to try out a style. Here’s a look at the length of Jennifer’s hair when it is stretched out…

A good inch and a half I would say. With that length, I could definitely try some corn rows, but since Jennifer’s hair has been short and shaved her whole life, I thought it would be more exciting to try out some extensions. Jennifer is always happily wishing and looking forward to having long hair, as many little girls do. With that, I set my sights on achieving this style ~ yarn extensions…..

To attempt a style it was just a matter of us finding a weekend where we could be home for at least one full day with no place to go, and no other commitments (easier said than done!). I finally got my chance this past weekend. The boys were off to a tournament, and the girls and I decided to sit it out and stay home for a hair weekend.

During our adoption journey a fellow adoptive mom from my church had referenced this website: (aka CHVC) which has become an invaluable resource to me. Leading up to this past weekend I reviewed the binder I had made from this website with the rundown on pre-style steps and the how-to instructions for the yarn extensions. Everything I am posting about today, I got from the CHVC website.

I set aside Saturday as our styling day, but we started the process on Friday night with washing, detangling, and banding.
WASHING: I usually only wash Jennifer’s hair once a week with conditioner. But since we were going to be setting it with a style that would stay in for a good 3-4 weeks I wanted to make sure we started off with clean hair. We washed with shampoo and conditioner from the Shea Moisture line (which you can purchase at Target and Walgreens) pictured above on the left.

DETANGLING: This was easy peasy since Jennifer’s hair is so short. I’ve heard this step becomes quite time-consuming the longer the hair gets. That is why the CHVC website recommends breaking the styling up into two days and doing this step the night before. For detangling we used Kinky Curly Knot Today as a leave-in conditioner/detangler (pictured above in the middle – you can also purchase this at Target). Then section by section I combed through her hair with a wide-tooth comb. After I combed through each section I banded it (explained below) before moving on to the next. The Kinky Curly Knot Today is just awesome. The comb glided right through her hair.

BANDING: Not sure how necessary this step is with short hair, but we did it anyways to get into the routine of it. Banding serves a couple of purposes – 1) It preserves all the work you did during detangling and 2) It stretches out the curl making the hair easier to handle once it is time to braid, twist, etc. To band, you just section off the hair and place soft pony tail holders down the length of each section. Since Jennifer’s hair is so short, I just used one pony holder for each section and tried to spread it out along the length of each little puff. This took about 15 minutes and then we were done for the night.

The other thing I did the night before the actual styling was cut the yarn. That’s right – YARN! For these extensions you are actually using a spool of yarn that you can purchase at Wal-mart!
It’s just the craziest thing. For each extension you use two strands of the yarn. I cut each strand to 40 inches in length and set them out on the table in pairs so I could grab and go the next day once we started.

Note to self: I ended up using twice as much as what is pictured here – had to do another session of cutting during styling day. The next morning Jennifer woke me up at 6:30am in her excitement to get started! We ended up actually starting around 8am by the time we all got breakfast and got dressed.

The CHVC website lists out the exact steps of how to put in the extensions, so I am not going to re-write them all here. Here is the link for the step-by-step-how-to complete with pictures:
And here is a video tutorial of putting in one extension from start to finish:

I definitely needed to view the video to understand exactly how to anchor the yarn in. She shares a few tips in the video that aren’t in the written instructions, so make sure you watch it if you are planning on doing this. I memorized these steps and practiced one of the extensions on a life-sized doll with hair the day before trying it on Jennifer to make sure I had the technique down.  The day before our scheduled styling day I also practiced one extension on Jennifer's actual hair to ensure that her hair was going to be long enough to twist into the yarn.  And it was! 

Alright, here are the products and styling tools that I used while putting in the extensions…

Basically, to start, I just released one row at a time of her sectioned off hair from the pony tail holders and sprayed the section with water. Then I coated the section of hair with Blended Cutie’s ‘Butter Me Up’ which is a moisturizer. From there I used the pintail comb for parting. I parted one row at a time lengthwise and then made horizontal parts within each row, turning her hair into little sectioned off squares. When I was ready to put in an extension, I would grab one little square of hair and put another coating of ‘Butter Me Up’ on it, and then combed out the square of hair with my small-tooth comb. Then, you separate the square in half, put the yarn in the middle, anchor each side and start twisting as the instructions linked to above explain. Once I got to the point on the twist where her hair was going to run out, I was supposed to put Blended Beauty’s ‘Happy Nappy Styles’ styling cream onto her hair so the endpoint smoothed into the yarn better and didn’t poke out. But I got mixed up on the instructions and used the ‘Butter Me Up’ there as well which doesn’t have near the holding power as the styling cream. So, time will tell how long the twists will hold together without getting too fuzzy!

