she kept track of train delays by knitting herself a scarf
January 15, 2019 10:03 AM   Subscribe

A scarf knitted by a German woman to document her frustrations with frequent train delays has sold for €7,550 (£6,720) on eBay, as the country’s biggest railway company announces plans for a punctuality tsar. (The Guardian) Claudia Weber suspected that delays on her daily train commute had been increasing, so in 2018 she knit two colour coded rows per day, with each colour representing a delay of a particular length. She and her daughter auctioned off the resulting scarf for charity after it went viral on social media, and "she is donating the proceeds to Bahnhofsmission, a charity that helps vulnerable passengers or people facing travel emergencies." (CBC)

Related: track the weather by knitting a sky scarf (Lea Redmond)—each day at the same time, take note of the colour of the sky and knit two rows of that colour.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl (28 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
It also would have been cool if she knitted for as long as the delay lasted in varying colors. So that big red chunk on the scarf, instead of a series of 30+ minute delays, would indicate that she waited FOR. EV. ER. Next year, perhaps, if they trains don't start running on time.
posted by Grandysaur at 10:15 AM on January 15, 2019 [7 favorites]

This amuses me, as a friend and I have been trying to come up with alternatives to the weather scarves/quilts that we see on Instagram all the time. In Austin, if we did temperature, we'd have to 1) expand past the 90s that most folks use, to like, 120F, and 2) content ourselves with like 200 days of unrelenting heat. Oh, and there's always the tribulation of the Texas knitter, 3) get to wear the scarf for maybe a month.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:25 AM on January 15, 2019 [6 favorites]

Paging Edward Tufte.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:31 AM on January 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

Public shaming of a service by handicrafts. I'm into this.
posted by ananci at 10:43 AM on January 15, 2019 [26 favorites]

A different kind of yarn bombing. Cool!
posted by danabanana at 10:51 AM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

As a former German resident and frequent Deutsche Bahn user, I approve of this. For a country with amazing rail infrastructure (to an American at least) and that prides itself on precision, they are really terrible at handling train delays.

I think someone (a comedian maybe? I can't remember who) said DB is Germany's dirty little secret, gotta agree with that one.
posted by photo guy at 10:57 AM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like that, Grandysaur. With a daily row of neutral color to show whether a long red region was a summer of long delays or a week of incredible ones?

Maybe the delays could go into the third dimension, turning into popcorn stitches, or... tassels... coral involutions... Lots of opportunities for representational needlework!
posted by clew at 11:08 AM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm finishing a massive 8-ft long temperature blanket for 2018, where i took the high temp for each day off of Weather Underground and color coded it to a rainbow pattern. The temperature is based off of where we were, with contrast yarn, so you can track some of our travels (and see some dramatic temperature swings). Of course, this year was another record year for heat, so the spring, summer and fall months are just a swath of warm-colored yarns.

I'm trying to think of another year-long representational project, but I don't want to do another 365 rows. Maybe a precipitation scarf? Last year was a record-breaking rainy year, so it might be fun to track the differences between snow, sleet, rain and sunny stretches.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 11:12 AM on January 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

The scarf is colour-coded: grey wool meant her delay had been less than five minutes, pink signified delays of between five and 30 minutes, while red meant she was delayed for more than 30 minutes or had been delayed both ways.

Wait, but don't the pictures show a scarf that's blue, white, and red? Is this like that dress thing?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:17 AM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

The white is tinged pink, and the blue is probably a dark gray-blue. That was my interpretation, based on my monitor.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 11:31 AM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

...despite their country’s reputation abroad for efficiency and punctuality.

Isn't that just Swabians?

Württemburg ancestors represent!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:40 AM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've done two weather scarves just based on rain, sun, clouds and snow. This year i'm doing it in blanket form. I love year long projects so approve of this. The sky scarf designer (didn't do it cause in bc where i live I need a 1000 different colors just for the fog) also does a mood scarf for those interested. I wish I could find more ideas as after this weather blanket I'm done. I don't use public transportation here (3 hours to get to a place I can drive to under 10 minutes) but love the idea of this. Knitters quietly voicing complaint through yarn is wonderful
posted by kanata at 11:45 AM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

It is like the dress thing yes! Same mechanism.
posted by lokta at 12:12 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I once started a patchwork concert sweater for a friend's baby. Every concert I went to, I would knit a patch, switching textures as the band switched songs. I was then going to piece the patches together into a little cardigan. I never ended up piecing it together and the baby is 13 now.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:02 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't know if this is feasible, but another option would be to represent each day of the year as a colour in a rainbow spectrum, and any time there's a delay, start knitting with that colour? Then you'd get a rough idea of how long each delay is, as well as how many days there have been between delays. But maybe that doesn't work if you can only start a new colour at the beginning of a row, plus there's the hassle/cost of having to keep 365 wool colours on the off chance you might use them...

