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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.

Using standard shoes and standard 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 shoelaces .

"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 aglet.

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.

Shoelace Tying

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 or 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 the other.

 

Informal experiments seem to show that the need for retying shoelaces will drop dramatically with the square knot.

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The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoelace).  Modified by Apparel Search 12/8/04.

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