Ian's Secure Knot Technical Info

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Also known as the “Double Slip Knot”, this is a secure shoelace knot with a simple, symmetrical method of tying. Cross two loops and pass them both through the “hole” in the middle. This is a shoelace knot that won't come undone on its own!

Technical Description

Creating Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot

Following the success of my Ian Knot, I decided to see if I could also improve on the various known methods of tying a secure knot, with the emphasis on making it symmetrical. I examined several knots, all of which shared the concept of looping around twice to give them additional security. My Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot was the end result.

What It Turned Out To Be

Years later I found out that my new knot was not new and that I had simply re-invented an existing knot, which appears elsewhere under two different names:

  • “Double Slip Knot” (#1219) in “The Ashley Book of Knots” by Clifford Ashley;
  • “Seaman's Shoelace Knot” (or “Seemännische Schuhbandschleife”), which appears in the German book “Knoten, Spleißen, Takeln” by Erich Sondheim.

I'm humble enough to admit that I wasn't the first to invent this knot. Perhaps I was simply the first to give it a meaningful name? Let's face it, “Double Slip Knot” doesn't sound very secure! I have no egotistical desire for you to use my preferred name for any reason other than that it better describes the knot's true purpose – and is easy to remember.

For me, this knot will always be an “Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot” to remind me of how I (re)-invented it on my own.

My Own Technical Observations

Comparison To Other Secure Shoelace Knots

While it's relatively easy to prove the structural similarities between Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot and its near cousins, the Surgeon's Shoelace Knot or the Turquoise Turtle Shoelace Knot, it's another matter to prove that they are equally secure.

From my own testing, in the years of using both Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot and the Surgeon's Shoelace Knot I have NEVER had either of them come undone! Even when I've accidentally stepped on a lace or snagged a loop, I've noticed it pulling before the knot has had a chance to come untied.

Comparison To Other Regular Shoelace Knots

It was much easier to prove that Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot is more secure than any of the regular shoelace knots. Using a pair of shoes with round, slippery laces, I tied one with my Ian Knot and the other with my Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot. Despite tying both to approximately the same average tightness, the Ian Knot came untied two or three times a week whereas the Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot never came untied.

How Much More Secure Is It?

Even without any scientific testing, it was obvious that the Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot held much more firmly, as it felt like I had to pull more than twice as hard to undo this knot than other regular knots. In order to quantify this more exactly, I performed some at-home science.

I improvised a crude device for measuring tension as follows: I cut a thick elastic band so that it ended up as a long elastic strip and tied this to one end of a shoelace. Using a pen, I drew two lines on the elastic 50mm apart. Armed with a ruler, I was now ready for some basic comparative testing.

I alternated between tying an Ian Knot (which is identical to a Standard Shoelace Knot), and an Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot on the same section of lace and tied to the same tension. Each time, I pulled on the elastic and measured the distance between the two pen marks until the point when the lace began to slip freely. I then subtracted 50mm from each reading to adjust for the 50mm distance at zero tension. The results were extremely convincing!

  • The Ian Knot usually came undone between about 50mm and 110mm, with an average of 83mm.
  • The Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot came undone between about 200mm and 250mm, with an average of 232mm.

Interestingly, many of the latter readings were 300mm, at which point the elastic was stretched to it's maximum. I suspect that my readings could have been higher had the elastic been able to stretch any further.

In any case, this test showed that the Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot needed almost three times the tension to pull it undone than the Ian Knot or any regular shoelace knot.

Secure Knot Variations

The concept of looping through more than once in order to make a knot secure can be done in several different ways:

• Starting Knot Looped Twice
This is the core method employed by the Double Starting Knot. It provides extra friction on the starting knot, which helps keep things tight while the finishing knot is tied.

• Finishing Knot Looped Twice
This is the core method employed by the Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot, the Surgeon's Shoelace Knot, the Turquoise Turtle Shoelace Knot, the Better Bow Shoelace Knot and the FreedomKnot™. It provides more friction on the finishing knot, which helps protect the whole knot from coming loose due to typical daily exertions.

• Starting Knot plus Finishing Knot BOTH Looped Twice
It would seem logical that this third variation would enjoy the benefits of both of the other two. However, the sides of the knot end up further apart, making for a looser, less secure knot overall. Try it and see for yourself.

Tying Neatly

Photo 1

Several of my website's visitors have commented that my technique doesn't result in a neat finished knot. Some have even ended up with the loose ends sticking out the front and back of the knot instead of out the sides!

When I tie this knot, it usually comes out neat and even – but not always! Very occasionally my knot pulls together badly and comes out wonky. This is despite my decades of experience. I can therefore understand that anyone tying this knot for the first time would have even greater difficulty achieving a neat result.

Why this happens

During final tightening, the shoelaces need to do a bit of “rearranging” to get themselves into the most natural finished position. How easily that “rearranging” occurs depends on a whole bunch of factors, including:

  • Whether the shoelaces are flat or round, thick or thin, rough or smooth, stiff or flexible;
  • How the loops are formed, held, pushed, pulled, twisted;
  • The size of the gap through which the loops are passed;
  • How tightly or loosely the knot is being tied.

Simple solution

If this knot has finished badly, my preferred solution is to do a “second run” of tightening as follows:

  • Firstly, pull on the loose ends slightly as though untying the laces. This will bring the outer wraps of the knot together in the middle.
  • Then, pull on the loops once again to re-tighten the knot. This will neaten up the inner parts and re-position the loose ends.

Optimizing the tying

Rather than fiddling around at the end of the process, it's possible to instead fiddle around near the start of the process.

Twist both loops anti-clockwise (as per my “Ian Knot”)

As suggested by visitor Jens A., after initially forming the loops, twist them anti-clockwise so that the left (yellow) loose end is at the front and the right (blue) loose end is at the back. In fact, this is identical to Step 3 of my Ian Knot.

These twists orient the loops and loose ends in such a way that less “rearranging” is needed during tightening. It almost always results in a neat finished knot.

Although I could have added this to the main instructions, it's one more step to learn and it makes the knot more fiddly to tie. Leaving out this extra step also made all of the diagrams easier for me to draw and for visitors to understand.

Avoiding wrong twists

Interestingly, one visitor's technique involved holding the loose ends in place with their thumbs. This meant that both loose ends were being twisted towards the front. Although the left loose end was in the correct position, the right loose end was in a worse position requiring more “rearranging”. The result was a lopsided finished knot.

Neatness versus security

Finally, just because the finished knot isn't neat doesn't mean that it isn't secure. Unless the aesthetics are important to you (as they are to me!), you can accept a less neat result and remain confident that the knot will still perform its job of keeping your shoes securely tied.

Other Uses for Ian's Secure Knot

Besides shoelaces, there's plenty of other knotting tasks that can benefit from the extra holding power and the neat double wrap of Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot:

  • Firmly wrapped parcels
  • Waist cords on bathrobes
  • Drawstrings on bathers
  • Dress or hair ribbons
  • Plants tied to stakes
  • Lacing on corsets

I've even had one visitor tell me that they used it to attach a flag to the flagpole at their work, which has since held up to serious wind gusts of 80km/hr!

Once you realize that it has all the security of a good, strong knot with the convenience of drawstrings for easy untying, you'll be using Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot in all sorts of places.

Please see my Feedback page to read some of the things that others have said about my Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot.

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This page last updated: 09-Jun-2024. Copyright © 2004-2024 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

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

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