The mittens worn by American Senator Bernie Sanders to the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden have garnered considerable attention online, and generated humorous images that place a hunched-against-the-cold Sanders everywhere from a scene in Forrest Gump to downtown Saint John.
They also caught the attention of a New Brunswick foundation which has been making mittens for charity for the past 15 years.
Katie Tower, executive director of the Pedvac Foundation in Port Elgin, said when they saw Sanders’ mittens all over the internet, they thought, “Hey those look like Pedvac mittens!”
The organization decided to point out the similarity on their Facebook for anyone trying to create their own Bernie look, Tower said.
The post was shared many times and retailers who carry their mittens have started calling asking for more, she said.
"The great thing about our mitts is it is a social enterprise," said Tower, “We pay people in our community of Port Elgin to make them.”
They aren’t, however, copying the Bernie mittens pattern.
“We came up with our own pattern many years ago," Tower said. "We have revised it a bit, but the pattern in the Bernie mittens just happens to be similar enough to ours.”
The teacher who originally made the mittens as a gift for Sanders spoke about using recycled or donated wool, and Pedvac mittens are also made from wool that is "second hand or donated too,” said Darcie Kingswell, coordinator of Pedvac's "Wools to Wishes".
“We use a variety of different wool, different fleece,” said Kingswell, adding that it could come from a sweater or another knitted item.
Buying Pedvac mittens “goes to support our programs including mental health workshops, food programs in school or free income tax preparation programs,” said Tower.
Pedvac’s mittens are currently available at Starving Artist Gallery in Moncton, Wheaton's locations in the Maritimes, Happenstance in Antigonish, Threadwork in Almonte, Ont. and at the Pedvac boutique in Port Elgin, although that location is closed while Zone 1 is in red, said Kingswell.
The most common similarity between these New Brunswick-made mitts and Bernie Sanders’ mitts is a lot simpler.
“It looked like Bernie Sanders was just trying to stay warm," Tower said. "Ours help you do that too.”
Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal