The Better Bow

David M. Delaney, May 2010

I have tied my shoelaces with this knot for at least 45 years.  If my shoelaces come untied by themselves once every two years, I feel I'm getting pretty sloppy in the tying. How often does your shoelace knot come untied by itself?

I got this knot from a book, but the only knot book I owned back then that I still own is The Art of Knotting and Splicing, 1947, by Cyrus Lawrence Day, and it's not in that book. Nor is it in any knot book I now own, including The Ashley Book of Knots, which is surprising. I remember that it was indeed called "the better bow" in the book I learned it from, but the name of that book is lost in the mists of my memory.  The knot is fairly well known, because it's present by the same name at  Ian Fieggen's excellent web site,  http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/betterbowknot.htm.  Ian's site does a good job of showing how the strings move when the better bow is being tied, but not how the fingers move (because he doesn't show any fingers.)  So I thought I'd show how I do it as fast as I do, which is fast, which is as it should be I guess, after 45 years of daily practice.  The eccentric lacing in the photographs is to keep the white cord from presenting a confusing background. I do the initial left-over-right wrap twice, as shown,  to make it easier to keep the lacing tight as I'm finishing the knot.

better-bow-010.jpg better-bow-020.jpg better-bow-030.jpg better-bow-040.jpg better-bow-050.jpg better-bow-060.jpg better-bow-065.jpg better-bow-070.jpg better-bow-075.jpg better-bow-080.jpg better-bow-090.jpg better-bow-100.jpg Back to context   Home