According to the Vermont school teacher who made Bernie Sanders’ mittens, which were featured in the most recent viral meme, 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 anymore, and I don’t have much of a mitten business anymore because it really wasn’t worth it,” Jen Ellis explained to a reporter from 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.”
In 2019, Sanders had admitted that he would raise taxes on the middle class to support his Medicare for All plan. However, Ellis has still shown her 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.”
Although Ellis was angry at the government for taking her money, she 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 made by Ellis had first caught the public’s eye in 2019 after a picture of Sanders lending a pair to someone on the campaign trail had made the rounds on the internet. Upon seeing that, Ellis sewed 10 more pairs and mailed them to the campaign.
However, after the meme went around after Biden’s inauguration, Ellis said that 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 making the mittens while teaching second grade and raising her own children.