Crochet artist turns viral Bernie Sanders image into a doll that sells for $20,000
‘I really hope he thinks this is something cool,’ said Tobey King, who made the doll and plans to donate the proceeds to charity The crochet Bernie Sanders doll made by Tobey King, of Corpus Christi, Texas. Photograph: Billy Calzada/AP Bernie Sanders is widely beloved for his crotchety public demeanour, making it fitting that a crocheted doll of the 79-year-old Vermont senator – wearing chunky mittens and hunched cross-legged against the cold at Joe Biden’s inauguration last week – added no less than $20,300 to charitable efforts featuring the much-memed image. Sanders said merchandise featuring the image had raised nearly $2m for charities including Meals on Wheels, which brings food to isolated older people. Last week, the picture of the be-mittened and socially distanced senator rippled across the internet. Users were gleefully “placing” the Vermont democratic socialist everywhere from the Yalta conference in 1945 to the video for Gangnam Style, and in the pattern on Melania Trump’s resort wear-style dress when she and Donald Trump arrived in Florida instead of attending the inauguration. And in Corpus Christi, Texas, Tobey King got down to work on her own three-dimensional wooly manifestation of the senator in his earthen hues. “It’s mind-blowing because I knew Bernie was trending, because of that picture, and I already had a Bernie pattern and a Bernie doll,” she said. “So, I just went and got that and I modified that super quick.” Recreating Sanders’ mittened and masked look took about seven hours of crocheting, she said, adding: “The mittens are not that hard – it’s just some colour changing, a special stitch.” By Saturday, she had posted the doll on eBay, where its auction price soared. Funds raised would be donated to Meals on Wheels America, King said, adding: “This is my new path. This is a new way of helping people in a way that I’ve never been able to do before.” King, 46, said more than 30,000 people had bought a Sanders doll crochet pattern from her Etsy store, and said she hoped the senator approved. “I really hope that he thinks this is something cool and that I’m doing something good,” she said. Tobey King, of Corpus Christi, Texas, embraces the crochet Bernie Sanders doll that she made and sold on eBay for $20,300. Photograph: Billy Calzada/AP It seemed likely Sanders would. Last Sunday, Jen Ellis, the Vermont elementary school teacher who made the senator’s mittens from old sweaters and recycled plastic bottles, said he had called “to tell me that the mitten frenzy has already raised an enormous amount of money for Vermont charities … Thank you!! Generosity brings joy.” She also said she could not possibly fulfill a flood of orders from mitten-smitten Sanders supporters. Sanders said he and his wife, Jane, “were amazed by all the creativity shown by so many people over the last week, and we’re glad we can use my internet fame to help Vermonters in need. “But even this amount of money is no substitute for action by Congress, and I will be doing everything I can in Washington to make sure working people in Vermont and across the country get the relief they need in the middle of the worst crisis we’ve faced since the Great Depression.” Among other actions, the new chair of the Senate budget committee is seeking to overcome Republican opposition to a $15 minimum wage.