My Happy Little Rainbow Hippo

Hey there! Just letting you know this blog post may contain affiliate links (marked with an asterisk*). If you make a purchase through one of these links, a small percentage goes back to me to help run this website (and buy nappies). Full details are in my disclosure. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Rainbow crochet african flower hippo by Jennfer Wang Bears (original design by Heidi Bears "Happypotamus")

Somewhere… Over the rainbow…
A sweet little hippo is born!

At long last, after almost an entire month of piecing him together, I’ve finally completed my very first Heidi Bears design. Say hello to Rainbow Hippo – a mini version of “Happypotamus”.

This is by far Heidi’s most popular pattern, and is available for sale through Craftsy*Ravelry and Etsy. I have to say, the amount of love, care and detail this woman puts into her patterns is phenomenal. I’m absolutely in awe of her work.

Heidi’s instructions are clear and SUPER detailed, even to the point of repetition, which is exactly what you need when first learning to make something this complicated. The good news is, once you’ve mastered one design, the rest are a breeze, and the whole process is so relaxing and soothing, it’s just like putting together your own little crochet jigsaw puzzle!


My little mini rainbow hippo was made entirely from embroidery thread split into two strands. Like the crazy person that I am, I did this entirely by hand, dividing one thread into thirds and winding them onto little spools.

Daiso Pastel Embroidery ThreadI took advantage of the cheery pastel embroidery packs found at my local Daiso store in Sydney, using just over half of the 36 skeins from 3 packets. Each pack has 12 different colours, although I didn’t end up using them all. I’m so happy with Daiso’s cotton embroidery thread. It’s super cheap and fairly easy to split (although there’s only so far a strand will separate before it curls into a tightly-wound cord of indestructibility). Also, since I’m not much of a colour-coordinating whiz, it was a relief to have matching colours laid out neatly for me in cute little packets. What a great find. Thanks, Daiso!

NOTE: If you’d like to make this project yourself, you can easily replace the above thread with similar colours using a different brand. You could also try doubling up strong machine embroidery thread instead of splitting embroidery thread.

"Rainbow Mini Hippo" made by Jennifer Wang Bears (Happypotamus pattern by Heidi Bears)

Pastel Colors Embroidery Thread (Daiso)

A note on hooks...

This was my first time using a 0.5mm hook and I was amazed to find it was much easier than I expected. Ok, I’ll admit that working with such a teeny hook left me with scary finger calluses and damaged my eyesight beyond repair, but when I look into my sweet little hippo’s eyes I find myself wanting to make one all over again! If you’re far-sighted, DO NOT even attempt such a small project. You’ve been warned.

I need to stress that quality is key when it comes to using a tiny hook. Since completing this project, I’ve made two more hippos, and the tip of my cheap steel hook is now completely bent out of shape. The grip and hook shaft has also noticeably discoloured – not happy! My hook was also far too sharp, and I kept stabbing myself  over and over until my finger resembled a giant crater (ouch!). The original hook I used was part of a cheap 22-piece set*, which I LOVE and has served me well, but I ended up replacing my smallest hook with  a no. 14/0.5mm steel hook by Clover*. Let me just say, this was the best. Decision. Ever.

Rainbow Crochet African Flower Hippo by Jennfer Wang Bears using Daiso embroidery thread (original design by Heidi Bears "Happypotamus").

"Rainbow Mini Hippo" made by Jennifer Wang Bears (Happypotamus pattern by Heidi Bears)

My Rainbow Hippo

I’ve nicknamed my lovely, chubby friend hema baobao, or “hippo baby”. He measures approximately 12cm (4.7 inches) in length from tail to snout, and is roughly 5cm (2 inches) in height from toe to shoulder.

All in all, this little guy is made up of 44 African Flower motifs of various shapes and sizes. Each one is crocheted individually and joined to the next via whip stitch and the join-as-you-go method (JAYG).

Personally, while JAYG is often more convenient than using good ol’ whip stitch, I found that my edges started to become uneven as I moved closer towards the head. This is because the angles became tighter, making it harder to manoeuvre my hook. If I ever make a small project like this again, I’m going to save myself a headache by using whip stitch the whole way through.

UPDATE: I have since made two hippos using whip stitch to join the pieces together. The verdict? Although whip-stitch is easier (leaving a much smoother, more compact finish), I find that I prefer the JAYG method after all. This is because JAYG is more visually interesting, and I enjoy making and joining each piece as I go instead of waiting until the end to join them all. 


