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Ian Knot (fieggen.com)
131 points by ollyfg on Feb 24, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments

Perhaps he is the inventor of this knot in the same way I was the inventor of short division in grade school--I thought I had invented it since no one had taught it to me, but I had just rediscovered an existing technique. Since that was the way my dad learned how to tie his shoes from his father before Ian was born, I think the furthest one could say is Ian is _an_ inventor of this not, not _the_ inventor.

However, this website is really cool, and it does do a much better job of explaining than my frustrated attempts of "you just pull one loop through the other!"

I learned this knot in 1986 from my brother, and he knew it for awhile before that, and unlikely through Ian.

I do it slightly differently, and a decent amount faster. I don't pinch and grab after the spin, but rather hook the opposite lace during the spin with the front crease in my index finger.

It takes about 10 minutes to learn, and 20 minutes of practice for the muscle memory to get it right.

It's the Ramanujan Effect.

I tried googling “Ramanujan Effect” but nothing turned up. Could you explain what you meant by that?


"Though he had almost no formal training in pure mathematics, he made substantial contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions, including solutions to mathematical problems considered to be unsolvable. Ramanujan initially developed his own mathematical research in isolation; it was quickly recognized by Indian mathematicians."

I made it up just then. It's where you are so smart but so uninformed that you unknowingly reinvent past results. Sadly, Ramanujan didn't have access to a lot of resources, so he spent a lot of time deriving results that already existed. Fortunately, it's not a complete tragedy because he used novel methods.

The secure version of this is much better and the one I use all the time. Doesn't get stuck and is quick to tie and untie.


Talking about other secure knots wouldn't be complete without mentioning the Granny Knot and what Ian says about the secure knot:

> NOTE: For normal activities, the Ian Knot or other standard knots should be quite secure. I believe that many people seek more secure knots because they are, without realizing, tying their shoelaces with an un-balanced "Granny Knot". Please see my Granny Knot page that discusses this in detail.

I think this is right. In ten years of use, the handful of times the plain Ian Knot has come undone on me were from stepping on and end or similar - it's never come undone without some external force, and even then it's usually fine. I just checked and I'm not doing the Granny Knot version.

It depends on the string you’re using to tie it. Paracord shoelaces are more slippery than most; I had to switch to the secure version of the knot because the normal one didn’t have enough friction to stay tied all day.

I believe it’s impossible to tie a granny knot using the Ian Knot method.

It's definitely possible. It depends on which way you do the initial single knot (right over left or left over right), relative to which way you turn the Ian Knot loops (left end towards you or away). The are four possible combinations, two of which produce Granny Knots.

Which is basically an upside down surgeon's knot. Just like a normal shoe-lace knot is a reef-knot using bights instead of ends.

I don't think he gives the correct knot for the surgeon's knot.

First IMO you should cross the two ends, push under the upper end, and then repeat. Then form bights and do the same action again (I use this for laces when I need them to stay fastened or when they're long and I don't want dangling aglets). However, it seems I also have been doing the surgeon's knot wrong - I make it balanced (a reef knot with an extra cross in each direction) but in every other image it's finished with a single cross of the two bights.

Truly, I look forward to trying it out.

Knot related: Patrick Novotny[1] has a youtube channel with 100+ ways to tie your tie. A fun intersection between knot enthusiasm and attractive attire.


100 ways?

There are only The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie.


One must account for the tie-tying disruption favored here, kind sir.

Seconded. Been using it for years. So long as you avoid the granny variation, it will not come undone.

Seconded, but I know it as "surgeon knot". Someone show it to us on a seminar as proper method to tie dance shoes, because other methods are not working at all.

Since this is Hacker News I am going to take issue with some technical points. This is not a new knot, it is simply a reef knot with the ends slipped. Generations of sailors know it as a way of reefing (reducing the area of) sails . What this is, is an alleged new method for tying a reef knot with the ends slipped more quickly than the boy scouts 'left over right, right over left' method. I think this is an important distinction.

Actually I love this site! Does one thing, and does it well.

Who ever said this was a new knot?

The reef knot (square knot) with both ends slipped is called a bow knot (shoelace knot).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reef_knot https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoelace_knot

> Who ever said this was a new knot?

> I tie my shoelaces with my own "Ian Knot", the World's Fastest Shoelace Knot (yes – I am the inventor):

It says so in the first line. How can you be the inventor of an existing knot?

Did you even read the article? It says so in the first sentence.

The bottom of the linked page clearly says “The finished ‘Ian Knot’ is identical to [..] the Standard Shoelace Knot”

If you click through to the page about the “standard shoelace knot” it adds: “This knot appears in The Ashley Book of Knots as #1212 and #1214, ‘The Bowknot’, where it is described as ‘... the universal means of fastening shoe-strings together.’” (That’s a reference book from the 1940s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ashley_Book_of_Knots)

Edit: note that this is a site aimed at an audience of people who want to tie their shoes, not topologists or sailors. Pedantic arguments about acceptable definitions of the word “knot” are ridiculous in this context.

But he has already claimed to be the inventor in the first line. This is even more shocking the article contradicts itself. I will only accept the term 'the Ian shoelace tying technique'

I learnt this a while ago and haven't stopped using it since. Saves me the trouble of bending over for too long and is a great party-trick.

