Ukrainian Lacing

Lacing (pic)

Permanently-anchored loose ends plus a “captive” starting knot, which saves having to re-tie that first knot each time. (From: Vitaliy Gnatenko)

Eight pairs of eyelets, variation 1

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Lacing Technique – Variation 1 – Ends anchored separately at bottom

• Begin straight across on the inside (grey section) and out through the top eyelets.

• Leave a long loop of slack shoelace at each side. These loops will be used to pull the lacing tight and tie the knot, so leave about 100mm (4").

• Tie a left-over-right Starting Knot, then feed the ends in through the next lower eyelets (2nd-from-top).

• Cross the ends and feed in through the next lower eyelets. Repeat until you reach the bottom eyelets.

• At the bottom, tie a stopper knot or use “Lace Anchors” at each side, locking the ends and stopping them from pulling out of the bottom eyelets.


• Variation 1 has the ends anchored separately at the bottom.

• Variation 2 has the ends tied together across the bottom.

• Variation 3 has the ends tied together across the top.

• Variation 4 has the starting horizontal tucked under the first crossover instead of running through the top eyelets. Alternatively, if there is a tongue centering loop at the very top of the shoe, the starting horizontal can instead run through that centering loop.


No loose ends

Fewer steps to tie

Top eyelets loose (except Variation 4)

“Lengthens” ends


• Variations 1, 2 and 3 may feel a little loose at the top because the knot is tied across the 2nd-from-top eyelets.

• Variation 4 is tied across the top eyelets and will therefore have regular tightness.

• Variations 1, 2 and 4 each require the shoe to be completely un-laced and then re-laced from top to bottom.

• Variation 3 provides the smoothest transition from a shoe that was previously laced with Criss Cross Lacing. Simply remove the lacing from the top eyelets, tie a Starting Knot across the 2nd-from-top eyelets, feed the ends loosely into the top eyelets, then tie the ends together at the top-middle with a permanent Reef Knot.

• This lacing is not a traditional Ukrainian technique, rather, it is a recent development, patriotically named by its Ukrainian inventor, Vitaliy Gnatenko.

Ukrainian Lacing Theory

The main concept of Ukrainian Lacing is to have a “captive” starting knot, which saves the few steps of tying a fresh starting knot each time.

In addition, the loose ends are replaced with a similarly “captive” pass through the top eyelets (or under the first crossover). This looks a bit neater, plus it allows the shoes to be worn as slip-ons with the laces un-tied, as there are no dangling ends that can trail in the dirt or get stepped on, causing a trip.

Tying The Knot

The pre-formed loops / starting knot require a slightly different tying technique:

1. Tighten the lacing as usual from the bottom to top;

2. Tighten down the captive Starting Knot. For Variations 1, 2 and 3, take care to tighten down onto the 2nd-from-top eyelets, not onto the top eyelets;

3. Using the two shoelace segments coming out of the knot, tie your preferred Finishing Knot. Again, for Variations 1, 2 and 3, take care to tighten down onto the 2nd-from-top eyelets. Also, leave a little slack where the laces meet the starting horizontal segment because it is those slack bits that are pulled to untie the knot.

Which Shoelace Knot?

You can use just about any shoelace knot technique that you prefer. In fact, the pre-formed loops are ideal for tying my Ian Knot, the world's fastest shoelace knot. Ukrainian Lacing + Ian Knot forms an efficient duo.

If, however, you use the pre-formed loops to tie either a Two Loop Shoelace Knot or my Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot, you'll find that the captive ends are not free to “unwrap” themselves from around the knot as they do normally. This will require a separate step to manually un-wrap those loops before the final tightening. See the tip from Thad R. in the feedback section below and the link to his YouTube video.

Shoe lacing photo

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Ukrainian Lacing Video

Shoelace Lengths for Ukrainian Lacing

Variations 1, 2, 3 – Horizontal
running through top eyelets
Pairs of
length needed
ends by
8 pairs133 cm52 in+0.2 cm+0.1 in
7 pairs122 cm48 in+0.2 cm+0.1 in
6 pairs112 cm44 in+0.2 cm+0.1 in
5 pairs101 cm40 in+0.2 cm+0.1 in
4 pairs91 cm36 in+0.2 cm+0.1 in
3 pairs80 cm32 in+0.2 cm+0.1 in
2 pairs70 cm28 in+0.2 cm+0.1 in
Variation 4 – Horizontal
tucked under 1st crossover
Pairs of
length needed
ends by
8 pairs143 cm57 in–5.0 cm–2.0 in
7 pairs133 cm52 in–5.0 cm–2.0 in
6 pairs122 cm48 in–5.0 cm–2.0 in
5 pairs112 cm44 in–5.0 cm–2.0 in
4 pairs101 cm40 in–5.0 cm–2.0 in
3 pairs91 cm36 in–5.0 cm–2.0 in
2 pairs80 cm32 in–5.0 cm–2.0 in

NOTE: These are approximate shoelace lengths for using this lacing on an average sized sneaker. For more accurate lengths, use the Shoelace Length Calculator.

Comparative Length

• Variations 1, 2 or 3 need shorter shoelaces than those for basic Criss Cross Lacing, whereas Variation 4 needs longer shoelaces.

• If the original shoelaces are re-used, Variations 1, 2 or 3 effectively lengthen the ends, whereas Variation 4 effectively shortens the ends.

More details about length comparisons.

