“I didn’t throw it away” blog train


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"I didn't throw it away" - Why do we hold onto certain objects for years and throw away others? | www.cucicucicoo.com

Do you know Agy, the wonderful eco-conscious creator behind Green Issues by Agy? I love the twist she puts on her sewing and other crafty projects. This December and January she has been trying to get behind the reasons why people hang on to certain material objects for many, many years despite our living in a disposable society that values above all the new. She’s organized a long list of bloggers who have shared some of the things that they’ve kept for at least 20 years, explaining why in the “I didn’t throw it away” blog train. So today I’m going to share some of the things I’ve had for ages and why I haven’t gotten rid of them.

Three DIY street toys from repurposed materials for kids who love cars! Toy streets, street signs and a stoplight | www.cucicucicoo.com

It’s true that we live in a disposable and consumer society and we’re trained to always want new things. But often that’s not economically possible. We have some hand-me-down furniture in our home, not necessarily because we like it, but because we don’t want to have to spend money on new furniture. But there are some things that aren’t worth much money (or wouldn’t cost much to replace), that we tend to hold onto. The key behind them is how they make us feel. A classic is for people to keep their favorite toys or books from their childhood. There’s something almost magical about them that bring you back in time, and remind you of when you were little.

And how awesome is it when your own kids use your old toys?! Remember the picture above from my post on DIY street toys for kids? The two purple cars, the ladybug car and the Vons truck were all mine and, before that, my siblings’. It’s so fun to see pieces from your own past interact with your kids’ present!

You can even discover things about your own past from these objects. When my mother saw the picture above, she asked me if I knew that Vons was a supermarket chain in California. I had no idea! I was born in California, but raised in Massachusetts from the age of two, so I have no memories at all of living there. I’d just always assumed that Vons was some made-up name!

"I didn't throw it away" - Why do we hold onto certain objects for years and throw away others? | www.cucicucicoo.com

Some toys bring you back in time in a different way. I used to love this record player/music box, but I’m so glad that we kept it from my childhood because you would never find a toy like this in a shop today. We have a record player in our home, but my kids still call them “CDs” because it’s a foreign sort of technology to them.

"I didn't throw it away" - Why do we hold onto certain objects for years and throw away others? | www.cucicucicoo.com
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Same thing with those Fisher Price Chatter Telephones that a ton of kids in my generation had. This isn’t a photo of mine because I’ve packed mine away after my little boy nearly destroyed it, but it’s the same as this. Kids today don’t instinctively know that it’s a telephone because phones today don’t look or work anything like they used to! Toys like this teach kids about how things have changed over time. Heck, they also remind us adults how much things have changed since we were little!

Crochet hats: the Ayer's Rock pattern and a slouchy beret | www.cucicucicoo.com

You can also get really attached to objects if they remind you of someone. I published this picture of my son and me a few posts ago. My grandmother knitted the red hat that Nicky is wearing when I was little. That hat stretched out and grew along with me and I continued to wear it throughout adulthood because it reminded me of my beloved grandmother.

"I didn't throw it away" - Why do we hold onto certain objects for years and throw away others? | www.cucicucicoo.com

When my grandmother died four years ago, my mother saved a bunch of things that she cleared out of the house that she knew I would appreciate. I suppose they don’t really count for the subject of this blog train because they weren’t in my possession until relatively recently, however they were things that my grandmother had had for many years and that I will never get rid of.

For example, my grandmother’s knitting needles. She used these to knit that red hat I loved so much and so many other things. My mother threw in her own stash of knitting needles, too, knowing that she wouldn’t use them anymore. I remember being fascinated by those jumbo needles of my mother’s when I was little. Most of these are plastic and a few of them have actually broken when I’ve used them (like you can see here), but I love them because they belonged to the two people who taught me the basics of knitting years ago (I have photos of the two of them helping me start my first scarf, which later became a poncho).

"I didn't throw it away" - Why do we hold onto certain objects for years and throw away others? | www.cucicucicoo.com

The same goes for my grandmother’s knitting bag. I hate bags without a shoulder strap, so I never would use this bag if I didn’t have that emotional attachment to it.

"I didn't throw it away" - Why do we hold onto certain objects for years and throw away others? | www.cucicucicoo.com

I also got a ton of knitting and crochet patterns, books and magazines that had been my grandmother’s. Some of them are awesome just because of their vintage quality. The hats in that Bernat book are so 60’s awesome! I will never use the cardboard rectangles that my grandmother used to make pompoms because I have newer tools that are easier to use, but I love imagining how she wrapped yarn around them. My mother gave me her old Complete Book of Needlecraft that she learned many techniques from. It’s so much easier to just look online to learn these things, but I love leafing through it and thinking of my mother.

I nearly jumped out of my skin when I opened up a crochet magazine to find this photo of baby blankets because I had that very same pink/blue/white chevron blanket for my babies. Why is that? Because this is the pattern that my mother used to crochet it back when she was expecting her first child, my big brother. And that blanket got passed from child to child, grandchild to grandchild. How wonderful is it to have the original copy of the pattern!

"I didn't throw it away" - Why do we hold onto certain objects for years and throw away others? | www.cucicucicoo.com

As I’m the only remaining knitter in our family, I’m also the only sewer left, so I inherited bags full of fabric (some of which I used for furoshiki) and sewing tools (the above is only a small selection). Some of these things I use sometimes (like the sewing gauge that I showed in my hemming lesson) and some of them I never use (like the pattern tracing wheel), but I hang onto them all firstly because I love using the very tools that my grandmother bought and used. But I also love the vintage packaging and styles. I never see hand needles made in England that are packaged in cloth inside the little envelope. The decades-old price tags are pretty funny, too!

