Maker of US Senator Bernie Sanders' mittens finds firm to fill order deluge

The Inauguration Day photograph of a mitten-clad, glamor-defying Bernie Sanders at the US Capitol in Washington, on Jan 20, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A Vermont school teacher whose homemade mittens went viral after US Senator Bernie Sanders wore them at President Joe Biden's inauguration has found a manufacturer to fulfil the resulting thousands of orders for her cozy gloves.

"I have amazing news! I'm partnering with Vermont Teddy Bear to make Bernie's Mittens for EVERYONE!!" Ms Jennifer Ellis tweeted on Saturday (Jan 30), adding that some of the proceeds would benefit the Make a Wish Vermont charity.

"I knew there had to be a way to get them to you - and I found it!!" the second-grade teacher said.

The 42-year-old had sent Mr Sanders a pair of her mittens, made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles, after he lost to Mrs Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, as a consolation gift.

Last year, as Mr Sanders was running again for president, Ms Ellis learnt that he was wearing the mittens - "people were calling them his oven mitts" - but had lent them to someone else.

Ms Ellis said she was so touched that she sent Mr Sanders another 10 pairs.

The senator's homely brown and beige mittens featured prominently in a photo from the Jan 20 inauguration showing Mr Sanders sitting alone in a folding chair, bundled up and seemingly unimpressed with the pomp and circumstance.

The image by Agence France-Presse photographer Brendan Smialowski became the first viral meme of the Biden era, with the apparently aloof Mr Sanders superimposed on everything from "Star Wars" scenes to Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper".

"Many, many of you have reached out looking to buy a pair of these awesome mittens. Sadly I don't really make them anymore. But I want to make sure that you get a pair," Ms Ellis said in a video on the Vermont Teddy Bear Company website.

Ms Ellis told AFP three days after the inauguration that she had received around 13,000 e-mail messages from people who want to buy her mittens.

"Not just one pair - people want lots of them," she said.

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