I've always been impressed by the lasting quality of this site. It's extremely simple (the only javascript is for ads), easy to navigate, fast to load and ranks 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th in Google for "shoe knot" and "shoelace knot".

Yeah, just look at the page source. So clean and readable, no extraneous boilerplate.

So, having tried this method in the past, and revisited this again just now, I don't thing it is actually faster. The set up requires each hand to independently form a loop with an opposite twist without the benefit of the other hand to brace the rest of the shoelace against.

The gif of the knot does not show the set up, which is kind of unfair to the standard knot since that part is fundamentally baked-in to the standard knot. I'd love to see a video of the creator doing this from the start, because he probably is pretty good at the set-up which is just as important.

I think part of the reason why I don't find this faster is because I use the more modern style of flat/ovaloid shoelaces. Round shoelaces don't really get "twisted", and linen shoelaces are pliable enough for it to not matter, which means you could roll the laces around in your hand to get them to the starting position for Ian's knot. With the laces in basketball/running shoes, I think you need a bit more dexterity to manipulate the laces to get them to the point where they are 'flat' than could be managed with Ian's knot.

I don't think switching to Ian's knot and round laces would save me much time overall; the reason I like flat athletic laces is because I never have issues with the knot coming undone, loosening, or stretching/tightening. I use round laces on my work boots because flat laces are hard to untie if they get gritty, and I always have to double-knot them or they come undone. Since this is identical to the standard knot, I'm sure that would continue to be a problem, and I think the set-up for the standard knot makes double-knotting easier as well.

As a final note, my best friend ties his dress shoes this way (with the really narrow laces), and it is definitely faster all things equal. I think those narrow laces are probably the best use for this method.

All that being said, I originally found this site while looking for lacing methods, and it's one of my favorite sites on the internet. It's basically everything of what I loved about the "geocities" era of the internet (without the stuff I hated).


I've switched to using Ian's knot, and have found it to be both faster to tie and easier to set up. I think once you work out how to 'pick up' the laces in the right way, so that they are already in the correct starting position, it gets a lot faster/simpler to think about.

Of course, I haven't been in your shoes - my laces are all the round type and I haven't tried it with flat ones.

To each their own!

I like flat laces a lot because they seem to distribute the force a lot better than round styles. I like my shoes to be fairly minimalist, I don't like overly padded or heavy shoes, and round styles seem to put a lot more pressure on the top of my foot.

The oval style with the sharp edges has a lot of the benefits of the flat style, but is more universally compatible. The flat ones don't always move well in round eyelets, they work better with loops in my experience.

The completely flat style doesn't tie well if one of the laces is twisted though. I think it's a great option for athletic shoes though, where you are more likely to care about a particular level of give, etc, and when you don't want your shoes to become untied. The round style is cheaper, and if you don't notice the difference it's probably a more versatile shoelace.

Plus you can do fancy knots with the round style.

I've been using the Ian knot for half a decade or so. It turns out there is little to no setup required, because the initial position is where your hands end after pulling the initial cross tight. If starting from pre-crossed laces, I agree there's no practical speed benefit.

This is how I lace my shoes, with a slightly different way to place my fingers, but with the same result.

I feel it's a bit faster to do than my previous knot, however the real benefits are (for me) this knot stays tight all day long, and the tension is symmetrical (the knot doesn't slide on the side during the day, you never end up with one end longer than the other, etc)

I’m having difficulty articulating exactly how, but you definitely don’t need to have round laces for it to work. You can form the loops by other means — I wind the left lace around my thumb and forefinger to create one loop, and then those fingers are ready to grab the other loop which usually just falls in to place.

I've been using this for years - it's great!

An interesting memory anecdote: within two weeks of switching I had forgotten the method I'd used for the previous 20 years.

My name is also Ian and I have invented my own shoe-tying method independently from Ian Fleggen's method. I believe it's faster than the "Ian Knot". Once I come up with a name for it, I will publish it online.

Taking name suggestions...

Ianest Knot. The most Ian a knot can be.

The One True Ian Knot! ("Toti-knot" has a good infomercial ring to it I think too).

Not Ian's Knot


The Ia-knot

IIan knot.

This is a Reef knot tied using two bights. Nice little trick and a very clear explanation.

We would use a knot similar to this when furling the foresail on schooners, as it easily untied under sail.

If the author wanted a slight improvement in the explanation, mine would make the finger diagrams use a transparency for the thumb and index finger so that the reader could interpret the location of the laces behind the fingers.

Hah, I worked in a grocery store part of my time and college and this is very similar to the way I was taught to tie plastic grocery bags shut. Sub the two handles of the bag for these loops, and repeat it a second time after pulling through. Extremely useful for people on bike.

Practically impossible for the knot to come undone and after 5 minutes of practice you can do it in literally 1-2 seconds.

Somewhat related: How to tie your shoes TED talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/terry_moore_how_to_tie_your_shoes#...

Poor Ian, bless 'im.

This is cool and I definitely appreciate that this page exists. Cool page!

However, totally absurd—Donald Trump levels of absurd—to say you invented a knot. Not only have mathematicians categorized every possible way to make a knot, but before that hundreds if not thousands of generations of sailors and knitters certainly discovered every kind of knot that could be made. Very strange to think you could have “invented” a knot... borderline disturbing to be honest.

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