Sasha is the alpaca girl and Keren is the mohair one in my dolly family. I talked to some famous experts in our community to know more about those very popular kinds of reroots. Many thanks to Abbie, Gina, Jasz, Lisa and Morgan for their precious advice. Everyone does agree to say that natural fibers give such a unique and real look on a plastic dolly. Please feel free to share your opinions and personal tips in the comments!
Alpaca or mohair?
Mohair is curly and full and slightly coarser in texture than Alpaca hair. Alpaca hair is naturally straight, or sometimes has a very slight wave to it. It’s smoother and finer in texture. It has a more stringy look, where mohair is more poofy. Alpaca is super soft like baby hair, but mohair is sturdier and thicker and not as fragile as alpaca.
Photo: Morganorton. Anna Grier, Kathi‘s girl – Alpaca reroot by Morgan Orton: “My personal favorite is probably Alpaca. It’s unique (though is getting more and more popular) and I love the look and texture of it. It’s also really neat because since it’s straighter color differences or streaks really show up well. Most batches of hair have at least very slight color variations, even natural undyed hair, and it’s always fun to see how it all comes together during the rerooting process”.
Photo: Ragazza. Lisa: “I use the locked loop technique for most reroots, although I occasionally the knotted method as well. I prefer to work with mohair because it is so soft and stylable, with the huge benefit of being heat proof. Most of all, because it’s a natural fiber I feel it gives the dolls a more organic nature which brings them even further to life in my mind”.
Photo: Abigail. Tootsie. Abbie: “I like mohair because you can get so many different looks from it, it is soft, adds a really human touch to your dolls and is completely easy to style. You can use heat to style, so therefore giving you ringlets or straight hair as desired. I actually don’t have a preference over mohair or alpaca and I use both, it depends on what look I am going for, if I want poofy afro mohair like on Tootsie for example, I will use a curly mohair and get it untreated (not combed through) and I will root it in doubled over and thick and get lots of volume, but if I wanted a sleek ‘do’ like Sheldon I would go for an alpaca”.
Photo: Abigail. Sheldon – Alpaca reroot by Abbie.
Rerooting mohair or alpaca hair consists of separating the fiber out into individual strands, or plugs, of hair and securing them into the scalp. The two main ways of doing so are the Locked Loop and the Knotted method. Both have their advantages.
The Locked Loop method:
– involves folding the strand of hair in half, pulling through the scalp to create a loop, and then pulling the next strand in through that loop which secures the strands together plug by plug. Since the hair is folded it shortens the length but also gives a fuller appearance and leaves lots of nice layers throughout the reroot, which are especially more apparent with Alpaca hair.
Photo: Zaloa27. Lock & Loop mohair reroot.
The Knotted method:
– consists of tying knots at the ends of plugs and simply pulling them through the holes. This gives a lot more length, and is also closer to being one length without a lot of varied layers. It also creates a less voluminous look, with the weight of the hair being more towards the ends.
– there is also a knotted technique which includes placing a knot in the middle of the strand, and pulling one half through one hole and the other through the next hole.
Photo: Sai/Rebecca. Knot/Felt method with alpaca. “This is how an alpaca scalp rerooted by me looks on the inside. It looks messy, I know. I make a knot at approx. 1 cm of the end of each strand, so there is 1 cm of alpaca hair on the inside of the scalp that can felt. I also use a bit of glue at the finishing row and the partline!”
Decide what kind of look you want to get and choose the right method!
According to Abbie, the methods depends again on what look you are going for. If you want to do an afro or another short style with volume, you will do lock loop method in the different plug sizes depending on what volume you wanted to achieve. But if you were wanting to achieve a long ‘do’ with a tight parting line and it be very thin, fine work then you will use the knot method with lots of very thin plugs in many holes.
Photo: Stellinna. Mohair reroot by Stellinna.
There are lots of different techniques and tools one can use (needles, crochet hooks, etc.), and Morgan found it really comes down to personal preference. She likes to use a crochet hook because it’s how she first learned to do it and it’s always worked well and felt natural to her.
Here’s the complete list:
– Needle threader;
– 2 or 3 crochet hooks in different sizes so you can switch depending on the plug size, such as a #6-7 which is a smaller size for rooting the part and thatch and the final row, and a #8 needle which is slightly bigger for rooting the rest of the scalp;
– Acrylic paint in the same color as the hair to paint the scalp before making the dots and the line;
– 1 safety pin to make the plug holes if using a Coolcat scalp or an awl;
– 1 pen to mark the holes before that, I’d also advise drawing a line around and around the scalp of the lines you will follow and actually draw the dots on that line (don’t forget the parting).