From the nape of Jennifer's neck up to the crown of her head, I parted her hair in a brick pattern. So, from one row to the next the boxes are staggered which is hard to make out from this picture below. The arrow shows the point where her actual hair runs out - everything below the arrow is yarn alone.
As her hair continues to grow it will blend in with the yarn even better for the length of the twist, and you won’t even be able to tell it’s yarn. Honestly, most people can’t anyways unless they know.

Here was our little over halfway point which we got to at about 4pm I think!

In that picture you can see the part that I made from one ear, to the crown of her head, to her other ear. Everything below that partline comprised the back of her hair. You can also see the ends of the extensions in this picture which I simply tied off in knots. My goal was to try and get the knots all at about the same length which was really hard to do. [At the very end of putting in all the extensions, you go back through and get the knots exactly where you want them, tighten them so they lay flat, and then trim off the excess yarn below the knots as the finishing step.]

We took breaks for lunch, dinner, bathroom breaks, stretch breaks, and a long run around break while I cut more yarn. :)




From there, I started putting the extensions in on the sides of her head, working up to the top-center where I had made a middle part.
Regarding parting, the side extensions are easy to line up because you just continue a straight line from the last extension by the crown, on up to the forehead comprising the row.

Finally, after a full day’s hard work, there was one row left to twist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Momma was ready to throw a party!

And about 25 minutes later, all the extensions were in and all that was left to do was the trimming!

Did you notice the clock in that first picture? Yes, by this point it was 11:37pm!!!!!!!!!!!! I had scheduled myself to work in the nursery at church the next morning at 9am, so I knew we had to bear down and finish it all that night. We wouldn’t have enough time to save the trimming until morning, and besides, it wouldn’t be very comfortable sleeping on all that excess yarn anyways.

So, although we were both quite tired, we kept trucking along. I went through and adjusted all the knots at the bottoms of the extensions so they were as close as I could get them to the same length. I also tightened up each knot and tried to get them as flat as I could. This part can drive you a little crazy, especially if you are really set on everything looking symmetrical. CHVC gives some trimming tips HERE. Finally I got to the point where I was comfortable to start trimming off the excess right below the knots.  The whole re-knotting and trimming episode took another good 45 minutes. After the trim we threw on Jennifer’s sleep cap and went to bed. The next morning we captured the results…’s how they turned out!


And the back....
(side note: in real person her scalp does not show up this much - it is just the flash from the camera that is highlighting/reflecting it)
I was so happy with how they looked! Jennifer could not WAIT to show her friends in her class at church, and she couldn’t wait for school the next day after that. She kept saying, “Everyone is going to looooove my head!”

Throughout the styling day, if I would have counted, Jennifer said at least 25 times, “Mommy, I LOVE my head!” She also told me, “Mommy, I love YOU!” randomly throughout the day, and about every 15 minutes she was shouting to Jayla in her excitement, “Jayla, you want to come see my head?” During each break time she would run to the mirror and giggle, oooh and ahhhh, and shake and whip her hair around. It was definitely the most excited I have seen her – ever. I knew going into this that me doing her hair would come across as an act of love to her, and I think that is what kept me going and made me so excited for us to experience it. It was another step in attachment for the both of us.

Throughout the day, I also experienced an amazing sense of empowerment which came in the form of just plain being in awe of how God equipped me to this. Going into our adoption of the girls I had zero confidence in my ability to do their hair. BUT, I had a desire to learn, and I expressed that desire to God often. He led me to the resources and gave me the tools that I needed to educate myself. Then, He took my flimsy hands and non-hairstyling brain and physically equipped them. I give Him the glory, because I know that in and of myself doing hair does NOT come naturally. I know it sounds strange because we are talking about hair (which seems like a minor detail to most people), but this feels like a supernatural equipping within our adoption. I had no idea that I would ever actually be able to do this!  You all remember where I started out right?  I didn't even know how to french braid for goodness sakes!  Yarn extensions are just a small success in the world of hair, but I definitely feel encouraged by this, and I am excited for when we get to try another style!

