Shoelace knot

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"Bow knot" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Rosette (decoration).
Shoelace knot
Shoelace knot.svg
Names Shoelace knot, Bow
Category Loop
Related Reef knot
Releasing non-jamming
Typical use Tying shoelaces, bow ties, decorative bows
ABoK #1212, #2403, #2404

The shoelace knot, or bow knot, is commonly used for tying shoelaces and bow ties.

The shoelace knot is a doubly slipped reef knot formed by joining the ends of whatever is being tied with a half hitch, folding each of the exposed ends into a loop (bight) and joining the loops with a second half hitch. The size of the loops and the length of the exposed ends are adjusted when the knot is tied. It has the stability of the reef knot but is significantly easier to untie, simply by pulling the ends away from the center of the knot.

The loops are sometimes referred to as "bunny ears", especially when the knot is taught to children.


There are several ways to tie a shoelace knot, all starting with a half hitch:

  • It is simplest then to form a loop at each of the ends and join the two loops with another half hitch.
  • Another common procedure (especially for bow ties[1]) is to form a loop at one of the ends of the initial half-hitch, circle it with the other end which is simultaneously folded into a second loop that is then pushed through the knot.
  • The fastest is to make one loop between the thumb and forefinger on each hand and pull the loops through each other.[2]

Other more secure knots[edit]

A variation of the procedure involves looping the top part of the knot twice instead of once, resulting in a finished bow of almost identical appearance but with the laces wrapped twice around the middle. This Double Slip Knot holds the shoelaces more securely tied while still allowing them to be untied with a (slightly firmer) pull on the loose end(s).[3] One variation knot was patented with a double slip knot top with a surgeon knot bottom.[4]

Other less secure knots[edit]

Tying two consecutive right-over-left half knots (or two consecutive left-over-right half knots) forms a bow version of the much less secure granny knot.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How to Tie a Bow Tie". Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  2. ^ Tying shoelaces
  3. ^ Knot 1219 on page 221 in Ashley, Clifford Warren (1944). The Ashley Book of Knots. ISBN 9780385040259. 
  4. ^ "Shoelace tying system". Free Patents Online. 1999. Retrieved 2010-06-11. 
  5. ^ Ashley, Clifford W. (1944). The Ashley Book of Knots. Doubleday. p. 75. ISBN 0-385-04025-3. 

External links[edit]