Sunday, October 28, 2012

Shoes and Laces

As a child you learn many things, quite a few that stay with you you're entire life. Fortunately for me, how I learned to tie my shoes only lasted about forty years.

For years I struggled with shoelaces that would not stay tied. I would tie them and pull the laces as tight as I could, trying to keep them from coming undone. I would replace laces on my dress shoes with leather ones, trying to find laces with more friction. I would buy extra-long laces and tie them in double-knots. Nothing worked well.

One day it came to a head. I had just bought a new pair of dress shoes and I couldn't keep them tied for more than about one hundred yards of walking. I became very upset and decided that I would search on the Internet for someone that had perfected shoelaces. The problem just had to be the laces. Couldn't be me. How could anyone mess up tying their shoes? After forty years? No way!


As luck would have it, one of the web sites I found was I learned that I've been tying a granny knot, a very weak knot, and needed to be tying a square knot. I had enough rope tying knowledge to understand the difference. In a square knot when the knot is stressed the ropes work together and reinforce each other. The ropes in a granny knot don't.  This never dawned on me, since looking at a pair of tied laces doesn't look like two ropes when tied, that this might be the case.

The solution was even more simple. I always started my tying routine by crossing the right lace over the left one. But then I would create a loop in the left lace and cross the right string in front of the loop.  That’s two right-over-lefts, the recipe for a granny knot.  All I had to do is reverse the first move, crossing the left one over the right. Could it really be that simple? Yep.

The next morning I tied my laces the new way, drove to work, parked my car and began my twelve minute walk. Where the morning before I had to retie my shoes multiple times, I only had to do it once. Not because they came loose, but because they were too tight. I was used to tying my laces really, really tight to try to keep them tied. So now instead of loosening up, they didn't budge. And that really hurt. So I tied them up the second time far looser. Problem solved. Has been for seventeen years.

If you see folks constantly tying their shoes, or their children's, you may want to mention this to them. Shoes can stayed tied.