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October 25, 2006 11:29 PM   Subscribe

How do I properly tie my shoes without them quickly getting loose again? They're the flat laces (rounded ones are worse) and I keep double-knotting them, but after an hour or so of just sitting at work, they come loose. What am I doing wrong? It's especially bad with the ones I'm wearing.
posted by i8ny3x to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This thread is useless without pix.

So we can see what you're doing wrong.

Are the laces synthetic? I've found that synthetic laces are sometimes kinda slippery, and work themselves out of knots, while more traditional laces (I'm not sure what they would be made of - cotton?) grip and stay in place better.
posted by Jimbob at 11:39 PM on October 25, 2006

This website might help you in learning the "best" shoelace knot:

Ian Knot: The World's Fastest Shoelace Knot
posted by christin at 11:51 PM on October 25, 2006 [2 favorites]

I would suggest double looping the second tie, pass the loop of the string under and around a second time, usually this works. Here is Fieggens's web site devoted to tieing shoelaces.
posted by ptm at 11:51 PM on October 25, 2006

Ian Fieggen is an absolute grandmaster of shoelaces, and I was a bit weirded out to find that there could be such a thing, but, yes, he is the king.

You can learn about slipping shoelaces here. I notice when my shoeslaces come undone, it seems to be because of what he explains. And if nothing else, it's a (strangely captivating and obsessive) neat little site.
posted by blacklite at 11:53 PM on October 25, 2006

Aw, I should have hit preview.
posted by blacklite at 11:54 PM on October 25, 2006

Yeah, it's hard to tell without pics. But surprisingly there is a good resource online that you can browse thru:

Ian's Shoelace Site

I've tried one or two methods out, but never kept them up since I don't have any problems with the regular shoelace knot.
posted by Cog at 11:55 PM on October 25, 2006

Damn, I'm slow....
posted by Cog at 11:56 PM on October 25, 2006

In the world of knots, a shoelace knot should be a reef knot with looped ends for quick release. Now, you may remember that a granny knot is the reef knot's very insecure cousin. Unfortunately, most people instinctively tie a granny knot instead of a reef knot with their shoelaces, which is why they often come undone. You have to remember that the second tie (with the loops) has to be done in the opposite direction from the first.
posted by randomstriker at 12:18 AM on October 26, 2006

I recently replaced my laces with a similar black cord but made of elastic, permanently attached. It still looks like they're laced, and they hold firmy, but there is no-longer any tying or untying.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:44 AM on October 26, 2006

Assuming you are using a standard knot like your mother taught you, it isn't the knot you have to change.

Because of the materials they are made from, some laces are more slippery than others. Get the kind that grab, that do not slide. A good clue: laces made of shiny, artificial, water-repellant materials slide against themselves in a knot, while laces made of dull, natural, absorbent materials (like cotton) bind against themselves. At least that's the way it has worked out for me. If the non-plastic laces don't last as long, you'll have to replace them a little more often, but it's not exactly a giant expense or effort.

Make sure they are long enough to let you tie a decent knot. If you find yourself struggling to make a knot with what you have dangling from your shoes, remove and measure one of the laces, then buy the next longer size. If they end up too long, you'll have a good excuse to tie a double knot.

Then pull the knot tight. Put some strength into it. You don't have to kill your feet with it -- snug the knot until the lace binds tightly against itself, which will happen without slippage if you have the right non-slip laces, and then give it a good hard final pull from both loops to tighten it. If the knot was snug before the final pull, that last tug will tighten the knot without making the shoe tighter around your foot.

[Good lord, the things we find ourselves talking out of our asses about. As if I've made a study of tying shoes. But I have tied my shoes many times, so maybe it is a study of sorts...]
posted by pracowity at 1:35 AM on October 26, 2006

The mice are trying to steal your shoes.
posted by Flashman at 3:04 AM on October 26, 2006

I looked through Ian's site quickly. He addresses the "finishing bow" rather than the "starting knot". Your problem is not with the finishing bow. It is the starting knot. While Ian uses the surgeon's knot as part of the finishing bow (wraps it twice around) I learned from my Uncle the Surgeon, that the place to do the double loop is in the starting knot. This will keep it tight and thus not put pressure on the finishing bow. Instead of wrapping the laces around each other once on the starting knot, do it twice and pull tight. I use it on my work shoes where I have slippery laces and on my Chuck Taylors.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:36 AM on October 26, 2006

A surgeon's knot like the one JohnnyGunn describes is also less likely to pull so tight you can't undo it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:58 AM on October 26, 2006

All of those alternative lacings are handy, but there's a simple mistake with "normal" shoe tying that I made for years: If they're coming loose shortly after you tie them, switch around the order of the laces in the first step (if you do left over right now, do left under right). The end result should be a bow that naturally lays straight across the shoe instead of at a bit of an angle to the shoe. If it's at an angle, the first step was backwards.
posted by mendel at 6:24 AM on October 26, 2006

I have a pair of shoes that were notorious for the laces coming undone (I think I spent half of my time backpacking through Europe re-lacing the things). I've since had a lot of success using:

The Secure Knot from Ian's Shoelace Site (as linked to many times above).

Maybe that'll help you filter through all the knots available on that page.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:02 AM on October 26, 2006

The prettiest girl in my high school junior class took it upon herself to point out that I had never learned to tie my shoelaces right. The substance of her demonstration was what randomstriker said: I was tying my shoes with a granny knot instead of a square or "reef" knot.
posted by jamjam at 10:18 AM on October 26, 2006

Also see this older question. I second mendel and randomstriker (and jamjam) - they describe exactly the solution to my problem with shoelaces that always got undone.
posted by amf at 10:31 AM on October 26, 2006

harlequin - where did you get your laces? I've looked in vain for months in the Seattle area!
posted by dbmcd at 10:39 AM on October 26, 2006

One more vote for Ian Knot: The World's Fastest Shoelace Knot. It took me no more than three days to become fast and reliable with it. It is indeed fast and secure.

The Granny Knot page is an even easier fix for slipping laces.
posted by gmarceau at 11:48 AM on October 26, 2006

dbmcd: I just went to a fabric store and bought black elastic cord. I was going to use some metal connector instead of a bow&knot, but I couldn't find anything I liked, so I just did a knot and let some super-glue soak into it. If you want a knot to remain tied forever, letting some superglue soak in is hard to beat :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:44 PM on October 26, 2006

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