Note: You really don't NEED to read all of this, but if you're interested in a good story and really want to understand why I'm asking what I am, you'll want to read it all.
Okay, so last year I teamed up with fellow craftster, stefferroo, for our science fair project. The teachers are always telling all their students that we should choose a topic we really enjoy because we're going to be spending a lot of time on the project, from background research to experimentation and analyzation of results. Of course, both stefferroo and myself being knitters and ubernerds, we decided we were going to knit for our project.
At first we weren't really sure what we could test with knitting, but then I was thinking one afternoon, and called up steff and asked about insulation. What we ended up with was a project which changed the gauge of our knitting and test how well whatever we knit would retain heat. Here's what we did, in a nutshell:
First, steff knit five sleeves (because tension of course varies from person to person) and then she put drawstrings in the top and bottom. We went out and bought some styrofoam cups, and borrowed a temperature probe from our school's science department. We boiled water, poured it in the cup, pulled the drawstrings shut, and using the temperature probe, measured the temperature drop every three minutes for a half an hour. If you want to see our setup, you can look here: http://i22.tinypic.com/xmn2tw.jpg but it is a large image, so it may take a minute to load.
Because our gauge didn't range very much (I think we went from like size 6 needles to size 11 or something) our results were inconclusive. There wasn't a major difference between each of the sleeves. We weren't even sure if the sleeve itself provided insulation, or if it was the fact that the top was closed that caused more heat to be retained. We needed to do further experimentation to really come up with anything. We ended up with a third place.
Now, this year, we decided to extend our project beyond just changing the gauge range. We're going to use different types of yarn to make our sleeves, but we're also going to widen our gauge range and test sleeves with the top open as well as with the top closed. We're aiming for 5 different types of yarn and three gauges. Of course, with all three variables and repeated trials, we're going to be spending 45 hours minimum running the experiment. Its going to be loads of fun, haha. I'm actually really excited. Thank goodness we're not changing yarn weight- perhaps we'll save that for senior year.
We ended up doing six fiber types and one gauge, open and closed- we cut it down to 20 hours of trials.
Now, our question is this: What types of yarn should we use? What gauges do YOU all think will provide a significant change in the temperature drop? On yarndex, there are about a jillion different types of yarn listed, but we want to use pure whatever. For example, we plan on using wool as one of our materials. We want 100% wool yarn- not a wool blend. We'll probably also do acrylic, of course, and maybe cotton, but we're not really sure what else to do. Bamboo would be really cool, but we're not really sure how difficult it is to knit with or anything. We're also interested in other animal fibers- alpaca, etc. We're trying for two animal fibers, two plant fibers, and the acrylic. remember that there will be steam trying to escape from the cups, so anything that doesn't do well with wet is probably out.
As for the gauges, we just worked from needle sizes last year and measured gauge afterward. I'm thinking size 3, then size 12 or so, then size 20 or so. Do you all think that's wide enough?
Thanks for your feedback!