Viral Bernie Sanders’ mittens made by a lesbian teacher
Bernie Sanders’ mittens, which got the whole world’s attention in a viral picture during President Joe Biden’s inauguration, was actually made by a lesbian teacher.
The mittens were identified as being made by 42-year old Jen Ellis, a second grade teacher from Essex Junction, who gave them as a gift to Sanders in 2016.
The picture-turned-internet-meme shows the 79-year old Vermont senator as one of the physical attendees of the inauguration, wearing the large and quite distinct mittens.
This was not the first time Sanders had worn the mittens, but it was during Biden’s inauguration that they caught everyone’s attention.
The story of Bernie Sanders’ mittens
Ellis made the mittens for Sanders in the wake of the latter’s bid to become the Democratic nominee for the presidency in 2016. He was later beaten by Hillary Clinton.
Ellis explained that the large, hand-weaved wool mittens were “swittens,” having been made from old sweatshirts. She had made them for the school staff at her daughter’s preschool.
“I was making mittens for holiday gifts for the preschool teachers, and I made an extra pair for Bernie,” Ellis told the Jewish Insider.
She then passed on the mittens to Sanders’ daughter-in-law and preschool’s owner, Liza Driscoll. Ellis further said that the senator “must really like them if he chose to wear them.”
Jen Ellis and the politics of ‘swittens’
Ellis lives with her 5-year old daughter and her same-sex partner in Essex Junction, about six miles from Burlington, where Sanders had served as a mayor before running for US senator.
Describing herself as a “fan” of Sanders and always voting for him, Ellis said: “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,” she added.
“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,” she said.
Despite Sanders wearing the mittens, the senator and the teacher have not yet met.
“Someday, maybe he’ll be walking down Church Street, and maybe I’ll just come up and introduce myself and say hi,” Ellis said.
Not quitting over Bernie Sanders’ mittens
Because of the virality of the meme, many people have reached out to Ellis to get a pair of her mittens. The teacher said she’s received over 6,000 emails about it.
But she said she has neither the time nor the motivation to produce more.
“Honestly, I don’t really do it a lot anymore. I’m flattered that they want them, but there are lots of people on Etsy who sell them and hopefully people will get some business from them,” she said.
She added, “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.”
And despite being a Sanders’ fan, Ellis is more excited over Vice President Kamala Harris
“I’ve tried not to let all of the mitten business overshadow the gloriousness of sitting with my five-year-old daughter and my partner and watching the first woman be sworn in as vice president. That’s amazing,” she said.