One Handed Shoelace Knot
Here's a simple knot for tying shoes with one hand. Lace the shoe with the bottom end permanently tied off, then secure the top end with a simple loop knot.
NOTE: The following lacing diagrams are upside-down compared to the other Lacing Methods on this website, as they are drawn from the perspective of tying the shoe.
Start by tying the shoelace onto one of the eyelets nearest the toe (seen here at top-left). Lace straight across and up the shoe (like Straight Easy Lacing) until the shoelace is fed into the last eyelet (seen here at bottom-left).
The loose end (yellow) is now fed straight across and back out through the opposite eyelet (seen here at bottom-right). This second pass of shoelace through the eyelet keeps this knot nice and tight.
TIP: When loosening the lacing to remove the shoe, don't pull this lace all the way out, as it's difficult to feed through each time.
Create a loop with the loose end (yellow) sitting across the final straight section of shoelace (blue). This is easy to do by holding the loose end between the right thumb and forefinger, then forming the loop around the right thumb.
Feed a new loop of shoelace underneath the straight section (blue) and out through the previous loop. The lace is fed underneath with the right forefinger, meeting up with the thumb – which should still be inside the previously formed loop.
Grab the emerging loop and pull downwards and to the right. Take care not to pull the loose end all the way out!
Continue pulling the loop until it sits snug and close to the eyelet.
The finished One Handed Shoelace Knot should be tightly bunched against the eyelet, which will then stay quite secure (unlike many other one-handed shoelace knots).
Even / Odd Number of Eyelet Pairs
For shoes with an even number of eyelet pairs (such as the four pairs in the above diagrams), the knot that anchors the start of the lacing should be diagonally opposite the finishing knot.
For shoes with an odd number of eyelet pairs (such as the five pairs in the photo at right), the anchoring knot should be on the same side as the finishing knot.
• The instructions on this page favor the right hand because the knot ends up on the right side. For left-hand use, simply reverse the instructions (mirror image) to end up with the knot on the left side.
• The recommended way to anchor the start of the lacing is to feed the shoelace through the eyelet and then tie the lace back onto itself. In other words, knot the shoelace onto the eyelet (as shown in the above photo).
• Alternatively, the start of the lacing can be anchored more invisibly (though less comfortably) by feeding the shoelace in through the eyelet and either tying off with a simple stopper knot or using Lace Anchors.
• While the recommended lacing method is Straight Easy Lacing, other lacing methods can be used instead, particularly Shoe Shop Lacing. The reversed One Handed Lacing can also be used, with the otherwise loose end passed all the way back up the shoe to emerge from the last eyelet.
Two Handed Uses
The One Handed Shoelace Knot isn't just for those who literally have “one hand”. It is equally useful for those who have two hands, one of which is limited either temporarily or permanently (eg. through injury), or one of which cannot reach the knot being tied. For example, tying a wrist brace onto one arm using the other hand.
Not a Party Trick
This knot is mainly for the benefit of people with limited capacity, either temporary or permanent, who are unable to use both hands to tie their shoes. It's not intended as a clever one-handed “party trick” for able-bodied people! As anyone who tries it will soon discover, it's still a fairly tricky knot to tie – though hopefully easier than some of the other one-handed shoelace knots that I've seen.
NOTE: If you do choose to give this knot a rating (below), please consider how it rates as a serious one-handed shoelace knot, not how it rates as a “party trick”.
Too long a story, I'll just say I stepped off the safety mats at an ice rink, and when I tried to catch my fall, I had a zig-zag in my wrist. EMT's, Emergency Room visit, X-rays, a great surgeon, and then several weeks of one-handed non-dominant life. I very quickly realized I needed a way to tie my shoes with that remaining hand. Ta-DAHH!!!
Your One-handed knot page is great!! Got me thru those 8 weeks of healing wonderfully, and then again 2 years later when I had to have another operation for 'adjustments.'
– Chuk G., NC, USA, May-2020
My 12 year old son has mild cerebral palsy on his left side and has never been able to tie his own shoes, since the motor skills in his left hand are poor. It's very frustrating for him, because he competes well in sports and in the classroom (fits in very well with his peers) by using just his right hand/arm, but was always embarrassed when a shoelace came undone and he had to ask for help.
We tried "quick-tie" pull gizmos that fitted to the eyelets, and velcro, etc. but I could still see that he felt really bad at not being able to perform this task that many five-year-olds can master.
When I came home last night with your one-handed-knot directions, we immediately relaced our shoes (mine as well, so I could learn the method too!) and went to work.
Fifteen minutes later he had learned the method and was ecstatically tying and untying his shoes for his mom and me. Now all we need to do is go out and find MUCH shorter laces!
Thanks so much for making one kid happy!
– JPW, USA, Feb-2007
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