Sunday, March 03, 2013

The Topology of Knots in Everyday Life: Shoelaces

The Topology of Knots in Everyday Life: Shoelaces I thought I knew how to tie my shoelaces, but I was wrong. They seemed to work just fine. They never came undone. Granted, that was because I tied a double knot. That just seemed a reasonable precaution if I didn't want to trip over a loose shoelace or get it caught in my bike chain. (I didn't realize that if I had tied the laces properly, they wouldn't need a double knot and would pretty much keep themselves tight.)

 One thing puzzled me, though. When I put on dress shoes and tied a single knot, my bows tended to sit vertically, rather than positioning themselves across the shoe, as in the photo, which looks nicer. I wondered how other guys got their laces to look so cool, but finding out was low on my list of priorities. It was one of those file and forget things. It wasn't until I saw this short little TED Talk video that I realized that my unbalanced, north-south knot was a symptom of the dreaded "granny knot." I had been doing it wrong all my life.

 The video explained the problem and showed the right way to tie the laces, but I had a hard time following the details in real time. I wanted a diagram I could study.and searched online until I found Ian's Shoelace Site. It had a diagram that made sense to me. Basically, it's a matter of going under rather than over with one of the loops.

I've been doing it for the better part of a year now. My bows look good, and the knots never come undone. Thank you, Ian!

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