Visitor Feedback

I've tried the commando and Ukrainian lacing methods, but those made tying the shoe cumbersome.

– Adrian D., Romania, Apr-2022

I recently got a new pair of shoes and decided to try some of the lacing methods, I ended up using a modified Ukranian method version 4. The ends could be fastened using any method someone prefers but with thin shoes having the ends on the inside was too uncomfortable for me. I looped the return loop through the tongue retainer (not sure of its correct name) instead of underneath the other laces and thought you may find it interesting. I don't think it's enough of a modification to make a version 5 of the Ukranian method but that's for you to decide!

– Brad T., Oct-2020

(re: Variation 4)

This one works great with my Doc 8 hole short boots. It's easy to loosen and I don't have to re thread the top holes.

– Glenn B., Sep-2020

I have typically used variation 2 from your website on my boots. After I get done with all of my double secure knots, I find that the top of the lace tends to be twisted slightly with tension on it. I've tried on several occasions to build some counter-twist into the pre-formed loop, and this helps a little if I guess correctly. (After all, we don't have a formula for that yet!) I can get close to ending up with no twist tension if my intuition is right. The nice thing about variations 1 and 4 is that they don't seem to suffer as much from that, from my experience, because they do not have a pre-formed loop.

– Rick S., Michigan, USA, Jun-2020

I was really bothered by the fact that Ukrainian lacing makes you essentially sacrifice two eyelets, and I noticed there's a trivial solution: instead of looping the non-tensioned part of the lace through two eyelets, just loop it around the lacing further down.

Because there is no tension on the part of the loop that goes around the lower lacing, that lower lacing (which is under tension) is completely undisturbed.

I'm using this more economical variation of Ukrainian lacing now with great success; I have the benefits of Ukrainian lacing, while at the same time being able to use every single one of my eyelets for tensioned lace.

(This technique has been added as Variation 4.)

– Eelis, The Netherlands, May-2020

(In response to the feedback above from Eelis about a new variation...)

Wow, this idea is really great and improves the original solution a lot! These “spare eyelets” have itched me as well, till now :-)

– Vitaliy Gnatenko, inventor of “Ukrainian Lacing”, May-2020

(When using Variation 3, with the joining Reef Knot at the top of the shoe...)

Easy to untied by pulling Reef Knot.

– Maciej D., Poland, Apr-2019

For the past year or so I have been captivated by Ukrainian Lacing. In my humble opinion this ought to be the default lacing for shoes all over the world. As for the knot I wanted something very secure and I naturally chose the Ian Secure Shoelace Knot. However, I did have to make a slight change to the way it is normally tied to make it work with Ukrainian Lacing since the tails aren't free to rotate. You have to “unwind” each side of the loop through the first and second eyelets as the final step. I have never seen a reference to using the Secure Knot with Ukrainian Lacing and therefore I decided to make a video of how to do it on YouTube.

Ukrainian Lacing and the Ian Secure Knot on YouTube

– Thad R., Alabama, USA, Jan-2018

Loose ends can fray, drag through dirt or mud or puddles, get crushed or caught or scraped or pulled out by pranksters, or make a tangle by sliding out through the knot or by falling through the bow. I like the captive ends even more than the speed.

– David, IL, USA, Dec-2017

I have been working as a Firefighter/Paramedic for 8 years now, and I have always used tactical boots with zippers on the sides, and never had much issue or need to deviate from standard lacing.

I tried a few different methods, which helped some, but still left me tying and untying both the starting knot and the finishing knot (which is no easy feat in a dark room in the middle of the night), and then I found it, the “Ukrainian method” and immediately my problem was solved! With a few modifications, it has become absolutely perfect for my needs (not to mention it looks 1000% better than the ugly zippers). I have the aglet's both tied in separate overhand knots inside the eyelets of the top of the boot. The next loop down I have the Ukrainian captive starting knot (which makes ALL the difference for the rapid donning.) Going downward I have an “Over Under lacing pattern” which aids significantly in the rapid tightening and loosening, (The X marks the spot to pull!). And then if all those aren't amazing enough, then comes the “Ian Knot”, which is the cherry on top, the icing on the cake, and the grand finale all rolled into one amazing lightning fast move! Now all my needs (more like strong wants) are met. I no longer worry about the laces coming out of the eyes or dragging on the ground when loose. I no longer worry about quickly tightening. I no longer worry about rapid tying or untying. All of it is solved.

– David D., Michigan, USA, Sep-2017

I found it amazing how well the Ukrainian lacing works with the 60" Kiwi lace. I really like that lacing for this boot! Sometimes in the winter, I may just slip them on to run to the mailbox, and this Ukrainian lacing makes it so that I don't even have to tie the knots if I'm feeling lazy. What a great idea!

– Rick S., Michigan, USA, Jul-2017

I have always been a conventional criss-cross lacer and standard knotter, but tomorrow I will be Double Helix – Ukrainian (combination) laced with an Ian Knot, or Secure Ian Knot for certain farm jobs.

This should:

- Make tightening and tying quicker and easier.

- Prevent my laces dragging on the ground if I leave them undone for a while.

- Prevent laces coming undone either because I've done a granny or because sheep's feet, sticks etc. catch in my laces (I'm a narrow-footed farmer who doesn't like elastic-sided boots).

– Tim J., Western Vic, Australia, May-2017

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This page last updated: 09-Apr-2024. Copyright © 2016-2024 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

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