“very touching, but what they did with the children?!”

Every now and then, when I’m in a real narcissistic, time-wasting mood, I check out the stats page for this site to see who is linking to me. This usually leads me to bloggers who are kind enough to link back to me in their blogroll, or people who are knitting one of my designs. Sometimes, though, I discover that I’ve sparked some heretofore unexplored controversy!

Now, we’ve never shied away from controversy here at yarnboy.com. Longtime readers will recall that the simple fact of being a male knitter resulted in a bunch of right-wing Christians getting their knickers all knotted up (alas, the forum in which this occurred is no longer there, otherwise I’d gladly link to it again). I’ve even made a few attempts at intentionally inspiring some back-and-forth in this space, one of which was really informative and interesting. This time, though, my stats page has led me to a controversy that I didn’t even know existed, and——thanks to my inability to read or speak Russian, don’t totally understand. Apparently, it was all inspired by this photograph from a couple of posts back:

So here’s where I ask for your help. This is the original page in the original language. Do any of you read Russian? Can you please tell me what’s going on here? And since I always love hearing what you all think . . .

. . . do you think swaddling is wrong?


  • Trish in MD says:

    Ok, no I don’t speak Russian. But are you kidding me?? Someone actually snarked at you for swaddling those precious little babes?

    DO WHAT WORKS for you and your family. The answer of what is right or wrong really depends on the baby! Neither of mine would tolerate being wrapped this way, and always fought to get a hand or foot free. But, for those babies who find it soothing, why not?

    You’d think people would have better things to do.

    Your babies are just GOR-geous by the way. Congratulations!

    Trish (long time reader, glad to see you blogging again.)

  • Robin says:

    I’ve asked a friend to look into it…One thing I do know is that it is a Russian speaker who lives in Israel. She mentioned “tipat chalav” which is the Mother and Child centers here in Israel.


  • Danica says:

    In a word, no. I agree with the previous commenter who suggested you do what works for you and your family. Also, I’d like to apologize on behalf of Christians, even if I’m not entirely qualified to speak on behalf of the right-wing. I love your blog, patterns, and your photographs. Keep it up!

    PS… weren’t men the original knitters anyways??

    PSS… Those babies are too much. Too. Much. Can’t take it!

  • Noelle says:

    Swaddling is good for babies–it helps them feel secure and keeps them from flailing their arms about and waking themselves up (I feel like a gross grammar infraction just occurred….) It is bizarre to me that swaddling would be controversial…..I imagine that it is a fairly universal aspect of child-rearing, at least traditionally…. I can testify that after four babies, all who were swaddled as much as they would tolerate (some loved it, some hated it), we observe no adverse effects in our family.

    With regards to the right-wingers freaking out over knitting men, did they actually use their Christian beliefs as an argument against it? Because that is wacked. God knits, for pity’s sake! (“Did You not….clothe me with flesh and knit me together with bones and sinew?” Job 10:10-11, and my personal favorite pregnant knitting verse “For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 So fun to knit with God! 🙂

    So, swaddle with good cheer (though I imagine they are getting a little big for that now, eh?). Peace!

  • Saisquoi says:

    Sorry, my russian is rusty, so I can’t comment on the original blog post. However, I have a daughter who is about two months younger than your little ones and we swaddle her every night for bed and have done so since the day she was born. I’m sure it’s part of the reason she does so well at night.

    Plus, she looks so cute as the little baby burrito.

    Now you can join your two controversies, though. Because didn’t Mary wrap the baby Jesus in swaddling clothes before laying him in the manger? I’m just saying, is all…

  • yarn boy says:


    The reaction on that forum wasn’t based in Christian theology (which would have been interesting, and would have at least provided a basis for argument). It was more of a “debate” about whether it was okay for men to knit, and the debate happened to occur on a website for Christian fundamentalists. The overall consensus was that men should not be knitting, since it called their masculinity into question. Many women (young women, I think) vehemently declared that they’d never date a man who knit.

    Which is too bad for them, because we’re pretty good with our hands.

  • Marita says:

    “pretty good with our hands” made me laugh. My young man will not knit, by I’ve known several guys who thought asking me to teach them was a good pick up line. I always said, sure, just buy your own needles and yarn. Only 1 ever followed through. I taught him to knit but did not date him. (he was about 20 years older than me.)

    As for swaddling, I believe I’ve heard someone mention that it’s not good for kids to be wrapped up to tight, but I have no idea what the basis for this is. I suspect its one of those child rearing techniques that goes in and out of fashion. Yours look happy enough, not to mention adorable!

  • Noelle says:

    That is just wild–I have such a hard time finding common ground with fundamentalists. Your post about “The Joys of Mutually Consensual Knitting” got my husband interested (he let me teach him and knit a very respectable washcloth). Sigh. This is probably where I should just say “it takes all kinds…” and turn my attention to something more constructive.

  • Kim says:

    I’m in favor of the swaddle, based on my personal experience swaddling my baby (who is now 10 months old). It was great for him, until he decided he wasn’t having it anymore. I kind of wish I had something that magic for him now….But I’m with what works for you. =)

  • CeRae says:

    Are you sure its the swaddling that they were objecting to in Russian and not the fact that you seem to have them hanging upside down in their cocoons? 😉
    I’ve never heard anything negative about swaddling. Our first son was a BIG baby (and I am somewhat small) and he loved to be wrapped like a burrito – feeling tight and cramped and secure, as if in the womb…?
    Cute little burrito and burrita, by the way.

  • mamie says:

    i thought maybe the controversy would be due to the twins and actual knitting content sitting next to each other in the same picture. like, a group of knitting twin parents that were freaking out that you had the time to do anything other than care for your children at every moment of the day.

    the swaddle was our friend for 4 months. the boys did well with the tight quarters, we handled them better, and as a burrito lover, i could gaze at their deliciousness and imagine eating them.

    seriously, what the f is up with people and their ability to find something controversial in all things on the internet?

  • Beth says:

    Hi there,
    First of all, I so enjoy your blog and look forward to reading it continually…
    I’ve had 10 children, am a G’ma, about to be a Great G’ma but am, definitely, not
    an “expert” on the subject of children ( You can find those in the bookstores on
    the shelves under Childrearing…and they come in any form or variety one chooses).
    I just, basically, believe that how we choose to parent is such an iddividual matter
    and the most important factor is that we do what is comfortable based on beliefs.
    Swaddling, I feel, adds to the feeling of warmth, closeness and security which is so
    Also, I taught all my children to knit ( boys included)….Why not …. it’s a wonderful,
    creative art…and then it became their choice as the years passed whether to choose to
    do so or not.
    Thanks so much for sharing such wonderful talent and sharing such precious pics of those
    sweet little ones.
    My son and wife actually live in San Francisco and am thinking of a visit in the Fall and
    hope to, at the same time, hear you speak in Oakland(I believe that is where) … A double treat !!
    Have a great day !!

  • Eloise says:

    Swaddling is the best! Take a frightened baby who’s arms and legs are flayling about instinctively, scaring the poor child even more and swaddle it? You get a calm, happy secure little soul who can sleep peacefully and deeply. How can that possibly be a bad thing?

    As soon as the little creatures get used to the freedom of post womb existence, they don’t get that upset any more.

    Swaddle away — it’s a compassionate thing to do.

  • Laura Y. says:

    I know they taught us in our “we don’t know anything about babies” class that swaddling was good, but legs only if you’re putting the baby to sleep on its back (as you should be with the new evidence about SIDS). Apparently if the arms are swaddled and the baby is on its back, it may not be able to turn its head far enough to keep from aspirating on spit-up. The reason they still swaddle the arms in the hospital nursery is because someone is always watching the babies. Presumably, you are not constantly watching your babies while they sleep, but are instead getting out and doing fun things like “showering” or “napping.” So maybe that’s the controversy — the arms being swaddled?

  • Susie says:

    I think swaddling is just find and, apparently, so do those beautiful babies.

  • Trish says:

    Dude, I would still be sleep deprived if my 5-year-old twins hadn’t been swaddled during the first few months of their lives. Congrats on finding blankets that are the right shape to do it. Even my completely uncoordinated husband mastered the art within the first few days. Kids love it. And Guess what? My kids are some of the best sleepers I know…..

    Now if only the people who found that controversial would hear how I respond to people when they say “Who’s watching the kids?” My typical response is, “Duct tape is nature’s babysitter.” I love to watch their responses!

  • Starstryder says:

    As a mom of a previous colic baby swaddling rocks! It was the only way to calm my little man down so of course that’s what we did. 🙂

  • Lori says:

    Apparently you’re a monster and Greenpeace is going to come after you. That’s kind of awesome.

    I like the idea that the controversy was over people hanging their babies upside down. I’d lean towards saying that wouldn’t be acceptable, but, honestly, given that my son was almost 3 before he finally started sleeping through the night, I’d even be willing to give you all some slack on that one.

    We never swaddled our son, but one of us would usually walk him to sleep in a sling, which is pretty much the same concept, since he was tightly wrapped up in it.

  • Faith says:

    I am 100% for swaddling if that’s what calms your baby down and helps them to sleep. In the womb they are obviously squished in there, all safe and sound, and they feel insecure if they’ve got too much room to flail once they’re out. Some babies just won’t sleep unless they’ve been swaddled, and I think that it’s the people who have never experienced a baby like this that might have a problem with it.

    (Also, and I feel like I need to whisper this, but I’m all about putting my babies to sleep on their tummies — unswaddled — once they can lift their heads a little, which for my children tends to be around 2 weeks. Before that I prop them up on their sides. I think the whole back-to-sleep success is in keeping stupid people from putting their children on a cushy stack of blankets or pillows with their faces buried in stuffed animals. SIDS is SIDS — not something that can be controlled. Smothering, on the other hand, is a very real thing that can be easily prevented, and has nothing to do with back or front sleeping. I seriously need to blog about this at some point, but I’m a little leery of the possible backlash.)

  • michele says:

    This is the first time I’ve visited your site. I have to say, I didn’t find out about swaddling until I had my fourth and final baby. Oh how I wish I knew about it with my first as she had colic for 6 months…ugh. You do amazing work. I love all your designs.
    I am “Brand New” to blogging and a fellow fiber artist. I hope you don’t mind, but I would love to add your blog to list of blogs I follow.

    Enjoy those beautiful babies, they grow so fast!


  • Stephanie says:

    Ok, just learning russian, so I’m not sure of all the words (I left them in russian) but here’s a rough translation:

    “I already, apparently, asked what the patient on jersey? On so many that besides that I knit itself, I sit on different блогах вязальщиков-designers.

    Among designers of knitting by handles, it is a lot of men. Yes-yes. Men, as a rule handsome men, sit at home and knit spokes. A picture, I shall tell to you, наймилейшая.

    One of such esteemed by me блоггеров, Yarn Boy, in current of nine months knitted warm clothes for the pregnant wife. And now at them were born близняшки, and it has absolutely become stupid with such happiness in a favourite field.”

    I hope this helps!

  • Angel says:

    I personal don’t see anything wrong with men knitting! I think it’s awesome. I love the verse “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13. I think it’s a beautiful verse, and a wonderful illustration! I am a Christian, and attend a private university. I’ve had a bunch of my guy friends ask me to teach them to knit and I’m all about teaching them. 😀 Knitting did begin historically with men and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with men knitting.

    Oh and your babies are adorable!!!

  • Leep says:

    I printed out the original post in Russian and asked a neighbor who is from St. Petersberg if they could translate. Here is the best we could come up with (not always a literal translation but we tried to come up with English words/phrases that convey the sense of what the Russian words were trying to say. My neighbor says a couple of the phrases/sentences can’t be taken literally, they are expressions used to convey a different meaning):

    “Probably. Have I already said that knitting is my favorite hobby? I like it/adore it so much that besides doing the actual knitting with needles, I’m reading lots of blogs about knitting and designing knitting. A lot of designers of knitting patterns are men. Yes, Yes. Men, usually good looking/handsome men, sitting at home on the couch, knitting with needles. When I picture this in my mind, I have a great feeling inside!
    One of the bloggers I really respect/like/admire, Yarn Boy, during last 9 months, knit a beautiful warm sweater for his pregnant wife. Now she has given birth to twins and he is ecstatic. It has made his knitting even more inspired and he has become crazy good with his favorite activity knitting.”

    The comments posted after the main entry have some joking comments in them:

    “It’s very touching but what did they do with the kids?”

    “Probably cocooned/swaddled them” (joking)

    “Horrible/evil person” (joking)

    “How could they do that, I don’t understand. We should put this picture in a blog about caring for babies”

    “Probably should report to the department for the protection of kids. Also probably to the department for the protection of men” (joking)

    “By the way I did cocoon/swaddle for months with my kids. People looked at me suspiciously.” (joking)

    “Did they report you to the department for the protection of kids?” (joking?)

    “They just told me kids need freedom. I didn’t object. In fact I agreed with them.”

    The next comments were a separate thread:

    “Unbelievable! The kids don’t look so bad, they were really fortunate that their kids look so nice/cute”

    “Yes, they are beautiful/adorable kids”

    I think we missed a few of the comments but you kind of get the idea. When you put this together with Stephanie’s translation/comment from 3/15/09, it gives a more complete picture of what was said, although I am sure we probably got a few things wrong. Any way, hope this helps even though it’s long.

  • Angie says:

    I’m a pediatric nurse and mother of two really big teenagers. Swaddling is a wonderful way to comfort a baby. But some babies don’t tolerate it and that’s OK. Each is an individual.

  • Amy says:

    Swaddling worked for me. Both of my girls slept through the night (7-7) since they were about 5 months old, and I attribute much of this success to swaddling them early on. It keeps them cozy and helps them feel secure. Your babies are beautiful and so are your knits!

  • Renee says:

    I swaddled my boy until he could turn over and sleep on his tummy. He kind of hated it and we had to buy this special swaddling blanket to keep him from breaking out of it. (which my mom disdainfully called a “baby straight-jacket”) It was the only way he would sleep at all, though. In retrospect and if I ever work up the courage to have another one, I will just buy one of those baby alarm things and start out by putting him to sleep on his belly from the beginning. With parenting, you generally the best you can with what knowledge you’ve got at the time. Sometimes that goes along with what “they” say to do, sometimes not, but if you’re a good parent, you’ll generally do whatever works.

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