(can you tell I don't knit at all?)
posted by chrominance at 1:04 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

despite their country’s reputation abroad for efficiency and punctuality

You must be thinking of Switzerland.

In related news, it turns out that the stereotypical “English level-headed pragmatism” is actually Dutch, or possibly Swedish.
posted by acb at 1:07 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Chrominance, If you wanted to do a different color each day, I'd suggest using 16 colors, and then doing a garter stitch to identify a month change. 16 yarns would be a lot easier to deal with then 365. Switching colors within a row is possible, but annoying. Alternatively, you could wrap and turn, and do short rows, which would make for a very interesting shawl/scarf!
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 1:11 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Meanwhile, there's another OldDoctorWho marathon going on, right now midway into the Fourth Doctor's tenure. It is well-known that the costumers gave made his iconic scarf over the series, but not known if it was based on delays in the London Underground.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:17 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

One thing the article didn't mention is that the colours are the Deutsche Bank (German rail) colours, i.e. the colour scheme of the trains and website.
posted by lollusc at 1:30 PM on January 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

Deutsche Bahn, surely?
posted by acb at 1:34 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Argh yes. Autocorrect.
posted by lollusc at 1:40 PM on January 15, 2019

Gotta say, I love the protest-y spin on the skywatcher idea.

I did a temperature blanket last year in fleece, ~2×4" or so per day plus borders between the months. It is gi.nor.mous. (I already owned a lot of fleece and not as much yarn, and I am cheap.) Of course, 2018 lasted for 900 years, so that might have been part of the issue.

The meditative? effect of checking in with the same stat every day was pleasant. I kind of miss it.
posted by cage and aquarium at 1:46 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

I made two temperature scarves once but the darn things were too long to really do anything with. Probably should have used tiny yarn.

I would also like some kind of idea for the "knit a stripe a day" thing along these lines, but I don't know what.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:48 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

I should do something like that for the F train.
Azure - not going into Queens
Navy - not going into Manhattan
Sky - this train is being held at the station just kidding it's the last stop now get off the train, seriously people, get off the train
Orange - good service
posted by betweenthebars at 5:02 PM on January 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

On a related note (I am posting to my mailing list on this subject), here's some more on temperature projects:

Meet the Knitters Who Are Turning Climate Change Data Into a Fashion Statement: Their project is The Tempestry Project, which normally offers kits for sale but...they are on hold due to the governmental shutdown. There is a DIY section though.

Crafting takes a dark turn in the age of climate crisis: more on Tempestry, mental health, and other projects.

I love how this professor did a paper/presentation/poster on
“Utilizing Crochet to Showcase Temporal Patterns in Temperature Records from One Location and to Spark a Climate Conversation:”

The temperature blankets of Instagram
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:28 PM on January 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm trying to picture what my delay scarf would look like. Arriving 20 mins late is still fairly good, I've been an hour late many times. And in December the line shut for a few hours on two separate occasions. Heading in to work it's usually on time at my station yet has mysteriously lost 5-10 minutes by the time we arrive.

I'd have to pick a good colour for the more than 30 minute delays.
posted by kitten magic at 7:31 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

This amuses me, as a friend and I have been trying to come up with alternatives to the weather scarves/quilts that we see on Instagram all the time.

I’ve wanted to do this for the time I go to bed (with a different color for every half hour between, say, 8:30 and 3am) but I figured it would either end up incredibly boring or beautifully depressing. Theoretically you could do this for any daily habit—amount of water drunk might be fun in blues, or screentime. I think these would also be interesting as bi-color projects as just a yes/no, e.g. whether you read a book or exercised that day. I could see that being an interesting way to maintain a habit. Especially if you start playing yarn chicken and failing to do the habit means you’re one step closer to running out of a particular color before the project is done...
posted by brook horse at 5:47 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

The newly hired crisis manager has a great PR option here:

1) work diligently to fix issues for a year.
2) hold a press conference and show up wearing a pure white scarf.
#3) drop mic
posted by freecellwizard at 9:23 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

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