Ask and you shall receive. So I asked for something positive, a signal of simple goodness. After a year of COVID-19, bush fires, Beirut explosions, Asian giant hornets, global economic fallout, and all-things Trump, I craved evidence that the quiet movements promoted by Green Prophet for love of each other and of our planet were still germinating beneath the weight of 2020 awfulness.
And the sign appeared to me in Bernie Sanders’ clunky upcycled mittens.
The octogenarian’s accessory nearly upstaged last week’s US presidential inauguration. Crafted by a Vermont schoolteacher out of repurposed sweaters and gifted to her Senator a few years back, Bernie’s choice of handwear kept him toasty during the crisp 40°F outdoor ceremony and launched a flurry of comic memes.
The mittens’ pattern was loud, as was their message of sustainability. GP has long applauded rethinking, reusing, and recycling all we consume. Throughout history, we’ve applauded people who riff off Rumpelstiltskin, in this case making sartorial “gold” from cast-off clothes. Think Scarlett O’Hara’s antebellum gown sewn from velvet drapes. Maria Von Trapp outfitted her whole brood using the Baron’s old curtains.
Jen Ellis’ mittens are made from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles. Her sudden fame depleted her supply.
“Thanks for all the interest in Bernie’s mittens!”, she tweeted, “I’m so flattered that Bernie wore them to the inauguration. Sadly, I have no more mittens for sale. There are a lot of great crafters on ETSY who make them.”
No worries. You can make your own with an old sweater and any soft lining materials (t-shirts, sweatpants, or simply more old sweater).
While newsworthy, Bernie’s mitts aren’t new. Six years ago – while living in Amman, Jordan – I stumbled onto this YouTube instructional video posted by Sandy Luft-Schafer – which sent me scouring for wool sweaters from the jumble at the weekend souk.
Basic sewing skills are all you need. But not feeling “handy”? Google will lead you to ready-made pairs. I’m smitten with Bernie, more so in his mittens.
The year 2021 is looking up.