Bernies Mittens: Why They’re Great and How to Make Your Own

bernie sanders in the cold

The inauguration on Wednesday, January 20th, was a huge collection of fashion, interest, moving poetry, and more. As with every presidential inauguration in years past, it was a time of change, of hope, of moving forward as a country with a new leader.

I don’t care about that, though. I care about this.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were old news by the time the internet got a hold of this picture of Bernie Sanders, looking cold and cozy sitting in DC. Bernie, being a Vermont native, knows how to dress for the cold – and he doesn’t particularly care about looking good while doing it.

The best meme I saw described Bernie as dressing like he was going to the inauguration, but it wasn’t his whole day.

“Imma just stop by Joe and Kamala’s thing this afternoon…”

Why the mittens are the best thing ever

Bernie Sanders didn’t buy those stylish mittens from a store. No, they were given to him on the campaign trail several years ago by a fan, a crafter by the name of Jen Ellis.

I personally think it’s charming that Bernie kept a gift from someone for this long, and wears them so often – to think, these were the mittens he chose for the inauguration celebrations!

The mittens – well, Jen calls them Smittens – were hand knit by her several years ago. She told a news outlet when they blew up online that there has been a ton of requests for identical mittens.

Presumably, a lot of Gen-Zers want to rock the dad-core look like Bernie.

Jen has disappointed a lot of fans. “I’m so flattered that Bernie wore them to the inauguration.” She shared on Twitter this week. “Sadly, I have no more mittens for sale.”

While Jen might have patterned the smittens (part mittens, part sweater) herself and she doesn’t have any for sale, it doesn’t mean you can’t make your own.

Shop small, shop local

Bernie has it, you guys – shop small, shop local, respect artisans.

Bernie knows the value of a well made pair of mittens. Jen’s original mittens are actually made from repurposed wool sweaters, and the lining is fleece made from recycled plastic bottles.

These mittens aren’t just a statement about staying warm. They aren’t just a statement about shopping small. They’re also a statement about recycling, reusing what you have, and not over-consuming.

These mittens are great, you guys.

How you can get your own Brrnie Smittens

Great news: with some yarn, knitting needles, and a little patience, you, too, can have your very own Brrnie Smittens! How?


Ravelry is an online resource that lets you share, download, and use crafting patterns, mainly knitting and crocheting, but there’s a lot on there.

And they are in love with Bernie’s smittens.

This is a great pattern for Bernie-inspired goodness by creator Alyssa Coffey, and it’s free to download. You need just needles and yarn, and you, too, can have them.

Lauren McElroy with her mittens
Ravelry | Lauren McElroy

This pattern, by Lauren McElroy, is just $3 to download and includes some fantastic poses with her own patterned mittens. These are very close to the original inspiration.

This pattern, by Tommy Schafer, for $6 is a little more complicated – probably better for the advanced knitter! – but the look is spot on.

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