Steph and I have both been busy and tired lately, so please forgive our absence. However, by means of atonement, I am here with a rather long and detailed post for you, which I do hope you enjoy.
When Steph posted her shoe-tying post, I had wanted to explain my side of the story — the way I was taught to do it. Well, I tried to, tried again, decided just to talk to her in “person”, and am back here on the blog to try one last time. I never have been good at giving directions, so please bear with me. Also, do keep in mind that this is my experience, and I’m sure other people have had success with different methods of shoe-tying. If you have, don’t be afraid to comment here and let us know. 🙂
Steph had asked if she was the only blind person who never learned to tie her shoes; I’m here to tell her that she is not. I’ve seen it in my own family that parents often don’t know, and therefore don’t try, to teach blind children how to do things the way they themselves only know how to do visually. I’m not saying that such was the case with her family, but I know for a fact that it does happen, and it does not mean that parents are trying to keep their children dependent intentionally; they just don’t know what to do or how to do it. People with vision rely on it for nearly everything. If you don’t believe me, close your eyes and go about your daily routine. You will soon realize how much information you take in with your eyes, but also, how much other information your remaining senses will bring in if you let them.
As far as tying your shoes is concerned: it’s all about your fingers and manipulating them in such a way that you don’t get confused by the laces. I learned to tie my shoes when I was about six-years-old, but I did not begin with my shoelaces. My dad figured out that I would need a thicker length of rope (as well as something around which to tie it) that was easily distinguishable by my little fingers. For this, he used one of those neck pillows — the elongated ones that just sort of sit under your neck — and a thick string, which may have been one of those strings from a sweatshirt or something.
He began his little lesson by first talking through the steps with me. He told me every detail about what I was about to do, which, by the way, is not necessary, and can get quite overwhelming. For you (and anyone else learning or teaching shoe-tying) don’t focus on the minor details until you actually begin to play with the string. Anyhoo, once his lecture was over, he tied the string around the pillow and had me feel it; he also had me look at it, because at that time he was still insistent that I could see well enough to do something like that. (And in perfect honesty, I thought the same way for a long time, until I realized that we — my family and I — were kind of in denial about my abilities. But, that’s a story for a different blog.)
Once I’d examined the knot and its two loops, my dad had me undo it. I’m fairly confident that six-year-old me just attacked the thing without paying any mind to the way it was coming undone; but for you older-than-six-year-olds, plese remember what you’re doing so you can do it again later. Dad and I repeated this process for a while, until he let me loose on the string, which is when I began to get frustrated.
Like Steph, I think those darn loops were my enemy at the beginning, but now I do them without a second thought. So, it is possible to like your laces. I promise. This is a sort of step-by-step of what tying my shoes feels like to me, and if you need any further clarification, or have any more to add, please comment here or on Twitter (twitter.com/#!yanagram), and we’ll go from there. Ah yes, and do you remember how I vented about my dad’s barrage of detail? Well, to insure that the same thing does not happen to you, dear reader, I highly recommend that you get a shoe or something with which you can physically try out these steps as you read them. :
1. Pick up the left lace with your right hand and the right lace with your left hand so the laces are crossed, keeping the lace in your dominant hand closest to you. You’ll want to pinch the laces between the thumb and first two fingers of each hand for better grip, and also have your knuckles facing away from you so it becomes easier to manipulate your hands and the laces.
2. The next position you want to be in is with the spot where the laces cross pinched between the thumb and index finger of your less dominant hand. To achieve this, you’ll want to move your dominant hand toward your weaker hand, sliding the laces closer together as you go. This will result in the intersection of the laces being higher up, and thus closer to your weaker hand. Now you can carefully take your index finger off the lace and place it back down again once the spot where the laces meet is under it.
3. Take the index finger of your free hand, which should be your dominant hand, and place it directly on top of your pinched fingers so that it sticks out of the crossed laces above the spot where you are holding them. This position will allow you to guide the lace closest to you, and create the first knot.
