What is the Purple Hippo Project?

It’s about knitting lots of purple hippos to give to young people to thank them for taking part in sessions to learn about dementia. The hippos are a gift that they get along with a certificate to show that they’ve completed a ‘Dementia Friends’ session. During the session they learn about dementia and how it affects people and families and gives them a greater understanding about how people’s lives are changed by the illness. The young people are also encouraged to show others in the community how they can help people affected by dementia.

‘Dementia Friends’ sessions were put on hold during the Coronavirus emergency but preparations are underway to be ready with lots of hippos to give when the sessions can begin again.

During this lockdown period, why not support the preparations by knitting a few hippos yourself? It will really help a great cause. Donations will be collected once restrictions are reduced.

Knitted hippo instructions

knitted hippos

Size: Approx. 2.5 inches long.


  • 2. 75mm needles
  • Oddments of double knitting yarn in body colour,
  • and some black to embroider the face
  • Darning needle
  • Polyester stuffing


7 sts and 10 rows to 1 inch, or close to this. You want nice tight knitting that the stuffing won’t show through.


  • k – knit;
  • p – purl;
  • st(s) – stitch(es);
  • st-st – stocking stitch;
  • kfb – increase by knitting into the front and back of the next st;
  • k2tog – decrease by knitting the next 2 sts together;
  • kfbf – increase by 2 ex.tra sts by knititng into the front and back, and then front again of the next st;
  • k3tog – decrease by 2 sts by knitting the next 3 sts together.

Body and Head:

  • Cast on 10 sts.
  • Row 1: (kfb) into every st – 20 sts.
  • Row 2: p
  • Row 3: (kfb) into every st – 40 sts
  • Rows 4-26: st-st, beginning p (23 rows)
  • Row 27: (k2tog) to end – 20 sts.
  • Row 28: p
  • Row 29: k7, (kfbf) 6 times, k7 – 32 sts.
  • Row 30: p .
  • Row 31: (k2, kfb) 3 times, k14, (kfb, k2) 3 times – 38 sts.
  • Row 32-44: st-st, beg p (13 rows)
  • Row 45: k3, (k3tog) 4 times, kB, (k3tog) 4 times, k3 – 22 sts.
  • Row 46: p
  • Row 47: (k2tog) to end – 11 sts.

Break off a long length of yarn, thread through the remaining sts, pull up tightly and fasten off. Seam row edges, leaving about 1 cm open at the cast on edge. Stuff body and head firmly. Close remaining seam. Gather round cast on sts, pull up tightly and fasten off. Use a length of yarn to work a line of gathering sts around the neck and pull up to add further shape to the neck. Fasten off and sew in any ends.

Legs {make 4):

  • Cast on 14 sts.
  • Rows 1-6: st-st, beg k
  • Row 7: (k2tog) to end – 7 sts.

Break off a long length of yarn, thread through remaining sts, pull up tightly and fasten off.

Seam row edges. Stuff well. Position 4 legs on base of body, taking care to ensure that hippo can stand unaided, and sew in place.

Ears {make 2):

  • Cast on 8 sts.
  • Rows 1-2: st-st, beginning k
  • Row 3: (k2tog) to end – 4 sts.

Break off a long length of yarn, thread through remaining sts, pull up tightly and fasten off. Using the photo as a guide, position the ears on the head and sew the row edges to the head, leaving the cast on edge to curve upwards.


  • Cast on 6 sts.
  • Cast off.

Sew one row edge of tail just above the gathered cast on sts at the back of the body.


Use black yarn to embroider two eyes and two nostrils, using the photo as a guide for placement.

© Aine Marriott 2011 |