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.
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
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Super-fast tying of ten pairs of shoes in quick succession;
Ian Knot detailed tutorial (slower, in-depth).