WINNIPEG -- It’s an image that took over social media last week: Bernie Sanders wearing mittens.

Now, a newcomer group in Winnipeg is helping Manitobans achieve the same cozy look. The Cutting Edge came up with the idea to create and sell mittens made from upcycled sweaters.

“It was a fun moment of laughter to see Bernie show up in different places,” said Anne-Lydie Bolay, operations director with The Cutting Edge. 

“We thought that Winnipeg is a very cold place, and we need mittens just as much as everybody else.”

Bolay began working on a prototype last Friday. She said The Cutting Edge is working in collaboration with local thrift stores to source the right type of sweaters, including Thrive, SScope, and MCC.

The sweaters being used are primarily wool. Bolay said they are washed, felted, and then mixed and matched to create the perfect pair of mittens. 

The Cutting Edge is an employment training and social enterprise program operated by the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute. It provides an opportunity for newcomer women from all backgrounds to launch their careers as sewing machine operators in Winnipeg. 

“I like to sew and to help people and to work on a team,” said Amina Badamassy, one of the people sewing mittens. 

The Cutting Edge works with industry leaders to develop a relevant curriculum while teaching newcomers Canadian workplace culture and English for employment training. 

“All the instructors are so good,” said Alia Mohammed, who is helping sew the mittens. “They teach me slowly and they are really helpful, and I don’t have that stress. I learn quickly.” 

The mittens are available for purchase through LITE, which is an online shop selling products from different social enterprises in Manitoba. The Cutting Edge is hoping the mittens will be a hit and they are prepared to make thousands of pairs.