How I Tie My Shoes

When I was young, I invented my own way of tying my shoes. It became quite natural for me, and I had never given much thought about this until some people commented that I tie my shoes in a "weird" way. I tried to look all over the web, convinced that someone else must do it the same way and my invention must have been known by someone else. Well, I can't find anything and so I have decided to create a small web page to illustrate how I tie my shoes. If you have seen this before, let me know!

Since I have put up this web page, I have had two people e-mailing me saying that they know someone who ties shoes in the same way.


I was first taught to tie my shoelaces by first making the standard overhand knot, followed by taking the two ends and forming a loop each end by folding it against itself, then use the end of the loops as if they were the original laces and do an overhand knot again. This has the advantage that it is easy to do and undo, but it gets undone easily.

Then I learned the standard way: overhand knot, form one loop at one end, form a little hole by putting the other end over the loop, and pull a loop on the long end through the hole. As far as I know this is the way most people tie their shoes. It is slightly more difficult to do, but just as easy to undo. I found that it is a bit less prone to getting undone, but when it does get undone, everything comes loose and the shoe is no longer tight.

One day (I don't know exactly when, but probably when I was around 10-12), I thought to myself: "if you can start with two loops on the ends and make a knot, and you can start with one loop, then why not try starting with no loops?" It didn't take long for me to figure out how to tie and untie my shoes in this new way. It is definitely a bit harder to tie and untie, but with practice it takes no longer than the standard way. Moreover, when it gets undone only half of the knot gets undone, so the shoe is still tight. No need to worry about shoes falling off my feet! Little things like this bothered me a lot when I was a kid :-). This has been the way I tie my shoes ever since.


I am a really poor artist; it is almost impossible for me to draw pictures so that people can actually understand what I am doing. I tried my best and I hope that it will help.

We will label the two ends A (right) and B (left).
  1. Do an overhand knot, so that A is on the left and B is on the right.

  2. Put A over B to form a small hole. Fold A onto itself to form a loop. Insert the loop through the hole. Pull on the loop and B to tighten.


    This is roughly what it would look like just before the knot is tightened.

  3. Now we have one loop (from A) in the knot (due to my poor artistic abilities, I'll just use a box to represent this knot). At this point the B end is still unfolded.


    Put B over the loop to form a small hole. Fold B onto itself to form a loop. Insert the loop through the hole. Pull on both loops to tighten. This is basically the last step with the roles of the two ends reversed.


    This is what it looks like at the end.


To undo the knot halfway, pull on B. If you want to undo the knot completely, pull firmly on A. Typically, when the knot becomes undone, half the knot will still be tight. In that case, repeat Step 3 to redo the knot.

Howard Cheng

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