1 washing machine
2 new pairs of denim jeans, preferably of different colors
1 plastic garbage bag (13 gallon or more)
2 knitting needles
1 electronic balance
laundry soap (optional)
carpet samples (optional)
polyester fiberfill (optional)
1. Weigh each pair of jeans separately on the electronic balance and record the weights in your lab notebook.
2. Remove any lint from the lint screens of the dryers.
3. Choose one pair of jeans (the "washed pair") to go in the washing machine. Place the other pair (the "unwashed pair") into the dryer.
4. If you prefer, you may add laundry detergent to the washing machine.
5. Begin the wash cycle.
6. When the wash cycle is completed, remove the washed pair from the washing machine and place it in the unoccupied dryer.
7. Begin the dryer cycle for both dryers.
8. When the cycle is complete, remove lint from the lint screen in each dryer. Weigh the lint on the balance, and record its weight in your lab notebook. Weigh each pair of jeans again on the balance, and record their weights as well.
9. Return the "washed pair" to the washing machine and repeat from step 4, until jeans have been converted to lint, or one has enough data (and lint) to proceed.
10. Prepare a graph of the masses of the lint and the jeans against the number of cycles of the process.
11. Answer the following questions in your lab report:
A) Did washing one pair cause it to turn to lint more rapidly? Why or why not? B) The total weight of lint and jeans at the end of the experiment is less than the original weight of the jeans. Where did the missing mass go? C) [if you did not proceed to the point of complete lint conversion:] Extrapolate from your data: how many cycles would be required to completely convert the jeans to lint?
12. Remove the collected lint from the garbage bag and use the spindle to spin it into yarn. You may need to proceed stepwise, spinning lint into thread, and thread into yarn, depending on the strength of the fibers. If the fibers are too weak to spin at all, they may be extended: try running towels or small samples of carpeting through the dryer and collecting the lint (particularly brand-new towels or carpet), or opening up a polyester-fiber-filled pillow and running it through a dryer (on low heat).
13. Knit the yarn into a sweater. If you run out of yarn, you may need to create more from additional pairs of jeans. Keep in mind that the yarn color is dependent on the original color(s) of the jeans, towels, etc. decomposed to create it: unless you intend to knit contrasting stripes or blocks of color, you should use the same colors of jeans to generate new yarn.
14. The resulting sweater will likely be too fragile to wear. If worn, do not machine wash. Dry clean, or hand-wash with a mild detergent and lay flat to dry.
ADVANCED STUDENTS ONLY: Vary the above process to create other knit items (blankets, socks, etc.) from other items of clothing (underwear, socks, blankets, etc.).