Month: May 2014

Laundry Swap!? (Part 2)

by D.J. 

We just wrapped up our second week as Laundry Swap! participants.

Laundry Swap! is a not-for-profit that connects slow launderers for long-distance laundry exchanges through the mail. It’s like having a pen pal, except instead of reading about an exotic stranger’s faraway life, you’re hand-washing their clothes. So, amazing idea, right?

Unfortunately, so far it’s been a little disappointing.

Laundry Swap!’s member guidelines say “Doing laundry is a luxurious journey that should be savored and enjoyed. So don’t rush it – but at the same time, remember that your laundry swap partner probably does need their clothes back at some point.” I totally agree with that, but especially the last part.

Knit diaper

Hand-washing woolen diapers isn’t an experience we were willing to keep to ourselves.

Our son wears cloth diapers, which my wife Cate knitted out of angora yarn. (He has sensitive skin, probably a holdover from when we were using commercial detergent.) Each diaper takes a few weeks for Cate to knit (she hasn’t really gotten the hang of it), so we only have six diapers total. That means we have to wash them every day. But our swap partner has only been washing them every TWO or THREE days. Buddy, if you don’t want to hand-wash dirty diapers every day, what are you even DOING in the slow laundry movement?

So, I’ve emailed Laundry Swap! and asked for a partner who appreciates the importance of doing laundry daily. We’ll see what happens.


Leash your dog, Yuppie (Part 3)

by D.J.

If you read this blog, you know Cate and I have been trying to find a more natural and less-commercial alternative to store-bought fat. Specifically, I’ve been trying to harvest wild animals for fat.

My recent attempt to bowhunt squirrels in Rock Creek Park was a mixed success. So this weekend I tried setting traps and wire snares in Malcolm X Park along paths that looked well-used by animals. And they were hugely successful – I trapped more than a dozen animals.

Malcom X Park

This is the game trail where I set my trap.

Unfortunately, all of the animals I caught were small dogs. (Well, almost all. I also caught one small jogger.) But you know what? If their owners would have kept them on leashes, that probably wouldn’t have happened, because not too many dogs on leashes got caught in the snares.

None of the dog owners saw it that way, though. They were too caught up in their “oh, my precious little furbaby, is your widdle paw hurt” selfishness to realize that if anything, they had wronged me, by letting their dogs trigger my snares. And I wasn’t even able to reset the snares – whenever I tried to, the yuppie dog owners at the park chased me off with thrown water bottles and clods of dirt. I hate to say it, but this kind of thing is why I’m a cat person.

(I mean, I caught a few cats in my snares too, but no one gave me a hard time about it.)

Laundry Swap!! (Part 1)

by D.J. 

Just a quick post to share how psyched I am about Laundry Swap!!

A big part of why I got into slow laundry was to learn more about my own clothes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn about other people’s clothes, too.

That’s just what Laundry Swap! lets you do. Once you sign up, you’re assigned a swap partner. You mail them your dirty laundry, and they mail their dirty laundry to you, and you’re each responsible for washing the other person’s laundry and sending it back. Believe it or not, this is a free service! (Except for postage.)

Cate and I just signed up, and we can’t wait to see what kind of partner we get. Maybe it will be a Tibetan monk who sends us his robe! Or a Northern California nudist’s beach towel! Or a Kenyan teen who is wearing the H&M pants that I donated to Salvation Army last year! Stay tuned.

Japanese box

This package of dirty laundry smells like friendship!


Cate’s Expert Sewing Tips

by Cate

Kate's latest attempt at cross stitching

My latest attempt at cross stitching. I know it doesn’t look that bad, but it was supposed to be a picture of our cat.

As D.J. mentioned last week, ever since we started hand-washing our clothes, I’ve had to spend a lot of time mending seams, patching holes, and reattaching pant legs. (Actually the pant legs are because D.J. keeps changing his mind about whether or not he looks good in cut-offs.)

The problem is, I hate sewing, and I’m not very good at it. So I’ve come up with a few alternatives to the thread and needle, and I thought I’d share them with you so you can benefit from my ingenuity.

Staples are a quick way to mend a torn seam, and they’re not very noticeable, especially if your clothing has turned grayish thanks to your homemade laundry detergent. I have one dress whose entire hemline is held up with staples, and no one has ever noticed! At least, no one has ever commented on it. (I do try to stay in dim lighting whenever I’m wearing it though.)

The only drawback is that staples might eventually start to chafe. D.J. claims that the staples holding together the waistband of his underwear are so painful that it’s hard for him to concentrate at work, but I’ve urged him to just channel the pain and use it to make himself a better database architect.

Duct Tape
Duct tape is easy to use and can patch large holes, but unfortunately it is also pretty noticeable. Unless you are repairing a garment that’s made entirely out of duct tape.

Hot Glue
Hot glue will fix just about anything, but it doesn’t hold up in the wash, which means you have to keep hot-gluing the same garments over and over. I recommend adding some “hot glue time” to your morning laundry routine, in between greasing your iron and building a fire to boil the washwater.

Buying Replacement Clothes and Hoping D.J. Doesn’t Notice
After adding a few strategically placed stains to make the clothes look used, no one will be the wiser. A nice touch is to sew a few stiches wherever the hole in the original garment was, to make it look like you just did a really good job of patching it up.

(If you’re reading this, D.J.: ha ha! Just kidding about that last one! You know what a jokester I am. Like that time you thought you saw me using the laundromat across the street, but really I was just playing a complicated prank on you.)

Dress Code

by D.J.

Since we started hand-washing our clothes, they’ve been experiencing a lot more wear and tear. In my view, this is good thing; it proves that hand-washing is much more powerful than machine washing. With a washing machine, you never really know if you’re going to get a stain out. But with a washboard and a few hours’ spare time, I can scrub away at that stain until not even the fabric is left.

Unfortunately, my office is business-casual. I say nothing is more casual than holes in your clothes, but my boss Pam has told me (a few times) that she disagrees. So I need to fix these holes.

Shorts covered in patches

I’m SO SORRY my shorts don’t fit my boss’s image of what “business casual” looks like.

Cate thinks the solution is to buy new clothes. Maybe she’s happy being a mindless consumer drone, buying yet another new blazer because the sleeve on your old blazer came off in the washtub again. But blazers are not a renewable resource. Whatever they make wool from, someday it’s going to run out.

So I’m been encouraging Cate to spend a little time mending our clothes, in addition to washing them. And honestly, I’m jealous of her. If only I could spend my days darning socks and repairing the elastic bands in underwear! But some of us have to work for a living.