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The Simple fix to Keep Your Shoelaces Tied

Slipping Shoelaces? Crooked Bows?

Do your shoelaces always come undone? Do your shoelace bows sit vertically instead of across the shoe? If so, you're probably tying a "Granny Knot", and one simple change to your technique will result in a balanced knot that sits straight and stays secure.
This page explains the "Granny Knot" phenomenon. Put simply: Crooked Bows?
  • The Granny Knot is the most common reason for shoelaces coming undone.
  • It's caused when the Starting Knot & Finishing Bow don't "balance" each other.
  • It can be spotted by the tendency of the bow to sit crooked (i.e.. heel to toe).
  • It's fixed by reversing one stage of the knot, most easily the Starting Knot.

What Causes a "Granny Knot"?

If both stages are tied in the same direction, those twists compound each other, resulting in an un-balanced knot that sits crooked and comes undone more easily. This is commonly known as a "Granny Knot".

While there's only a subtle difference in tying technique, there's a big difference in security. This is not simply an "Old Wives Tale"; it's based on millennia of established knowledge.

The difference is due to the adjacent contact points within the finished knot. In the balanced shoelace knot, tension on the bottom part of the knot (due to foot movement) will actually pull the adjacent top part of the knot tight. In the un-balanced "Granny Knot", the adjacent contact points run in opposite directions, so the same tension on the bottom part of the knot will actually work the adjacent top part of the knot loose.

Spotting a "Granny Knot"

Balanced Shoelace Knot Un-balanced "Granny Knot"
Balanced shoelace knot picture with straight bow
A properly tied shoelace bow should sit sideways across the shoe.
Un-balanced Granny Knot picture with crooked bow
A wrongly tied shoelace bow invariably twists to point "heel-to-toe".
Try tying your shoelace, then shake your shoe a bit and look at how your bow sits. If it's sitting crooked, you are tying a Granny Knot and that is why your shoelaces are always coming untied!
Note that any shoelace knot, even those considered "secure" shoelace knots, can end up crooked and less secure if tied wrongly.

Fixing an Un-balanced "Granny Knot"

Okay, so you've just realized that you've wasted your whole life tying and re-tying what turns out to be a "Granny Knot". Don't panic, the solution is as easy as the problem!
Simply reverse your Starting Knot!
Left-over-Right starting knot
Left-Over-Right starting knot diagram
<=> Right-over-Left starting knot
Right-Over-Left starting knot diagram

In other words, if you currently tie your starting knot: "Left end over Right end & through", simply change it to: "Right end over Left end & through", or vice versa. Hopefully this page explanation of the "Granny Knot" has allowed you to identify whether or not you were tying one, and if so, has enabled you to correct the problem.

This shoelace tying information has been provide by Ian Fieggen.