Saturday 23 January 2021

Hiawatha Made Some Mittens ...

He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
Of the skin he made him mittens,
Made them with the fur side inside,
Made them with the skin side outside.
He, to get the warm side inside,
Put the inside skin side outside.
He, to get the cold side outside,
Put the warm side fur side inside.
That’s why he put the fur side inside,
Why he put the skin side outside,
Why he turned them inside outside.

This parody of Longfellow's poem was written in 1856 by Rev George A Strong, close friend of Phillips Brooks [who wrote "O Little Town of Bethlehem] I've been muttering it since Wednesday's Presidential Inauguration, when Bernie Sanders wore his Best Mittens. Poor old Bernie has been much parodied in the press this week for his choice of clothing [give it a break, guys. This chap is 79 - and as he says, he comes from Vermont, where they know how to dress properly when it gets cold] 

But these mittens were already famous in their own right. Sanders wore them to a Women's March in New Hampshire in January 2020. 

And these mittens have a great backstory. They were made by a Vermont teacher called Janet Ellis.
She makes lots of mittens- repurposing old sweaters, and lining them with fleece fabric made from recycled plastic milk bottles. 
In 2016, she made mittens as gifts for all the staff at her daughter's kindergarten. The principal is Bernie's DIL, so she popped in an extra pair for him [he used to be mayor of the town]
Janet calls her sweater-mittens swittens - and since the Rally a year ago, there has been increase in demand. On Wednesday evening, she had received 6000 emails asking about purchasing. 
She says she cannot possibly do that - just a few local sales are enough. And anyway, she has a teaching job to do. She encourages would-be buyers to check out Etsy instead.
But what a story! Home made, recycled mittens, elderly gent is able to keep his hands and fingers warm, a committed school teacher, love and kindness all round. 
Let's hope these things mark the characteristics of the new Presidency - care for the planet, care for the elderly, care for the children, care for one another...


  1. It is a story that makes me feel warm all over, right down to my finger tips! :D

  2. So sweet! Can you imagine the previous Pres. wearing mittens!!

  3. It has been a great story and since Bernie is a very popular guest on the late night talk shows the story of his mittens has been out there all week. He has a great sense of humour about the whole thing so it has made him even more poplar. And yes, he did talk about the teacher who made them - and how she couldn't make anymore! :-)

  4. Meant to send an email about yesterday's blog about the ties. After my dad died, my stepmom, who is a quilter made me and my sisters quoted cushions using his ties. She grouped the colours - I asked for the blue ones. It's a lovely cushion and a great memory of dad.

  5. Yes! A happy story for the end of this very happy week! A cosy tale. I hope it encourages lots of people to recycle old sweaters.
    Celebrating my Birthday today, in American dates I was born 01/23/45!

    1. Happy birthday - May your day be full of love and cake

  6. I have a friend who owns a business making these mittens as well. Love all the Bernie memes out there. It has brought some levity to an anger-filled few months.

    1. I hope this story brings business to your friend - so many small businesses are struggling right now

  7. It's amazing where Bernie's popping up! He was on Rod Stewart's page yesterday then on a page from Perth Yarn Festival!!

  8. I didn't get the whole thing but someone explained it on IG today. It's really funny and it's lovely that he wears these mittens! I do hope that it is the beginning of a good time for the USA and the world!

  9. I think I read somewhere that he was auctioning them off for charity


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