When L was just a newborn baby, we got a wonderful gift, a book called "The Spectacular Adventures of Sophie and Sebastian." It is a story about a hippopotamus, Sophie, who wanted to skateboard. Even though L was really too young for the book, I often read it to him. Now, he often pays attention from start to finish, and really loves that story.
In the book, Sophie is a purple-gray hippo with "hefty proportions." So I grabbed some 100% cotton yarn from Twist.... Yarns of Intrigue.... in "Lavender Gray" and "Iron" color, and made this Hippo from Susan B. Anderson's Itty Bitty Toys book.
If I haven't raved enough about this yarn, please forgive me. I normally don't like to use cotton for my project because it hurts my hands/fingers since cotton doesn't have memory as many animal fibers. However, this yarn completely changed my attitude towards cotton, and now it's my go-to for toy knitting.
I finished this project late at night. The next morning, I brought the book and this hippo to his bed before waking him up. The silly grin on his face... I love making toys for him!
The pattern by Susan B. Anderson is, as usual, super easy to follow and clearly written. This is the second pattern I tried in the Itty-Bitty Toys book; my first was the Doll set.
What I found helpful was the row counter that goes on your finger. I bought a 10-pack a while ago, and I don't usually use it for my garment projects because often the directions are "knit evenly until x" but with toy knitting, it's essential to keep track of your rows.