You will learn a lot about denim by experimenting the effects of abrasion and washing on indigo loss. It will give you a better eye for appreciating both industrial wash techniques and real worn jeans.
You will not be able to achieve light coloured washes quickly unless you use chemicals (and stone washing). However, you do have an advantage over commercial laundries - time, and perhaps more love. If you take your time, you can achieve a look that would be indistinguishable to real worn jeans. However, this may take several pairs of jeans to achieve the necessary experience.
There are 4 phases basic to this process : Shrink. Creasing. Abrasion. Wash.
Jhdas & Robbie have both posted this already, and I hope they will pardon me for elaborating on their suggestions.
First step: Get them shrunk. You can do it various ways, depending on how much shrinkage you want to achieve - at this stage you want to keep the indigo on the jeans so, you could just lie them in a bath of warm-hot water for a few hours. Change the water a few times so that the starch is allowed to be rinsed away.
Second step: Hang or spin until the jeans have almost dried. Wear them whilst they are still damp until they are dry. This will give you the creases. If you do this sitting, then the creases you get on your lap and behind the knees will be more exaggerated.
Third step: Abrasion - this is the removal of the indigo molecules that are sitting on the cotton fibres. In a professional denim laundry this would be known as 'dry processing'.
You can achieve the abrasion by using many different items, for example, a fine grade sandpaper, a smooth beach pebble or even a damp rag. The key is to go easy . Don't use fresh sandpaper, but start with some 'used' paper that has lost some of it's bite.
Whilst wearing the jeans, lightly brush across all the places that would naturally receive more wear. The front fly, lap, hips, back yoke & pockets, seat, inseam, honeycombs, belt loops, pocket edges and hems.
You'll see the change quickly as the areas that have received the abrasion will turn a brighter blue.
Forth Step : Wash - the aim here is to lose indigo, so stick it on a long warm machine wash. You could throw in other jeans if you wish. Use any detergent you like. If you turn your jeans inside out before washing you will avoid getting vertical wash lines along the legs. However you may not mind this effect, (I don't mind it at all), so in that case just chuck them in.
You can repeat steps 3 & 4 to achieve a lighter base colour. You could even lightly sand the whole leg (laying them on a flat surface) to achieve an all-over lightening in colour after you have done the work with the whiskers. Best thing to do is just wear them a lot.
Mistakes are inevitable, so just have fun.