– Copydex or some other white glue to either seal the small knot or to just rub over the plugs at the end to keep everything in place nicely and snug;
– 1 comb or brush;
– 2 hair bands to separate hair into sections;
– Scissors just in case;
– Thread to tie and secure the last locks of each row;
– 1 bowl of water if need;
– 1 large cushion for the lap that can hold all the tools and a big pile of ready made plugs if you’re doing the knot method and maybe a thimble for pushing the crochet hook through if the hole is tight;
– e6000 for attaching the scalp back onto the head;
– And PATIENCE!
Make up lots of plugs first!
Morgan: “I personally find it most helpful to make up as many plugs as I possibly can before hand and then start on the rerooting. I’ll get into a groove rerooting and then run out of plugs and it’s always frustrating to have to stop and go back to make more. I make trays out of tinfoil to put my plugs on and spray them with some warm water from a spray bottle as I’m rerooting them”.
Photo: Milky Robot. Jess: “Here’s all my plugs lined up, I usually prep a bunch before I reroot but since my little one runs around grabbing things from the tabel, I prep a little, reroot, prep, reroot and so on. When I do saran or nylon reroots, I make the plugs as I go, but it’s way easier to prep mohair and alpaca first”.
Photo: Milky Robot. Jess: “You can use a stock scalp or coolcat scalp. And for the bowl of water, I pour a little tiny bit of fabric softener in the bowl to help keep the hair soft when working with it. I use a felt square to prep all my plugs on, helps them from not blowing away”.
Reroot with dry hair!
Gina uses the lock & loop method and roots the hair while it’s dry instead of wet. She finds it much easier working with dry hair and it saves her many hours of detangling and smoothing out each lock one by one. If you have good quality mohair that is sent to you already combed and washed there is no need to wet the hair or even separate each lock before you root.
Photo: G♥Baby. Custom and mohair reroot by Gina.
Puchicollective tutorials really got me started with reroots and customizing in general. I had so many questions back then and it was so great to have so many answers all right there in one place! I used their Saran rerooting tutorial to understand the Locked Loop technique, it seemed confusing at first, but once I got my hands into it it became clear.
Wedge’s mohair tutorial was also super helpful to me when I was first starting out. It’s great visual for making plugs and rerooting!
The “Knot” and “Lock & Loop” methods by My Little Customs.
Do you have to fill every hole?
Jasz: “No way… unless you want a exploded head look on your doll!”
Photo: *jaszmade. Jasz used the knotting method here. Reroot with curly high quality mohair in chili red with black cherry streaks.
Morgan: “Always fill all the holes in the partline and surrounding areas. Mohair is more forgiving if you skip holes, in fact you may want to skip holes to prevent it from getting too poofy if you don’t want it to have too much volume. Alpaca hair is a little less forgiving since it’s a smoother straighter fiber. With Alpaca hair I like to fill all the holes in the top and front, and then if I want it a little thinner I will skip some holes in the back and sides in the lower lines”.
Gina: “The only area I fill in every hole is on the part and thatch. Otherwise I always skip holes and I even skip rows”.
Abbie: “I tend to skip holes, more in thick plug re-roots (like Tootsie and Ma Petite) but less in the Kenners who tend to have the fine hair look, maybe every other hole then, but I never compromise on the parting, fill every hole and then add a ton more, this is where most of the hair needs to be and the plugs the smallest for a good parting”.
Lisa: “I do skip a few holes depending on the doll and type, but I never skip whole rows and always fill every hole in the scalp line”.
Lisa: “If I need to dye the hair I always wash with shampoo in room temperature water first to help break the surface tension”.
Jasz: “A delicate theme. Generally you can RIT-dye mohair, use acid-dyes and some human hair colour products. Some suppliers in the US also offer dye bath for mohair. But dyeing mohair is like teaching your cat to say thank you. Mohair has a mind of its own and you may end up one mess with the hair. If you never dyed mohair but want to be sure, my advice is to ask your supplier (or your rerooter in charge e.g. that Jasz person who answers these questions) for the colour you want because they know how to do it without felting or loosing hair”.
Photo: *jaszmade. Mohair reroot with special dye.
