Ian Fieggen (aka 'Professor Shoelace') Ian's Shoelace Site Ian's Shoelace Knot
Ian's Shoelace Site - Bringing you the fun, fashion & science of shoelaces
History of the Ian Knot

Here's a run-down of the various things I've done with the Ian Knot since inventing it over 28 years ago, culminating in the web site you see today.

Ian Fieggen, 1982 June 1982: The birth of the Ian Knot

One morning, after breaking yet another shoelace, I noticed that it always seemed to be the right end of my lace that broke. Because the regular method of tying shoelaces is not symmetrical, I figured that the end that experiences the most movement simply wears out more quickly.

When I examined the knot and found that it could be made symmetrical, I discovered quite by accident that the resultant technique was also much faster, as a lot of time was saved by working with both hands simultaneously.

Having mastered the new technique myself, I then set about teaching anyone else who was interested. I guess I'm one of the few people who can claim to have taught their parents to tie their shoelaces! Mostly, it was shown to friends and relatives and the occasional shoe-shop assistant.

Ian Fieggen, 1992 1992: Created an instruction sheet

I drew illustrations of the six steps required and desktop-published a sheet of instructions. At last I was able to give people something they could take home and study at leisure. I printed 1000 copies; this turned out to be more than I would hand out in a lifetime!

Ian Fieggen, 1993 1993: Created a computer animation

This was still in the days before most people had software like "Windows" on their computers, making it difficult for them to handle a simple AVI or MPG movie. I therefore captured 32 frames from a video of my Ian Knot, then wrote a tiny yet powerful program to display the resultant "movie", complete with nine speed settings plus controls to step backwards or forwards one frame at a time. In fact, it turned out to be quite a good way to demonstrate the Ian Knot. This was uploaded to various computer bulletin boards around the world, as we did in those days before the Internet made such things easy.

Ian Fieggen, 1994 1994: Optimised the Ian Knot animation

In order to make it smaller and more attractive to download, I compressed the video data by creating a static background image of the underlying shoe, then painstakingly erasing the backgound data from each frame of the animation, leaving only the fingers, laces and shadows. The resultant file was over 40% smaller, quite an achievement.

Ian Fieggen, 2000 2000: Created a web page and video

I took my original drawings from 1992, coloured them in for a fresher look, and created my first Ian Knot web page. I also added a decent MPG movie complete with sound track and subtitles. This one minute long movie showed the Ian Knot at normal speed and in detail as well as the two other most common shoelace knots for comparison. The resultant page was uploaded to my personal web site and thus made available to the world for the first time.

Ian Fieggen, 2001 2001: Enhanced web page and videos

With modems still the predominant mode of connecting to the Internet, I reduced the size of my Ian Knot movie by removing the two other common shoelace techniques. I also re-drew the original drawings to have the shoes viewed from the same overhead perspective as the movies.

Ian Fieggen, 2003 2003: Created separate Shoelace Site

The 20th anniversary of the Ian Knot in 2002, plus an article about shoelaces in "Nature" magazine, provided the impetus to expand my single "Ian Knot" page into a multi-paged "Ian's Shoelace Site". This allowed me to add more comprehensive instructions on all known shoelace knots, thus making it the definitive reference. The site that you see here has grown substantially and continues to expand today.

Ian Fieggen, 2010 2011: Added new Ian Knot video

My original Ian Knot video was created back in 2000, five years before YouTube even existed! In those days, most people's Internet access was slow and expensive, so the video was kept very compact. By 2011, most Internet users were quite comfortable watching video content on YouTube. The new video has higher resolution and runs longer to show off the knot's advantages.

Ian Fieggen, 2012 2012: Ian Knot 30th anniversary

It's hard to believe that 30 years have passed since I invented the Ian Knot back in 1982! To commemorate the anniversary, I created a new video that recalled how the knot came about after deconstructing a regular shoelace knot.

Since then, I've added three more Ian Knot videos:

1. How to tie an Ian Knot one-handed;

2. Super-fast tying of ten pairs of shoes in quick succession;

3. Ian Knot detailed tutorial (slower, in-depth).

Related Links
Standard Knot Standard Knot

Identical knot using a different technique (much slower).

Mega Ian Knot Mega Ian Knot

Enhanced, more secure variation of this knot (much trickier).

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