Ian's Secure Knot Technical Info.

This page contains some technical information on Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot, including its knotting origins, its advantages and its limitations.

Ian's Secure Knot 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? ("Double Slip Knot" doesn't sound very secure!) I have no egotistical desire for you to use that 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.

Read Ian's review of The Ashley Book of Knots, which lists various shoelace knots.

My Own Technical Observations

Comparison To Other Secure Shoelace Knots

While it's relatively easy to prove the topological 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 Standard 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
Looping the starting knot twice (Double Starting Knot) provides extra friction to stop the starting knot coming apart. This knot is commonly used by surgeons when tying sutures, as it makes it more difficult for the sides of a wound to come apart.

• 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 bow, making it better suited to shoelaces as it makes the bows less prone to coming loose from 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.

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
  • Rope ties on bathrobes
  • Drawstrings on bathers
  • Dress or hair ribbons
  • Plants tied to stakes
  • Lacing on corsets

Once you realise 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 Testimonials page to read some of the things that others have said about my Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot.

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