Ukrainian Lacing

Named by its Ukrainian inventor, this method has permanently-anchored loose ends plus a "captive" Starting Knot, which saves having to re-tie that first knot each time.

Diagram for 8 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.


1 Ends anchored separately at the bottom.

2 Ends tied together across the bottom-middle.

3 Ends tied together across the top-middle.


No loose ends

Fewer steps to tie

Top eyelets loose

+31% longer loops (approx.)


• Variation 1 and 2 both 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 an overhand 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.

• Because this lacing is tied at the 2nd-from-top eyelets, the shoe may feel a little loose at the top eyelets.

• 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. This looks a bit neater, plus it allows the shoes to be worn while un-tied, as there is no danger of the dangling ends trailing in the dirt or getting 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. At the 2nd-from-top eyelets, tighten down the captive Starting Knot. 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, take care to tighten down onto the 2nd-from-top eyelets, and leave a little slack on the loops that enter the top eyelets – these will be used when it comes time to un-tie the 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 = 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. 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.

Ukrainian Lacing Video

Shoelace Lengths for Ukrainian Lacing

Pairs of eyelets: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Length needed: 55 cm
22 inch
66 cm
26 inch
76 cm
30 inch
87 cm
34 inch
97 cm
38 inch
108 cm
42 inch
118 cm
47 inch
Lengths available: 24" 27" 27" 36" 36" 40" 45"

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

Shorter shoelaces needed than those for basic Criss Cross Lacing.

Longer loops if existing shoelaces are re-used (+31% on average).

More details.

Ukrainian Lacing Feedback

(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

If you'd like to send feedback about Ukrainian Lacing, please Contact Ian.

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