Happypotamus is worked from back to front in vertical rows. For each row, I aimed to use two or three colours, where the Main Colour (MC) is carried into the next row as the Contrasting Colour (CC). The colour combinations I used in order are:

1: MC = light blue; CC = green/blue
2: MC = bluish purple; CC = light blue
3: MC = pinkish purple; CC = bluish purple
4: MC = dark pink; CC = pinkish purple + peach
5: MC = light pink; CC = peach
6: MC = orange; CC = yellow
7: MC = yellow; CC = orange
8: MC = green; CC = white
9: MC = white: CC = green

If you’d like to make your own lovely creation, please feel free to visit Heidi’s shop for her latest designs. I know you’ll love them!

…What’s that, little hippo? Uh oh, I think he’s getting hungry. I’d better go feed him before he gets stuck into my yarn stash (I sure hope he likes fruit salad). Have a happy, joy-filled week!

Much love and hippo hugs,

  • Anke says:

    Ooo I love love love love it. Love it to the point I may have to go and get embroidery thread and a super tiny hook 😉
    Just wonderful. I’ve made quite a few “big” AF animals with hook 2. Am obsessed with your gorgeous colours! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    • So glad you love the idea, Anke! You’re definitely one up from me, because I made this without ever making a bigger one first. Once your eyes adjust, it’s just as simple, and I love that it’s so economical too. I wish you much luck! Definitely let me know if you ever complete one, I’d love to see ^_^

  • Ashley says:

    This hippo is so cute!! You did an amazing job with the size and colors. :0) Bravo for the bravery of splitting the threads! :0) I have made several of the regular sized hippos, and I thought of making a small one with size 10 crochet thread but that still seemed too big for me… embroidery thread is a great idea.

    • Aww, thank you so much, Ashely! I got the idea to split thread from seeing other people’s projects on Ravelry. I’m not sure I’d be game enough to try this again, but it sure was fun while it lasted, haha!

  • Alice says:

    How many sets of thread do you need to complete this pattern? Do you know the exact number or maybe a round about number?

    • Jennifer Wang says:

      Hi Alice, hmmm good question! From memory, I bought three packs of 12 (with each section being 8 metres long), and used around 18. If you’re doing the colours like I did, you will need roughly 2-3 of the same colour, with less needed for the head. This is approximate though, and having extra is always better than not having enough 😉

  • Dieuwke says:

    I love this tiny hippo. But I have a quetion reading what you did. Did you split the emroidery thread in two equal parts (which gives 3 strands), or did you use two strands of the embroidery thread at a time.
    Once split it’s impossible to change. And I have the thread waiting!

    • Jennifer Wang says:

      Thank you so much, Dieuwke 🙂 From memory, I split the thread by pulling two strands at a time. So, the first pull I had a length of two-strand thread with the remaining four strands in another. I then split the four-strand thread in half again (which is much easier the second time). From my experience, even when the two strands separated from each other, I could still hold both and crochet them together. This is why I think simply buying single-strand cotton thread and holding two or more together while you crochet is easier than unwinding the thicker embroidery thread (I haven’t tested this yet, but I’d like to try). I hope that answers your question!

    • Dieuwke says:

      Thanks for the quick reply and yes it answers my question. Now I can give it a go!

  • CrunchyFrog says:

    I’m a bit late to the discussion but it seems you changed the pattern and used a square piece at the front of the nose and a pentagon for the chin. (Rather than a pentagon and hexagon)
    Is there a reason you did this? I’m planning a tiny hippo of my own (already did a large version) and was wondering if I should make the same adjustment.

    • Jennifer Wang says:

      Hi, CrunchyFrog! No, you’re not late at all – I’m always happy to answer questions 🙂

      The reason I initially used a square for the final piece was because I accidentally used a pentagon for the chin (since I was doing the JAYG method, I’d already attached it). After making my next hippo the “right” way, I discovered that I actually liked the way my previous hippo’s face looked. I think the square + pentagon combo gives the hippo a nicer “mouth”, and now I always make Heidi’s hippos this way, big or small (tbh, the difference is so small, it doesn’t really matter which way you choose).

      Ooh! You’re planning to make a baby hippo? Making teeny versions of patterns is so much fun, I hope you enjoy it!

    • CrunchyFrog says:

      I’m using a 1mm hook and embroidery thread rather than floss. So far so good. I’ll post back with the results. Thanks again for the inspiration and answering my question.