I  could go on and on all day writing about all the things that I have that are at least 20 years old, but I’ll cut it short here. Thanks, Agy, for inviting me to take part in this series! It’s been great to really think about the reasons why we keep certain things for decades!

Question of the day: Have you owned any objects for over 20 years? Why have you kept them? Do you actually use them?

I’d love to hear about the objects that are near and dear to you!



  1. OMG! Your grandmother’s knitting bag looks like the same print that was on a Sewing Basket I inherited somehow. I recently carefully removed the outside as it was one of those wooden standing ones and made a new cover for it. I kept the old cover for a pattern! I have a few things from my childhood, toys, my first stitchery project when I was a Brownie and many more things that I’m sure my children will toss when I pass. I think my sister saved every toy her kids had and every stitch of clothing they wore as last year when we were contemplating making T-shirt quilts she had over 50. I begged her to narrow them down and dispose of the not-so-significant ones, but I doubt she did. I made 2 T-shirt quilts, one for each daughter, but she is still in the “planning stages.” I was forced to shed many things when we moved, but somethings, I used to pack dishes, picture frames, glassware, some larger pieces of fabric etc. Now in our temporary living arrangments I could’ve used those old jeans to make a quilt as requested for my daughter, but that will have to wait until we move back. I also packed my buttonhole attachment thinking I wouldn’t be making any clothes, but again that was not good planning. My pj’a fell apart and now I had to buy some, but am saving the old salvageable parts for wipes, hopefully someday for a grandbaby.

    • Rosemary! Now that you mention that, I’m remembering a knitting basket with a wooden frame that my grandmother had and I have no idea where it ended up! And dang it, I could *definitely* use one of those instead of throwing my in-progress works in a heap on top of my bureau! Yes, space is a huge issue. My mother kept insane amounts of things from our childhood because she’s been living in the same house will full-sized attic and basement for over 30 years. I’ve moved across the ocean, bringing just a little at a time with me in my luggage, and in any case, we live in an apartment with very limited storage space, so I’ve had to pass on many of the things that my mother so diligently saved for so many years. But I have made a selection of super special items that I am keeping. But sometimes I do regret having gotten rid of something or other. For example, my daughter is a total My Little Pony fan and she nearly passed out when I showed her a picture online of the big pony castle I had when I was little. She was so upset when I told her that I don’t have it anymore! Although thankfully I did save my actual ponies, and my kids use them constantly!

  2. I love this post! I have a dress that Noni helped me sew 24 years ago. The dress still fits but it’s ratty, faded, and too short. But I keep it in my closet year after year anyway. I also love seeing my children play with my old toys and read my old books.

    • Linda, please don’t ever get rid of that dress! Even I have memories of you making it and even more of you wearing it, so if you ever decide that you don’t want it anymore, give it to me! Or at least we can transform it into something else, like a throw pillow or something. True, I didn’t mention books in this post, but it’s so great to read books with the kids that I have memories of and an emotional investment in! And that old book smell and ratty covers… ahh, just love ’em! 🙂

  3. Thank you for joining the blog train. Oh my, we had the same toys too. I still remember playing with that phone and the record player. Thanks for the memories!

    • Tons of us from our generation had a lot of the same toys! There’s just something about them that brings you back in time, right? And it’s totally true that they don’t make toys like they used to, at least not for the most part. There are still some great wooden toy makers out there, like Melissa & Doug. Thank *you* for inviting me along for this fun blog train ride down memory lane, Agy!

  4. Che bellissima idea un’iniziativa del genere, servirebbe anche tra blog italiani! Ho letto con tantissima tenerezza il tuo post questa mattina… è proprio vero, noi tendiamo a rinnovare sempre tutto, ma sono le cose che rimangono che hanno più valore!

  5. I grew up in South Africa with those same toys and grandmothers who both knit with those same needles. I love how many of the objects shared in this series are familiar and connect us in spite of where we grew up and/or live now.

    • Candice, now your comment is finally showing up! Strange WordPress! But yes, I’m feeling quite connected with the other people who are sharing the same sort of things as part of this blog train, as well as those commenting! 🙂

  6. Post interessantissimo e molto nostalgico, mi son venute le lacrime agli occhi!!! Io ho conservato il mio cane di pelouche, Bobi, ed ha più di trent’anni!!!

  7. There is something really special about having and using patterns and equipment that our parents and grandparents owned isn’t there?. You can remember their hands using the items as you see your own hands using them too. I have really enjoyed reading the posts in this blog train and have really noticed how many people have beautiful things they have inherited, like you have shared here today with us. I really feels like preserving history as much as being sentimental.

    • What you write is so true, Julie! I can just picture my grandmother’s soft finger inside the thimble or her wrinkly hands holding the knitting needles, and it means so much! I too have loved seeing the incredible things people in this blog train have inherited!

    • It’s funny how many of us who grew up on different continents had the same toys! Yesterday a friend told me that she had the same telephone toy, too! Thanks for stopping by, Mira! 🙂

  8. I had to giggle over the record player and it’s records being called cd’s, that and the phone certainly do highlight how much has changed since our childhoods. Your grandma’s sewing equipment gets me excited too. It’s just beautiful.

  9. I am sorry I am a bit late with my visit on this particular post! You reflected on many things you didn’t throw away and I can relate to that too. and quite enjoyed reading it! Must say I love your grandma’s bag 🙂

  10. Che bello leggere questi tuoi ricordi Lisa. Anche il conservo gelosamente alcuni giochi di quando ero piccola ed è stato una grande piacere passarli ai miei bimbi. Anche mia nonna aveva sferruzzato una copertina rosa e azzurra per mia mamma quando aspettava me. Indovina un po’? La copertina l’ho usata per i miei bimbi e ora l’ho passata a mia sorella che aspetta una bimba. Adoro queste cose, non buttare ma conservare e donare!


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