The Vermont school teacher who made Bernie Sanders’ mittens, featured in the most recent viral meme, said she had to stop making them after the federal government taxed her too much.
“People have been contacting me thinking that they can get mittens, and actually they can’t. I don’t have any more, and I don’t have much of a mitten business anymore because it really wasn’t worth it,” Jen Ellis explained to Slate. “Independent crafters get really taken for a ride by the federal government. We get taxed to the nth degree, and it wasn’t really worth it pursuing that as a business, even as a side hustle.”
Even though Sanders admitted in 2019 that he would raise taxes on the middle class to support his Medicare for All plan, Ellis has shown support for the senator, sending him the repurposed sweater mittens in 2016 because she was “heartbroken” that he lost the Democratic nomination and “probably wouldn’t run again.”
“I thought, ‘I’d like to make him a pair of mittens.’ And I did,” Ellis said. “I totally remember the night I did it. I was thinking to myself, ‘Is this crazy? I don’t even know this guy.’ But I wanted to make them for him, so I did.”
Bernie’s mittens are made by Jen Ellis, a teacher from Essex Junction, Vt. She gave them to him 2+ years ago and was surprised when he began wearing them on the campaign trail. They are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles. pic.twitter.com/ErLr29lY2t
— Ruby Cramer (@rubycramer) January 20, 2021
And despite her outrage at the government for taking her money, Ellis told the Washington Post on Wednesday that she appreciated parts of Sanders’ radical education and debt-forgiveness platform.
“I’m also super pro-Bernie and as a public school teacher, I can see every day how families are struggling. People are just trying to make ends meet and they need things like student loan forgiveness and free education and a lot of the things that Bernie is fighting for,” she said.
The mittens first caught the public’s attention in 2019 after a picture of Sanders lending them to someone on the campaign trail circulated the internet. After that, Ellis took it upon herself to sew 10 more pairs and mail them to the campaign.
Following Inauguration Day, however, Ellis said the response and requests for her now-famous mittens were overwhelming, crashed her Gmail, and showed her the downside to raising taxes.
“I mostly just make them as gifts,” she said, explaining that it was too difficult to keep up while she teaches second grade and raises her own children.