In addition to all that, Jennifer’s confidence has SKYROCKETED since these extensions went in. I've noticed a remarkable difference in her in what I can only describe as her coming across as more sure of herself and just plain being more bubbly and outspoken. It’s like her timid-ness went out the window as soon as the hair started going on. Very noticeable change in her personality!

This was also a good learning experience for Jayla. I knew going into the styling day that it was going to be hard for Jayla to watch Jennifer getting all my time and most of my attention that day. In a 4 year old’s world, this was going to feel like sacrifice, and it wasn’t going to feel good. I prayed for her leading up to it, that God would work in her heart. As the styling day started out, Jayla did have a bad attitude and bouts of pouting as I knew she would. I just took those opportunities as teaching moments and took her aside and prayed with her. Each time we talked about 1 John 3:16 and that this day was going to be a little example of how she could ‘lay down her life’ for Jennifer. I expressed to her that sacrifice doesn’t feel good because we are giving up what we want for ourselves. But that is God’s definition of love – acting in the interest of others instead of ourselves. God was giving her the opportunity to do just that during styling day. Throughout the morning I think I took Jayla aside about 3 different times and prayed for her and talked through these truths. By afternoon, the coolest thing happened. God had worked in her heart, and I noticed her attitude had completely lifted by about 2pm. She was excited for Jennifer and became her lighthearted, talkative self again. And God rewarded her change in heart. The neighbor girl came outside to play, and Jayla got to run around and play with her – all by herself! This then, produced tears and a bad attitude from Jennifer who really preferred to go outside and play instead of sit in the styling chair! Sheesh! I can’t win! :)

Alright, to finish out this post, a few more tips regarding the actual style. CHVC has a post about washing hair with yarn extensions in HERE and other tips and tricks for this style HERE.

Jennifer started wearing a sleep cap once these extensions went in, and it really does help to preserve the style through the tossing and turning in the night. She also uses a satin pillowcase which helps with that too. And she wears a shower cap during bath-time to avoid getting them wet unnecessarily.

For daily upkeep, when she takes her sleep cap off in the morning I then straighten out the yarn by taking fists of it on each end (below where her actual hair ends) and stretching it. Takes like 30 seconds to make a trip around her head. Then I have a water bottle with ¾ coconut oil and ¼ water mixed together. I spray that on the twists, but only on the inch segments where her actual hair is. That gives her enough moisture for the day and she is all set!

When I picked Jennifer up from her Sunday school class at church on the first day that she was sportin her extensions the teacher said that her hair was the talk of the class. She said the kids were asking, “Where can we get some hair like that?” The teacher said she had told them that it takes a reaaaalllly long time to get hair like that put in, and that it is reaaaaalllly expensive! Ha! Made me giggle knowing that in fact, it was only a $4 spool of yarn behind that look! And it gave me some more confidence to hear that her style looked like it had been achieved in an expensive salon! Whoo hoo! 


Steph said...

You did SUCH an amazing job on these extensions! I'm so excited for you that you were able to do them and that it gave you and Jennifer both bonding time and confidence! I love hearing about how you helped Jayla through it too - that's one of our biggest struggles at our house when I do Nora's hair - I get a lot of pouting from some of the other kids. Thanks for the ideas on how to help deal with those struggles!

Nice work, mama!! I'm so proud of you!! :)

Mandy said...

You did a great job! It looks awesome and you can tell she loves it! I cannot tell its yarn all. Bless your patience!!!!

Jen and Richard said...

LOVE this! So glad I found this blog! I am a little intimidated by when it comes to hair!

Rory, Chocolate Hair/Vanilla Care said...

as i mentioned on our FB page, fantastic job! it's nice to read through the whole story of how it all came together. congrats! <3

Kaci Jo said...

How many packages of yarn did you use?