Get it Together
March 27, 1790: The modern shoe lace along with holes in the shoe is perfected by Harvey Kennedy in England. A book published in 1913 claimed that Kennedy made over $2.5 million from his invention. But the patent he produced was not the first use of a lace to keep a shoe or boot in place. Archeological records are rare since shoes and laces would disintegrate over time. Shoes and laces date back to at least 3500 BC, a sample of which was found in a cave in 2008. These shoes are a one-piece hide place around the foot and tied together by a lace put through slots. The shoes worn by Otzi the Iceman date from 3300 BC.
More modern types of laces date from about the 12th century but these laces again passed through hooks or eyelets. The newest version also included the holes in the shoes to accommodate the laces and help keep the entire product in place. Native Americans also used laces to hold leather thongs in place or to secure moccasins and winter leggings in place. Laces have been made from a variety of different substances from strings of hemp to strips of bark or leather. Placing the hardened tip, or aglet, on the lace to keep it from fraying was a great invention and it made it easier to lace as well.
Today’s laces not only come in a variety of patterns and with a selection of possible aglets, but also in a variety of lengths. Having the right length shoelace or shoestring for the number of holes in the shoe will keep the lace from tripping the wearer. The number of standard holes in shoes/boots ranges from two to 16 and the length of shoelaces ranges between 45 and 200 centimeters or 17.7 to 78.7 inches. Even with the right length of lace, tying or knotting the lace is also important. The usual way to tie one’s shoes is with a simple bow knot. Also available are reef knots, granny knots (which is less secure) or a double slip knot. The finish of the lace itself will also either help or hinder the knot to stay in place.
There are also a variety of way to lace the shoe or place the lace through the hooks, eyes, or holes in the shoe itself. The basic or standard way to lace a shoe is in a criss-cross pattern. This works well with athletic shoes but it isn’t as effective in leather Oxford shoes which need a more straight lacing to help bring the sides of the shoes together. Different lacing styles are used depending on the function of the shoes and what the wearer is hoping for. There are also a number of ways to create patterns from lacing shoes with different colors, textures, or patterns of laces. Usually these latter styles of lacing decrease the actual functionality or ease of use. After all this, one can still add accessories such as charms or use other items to help tighten the laces for the specific use or decorate the laces for a specific style.
You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you’re down there. – George Burns
I do have a blurred memory of sitting on the stairs and trying over and over again to tie one of my shoelaces, but that is all that comes back to me of school itself. – Roald Dahl
Kids can make fun of you for having the wrong shoelaces: that’s just kids. – Mark Ronson
Isn’t one of your first exercises in learning how to communicate to write a description of how to tie your shoelaces? The point being that it’s basically impossible to use text to show that. – Donald Norman
Also on this day: Long Distance Communication – In 1899, the first international radio communication occurred.
Tenerife Disaster – In 1977, the worst aviation disaster took place at Tenerife.
Earthquake – In 1964, Alaska was struck by a powerful earthquake.
Little Blue Pill – In 1998, Viagra was approved by the FDA.