How you deal with a knot that has become seemingly impossible to untie depends on the material and size. Typically, movement is needed to loosen the knot, whether the entanglement is a tight knot in a shoelace, sweatsuit string, robe belt or fragile necklace. Techniques for getting things moving, and ultimately loosening, involve tools such a needle or pair of pliers or just your fingers.
The laces or cordage in your shoes or boots present the added challenge of working with material that slips easily from your grasp when you work to loosen a knot. Clothing drawstrings are just as difficult. Try inserting an object such as such as a bamboo skewer, explains John Sherry in the Chicago Tribune. Sherry teaches knot-tying at his website NetKnots.com. Once loosened, you'll be able to see where to pull the lace or cordage through to untie your knot.
Larger knots in clothing, such as ones in a terry cloth robe belt, are the easiest to untie. Grasping the knot on both sides, work it, pushing and wiggling until it is loose enough that you can squeeze your finger underneath the loosest part and work it some more. If you can't loosen it on your own -- maybe it went through the dryer and came out tighter than ever -- tug on part of the knot, using household pliers to loosen. Inserting a screwdriver into the knot may also give you more leverage, says Sherry. Once loosened, untie, and you're home-free.
Possibly the most difficult knot to remove in a wardrobe is the necklace knot. The smaller and more delicate the chain, the more difficult. Begin by patiently untangling parts of the necklace that aren't truly knotted. Hold the necklace in such a way that its weight doesn't pull the knot tighter. Better yet, work at a well-lit table. When you get to the knot, very gently and carefully, insert the tip of a straight pin, small safety pin, needle-nose tweezer tip or fine-point sewing needle into the knot.
If it's a really narrow chain, you may need a helper to hold a magnifying glass to ensure you are working loose a loop in the knot, not pulling on one of the chain links. Once the knot is loosened, if the section is too small to grasp with your fingers, use tweezers to gently pull it loose, so you can untie it using your fingers. If this doesn't work, try a tip from "Good Housekeeping" magazine's Heloise:
Place the necklace "on a hard, nonporous surface such as glass. Apply several drops of baby oil or mineral oil to the chain, then use the pin to untangle the links."
Cindy Blankenship, a California native, began reporting in 1996 for the Grants Pass Daily Courier after teaching in Hawaii where she lived 14 years. As assistant editor at the Rogue River Press, she wrote and edited several stories that earned awards from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. Her writing appears in numerous publications.