Munich commuter's 'train delay scarf' fetches more than $11K on eBay

Claudia Weber knitted the scarf using different colours of yarn to document every train delay she experienced in 2018.

'She doesn't understand why people would pay so much for it,' says knitter's daughter

This scarf knitted by a German commuter documents the frequency of train delays she experienced in 2018. (Sara Weber/Twitter )
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A hand-knit scarf that symbolizes one Munich woman's year of commuter hell has sold for more than $11,000.

Clerk Claudia Weber knitted the scarf after her daily commute, using rows of different colours of yarn to document every train delay she experienced in 2018. 

She and her family then put the 1.5-metre long "rail delay scarf" on eBay, where it sold on Monday for €7,550, or $11,487.50 Cdn.

"We were all really surprised," Claudia's daughter, journalist Sara Weber, told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"She always said that it's crazy because it's so ugly and she doesn't understand why people would pay so much for it."

But Weber's mother, who declined an interview, won't pocket the cash.

Instead, she is donating the proceeds to Bahnhofsmission, a charity that helps vulnerable passengers or people facing travel emergencies.

That's why the eBay bids went so high, Weber said. She knows who secured the winning bid, but wouldn't say who.

"I think it's more for the good cause than for a private person wanting to wear a scarf," she said.

Bahnhofsmission posted on Facebook Monday that it is "very happy" with the donation.

Colour-coded

Each colour on the scarf holds a different meaning: Two rows of grey wool means a delay of fewer than five minutes, pink is for delays between five and 30 minutes, and red signifies 30 minutes or more, or that the train was delayed more than five minutes in both directions. 

Grey wool means a delay of fewer than five minutes, pink for delays between five and 30 minutes, and red signifies 30 or more. (Sara Weber/Twitter)

One sizeable chunk of red represents a particularly rough patch of construction that caused the elder Ms. Weber's daily commute to more than double in length from 40 minutes to two hours.

"It was six and a half weeks, I think, of summer vacation time, when you really want to spend all your time on the train," Weber said.

"It was scheduled, which is why some people said it wasn't fair that she put it all in red."

Scheduled delays aside, transit in the country has been lagging overall. 

Roughly one-quarter of all trains and one-third of long-distance trains were late in 2018, reports the Guardian newspaper.

The German rail company Deutsche Bahn recently appointed a crisis manager to improve its punctuality and has set a 2019 goal of having 80 per cent of all trains and 76.5 per cent of long-distance trains run on time. 

In the meantime, Weber's mother is still knitting away. 

"She's knitting her 2019 scarf, actually," Weber said. "She has already used all three colours in the first days of the year."

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