Compress Knots and Tighten Loose Dreadlocks
Before you start working on Compressing knots and tightening dreads you'll need to have some new knots that are ready to tighten. You'll learn how to make knots when you read about the "A" Week (making knots). It's also important to understand the difference between the "A" Week and "B" Week environments. This will ensure you get the best results for the time you spend. It's probably a good idea to read about the A-B Maintenance Routine and the "A" Week before you focus on compressing knots with the info below.
Compressing knots is done pretty much the same way everywhere in the dread. You're going to use two main techniques: Palm Rolling and Finger Rolling.
The tricky part about tightening dreads is not getting them to compress or creating the environment that helps them stay compressed, it's actually making sure that the dread has plenty of knots that can be tightened and compressed. After all you can't tighten knots if you don't have knots.=]
Evaluating your knots
Since you have to have knots to be able to tighten knots palmrolling straight hair won't do you any good. Before you palm roll make sure that the hair is well knotted in the area of the dread you are planning to compress. If knot you'll need to create some knots, probably during your next "A" Week.
Tip: The "pencil test" can always be used to check and see how dense the knots are in a dread. Try sliding a #2 pencil straight in through the side of the dread. If it goes through without resistance you don't have nearly enough knots. The more resistance, the higher the density of knots. Concentrate your knot making efforts on the areas of least resistance. Areas with more resistance that have knots ready to tighten are good candidates for palmrolling which is used to tighten and compress the knots.
Tight Knots VS Loose Knots
It's important to be able to recognize the difference between tight compressed knots that don't really need to be compressed further and new or loose knots that will really benefit from being compressed. When an area of dread is made of tight , compressed knots you'll find that it resists being squeezed flat. The tighter it is, the more less it will compress down between your fingers. Mature dreads - especially thick ones can be quite tight and hard. Not hard like wood of course but hard like a cotton rope. They will be flexible when you bend them but they will squeeze down very little between your fingers. As dreads approach this level of tightness you no longer need to focus on compressing them - in fact, at any point that you feel the dread is sufficiently tight you can stop compressing it. Generally the tighter they are the smoother and more durable they are as well but after a point it's just a matter of preference. Larger diameter dreads will always be able to get tighter than thinner dreads because they have so much more hair.
The best examples of loose knots are what you find right after clockwise rubbing some new growth or after backcombing. The hair is very knotted but the knots are puffy and springy. They seem pretty full since there are hopefully no gaps with straight hair but the knots are very easy to squeeze and compress down. These knots will benefit the most from palm rolling and finger rolling. As they are rolled and compressed the knots will tighten more and more. The dread wax has just enough hold to keep the knots held down in between palmrolling sessions but the knots can always move and tighten more when they are palmrolled and the force and heat from your palms begins rolling them back and forth. Because the dread wax prevents the knots from loosening on their own between palm rolling sessions the dreads are able to make much faster progress. After a few palm rolling sessions you'll notice the once puffy knots are now much smoother, tighter and more compressed.
Ready, Set, Tighten
After you've determined that you have knots that need tightening is time to start compressing them. Palm rolling works best when you can do it regularly. When the dreads are new (during the first month) and you have dread wax in them nearly all the time, you should try to palmroll them each a little every day. This sounds tough but if you can make it part of your daily routine your dreads will make progress obscenely fast.
Click next to check out the "B" Week page and learn about creating the ideal "B" Week environment. Then click continue at the bottom to get tips on Palmrolling and Finger Rolling your knots to help them compress and tighten.