Learning How To Tie My Shoes

bunny-earsI don’t remember learning how to tie my shoes. I grew up before Velcro and I refused to wear Mary Janes or flats. All of my shoes were lace-ups. I’m pretty sure I was taught the “bunny ears” method before I mastered the adult method. I made a double knot to avoid tripping on my laces.

I am a walker. I started walking around the city when I was eleven. My school was 1.5 miles away; it didn’t take more time to walk than to take the M15 bus. I liked the independence and the adventure. I used my bus money to buy a pastry or a bagel at one of the bakeries on my route. I double knotted my shoes so I wouldn’t have to stop and re-tie them. The knot and I were both chubby and clunky.

I own 13 pairs of shoes that lace up (five pairs of sneakers, two pairs of light hikers, two pairs of work boots, two pairs of chukka boots, a pair of boots for my transmasculine soul (see below), and a pair of insulated snow boots). I am hard on my shoes. I either wear down the soles or wear through the padding on the back of the collar. I try to rotate my shoes so they will last longer, but I notice myself mostly reaching for my light hikers. The ones with the fat round nylon laces that keep coming undone.

object-of-beautyThe last thing I bought before I decided to stop shopping was a pair of Heritage Chippewa Service Boots in Tan Renegade. They are neither hiking boots, work boots, snow boots, nor dress boots. They are objects of beauty. I wanted them, and I bought them, even though I do not need them. They arrived unlaced.

I also splurged on new shoelaces for my old work boots. I took the original laces out, cleaned the boots, applied two coats of leather protector, and started to thread in the new laces. I realized I didn’t know the best way to lace them up. One website lead to another, and I ended up watching a video on Gentleman’s Gazette on how to lace your dress shoes. At the end of the video, there was a tip for keeping your shoelaces securely tied.

I am not knowledgeable about knots. I am probably the only butch who never wore bow ties or regular ties. I don’t go sailing or rock climbing. I was tying my shoes incorrectly.

I pay attention to some things, but I am oblivious to others. I attribute it to growing up gender non-conforming. A double knot is an effective, but ugly way to tie a shoe. It is a honking big knot, not a dainty girly knot. It is not as bad as mending my pants with Duct Tape (one of the guys in my office), but it is far from an elegant solution. I often use brute force to fix my problems.

I discovered I was tying my shoes with a “granny knot” instead of a “reef knot”, and that there was a sleeker way to make a double knot for extra security. Just the name “granny knot” was enough to make me change how I tied my shoes. The difference is which direction you wrap around for the second loop (and how the bow sits on the shoe). If your bow aligns with the length of your shoe, you are making a “granny knot”.  To align your bow with the width of your shoe (like a bow tie), you need to change the direction of the second loop, i.e. make a “reef knot”. For a sleek double knot, go around an extra time before you pull the second loop through. Video links in Notes. It is a simple change with a big reward.

I have experimented with this all week and my laces have remained knotted in place. I have also been taking long walks in my new boots without rubbing up any blisters.

Notes: Gentleman’s Gazette is chock-a-block full of articles and videos on classic menswear. There is something slightly creepy about Sven, the narrator, and his shoe obsession, but the videos are useful if you don’t have a clue. This is the link to Sven’s video on how to lace and tie your shoes. Surprisingly, there is a 3 minute TED talk by Terry Moore on this subject, and the Runner’s World gear guy also has something to say about how to tie your sneakers.

29 thoughts on “Learning How To Tie My Shoes

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I was using the criss-cross method and overthinking it so it didn’t look “right”. I confess to undoing the laces, looking at a picture of the boot laced, and re-lacing it to match the picture…hence paying attention to some things and being oblivious to others. And in the end I couldn’t tell you whether it matched how the laces were before I waxed the boots…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  1. PlainT

    My brothers apparently had a terrible time learning their shoes: when my mom found velcro shoes she was beyond relieved. On the other hand, she says I learned quickly how to tie my shoes. She often points to this as one of many gender differences she observed raising us.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      My brother is two years older than me – but I was always trying to do whatever he could do. He was a slow reader – I was reading chapter books before him. Fortunately, he caught up, but he does not read for pleasure.
      I’m not sure I believe in boy brain/girl brain – but I definitely believe in competition as an incentive.

