Hair Care

Yarn For Protective Styling?

By Choya Randolph

Winter is here and that means we have to go the extra mile to make sure our hair is hydrated to survive the cold. If you’re a lazy natural like me, you ain’t got time for alladat additional deep conditioning. It’s time for protective hairstyles. 

Protective hairstyles tuck the ends of our hair away giving our ends a break from styling and nasty weather. Not only do protective styles protect our natural hair, it also tends to last a long time. Some of us can make our box braids last two months. We have so many options from feed-in braids, rope twists, faux locs and more. But what would happen if we replaced our kanekalon hair with yarn? Before you click away, hear me out. 

Using yarn for protective styling is not new. In fact, black women have been doing it for years. Yarn has been used for jumbo twists, faux locs, and more. I personally love to use me some yarn when doing braids. If you want your braiding hair to be a certain color but can’t find that color at your local beauty supply store, you can just go to Michaels or JOANN Fabrics and Crafts instead.

Before you bust out the car keys, let’s talk about how yarn braids work. Usually when doing plaits, also known as loose braids, we section our hair, apply gel then braid the kanekalon hair in. When it comes to yarn braids, you have to prep the yarn. When buying the yarn, don’t use wool. It could possibly loc up your hair and you don’t want that. Other than that, use whatever yarn you’d like. I’ve definitely gone the cheap route and it still worked out for me. Make sure you buy more than enough yarn, especially if you want your plaits to be long.

First measure how long you want the yarn to be. If you’re familiar with braiding hair then you know that you start the braid using the middle of the kanekalon hair and not the ends. So when measuring your yarn thread, double it or the length will be cut in half once you begin braiding.

Once you have a thread that’s the perfect length, use that thread as a reference for the length of the other pieces. This is a long process but once you start using yarn for your protective styling, you’ll find your own hacks to make this process quicker. The amount of pieces you should have all depend on your preferred plait length and size. Don’t be afraid to use your kanekalon experience for reference. If you use four packs of hair on your head, try to cut out the equivalent of that for your yarn.

After having all of your pieces cut and equally measured, you can now use the yarn as you would when braiding your hair. You can prep your hair as you wish but once it’s time to braid, that means it’s also time to do a little math. When using braiding hair, usually we eyeball the amount of hair to make sure each plait is the same size. With yarn braids, you can count each thread to guarantee that each braid will be the same size. 

When counting your threads, make sure it’s divisible by three since braiding involves using three pieces of hair. The more threads you have, the bigger your plaits will be. I like my braids to be a medium size so I’d usually go for 12 threads for each braid. This means that when I braid the yarn in, each section should have four threads.

To make the process easier, you can have the yarn counted and prepped before braiding, similar to when doing knotless or feed-in braids. If you’re a beginner, this may be the best route. Once your threads are properly counted, you can braid your hair as you would with actual weave. 

But wait, usually with braiding hair we boil the ends of our hair. Obviously you can’t do that with yarn. This is one of the best parts of yarn braids. No hot water! I know some of yall have burned yall selves, don’t lie. Once you’ve completed your braids, you can tie the ends in a knot using your finger. Make sure the knot is tight and secure. Cut the excess yarn off because those straggly ends are not cute. Because the ends are knotted, it’s imperative that the yarn is measured correctly so don’t rush when measuring.

I know a knot may seem like your hair is going to look tacky but if your braids are small, the knot isn’t even noticeable. I personally like the look of the knots. They add a little “jenny say quan.”
If you really want your yarn braids to pop, add hair jewelry. I find that adding hair jewelry to yarn braids is easier than adding it to kanekalon hair. 
Once you’ve done your entire head, you are done! You can swoop those edges and call it a day. No additional gel on the braiding hair or hot water. You can treat this protective style as you would any other. They last just as long and can be cheaper than your braiding hair. And with the weather being colder, it adds additional warmth that kanekalon hair just can’t do. So next time you want to do a protective style, don’t sleep on yarn as an option. 

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