Sunday, 7 July 2013

Meet Horace

I am so excited to show you this post. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I am making a Hippopotamus with my friend Karen. Well, it's time you met him. I've called him Horace.

Hello Horace!

This is the story of how Horace came to be...

Karen and I enjoy making lots of things together, even though we live over a hundred miles apart, we meet up on Facebook and sit and chat while we crochet. We made hippos together using this pattern from Heidi Bears.

For Horace I raided my stash of yarn (which is now taking over my studio, depite having an enormous walk-in wardrobe of it's own!). I only used three balls - in fact, not even the whole ball. I used 75g cream, 72g shocking pink, 66g lime green.

This yarn is acrylic - it was also an absolute bargain at 50p (UK) a ball. Although the label says it is DK (that's double knit), I think it is actually more like 4 ply. Heidi Bears suggests using sock yarn, but I didn't have any spare sock yarn so this would have to do. I adjusted the hook to suit - you need to use a smaller hook than the one suggested by your yarn weight. So, since this has the appearance of 4 ply I went down from a 3mm hook, to a 2.5mm hook. Remember my lovely spiral hook I got from Hand-Crafted by Annie? Yes - this is the project I bought it for. It was really comfortable - using a plain old metal 2.5mm hook felt like I was crocheting with a paperclip - the spiral hook was a joy! Thanks Annie!

I won't repost the photos of me making the African Flower motifs, they are still here if you want to take a look...

Well after much chatting, giggling and frogging (it's darned hard to count to seven AND have a conversation you know!), we made all our motifs - there were quite a few of them!

The pattern contains the directions to make all these different shapes, and the construction instructions. I really recommend that you read the WHOLE pattern before you start - I discovered to my horror that I had re-make the ears because they aren't a standard hexagon! OK, it only took me half an hour to sort it out, but I was so near the finish line! The ears are the last bit. Oh well, luckily Heidi didn't hear my cursing ;-)

Heidi suggests that you use the join-as-you-go method. I seem to have a mental block on this and STILL can't manage it. She suggests that you can sew the hippo together if you prefer. Ut oh! I'm allergic to sewing! So, me being me, I made it up as I went along and used a DC (UK term - SC in USA terms) join. Since this makes a ridge where your seam goes, I decided to use the lime green yarn to construct Horace. The way I had arranged my colours, I'd hardly used any green as there was just a thin single round of it in the motifs. I'm quite pleased with the effect of this method :-)

A word of warning - read, double check, and re-read the instructions as you make your hippo - I had to keep unpicking mine - oh and count carefully! I managed to mis-count the side on one of the motifs and had to undo an hour's work. Boy was so annoyed! I also recommend pinning the pieces at each stage and comparing them to the pictures in the pattern - it saves a whole lot of heart ache I can assure you.


The DC join lies in a particular direction - there is a definite ridge on the "right side" (ie the side facing you as you work), so I ad-libbed a bit with the instructions in order to give myself nice long seams to work along, so that the ridges all faced more or less the same direction. This is my interpretation of the neck end of the body:


After much effort, I managed to construct Horace - although he did look rather like a gorilla at one point.

Now I was ready to stuff him. I used synthetic kapok toy filling that I got from Ebay - the hippo took a surprisingly large amount of the stuffing - 250g for one hippo. That's one hungry hippo! You need to stuff him carefully - sculpt him a bit with the filling to give him a nice friendly shape.

As I planned to use Horace as a doorstop, I needed to think of some kind of weight to fill him with since 250g of kapok won't stop much! I thought about using builder's sand or gravel, but thought it could get a bit messy - so I hit upon a cunning plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel. (OK, I nicked that line from Blackadder) Curtain weights are flat, round lead weights - I found them in John Lewis' curtain dept - 4 weights for £1.50. I put 8 weights in each foot, so now my hippo is heavy AND has flat feet!

Pip seemed quite perplexed by this stage...

What's that Mum?

So I gave him Blue - his favourite smelly toy - to play with while I got on with Horace.

Oh dear, Blue doesn't seem as interesting as Horace.

Now the body was complete, it was time for the head. This bit was really fun as Horace took on a bit more character at each step.

There is no elegant way to add a hippo head, as I soon discovered. There's an awful lot of manoeuvring the body around and propping it between your legs. Thank goodness Pip was the only person who was watching me!

Now for some reason the pattern doesn't include a tail with it. Well, luckily that was easily remedied by knitting an i-cord. I used the lime green again, and two sock pins - double ended needles at 1.75mm size.

Cast on three stitches and knit them all - I had done a few rows before I remembered I should be taking photos!

Now shove all the stitches along to the other end of the needle.

And knit all the stitches again - depite the yarn being at the other end of the row, you just knit as normal, pulling the yarn across the back of your work. You will end up with a cord.

Keep repeating this until you have a tail the length you think looks good against the hippo. Cast off all the stitches as normal. And that's how you make an icord - very handy if you want a cord to match a hooded jumper you have knitted.

I finished off my tail with a glass bead I made myself. Yes, I made the bead myself! It was great fun - a Christmas gift from my sister to go and spend half a day learning how to make glass beads with a very dangerous blow torch and some skewers. It was really good fun! Sadly the Fireworks Studio in Bristol is now closed, but this little film clip shows you how it is done - if you look up "fireworks lampwork glass beads" in your area, you may find you can do a similar course. I made 12 beads that they put in their kiln to cool down under controlled conditions, and they posted them out to me within the week.

I confess, it was pure chance that I happened to make a bead in lime green with a pinky-orange swirl. Or should that be serendipitous?

Horace is complete!

I'm really pleased about how Horace turned out. I had my doubts at times, and I'll admit, I did find it rather boring making so many motifs all the same. But, now Horace is finished my pride at how he looks has over-ridden my doubts and I've forgotten how dull it was repeating the motifs - I imagine it's like child-birth. OK, it's probably not quite as bad as that, but you know what I mean...

Horace is now fully employed and standing guard at the bathroom door.

I hope you love Horace as much as I do. I think I know what someone will be getting for Christmas this year... Or maybe an elephant? But first, I need to finish some things!

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  1. Really lovely Rachel. Well done. xx

  2. I for one, loved the "Blackadder" pilfer. I love Horace too, and I can see why he holds so much interest for Pip. Blue is not quite as bold looking.

    Stop by and read about my rescue efforts last night. It was quite an event!

    1. I am glad to report that since Horace has been positioned on guard at the bathroom door, Pip's fascination has dwindled - Blue is back at no. 1!

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  4. Horace is beautiful! IS it ok to call a boy beautiful? lol He sounds like my Henrietta! Henrietta is candy pink, soft lime, bright pink and off white and she is way larger than the pattern called for. I can't put her into employment as my dog Summer, would have her for breakfast! lol She decorates the top of my cedar chest in a bedroom Summer isn't allowed into. Sounds like you had a wonderful time making Horace. Love his tail! I put a tail on Henrietta too!

    1. Hi Lynn - sounds like Summer is a bit like Pip - always getting into mischief! Fortunately, Pip appreciated being given a bone to chew on instead of Horace, and he gets a very stern 'No' if he starts eyeing him up :-)

  5. I love Horace! I'm reading backward so I know that he now has a stunning companion too (I think we need a pic of the two of them together).

    I also LOVE Blackadder - one of my all time faves :)

    1. Thank you Bug. I shan't tell Horace though - his head is already quite big enough!

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