Shoelaces are thin cords fitted to
shoes to prevent the shoe
from slipping off by accident. The shoelace can be untied
and loosened, permitting the shoe to open wide to admit
the wearer's foot; it can then be tightened and knotted.
Shoelaces did not become widely popular until the 20th century,
previously shoes were slip-on, buckled or buttoned. Buttoned
shoes used a special tool, a button hook, to close the buttons
but this was slow and difficult.
shoelaces, a process
patent was granted for lacing in a double-helix pattern "resulting
in reduced friction and faster and easier tightening and
loosening". Another process patent was issued for an
alternative way of tying
"Twirly" laces are elasticized laces coiled
into a tight helix. The twirly laces can simply be pulled
tight . When made for children, they come in a large variety
of colors and textures.
The small plastic sheath on the end of shoelaces that
keeps the twine from unraveling is called an
There are many shoelace accessories. There are hooks
to help lace shoelaces tightly. They are especially useful
for skates where tight lacing is important. Shoelace covers
protect the laces, especially in wrestling. Shoelace charms
are decorative, as are coloured shoelaces. Some dress codes
(e.g. high schools) will specifically exclude color laces
and charms. Lacelocks hold laces together, eliminating the
need for tying. Laces can be coated to increase friction
to help laces stay tied.
Shoelaces can be tied in an almost infinite
number of ways. The most common bow, however, is a variant
on two half knots tied one on top of the other. A loop is
used in the second knot, rather than the simple end of the
string, in order to allow for quick untying.
A problem that arises is that two half knots can be tied
together in two different ways (ignoring symmetrical configurations).
One addition of a half knot to a half knot forms a square
reef knot, an altogether uninspiring knot for the knot
aficionado, but a fairly effective one for the purpose of
tying shoelaces. While a fairly insecure knot, it functions
best when laid flat against a surface as it is on a shoe.
The second combination of half knot to half knot gives a
granny knot, a knot not good for much at all. It is
terribly insecure, and most people who use it will find
themselves retying their shoelaces many times a day.
Much discussion has appeared on shoelace tying websites
discussing this issue and why it appears that the large
majority of people (75% according to one website) are using
the granny knot. Some have suggested that it may have to
do with children watching their parents and mirroring them,
but a total mirroring would produce, if the parent were
tying a square knot, a mirror image square knot. A simpler
explanation is that if one ties shoelaces first by tying
a half knot and then by forming two loops and tying another
(as opposed to some speedier technique), and if one consistently
puts one hand over the other (left over right or right over
left) one gets a granny knot. A square knot is the less
intuitive knot and requires switching the top hand. First
left over right and then right over left, or first right
over left and then left over right. You can generally tell
if you have produced the square or granny knot by the direction
in which the loops lie. If they lie side to side, you have
probably made a square knot. If they lie front to back,
you have probably made a granny knot and should teach yourself