    • Not a problem, I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

    • Crunchy says:

      So nearly 6 months later another tiny happy is born. Thanks again for the inspiration.

    • Jennifer Wang says:

      OH MY GOODNESS, CRUNCHY! What a gorgeous little hippo!!!! He is definitely worth the wait. Did you find it difficult? How was the JAYG method for you? I’m so happy you finally completed him!!!

  • Sally Jacobs says:

    Vers sweet baby hippo – i can see your selling them? Just so your know, the pattern is only for private use, and its illegale to sell the finished items. Heidi Bears own words.

    • Jennifer Wang says:

      Hi Sally, thanks for visiting!
      While it is true that some designers do not allow finished items to be sold, Heidi states in the first page in her pattern “You are welcome to sell any finished Happypotami made by yourself”. It is the pattern instructions themselves which may not be sold or distributed.

  • Heidi says:

    He is a wonder! You are amazingly talented…well done!
    ♥ Heidi

    • Jennifer Wang says:

      Woah~ no no no, thank *you* for making such a sweet and gorgeous design that instantly melts the hearts of all who see it! All I did was pick the hook and colours 😉

  • Pat Scott says:

    Jennifer Id love for you to do a piglet & elephant for me please . I have a great grand due 12-8 Id love to have for! We will find out 7-20 what it’s to be & I’ll let you kno! If you’ll email me prices & all! Tyvm

  • Sarah says:

    Hello Jennifer,

    Absolutely amazing creation! I have a friend who would love this as a gift. Please let me know the pricing for one of these little guys.


    • Jennifer Wang says:

      Aww, thank so much, Sarah. I’m so glad you like him, he was such a joy to put together!
      I’ve just sent you an email regarding pricing, etc~

      Have a happy, rainbow-filled day!
      Jennifer xxoo

  • Yolanda VanEyk says:

    Hello Jennifer,
    Please please please, can you make me one of these little darlings? Let me know how much it cost and I will confirm. I can’t crochet. I can paint, maybe we can swap it for a painting you like? But I’m most willing to pay with normal money!
    Cheers, Yolanda

    • Jennifer Wang says:

      ~ Thanks so much for your interest ^_^ I’ve just sent you an email regarding pricing, etc
      Much love, Jennifer

  • Paula says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Not only have you made a beautiful Hippo, your blog is amazing to.
    Is there anything you can’t do… XxX

    Your Hippo has definitely inspired me to get my threads out, and have a look at what I have…
    Maybe this could be my next project.!!!

    Keep up the great work you do, I look forward to seeing more of your Glorious Hippo’s….
    XXXX 🙂

    • Jennifer Wang says:

      Hello, Paula!! I’m so happy to hear from you. Yes! There is definitely one thing I can’t do, and that’s be as accomplished as you are in your diligent project-making ^_^ My goodness! In the time it took me to make ONE thing, you managed to churn out three projects! (Oo! That reminds me, now I can finally “reward” myself with a lalylala, mwehe…)
      I’m so happy to have inspired you, because you’re constantly inspiring me with your talent and enthusiasm ^_^ Thank you for your crafty love and constant encouragement! Without you, I don’t know if this hippo would have ever seen the light of day <3 😉

  • Rhonda says:

    I’ve always loved this design, especially your tiny, colorful version! Beautiful work!

    • Jennifer Wang says:

      Thanks, Rhonda, for supporting my little chubster! I agree, I couldn’t resist this design. It’s so extremely popular, I had to knock it off the ol’ crochet bucket list 😉

    • Hippie The Hippo says:

      Can I buy a Rainbow Hippo from you? I would also like to make a Rainbow Hippo too but I find its easer to make things with an example…I want to add her to my over 300 hippo collection! She will have lots of friends 😀

    • Thanks so much for your message, Hippie. Haha, WOW, over 300 hippos is quite a collection! (are they all Heidi Bears hippos?) I’m so sorry, I’m no longer making these little guys – they’re so pretty but SO time consuming. I wish you luck in making your own Rainbow Hippo though!! Much love, Jennifer

    • Hippie The Hippo says:

      They are half Teidi bear hippo and they got smaller and they are stone, blown glass, metal, and beaded (special ones live in my china cabinet so they don’t break)….My family isn’t aloud to visit a foreign country with out bringing one home…Hippie the purple hippo (original TY hippo) is the leader of my herd. I will have to have my mom help me with the design it looks pretty fancy. Thank you!

  • >