August 9, 2013

The Last Time I Went Camping + FREE Knitting Pattern

Before I begin this blog post, I just want to say that there are three parts to this ...
1) The Backstory
2) The Story
3) The Free Knitting Pattern

/The Backstory\
If I had to voluntarily choose my spirit animal, I would most definitely choose a lion because they are awesome and have amazing hair.

But in actuality, I seem to have a long and unavoidable connection with bears.

At a young age, my father nicknamed me 'Bear' and that is what I was called all throughout my childhood. Family friends and relatives picked this up to, and no one ever called me Ashlee (unless I was trouble).

My dad granted me the nickname because I apparently was a super cuddly and cute child but when I got angry, watch out cuz I turned into a bear.

My husband's nickname for me is baby bear because he finds it adorable. I asked him at dinner tonight why he choose it for me and he couldn't remember a reason or story behind just is my nickname because it's cute.

Personalized Baby Bear PJ's from a few Valentine's ago.

Growing up in Colorado was beyond fantastic for me. My dad was incredibly outdoorsy and together we would plan camping trips, week long backpacking excursions and would hike 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet) regularly each year.

Each time before we went camping, we would get bear mace at the local REI, he would show me how to safely keep our food out of animal's stomachs and my dad and I would have the most awkward conversations about when my 'time of the month' was going to be because you sure as heck don't want to go into the Rocky Mountains when you are walking target for bears to maul you (they are attracted to the scent of blood like sharks).

(Sidenote: Here is a fun read about the attraction of bears to menstruating women).

So I grew up as a pretty experienced camper, hiker and all around awesome person :)

/The Story\

After living in various big cities on the East Coast with my husband for a few years, we were very excited to move to a state that had 'mountains' again (they aren't the Rockies, but they are better than nothing).

We stocked up all the necessary camping supplies from Wally-Mart (cheddar wurst brats, a box of wine for me and plenty of marshmallows) and headed out to the north Georgia mountains to camp.

John had read about a place online that he wanted to try that was a few hours away, so we took to the mountain roads in our Prius. The drive was fine and dandy until we came to the off-roading part. We ended up having to go a very cautious 10 mph along a curvy, boulder filled road and had to navigate slowly so we didn't scrape the bottom of our car in all the dips, but after a very long drive we finally made it.

The camping spots weren't what I was used to in Colorado. In Colorado, you find a mountain, you build a camp. You find rocks to make a fire ring, you bring toilet paper to poop in the woods and you set up tent in the flattest area.

Here we had parking spots at each camp site, already built fire pits, restrooms available for everyone in the campground and a special pre-flattened area for your tent.

I scoffed at first and talked about how 'this wasn't really camping.'

We ended up finding the only spot that actually had the campsite away from the main area. You parked, crossed a little stream and about 50 yards later there was campsite in the trees. You couldn't see anyone else and we were also really close to the restroooms (hey...if they provided them, I was going to use them).

So we set up camp and did our typical camping ritual...eating, drinking, reading, playing games and trying to be the one who gets to play with the fire.

It's how we roll.

So anyway...first day and night went great. It was a beautiful place, we were having fun and I was making up for some lost time with my cheddar wurst brats (every camping trip I fall off the vegan/vegetarian wagon hard).

So right around dusk on the second night, some fella walks into our camp and starts talking to John. John had walked down to meet him since we were a bit from the road so I couldn't quite hear what they are talking about.

They talk for about five minutes and after he leaves, I ask John what he wanted.

At this point, I can tell that John is choosing his words very carefully.

He casually mentions to me that there was a bear that had walked into a campsite a few down a little bit ago.

Cue me freaking out.

I start being like, 'What?!?!?! What?!?!?! A bear?!?!?!?'

John then proceeds to casually tell me that a family was eating dinner around the picnic table when a bear wanders into camp, walks up to their table WHILE they are EATING DINNER, climbs the table and steals their food.

Cue me freaking out more.

'Oh my god. OH MY GOD! We have to pack up. We need to leave!!'

John starts to 'try' to calm me down telling me that it isn't a big deal, that the bear is more scared of us than we are of him, that he is going to leave us alone, we don't have any food out so he's not interested, blah blah blah.

I am not listening at all to him at this point. I start to get a little bit of anxiety going to be honest.

To calm me down, he pours me a big old glass of wine and tries to get me take my mind off of it by offering to play cards. I agree but I begin my mandatory bear watch.

Did I mention that it is pitch black at this point because the guy walked in right at dusk?!?

So every 5-10 minutes, even though it is pitch black, I scan the horizon with our cheap Wally-Mart flashlight, keeping my eyes out for a bear.

(Sidenote: As I am typing this out right now, my heart is beating so fast because I am scaring the crap out of myself all over again).

After about an hour, I flash my light over the horizon and I see two eyes staring RIGHT BACK AT ME from about 50 feet away!

I start screaming and John immediately goes into super husband mode and starts banging shit, screaming 'HAH! Get out of here! GIT!' and running around trying to scare the bear off.

My first instinct is to save my puppy who is completely baffled and scared beyond belief. We have him tied up to a pole so I start untying knots all while trying to keep my eye out for the bear.

I get Cooper loose and grab the flashlight again. I scan the horizon and the bear has somehow sneaked up on us FROM BEHIND and is 20 feet away, about 3 feet from our tent.

I do what one isn't supposed to do around a bear and grab the car keys and run as fast as I can with Cooper towards the car.