How to dye with Kool-Aid on eHow
Mohair doesn’t really need to be washed much. If you want to quickly do a little sprucing up you can always spray some water on the hair and gently comb it through then scrunch it upwards with your hands, that would make the curl bounce back very easily.
You can wash the hair with regular shampoo, the milder or more moisturizing the better, nothing too strong like hand soap. Hold it upside down and use warm but not hot water to wet it. If your scalp is attached to a doll, try to not get the base too soaked because it’s glued with water soluble glue. Put just about a pea sized amount of shampoo into your hands and smooth it into the hair. You want to smooth the shampoo in, no scrubbing or anything too harsh because the fibers can get agitated with too much scrubbing. Then rinse out, letting the water run down it. Then you can do the same with conditioner.
Abbie: “Wash every 6 months or so in warm water (NEVER EVER USE COLD WATER, the hair will mat up) use a shampoo and conditioner and get it all out at the end, comb through and leave to dry if you like curls, or if you like it straight, then comb through leave to dry and then use hair straighteners on the hair”.
Morgan: “I like to use those really heavy duty conditioners that come with boxed hair dye, but really any kind will do! I normally rinse out almost all of the conditioner but leave a little in the ends, it leaves it with a little extra smoothness. You don’t want to get too much conditioner in the root area though, unless you rinse it out very well, it will leave it a little flat and lifeless. Then I lightly squeeze with a towel so it’s just damp/mildly wet while trying to comb out. Then you can take a comb or brush and gently brush it. Holding the scalp on its side, I like to start combing at the ends of the hair and work my way up, and then work my way back down, turning the scalp over and inching my around the whole thing. Then I flip the scalp right side up and do the same for the hair on the top side. Once it’s combed out I blow dry it on a medium heat setting, stopping to comb it out a couple times during the drying. Alpaca hairs are a natural fiber so you can heat style them with your blow dryer, flat iron, or curler with moderate amounts of heat”.
Gina: “I love that there are so many options with mohair, you can really do whatever you want with it. Leave it curly, straighten it, dye it, put it in rollers etc”.
Photo: G♥Baby. Bailey and Baby – Customs and mohair reroots by Gina.
Morgan: “I love the look of both, but Alpaca is my favorite. It’s fun to work with and creates a really unique look! I love how clean the lines are, every strand adds to the effect. It’s naturally straight but has a kind of piecey, almost edgey look to it if left alone”.
Photo: Melacacia. Angelica – Melacacia custom and Morganorton alpaca reroot.
Both mohair and alpaca can be styled different ways though, since they’re natural fibers they can be heat styled, which is a lot of fun! Mohair can be straightened, it can just be a time consuming process. Alpaca hair can styled curly or wavy a few different ways, whether with heat, rollers, or braiding. You can also break up the stringy look of Alpaca hair by brushing it with a boars bristle brush which gives it a really floaty fluffy cotton candy look. The boars bristle because it’s made from natural fibers like the Alpaca and will distribute the hairs oils and boost shine. Alpaca hair can get sort of stringy looking, which is a pretty cool look and part of its appeal, but using a bristle brush will help to break it up and smooth it out a little.
You can also style your Alpaca hair wavy/curly by “scrunching” it when wet after combing it out, a tiny bit of mouse or other similar hair product can help with this”.
Photo: Little.peepers. Sadie – Ragazza custom and mohair reroot.
Lisa: “To maintain your doll’s beautiful mohair re-root, use a soft bristle brush (like a toothbrush) or wig brush and always move through the hair starting at the ends and working your way up. Use a curling or straightening iron set on low heat for straightening and many other styles. You can wet her hair using a spray bottle filled with room temperature water while running your fingers through the hair as you would a brush to help the hair take in the water. Do not use a brush or comb on wet hair and never use hot water, agitate or rub the hair, especially when wet, or you will cause severe matting”.
How much and where to buy?
Average budget for mohair is between $30.00-$50.00 for two ounces of hair, already washed, conditioned, combed, and ready to use.
An unwashed batch can be reasonable at $14 per ounce.
Photo: Addictedtoplastic. Linda: “Cranberry has been given a plug by plug mohair re-root with hand dyed mohair in bright Christmassy red, scarlet, pale mauve and teal blue”.
Photo: Mary Pop. Mohair reroot.
Amélie is the happy collector of 15 mohair Blythe dolls from different customizers and from her point of view, mohair gives Blythe a mischievous look. She likes its soft side and recalls that the mohair wave started in 2007. I bet the craze is not about to finish soon!