I had seen photos of lovely crocheted hippos cropping up on Facebook and really wanted to make one for myself. A quick Google search and I found the pattern on Ravelry. It’s by Heidi Bears Design and available as a downloadable PDF.
Having paid for the pattern and downloaded it onto my iPad and I was itching to get started but what yarn to use? The pattern recommends using sock / fingering weight yarn but I didn’t have any of this type of yarn to hand. I did have a stash of Stylecraft Special DK yarn which I decided to use as I wasn’t worried that the finished hippo would turn out larger than the size given in the pattern.
Heidi Bears’ Happypotamus uses lots of different colours but I wanted to use a limited colour palette. I fancied using the balls of Turquoise and Sherbet in my stash but wasn’t sure which other colours to use and in what combination so I did some sample motifs to help me decide. The combination I chose was Petrol, White, Turquoise and Sherbet, all from the Stylecraft Special DK range.
Doing these colour swatches also gave me the chance to try out different size hooks to make sure my tension was right. As I did’t want stuffing peeping through any gaps I wanted my tension to be quite tight and settled on using a 2.5mm hook.
Having decided on yarn, hook and colour scheme it was time to get started.
The motifs are all based on the African Flower pattern by Lounette Fourie and Anita Roussouw but instead of just hexagons you are required to make squares, pentagons, heptagons and octagons which are all clearly described in the pattern.
The pattern gives instructions for joining the motifs by crocheting them as you go but I decided to sew them together instead. I did use the crocheted join technique on the second hippo I made but overall I think I prefer sewing the motifs together as you get a flatter seam.
The pattern is very well written with plenty of photos that are a great help and Gloria soon started to take shape.
At the half way stage, once I had completed the body but not started on the head, I started adding some polyester stuffing. Gloria took a surprising amount of stuffing and it is worthwhile taking a bit of time to do this to get a nice shape.
It was clear as soon as the body was taking shape that she wasn’t going to be a small hippo but that wasn’t surprising given I was using a thicker yarn and larger hook than in the pattern. Finished, Gloria measures 20cm high, 55cm long and 20cm wide and I think she is a nice size for a child to cuddle.
As I was making Gloria for myself I used plastic safety eyes (when I make soft toys for children I embroider features like eyes and mouths). Adding the eyes and ears really does make the hippo come to life.
My husband was so taken with Gloria that he asked me to make one for a friend’s new baby girl. He wanted it to be brightly coloured chose a combination of Pistachio, Cream, Saffron and Spice yarn from my Stylecraft Special DK stash.
As the friend is German I wanted to give her a German name. The German name for hippopotamus is Flusspferd and so Frieda the Flusspferd was born.
As you can see from the photo of Frieda, the motifs have a slight ridge around each one, this is the result of using the crochet as you go method.
If you would like your very own African Flower Hippopotamus please contact me as I do make items to order.