Journal Inquirer (USA) Interview

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Sep-2007: Broad interview covering the shoe lacing methods and shoelace knots as well as the inspiration and perspiration of getting them onto the website and into a book.

Interview Details

Interview Transcript

KARINE: What sparked your interest in shoelaces, and when did you first decide to take up the topic?

IAN: For most of my life, I was no more interested in shoelaces than anyone else. This all changed in 1982 when one of my shoelaces broke. As usual, the break occurred on the right end of the lace. This set me thinking about why this Was, and in the process of trying to make the knot symmetrical, I accidentally stumbled upon a much faster way of tying. Besides making a neat party trick, the resulting “Ian Knot” gave me a much greater interest in shoelaces.

KARINE: Was your Web site your foray into shoelace fashion? When did you start the site?

IAN: Once I realised that there was more to shoelaces than I first thought, I began to experiment. I soon settled on one or two functional lacing methods, though I could definitely see the possibility for decorative methods as well. Track forward to the year 2000, which is when I first added my “Ian Knot” to my existing hobby web site. Other knots followed, with Lacing methods first being added in 2003.

KARINE: How do you come up with your designs and knots? Sources of inspiration?

IAN: The shoelace site is a mixture of my own methods, those that I've found in my own research both in libraries and on the Internet, and those that have been sent in by other web site visitors. The shoelace knots that I've designed myself have usually come about by trying to create symmetrical versions of other existing knots. The shoe lacing methods that I've designed have often come about in response to a question from a web site visitor, such as: “How do you lace in a star pattern?”.

KARINE: Why do you feel others should know that there's more than one way to tie a shoelace?

IAN: You're right that most people really only need one method for tying a shoelace. My aim was more to document the many techniques that people have developed over the years. It's sort of a tribute to human ingenuity.

Also, having more than one method to choose from is great for those who have difficulty mastering any “regular” method, such as when people have either learning or physical difficulties. The “One Handed Knot” is one that most people won't learn, but that some people will find invaluable.

KARINE: Do you have a favorite way to lace up your shoes?

IAN: My favourite lacing method is Over Under Lacing. It's a good blend of Functionality (it's easy to tighten and loosen), Appearance (it looks a little bit interesting without being over the top) and Longevity (there are fewer contact points, so laces rub less and last longer).

KARINE: Can the lacing be applied to other items of clothing (i.e. lace-up dresses, etc.) or do you recommend keeping it to shoes?

IAN: Over Under Lacing is a good all-round method that I've seen used in many clothing applications. In fact, it's the recommended way of lacing corsets because it allows the sides to come completely together in the middle. I've even seen a crack in a decorative wooden bowl joined with Over Under Lacing!

KARINE: Do you find that people of all ages can master these techniques?

IAN: People of all ages should be able to master most of the lacing techniques on the web site. However, in my upcoming book, I deliberately included a couple of methods that are extremely difficult, giving the die-hards something to accomplish that less determined readers would never attempt.

KARINE: What made you decide to write a book on the topic?

IAN: I've always loved books, particularly for reference, because it's both relaxing and engaging to leaf through a book filled with interesting information. And when I searched for shoelace books, all I could find was kids books about how to tie one or two knots, certainly nothing about the many other things that you can do with shoelaces!

KARINE: How is the book different from the Web site?

IAN: The most obvious difference is the “interactive” front cover, which comes complete with several laces on which to enjoy experimenting.

The next most visible difference is that the book is far more fashionable. Each method is beautifully photographed on some of the latest shoes and sneakers.

Finally, the book contains quite a few new lacing methods that I haven't yet added to the web site, giving readers something extra over the web site visitors.

KARINE: How long did it take to write/put it together?

IAN: The book has taken about one year to put together, using information gathered over the past seven years of the web site, which in turn draws on my quarter century of shoelace research.

KARINE: What are some highlights of the book? What do you think readers can take away from the book?

IAN: The book is sufficiently comprehensive that it's literally filled with “little gems”. Each of these may only be small, but their significance could vary enormously from one person to the next. For some, it will be the answer to the life long problem of their shoelaces coming undone. For others, it will be one specific lacing method that helps with their particular sport. For others, it will be hints for teaching their kids to tie their laces for the first time. For yet others, it will be some real-world activities to stimulate their children's imaginations.

KARINE: Do you find shoelace tying has an international appeal? What kind of feedback, if any, have you received from US residents?

IAN: I've received feedback from people from all over the world, though the majority comes from USA. Some people have gone to enormous trouble to express their appreciation despite English not being their native language.

On a typical day I'll receive several e-mails, some with specific questions to which they couldn't find answers on the site, some with kind wishes in appreciation of solving a particular shoe lacing problem, some with contributions of shoe lacing photos, some with suggestions for changes or additions. Receiving and replying to these many e-mails is all part of the fun of being “Professor Shoelace”.

KARINE: When will the book be released?

IAN: The book is due for release on 25 October 2007.

KARINE: Is this your first book? Are there more to come?

IAN: This is my first book, though it's certainly on the cards that there will be more to come. I'd like to do a different, fun book for very young kids that shows them just the most important things about shoelaces.

KARINE: Has this hobby become a full-time job for you, or do you still work in IT?

IAN: This has certainly become a full-time job at the moment, at least while I can afford to live off my savings and the tiny income from the web site!

Published Article

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This page last updated: 26-Jun-2020. Copyright © 2020 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

Website created by Ian Fieggen (aka. “Professor Shoelace”), inventor of the Ian Knot.

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