Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP
By now you've likely seen countless memes of Independent Vermont Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wearing those unique sweater-knit mittens and sitting cross-legged at President Joe Biden's inauguration. It turns out that Jen Ellis, a lesbian mother and Vermont school teacher, made the “swittens,” as the large, hand-weaved wool mittens have been called, according to LGBTQ Nation. Ellis made them as a gift for people who worked at her daughter's preschool about two years ago, including for the preschool’s owner Liza Driscoll, who is also Sanders’ daughter-in-law. Ellis made an extra pair for Driscoll to give to Sanders, and those are the pair that America has now seen on TV and in countless memes. https://twitter.com/rubycramer/status/1351915535647330306?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1351915535647330306%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.lgbtqnation.com%2F2021%2F01%2Flesbian-mom-behind-bernie-sanders-famous-mittens-shes-flattered-people-love%2F Despite receiving requests to make more of the now-iconic mittens, Ellis says she won't be quitting her day job to make them full-time; she also said you can buy plenty like them on the crafted goods website Etsy. “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. Sanders has begun producing t-shirts with the image of himself wearing the mittens to sell with all proceeds benefitting charity. "In Vermont, we dress warm, we know something about the cold," Sanders told Gayle King in a post-inauguration interview. "And we're not so concerned about good fashion. We want to keep warm. And that's what I did today." He said of the numerous memes of his gloves, “It makes people aware that we make good mittens in Vermont. It makes people aware that we make good mittens in Vermont.” He also said of Ellis, "The woman who made the mittens ... she is a schoolteacher [and] is a very very nice person, and she's been somewhat overwhelmed by the kind of attention that is being shown to her mittens."