2GB Radio (Australia) Interview
Mar-2008: As part of a series on “Ordinary people with extraordinary jobs”, this on-air interview asked the burning question: Why would anyone create a website and book about shoelaces?
- Interviewed for: 2GB Radio, the premier news and talk radio station in Sydney, Australia.
- Interviewed by: Chris Smith
- Interviewed via: Telephone
- Interviewed / broadcast on: 28-Mar-2008
CHRIS: Okay, we're gonna tie up a few loose ends today.
Sorry. It's the final day of our look at ordinary people with extraordinary jobs and so far we've spoken to the Sydney Harbourmaster, a professional doggie dancer, a prawn peeler and a worm farmer. Don't say we don't give you the front-line issues on this program!
But my next guest is rather amazing. His name is Ian Fieggen and he likes – shoelaces. In fact, he likes shoelaces so much – he's made a career out of finding different ways to tie them. This is no joke. It's not April 1.
Ian's on the line. G'day!
IAN: G'day, Chris, thanks for having me on the program.
CHRIS: How you doing? Yeah – good to have you here. Um– I've heard of shoe– fetishes but a shoe– lace fetish?
IAN: I– wouldn't call it a “fetish” so much as– my mission in life to– educate people in different ways of tying their shoelaces.
IAN: Well, there's– you'd be surprised how many remarkable different ways you can actually do it, not just for fashion and for the appearance sake but– actually functional methods. There's people such as one-handed people– that like the “One Handed Lacing”. There's lacings specifically for cyclists, there's lacing for– you know – for bushwalkers and so forth. All sorts of different lacing for different applications.
CHRIS: Hang on, hang on – how many ways are there to tie your shoes?
IAN: Well, if you want to do it strictly mathematically you could work out that there's approximately two trillion ways of lacing the average shoe with six pairs of eyelets.
IAN: But– realistically, most of those are pretty jumbled, so– you know, you could cut it down to, say, fifty or a hundred different methods that...
CHRIS: Fifty or a hundred?
IAN: ...people actually use. Yeah.
CHRIS: Well– well just the most common methods. I– I know– oh, I don't know what– what you call them, but the most common method is– it– is on the outside of the shoe at the bottom two eyelets and then threads up underneath the next eyelet and then over the other– oh, well I don't know, but– what are the most common ways?
IAN: Well, that is probably the most common way.
IAN: Another common way is to actually do “Straight Lacing”, where the laces run straight across on the upper eye– across the top of the eyelet and underneath they run vertically.
CHRIS: Yeah. There are some sporting shoes that have– or maybe this pertains to walking– where they have the shoelace come out of the bottom of the top eyelet.
IAN: The– one of the reasons that people actually have the laces coming the other way round is– for example, shoe stores use this, they– they do it that way so that actually at the top of the shoe the laces disappear into the shoe and it looks neat. But functionally, there's no real reason to lace it the other way round.
CHRIS: I might try that, eh?
CHRIS: I– I hate to sound like your psychiatrist– but when did your mission in life, your love of shoelace tying first occur?
IAN: Probably back in 1982, when I first invented a faster way of tying. I invented what I now call the “Ian Knot”, but back then it was simply– an experiment in trying to get a symmetrical way of tying a knot. And in the process of doing so I found a way that was actually much faster. So, since then– I mean, it was a neat party trick for many years until the Internet came along and I put it on the website. And...
CHRIS: Everyone could tell the joke.
CHRIS: And everyone had it.
IAN: Exactly. Suddenly– I was getting e-mails from people all over the world telling me– you know, this is fantastic and making suggestions about what else I could do and asking questions. And naïvely I thought that if I answered the questions on the website it would– actually reduce the amount of traffic but it's done the opposite, it's made the website– you know, bigger and people just keep– referring to it as the– sort of– number one reference on shoelaces.
CHRIS: This is great, and you've even got your own knot, “Ian Knot”. Now, listen– I– I've got a couple of favourite pairs of shoes. So– so often, because I'm tying the shoelaces the same way, they tend to fray at the same spot, so they tend to break at the same spot. How do I– avoid that?
IAN: Do you mean– just at that– where you're actually tying the laces?
CHRIS: No, where– where one part of the lace goes through the most pressured eyelet, you know what I mean?
CHRIS: Where it's wrapped around the tightest.
IAN: Oh, yeah.
CHRIS: So therefore it breaks easily.
IAN: Yeah, I guess the best way it to– use stronger shoelaces, really.
CHRIS: (laughs) Hah, right! Nothing scientific in that!
IAN: You could– presumably– pull your laces out periodically and re-lace them into a different manner, but– you know, be a lot of work and you'd probably wear them out more in the process of doing so.
CHRIS: It'd be rather sacrilegious to have a– “Velcro” kind of shoe for you, wouldn't it?
IAN: I don't have any Velcro myself, but– I can understand the reason behind Velcro. People like the idea that it's a bit simpler. For kids it's fantastic when you– you know, you want to delay the– having to teach them how to tie their shoelaces, but ultimately they all need to learn at some stage and it's probably one of those developmental milestones that all kids should go through.
CHRIS: O–only this week, mate, I bought a new pair of boots– black pair of boots– for work and they've got a zip on the side of them, I'm sorry.
IAN: Mmmm? Well, you'd be surprised, there's actually– lace-in zippers for people that have laced boots, for example, and they want to turn it into a zippered boot, you can buy a zipper with little eyelets in the side that match up with your eyelets. You lace it in and from then on your boot becomes a zippered boot.
CHRIS: Quite amazing. You've written a book about this, right?
IAN: Yeah, I figured– there was– lot of people would like to have something like this on their shelves, so it's– the world's first, sort of comprehensive book about shoelaces.
CHRIS: Or the only book about shoelaces.
IAN: (chuckles) Well there's– up until now there've been a lot of kids books about shoelaces, you know– just– how to tie– you know– “Ben Bunny Ties His Shoelaces” and those sorts of things.
IAN: But– this one– you know– delves into all the– I've got fifty different ways of lacing, from– like I say– decorative and functional methods. There's seventeen different ways of tying shoelaces and other advice like how to calculate the length of shoelaces and...
CHRIS: You've got a website, haven't you, too?
IAN: (drowned out) ...aglets.
CHRIS: You've got a website?
IAN: Exactly, that's what started the whole thing. Website, you can go to it by going w w w dot shoelace knot dot com.
CHRIS: shoelace knot dot com. Singular.
CHRIS: That's amazing. Can you make a quid out of this?
IAN: Aahh– scarcely. It's– one of those– one of those things about being on a shoestring budget.
IAN: (laughs) That's me for sure. I mean...
IAN: ...I only make a tiny bit just to...
CHRIS: (laughs) Very good.
IAN: ...cover the costs and nothing much else.
CHRIS: I appreciate your time this afternoon. No doubt you'll be travelling the world to spread the news, will you?
IAN: I hope everyone learns something about shoelaces– either through the website or – who knows – word of mouth is a good thing too. You can spread the word too.
CHRIS: I will. Thank you, Ian!
IAN: You're welcome.
CHRIS: Much appreciated.