It's a little bit of a mess, isn't it? This is not the way I prefer to get it, I prefer to get it the way it looks in the next picture, but if it does arrive looking like this I can usually still work with it. This hair will need some preparation before it can be used.
The hair has now been washed, straightened, combed and had a rubberband put around it. I prefer to get it looking somewhat like this, as it saves me a lot of extra time and work. This is why, in the instructions for collecting hair, I suggest to put a rubberband around it right away. Many people do this now and I am ever so grateful! At last, after about 24 hours, this hair is ready to be worked.
In the center, you can see the bundle of counted hairs. I had to count out about 1,000 hairs for this particular job, not all of which went into the final bracelet. About 250 hairs were for another project. You can see, by looking at the bottom of the bundle, that those hairs do not want to be together. They would all like to go off in their own direction. Here is a close up of the bottom of the counted hairs so you can see how fly-away they are at first:
The top part of the counted hairs have been tied into a knot I like to call a "terminal turk's head". The first hairs have been arranged in the pattern of the braid, in this case, a 25-strand double flat braid. If I did not arrange the hairs first, there would be an unbraided section right in the center of the braid, because the braid is formed by manipulating the outside parts. I therefore lay the inside parts into the correct order before I can begin. I want the braid to look really good. This is what the whole thing looks like: