Bernie Sanders’ iconic inauguration mittens, immortalised in countless memes, were handmade by a lesbian teacher.
Some of the United States’ most powerful political figures turned out on Wednesday (20 January) to watch Joe Biden and Kamala Harris be sworn in as the new president and vice-president of the United States.
But Sanders ultimately stole the show with his cosy, casual look, expertly tied together with a pair of woolly mittens. Social media went into overdrive, and it wasn’t long before the Vermont senator found himself supplanted into every meme going.
Now, the creator of those mittens has come forward to claim some much-deserved glory for her gorgeous creation.
Jen Ellis, 42, told Jewish Insider that she is a longtime admirer of Bernie Sanders, and decided to gift him with the mittens in 2016 after he lost his bid to become the Democratic nominee for the presidency to Hillary Clinton.
The lesbian second grade teacher, who lives in Essex Junction outside Burlington, where Sanders served as mayor in the 1980s, revealed that she saw a unique opportunity to gift the Vermont senator in 2016.
At that time, Ellis’ daughter was attending a pre-school where Sanders’ daughter-in-law worked as a director. Ellis was making some of her special homemade mittens – which she calls “swittens” as she makes them from old sweaters – for staff, and decided to make a pair for Sanders too.
“I was making mittens for holiday gifts for the preschool teachers, and I made an extra pair for Bernie,” she said, explaining that she gave them to Sanders’ daughter-in-law to pass on to him.
Ellis – who has never met Sanders in person but agrees with his politics – added: “He must really like them if he chose to wear them.”
She said that she is a “fan” of Sanders, adding: “I’ve always voted for him. I agree with his politics. As a teacher, I work with people from all walks of life, and I can see how a lot of people need more help and support.
“Some of the things that Bernie talks about, like forgiving student loans and free education and just a lot of his humanitarian ideas and things, really align with what I see as a need in our country every day.”
The lesbian teacher said she hopes to one day meet Bernie Sanders, adding: “I want him to keep doing what he’s doing and fighting the good fight.”
Sadly for fans of Ellis’ “swittens”, it won’t be possible to get a pair anytime soon. She has received more than 6,000 emails from people wanting to buy a pair of her handmade creations, but she doesn’t have the time or inclination to mass-produce them.
“I’m not going to quit my day job. I am a second grade teacher, and I’m a mom, and all that keeps me really busy.”