Of all the things that have happened to me, nothing has been as dreadful as this day — in a good way, of course. I’ve come home with dreadlocks.

I liked my long hair, but I was tired of the daily maintenance, even though I gave up using shampoo over two years ago. I found that while we were travelling through Queensland last month, the daily brushing was neglected, and I became comfortable with a different, more casual level of hairstyling.

After dreaming about it for months — I was first inspired at this year’s unschooling retreat — I found a hairdresser who could twist my hair into dreadlocks. And today was my first dreadful day.

David and Lauren kissing, December 2010
Before I left for the day, I kissed David good-bye. My hair reached down to my waist.

Aisha, December 2010
I brought 5yo Aisha along with me — she was the official photographer for the day!

Getting dreadlocks done, December 2010
Kacey started by sectioning my hair.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
She started backcombing one section of hair.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
The hair started knotting up.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
Kim focused on finishing the dreads by rolling them in her palms and tightening the ends with a crochet hook.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
A special tool was used to allow the end of the dreads to be twisted up and back through the middle of the dread close to the hairs' roots.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
It didn't take long for the first couple of dreads to be finished.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
Slowly, the rest of my hair was sectioned in preparation for more dreadlocks.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
Crocheting the dreads twists the stray hairs in and out of the lock, tightening it and binding it all together.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
The whole procedure took Kim and Kacey three hours, which was a lot quicker than I was anticipating.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
When she wasn't photographing the action, Aisha wandered around the salon taking random photos.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
At times, the pulling was quite painful. I also had to suppress the urge to protect my hair from being broken.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
Even though at this stage the dreadlocks were halfway done, most of the ends still had to be finished and and the locks tightened with the crochet hook.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
Here you can see the end of the dread being threaded through the top of the lock to secure the roots.

Getting dreads done, December 2010
When the hair is knotted together in locks, quite a bit of length is lost. I lost about a foot of length at the back by the time the dreads were completed.

Aisha taking a photo, December 2010
Aisha did a great job of taking the photos!

Getting dreads done, December 2010
Getting close to completion...

Getting dreads done, December 2010
A close-up picture of my new, knotty hair.

Delaney, 11 months old, + Lauren, December 2010
When I got home, Delaney was delighted with my dreads and started eagerly pulling on them.

Lauren and Delaney, 11 months old, December 2010
Me and my baby.

Lauren, December 2010
I love the way I can just tie my hair back with my long locks.

Lauren, December 2010
Almost any sort of knot will hold the hair in place.

Lauren in dreadlocks, December 2010
I'm starting to get used to the mop-haired feeling.

Dreadlocks mean a lot more to me than just a simplified hair routine. But this post is just about the procedure — I’ll have to explain the whole philosophy behind embracing dreadlocks another time. In the meantime, I’m having a good time with my new hair!

Lauren in dreadlocks, December 2010
One disadvantage of dreadlocks is that they increase your head size. I had to try on all our hats to find which ones fit — this one of David's does.

I’ve been warned that it takes several years for dreadlocks to really “come into their own”, and in order to maintain these dreads, I’ll need to keep rolling them with my palms. If I don’t do this, the loose hairs will lock together — with other dreads — and the back of my head will merge into one big matted mess.