Well, I'm halfway there! We've done half of my head and it's already 23 dreads which took a number of hours to do, so decided to take a break and finish up another day.
What we did was backcombing using salt water as an accelerant. Varied widths instead of parting... I decided I wanted a more free-flowing look rather than a manicured type of look. So the widths vary a lot... some dreads being as little as 1/4 the size of others. I did most of them and my husband did a few in the back that I couldn't reach.
This is the first four, when we were just getting the hang of it in the underside where they'd be well hidden:
This is when I had 10-12 or so done:
Since we decided to take a break halfway through, I have my "before" and "after" pictures in the same timeframe. This is the 23 dreads on the left side of my head:
This is the undreaded right side of my head:
This is the back of my head showing both dreaded and undreaded sides:
I've been reading and thinking about this for some time... my hair is very thick and curly and knots easily even when heavily conditioned. I think I shall dread easily, so I'm not putting tons of energy into it. My dreads are not terribly tight yet, so I didn't lose much length.
I am planning my maintenance scheme as continuing use of the salt water and lots of palm rolling and twisting. I can see already that I shall be paying a lot of attention to the tips until they're locked.
My "residue-free" shampoo shall be my homemade soap, lathered into the scalp and rinsed through the dreads. Once they lock, I'll do an occassional deep cleansing via a soak in rosemary tea and start conditioning via a spray of diluted aloe gel.