#720 The final seconds of untangling a really big knot

undo that knotI don’t know how to tie my shoes.

I know, I know, it’s terrible, it’s embarrassing, but I seriously can’t tie my shoes the way most people do. I just — my fingers don’t slide the right way. When I try the loop-around-and-pull-through move I end up with a limp and loose version of the finished product. As a result, I’m stuck with The Bunny-Ears Method also known as The Double Loop or Grandma Knot. Yes, I make a loop with my right hand, a loop with my left, and then I tie them together. It’s a tiny bit slower, but that’s not the worst of it.

The worst of it is that it often results in massive, tightly wound knots that take forever to untie.

The Bunny Ears MethodAs a result, I try to avoid tying my shoes altogether. Instead, I spend one or two minutes wedging and banging my foot into them each time I leave the house. Although this technique results in completely squashing the back of my shoe, I find it preferable than sorting out the grandaddy knot waiting for me down there.

But sometimes there is no choice.

See at some point my scraggly knot will lay lazily on the side of my shoe staring up at me with its sad, dusty face. And I can only smile wearily, shake my head, and sit down on the step, and get ready to slog away in the five-minute heavyweight title card of Me Vs The Knot.

order a pizza insteadI’m not going to lie: I often lose this battle, choosing instead to throw on a pair of sandals or stay home and order pizza. But there are also days where I come out on top. There are days where I stick my fingernail in there as hard as I can and pick and pick and pick until the lace finally starts to give. And then I start pulling it this way and that way until I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, the moment of truth, the dream becoming a reality.

Those final few seconds of untangling a really big knot happen in a hazy slow-motion. A twisted lace becomes loose, and then another, and then there is some frantic untying as it all comes undone.

Yes, whether it’s headphone wires, Nintendo controllers, phone cables, or skipping rope, it sure feels great during the last few seconds of untangling that tightly tied mess.


37_knotPhotos from: here, here, and here

Illustration from: here

38 thoughts on “#720 The final seconds of untangling a really big knot

  1. I taught my baby sister the bunny ears last week!

    I love that loose-strand feeling when your fingers work through at the end and it all just falls apart. I feel so accomplished and ever so manly.

  2. This is SUPER awesome. While I’m not quite as bad as “Bunny Ears Neil”, my laces don’t seem to stay knotted with just a simple tie. Normally this wouldn’t be such a big problem, but as a runner.. well, let’s just say that the road to madness is paved with constantly untied shoes.

    So, this leads to me attempting the oft-used “double knot” which, when done quickly, usually turns into the lesser known “big ol’ knot”. I usually make my fingers raw trying to undo my shoes at the end of each run. Its not pretty.

    But getting them untied? Awesome!

  3. I had the string for my gym pants tied in a knot pretty bad once. I couldn’t go to the bathroom until I got the knot out. It was pretty funny.

  4. This is even more exciting when it is a thin gold chain on an old necklace you decide to wear last minute that is one tightly coiled ball of gold… getting that out is supremely AWESOME

    1. oh GOD, jewellry is the worst. My gf had two three chain necklaces completely knotted once, with allsorts of other assorted emblems and bits and bobs attached to them [skull, bird, heart etc]. It was the mother of all knots. It took her over an hour to get it to one stage and me another forty minutes to finish it off.

      I don’t think I’ve ever been happier.

  5. SUCH a great one. I love that feeling. It usually comes to me after I’ve been wrangling with an unruly chain on a necklace and it’s SO great to know I’ve finally untangled it.

  6. up until I was 20, I didn’t even know there was another way to tie shoes. Bunny ears all the way!

  7. Untangling the jewellery knot is so awesome. I have a bad habit of tossing necklaces into a pocket of my gym bag and then forgetting about them. By the time I go to wear it again, it’s a big tangled mess. The moment when I realize I’ve got it just about makes my day. Very awesome!

  8. Untangling is awesome … But untangling a “grandma knot” shouldn’t be that difficult. I’ve done it my whole life too (never learned the other method), to untangle it you just pull one of the loose ends and voilĂ , the whole thing comes apart :)

  9. Hey Neil,

    I loved this one. We all know those last glorious seconds when you know you’ve defeated the knot.

    When I was a kid, I had a pair of shoes and both eventually developed hopeless knots, but I just slipped them on and off and eventually the trailing laces disintegrated to a length that no longer tripped me.

  10. I recently bought a pair of Vans prison issue sneakers. They come with Velcro! While it may not be as awesome as the feeling you get from untangling a really big knot, it is very practical.

  11. I prefer to dodge this situation (proud owner of a Wii, a wireless mouse and keyboard, and magical feet that can slip into pre-tied sneakers), but I’ll admit the ending of knot-untying is always epic.

  12. Christmas light knots are unconquerable and leave me in tears. Has anyone experience this mythical ultimate supremo moment of awesome?

  13. I’m with ya.For too long those arrogant loop-swoop-pull types have lorded it over us simple folk. I say no longer! In the new world order, everyone will tie the granny knot!

  14. OMG!!! I thought I was the only person who tied my laces like that.. thanks for letting me see there are others. (I have to use a biro to undo those knots)

  15. You just described my process of putting on my shoes. In fact, I like when my shoes already have the back all messed up cuz I then dont have to make an effort to put them on. I just use them as slippers =D

  16. For my close friend that can only use one arm, we got her the springy laces that you don’t need to tie. To tighten you just pull them for a sec and they’ll bounce to holding your shoe on.

    Now I must confess, I don’t know how to bunny ear tie I’m guessing it’s not the bunny running around the tree and hopping into it’s hole. Dang it!

  17. I love untangling massive knots—the feeling of success over an inanimate object. Last summer, I taught my roommate Megan to knit as she taught me to crochet. Anytime she runs into a giant knot in her yarn, she just automatically throws the yarn-mess at me (with a big smile on my face) and says, “Have at it.”

  18. I know this is an old post, but I have to comment!! I didn’t know there was anyone else like me. I go bunny ears all the way. After you learn to tie your shoes, why learn a different method when this one works just fine?

  19. i just tie them once with a double bunny ears knot then for the rest of my shoes life its just shoving the foot straight in, no way am i tieing that up multiple times. (still i have a pear of lace up winter boots i cant do this with and those things are hell!)

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