      Like

      Reply
      1. PlainT

        That’s definitely true. My mom is probably over-generalizing from a sample size of n=3, but she points out how different my nephew was as a baby than my nieces, consistent with how me and my brothers were as kids. I doubt every baby boy is bad at tying laces though… but if that were true it’d be an interesting test of gender, huh…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Lesboi

        I don’t know about that. I see a lot of Mustangs on the road but it’s rare that I see a pair of boots like those. I’m sort of on the hunt for a nice pair of chukkas personally.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      And this is why I wait to respond until I am sitting at a real computer with a real keyboard with no auto-correct function. I hate using my phone or tablet for commenting because it always backfires on me.
      I’ve never had velcro shoes (lots of velcro everywhere else including on binders), but I can manage slip-ons (mocs). Tying my shoes is something I take for granted, but like so many other things, it can be fleeting.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Fredrication

    Wow, those boots are beautiful!!! I love good looking men’s shoes, but I tend to go for brown Oxfords all the time. Yours are like Oxford boots, just what I need here in the snow!
    Even if I love my Oxfords, I live in a pair of rough sneakers with goretex all winter through. They’re warm and they don’t let in water. Unfortunately they’re not so good for snow since they’re so low. I’ve been looking for boots but never found anything I could imagine wearing, well until now that is.
    I’m not a shoe hoarder like my wife, I use the ones I have until they’re beyond repair before I buy new ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      They are great looking boots – and I intend to take good care of them so that they last. They are not waterproof (no gore-tex or lining) but they are well waxed so they are water resistant.
      I put on my winter reading list (from the library now that I have forced myself to stop buying stuff) the books by The Minimalists (that you recommended to me a long time ago…). I looked at their blog and I’m at least trying to think about the concept of “adding value” and using what I have. Donna still has more shoes than me, but I have more of everything else, and need to start pruning it down.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Fredrication

        Wow, I never thought someone actually would hop on the “minimalist” train! The hardest part is to actually start, to accept that there might be something of value in the theories. Kudos to you for beginning your process!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Karin

    Hi Jamie, I gave up on shoes that need trying 2 decades ago (slip on Merrell Mocs, Birks, Keen slip-ons) but I just this month bought my first pair of tie-up shoes – and now I will go check out those links and watch how to tie my shoes the correct effective way!! Thank you.

    Karin (Toby’s sweetie)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Hi Karin,
      I don’t know how anyone can get through a Northeast winter without serious lace-up boots. And I imagine Maine is going to be even worse than Western Mass…

      Like

      Reply
    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Girl Scouts get a bad rap because of the cookie pushing – but I know a lot of women who honed their leadership skills in their troops and at camp. The green skirt and sash were enough to keep me out of it.

      Like

      Reply
  4. Terese Beatty

    Those boots are incredible. I enjoyed the TED Talk as well. Who knew there was a more effective way to tie? I had such a hard time learning to tie my shoes and continue to double knot them. I am not sure if I will try to learn the proper way-just thinking about all the trouble I had and the lack of support while learning brings back negative memories. I must have missed that meeting in my Brownie troop.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I’m enjoying wearing the boots. I don’t normally ascribe magic powers to shoes, but I hope the magic feeling lasts and they don’t just turn into another mundane item collecting dust in my closet.

      Like

      Reply
  5. RonaFraser

    Those ARE beautiful boots. Thanks for the lace info. Who knew?! I looked down at my stupid flat laces that always come undone even when double-knotted, and yes they are aligned with the length of my shoe! Actually, I bought these cool new laces at a shop in town (available online — one of Canada’s coolest shops, in my opinion… I’ll get you the link)… but I have not taken the time to put them in my shoes (such a procrastinator). I carried them around in my purse for a couple of weeks, and then finally took them out… somewhere… and haven’t seen them since. Sigh. Here is the link: http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?cat=2,42194,73350&p=70253

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  6. Jamie Ray Post author

    I’ve bought some tools from Lee Valley! They are a great store (but I worry that they mail out too many catalogs). Those icers look like you could climb up Mt. Everest in them. Good luck with your laces too.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s