The Hippo of the Hour

So, my friend’s husband came out with a new knitting pattern on Ravelry that is very cute. It’s called House Hippo, and it only requires 5-6 grams of fingering weight yarn, which is about the same amount as you find in a “sock mini,” which are all the rage for people who like to make sock yarn square blankets.

Naturally, I felt driven to make myself a hippo. A purple hippo. I’m not sure why, it was a total whim, but I wanted to. My hippo is inspired by the wonderful Disney movie Fantasia. There is this wonderful scene that signals the beginning of my favorite portion of the film. I would actually watch that segment over and over again as a child. Ostrichs and hippos dance in ballet shoes, there is a dramatic scene with dancing crocodiles, elephants, and then the music fades and the shy, brightly-colored centaurs come out. The hippos dance to a famous ballet piece called Dance of the Hours. The tune was popularized in modern music by Allen Sherman’s parody, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.” Anyways, the idea of knitting a hippo in a tutu stuck in my head and I knew I had to whip one up.

I have discovered that I’m not the hugest fan of knitting very tiny toys. I think I just don’t have the patience for it. The pattern wasn’t a problem at all, but my attention span sure was. Only the fact that I wanted to get this done as a gift propelled me along. Of course, I couldn’t resist making slight changes to the original pattern, in part because I wanted my hippo snout to be more “hippo-like” and in part because I was lazy and wanted to finish it quickly. My pretty purple hippo was made using Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn in the nice, warm light purple color called Lantana. I think the new sock yarn from Knit Picks is fabulous. It is super-soft and stretchy and just a dream to work with.

First off,  it’s important to know that the cast-on area is where the neck of the hippo is located. I followed the pattern until Row 3, where, instead of knitting a full inch-long tube, I only knit half an inch of St st.  That is the hippo’s head, which is smaller than the nose of the hippo. For the actual snout, I first decreased six times, twice on each needle, by k2tog at the beginning and end of each needle. That left me with 18 stitches. In the very next row, I increased six times, kfb at the beginning and end of each needle, which pushed me back up to the head’s normal size of 24 stitches. But I wanted the snout to be larger than the head, so I repeated that 6-stitch increase in the next row. With 30 stitches total, I knit for 3/4 of an inch. Then I followed the decrease instructions as normal.

Instead of having a separate head and body, I simply picked up six stitches around the open neck hole and start casting on the body from there. After sewing all of the details on my hippo’s head, I stuffed it gently. Then I picked up and knit the six stitches, and then pulled everything really tight to make the neck smaller and more natural -looking. In the next row I moved up to ten stitches using the handy-dandy kfb stitch. Then I starting following the pattern again for the body.

I did the feet differently than the pattern called for, stuffing the insides of the I-cord with a wee bit of that fake stuffing (which I stole from my mother). The original feet look like they are better made, but I find I-cord to be exceedingly boring and annoying, and I really just wanted to get this little hippo finished. The good thing is, her feet now make her look like she is plie-ing, so it fits with my final design idea! I nabbed a bit of tulle and stitched it around her waist, so she really is a hippo in a tutu!


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