As I am running the 50 yards, out of the woods come running (and I swear to jeebus on this) three shirtless rednecks holding PBRs and screaming, 'Bear? Did you all say BEAR?'

Cooper and I get our butt into the Prius and I hear in the distance my husband and the three hillibillies yelling at this stupid bear. All I hear is drunken southern mountain redneck cussing and lots of noise.

I am shaking I am so scared.

After about five minutes, all four of them come running out of the woods. The bear hadn't left the camp really and keep duking into the woods to sneak attack them from a different angle. The guys grabbed some of our things and ran back to our car after realizing that this bear wasn't going to give up.

My husband and I thanked our shirtless heros and I insist that we have to leave immediately.

My husband makes the excellent point that we won't be able to pack up in the dark and that there is no way we can go down the dangerous mountain road at night in our Prius. I pout. I start shaking and I don't remember if I cried but I wouldn't be surprised if I did.

We all three crawl into our Prius for the most restless, uncomfortable night of sleep ever. We obviously couldn't keep our AC running all night and when we cracked the windows the bugs came in via swarms and I was fairly positive that damn bear was going to come flip our Prius over. So we tried to relax, tried to get comfy in the ever so roomy prius and sweated the night out.

We also had the pleasure of watching every single campsite pack up around us. Our commotion had been heard throughout all 30 campsites and in the morning there were only five or so camps left. Since everyone else had SUVs and they had campsites where they could park at, they got to use their headlights to pack up their site at 11:00pm.

At the first break of light in the morning, I looked like someone on speed packing up that campsite. I was running around like a crazy person, trying to get the hell out of there. We finally hit the road after 30-45 minutes and I have refused to camp since.

That was two years ago and we have been back up to the Georgia mountains twice and each time...I did the smart thing and insisted on a cabin.

As we were driving home from that camping trip, my husband called his parents to tell them about what had happened (he had already moved onto 'the laughing about it' stage while I was still in 'the anxiety attack' stage).

A few days later we got a little present in the mail from them.

My very own bear bell. Apparently the jingling lets bears know where you are so they stay away...

or maybe its so they know where to find you.

/The Free Knitting Pattern\


Are you still with me?

Barely? Well...let's make this worth your while.

~ Bear Phone Cozy ~
(want a printer friendly version CLICK HERE)

Yarn: About 50 yards of Worsted Weight yarn. I used Lion Brand's 'Wool-Ease' worsted weight in Blue Heather.
Needles: US Size 4 for Cast On (straight or double pointed), US Size 7 double pointed needles 
Crochet Hook: Size G
Notions: Tapestry Needle, Stitch Marker, Pom Pom maker, felt or buttons for face
This pattern was originally made to fit a Motorola Defy XT phone. That phone is 4.5 inches tall x 2.3 inches wide x 0.5 inches thick. It is identical in size to the Iphone 4 and .3 inches taller than the Iphone 5. 
 This pattern can easily be adjusted to allow for taller or shorter phones while you work on the pattern. 
My gauge was 5 inches wide by 6 inches tall per inch.


With the size 4 needles, cast on 28 stitches.
I used the knitted cast on (found here), but if you have a different version you prefer, go hog wild.
Row 1: Using the size 4 DPN needles, join in the round and place a stitch marker at the beginning of the round. Be careful not to twist. Spread the stitches as evenly as possible across your needles. 
Do 1 round of K1, P1
Row 2: Transfer all the stitches to the size 7 DPN's with a round of K1, P1. After completing this round, you should be done with the size 4 needles and have all the stitches on the size 7 needles.
Rows 3-6: Knit 4 more rows in the K1, P1 repeat.
Rows 7-34: Knit all stitches
(feel free to test out the size as you knit along, making it longer or shorter for your particular phone)

Row 35: Finish by a) binding off and seaming flat or b) graft bottom closed.
I grafted the bottom closed on mine.

Warning: I really can't crochet. I tried to knit numerous types of ears but they were all floppy and didn't look right. Only after fiddling around with crocheting was I able to come up with ears that I liked. 

With that said, I have never written any sort of crochet pattern before, so please let me know if any of this doesn't make sense or is written wrong.

Using a size G hook, Chain 4, Join
Round 1: Work 6 SC through the chain,
Round 2: Chain 1, turn work around and go in opposite direction, do 2 SC in each of the next 5 stitches. - 10 SC total

Tie off and make another.

Using a pompom maker (or cardboard) make a pompom about 1 inch wide. Leave a long pompom tail so you can easily sew it to the bear.

Get back out your size G crochet hook. Leaving about an 8 inch tail, do a chain of 20.

Do not join or anything, just tie off. You just want a chain.

1) Sew the ears to the top of the piece
2) Sew the pom pom to the back side about half an inch from the bottom
3) On the front side, double over the chain and attach it near the middle bottom edge. Once attached the chain will be looped around the pompom to keep the phone in the cozy (see above photo).
4) Make adorable face out of felt, buttons or embroidery thread which only a mother could love. 

Tie off knots, hide ends and stare at your masterful creation.

Email me at with any questions, concerns or feedback. I would love to see photos of yours if you make it, so be sure to check this pattern out on Ravelry!

This pattern is for personal use only. Please don't sell anything made with it.

Thanks so much for checking this out!

~ With Love, Ashlee ~

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1 comment :

  1. I just about died laughing, even though I have already heard this story from you guys already. And I wish I knew how to knit... or had a smart phone to protect. I would knit myself a bear cozy. :)


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