4. Here’s where your fingers will have to be on hypersensitive mode. What you want to do is guide the lace closest to you with the index finger of your dominant hand so that it slides up and over the other lace, right where the two laces meet. The thumb and index finger of your weaker hand will now have to pinch the laces together so that the lace closest to you remains sort of folded over the other lace. It might feel as though you are holding three separate laces, but it is really only two.
5. This next step is kind of the reverse of step 3. You are still pinching the spot where the laces meet in your weaker hand, but now, the index finger of your dominent hand will go directly below that point. The position you want your dominant index finger to be in is kind of woven between one of the crossed laces (which will be in front of it, or farthest from you), and the lace you folded over that crossed lace (the one closer to you) so that you can guide that lace through the hole created by the crossing of the laces.
6. In order to do this, you should use your dominant index finger to push the lace behind it inward, or closer to you. There may still be some length of that lace, which didn’t get pulled through; don’t worry about that straggler, he will be fixed.
7. Now that at least part of the lace you folded over has gone through the rabbit hole, so to speak, you may now slide your dominant hand down to meet that lace in order to pull it through. At this point, you can also slide your less dominant hand up along the lace going the other way, thus taking it off the intersecting point so you are able to pull the knot tight.
There! You did it! That’s one huge chunk of the battle won!
Here comes that scary loop monster, but not to worry, folks, he is harmless. The only bad thing about this monster is how he can sense trepidation; if you are worried that your loops won’t come out right, they most-likely will not. But if you approach them with the attitude of a victor, your chances of accomplishing your task are considerably better.
This next description might be a little more challenging, but I promise, it is doable. Since your laces are already crossed, and very nicely so, if I might add, it is now time to put those fingers of yours to work again. This is what you do to form the first loop; the instructions for the second loop are a bit different.
1. Hold the lace up with your dominant hand and slide the index finger of your weaker hand up the lace until you reach the height you want your loop to be. Bear in mind that you can always adjust your loops once the shoe is tied.
2. Once you’ve established the hight of your first loop, use your dominent hand to guide the lace up and over your finger; be sure to form the loop by guiding the lace away from you, because I find this way easier in the long run.
3. With your index finger still inside the loop to hold it steady, close the loop by sliding the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand down to a spot where you can pinch the lace together, forming another crossing pattern. If you need help to hold the loop together, slide the thumb of your weaker hand alongside the index finger in the loop so it applies a tiny bit of pressure to hold the lace between it and your index finger.
Your second loop will require a bit more effort, but again, you can do it!
4. Slide the index finger of your fre hand under the lace, picking it up.
5. Bring that lace toward the loop held by the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand, making sure not to undo the first loop. If you can, you’ll want to slide the first loop a little inward along your thumb so you can give the lace you just picked up a little place to nest.
6. Now that the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand are pinching the loop together, you can sort of repeat step three by sliding your free index finger up along the lace until you find a spot where you can fold the lace over to complete your loop. Once you do this, you can either pinch together the crossed laces with your free hand, or or you can carefully guide the loop over to the thumb and index finger, which you can then grasp in addition to the first loop.
7. Don’t worry about making the loops perfectly; you can always fix them. Now, however, what you need to do is be able to hold a loop between the thumb and index fingers of both hands.
8. These next steps might seem a tad familiar, but this is a good thing, considering this requires practice. Your knuckles should be facing away from you, so that all you have to do is turn the loop in toward the weaker side.
9. By turning the loop sort of on its side, you will be creating another one of those intersection points; the only difference is it might feel as though you are holding four strings.
10. Find the intersecting point you’ve created and position it so that it sits between the thumb and index finger of your les dominant hand.
11. There will be a loop sticking up and one facing the other way; use the index finger of your dominant (free) hand to guide the loop sticking up so that it drapes over the other loop — see the first Step 3 up top there. When it is draped around the other loop, take the same index finger and find the part of it sticking out below the other loop.
12. Carefully pull the loop under and through, creating those little bunny ears. :.
And there you have it, ladies and gents! You’ve done it! Not too bad, right?
As I said before, please feel free to leave any questions, comments, or concerns in the comments section or on twitter.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this helps a bit!
(: Yana gram 🙂