Bas den Braver, also known as Zabbez, is a crochet designer who creates really unique flower doll patterns. The dolls are tall and lanky, reminding me a little of the Lalylala dolls and the dolls from Edward’s Menagerie, but they are unique and original in their floral inspiration. Each doll is inspired by a different type of flower, its cute little face shining out between the petals. Today we’ll learn more about them and the designer from an interview.
When and how did you learn to crochet?
I started to crochet a few years ago. I spent several hours on youtube watching instructional videos on how to do the different crochet stitches and just started practicing. It wasn’t long before I made my first granny square and soon after that I got interested in making amigurumi.
When did you begin making the crochet flower dolls?
I love plants and flowers and quickly decided I wanted to make a flower doll, but I could not find a pattern that I liked. Then I started to explore the possibilities of designing it myself. I found an article online about how to design amigurumi, explaining that all amigurumi can be simplified to basic geometric shapes. I started to experiment and made my first flower doll.
What inspires the different doll designs?
My love of plants and flowers is something that has penetrated many aspects of my life. When I started to design a crochet doll, I wanted to create a little person that could live in a world of its own – A hidden world, in nature, all around us. So I started experimenting with different flower bulb shapes for the body, different flower options for the head and so on. I wanted it to be a flower, but still a little person everybody could relate to. And then Sunflower Sam was born. You can explore the full process of the making of Sunflower Sam here.
Are all of the designs single crochet amigurumi style designs or are other stitches used?
All of the designs consist mostly out of single crochet stitches, but for details and flowers I also use half double and double crochet stitches, depending on the flower.
Are any of the dolls easier than the others (in other words, which one should a beginner tackle first?)
All of my patterns are very detailed, well explained and include both text instructions and pictures. So crocheting a flower doll will be fun for everybody. However, there are some dolls that are more labour intensive then others. I would advise beginners to start with Sunflower Sam, Rose Roxy or Tulip Theo.
What do you enjoy about crochet? What benefits does it bring to your life?
Crochet brings me the opportunity to bring my fantasy world to life. I love to crochet a flower doll and slowly see my designs come to life. Also, the feel of the thread running through my fingers and changing to a new color always puts a smile on my face. It brings me happiness.
What experiences have you had as a male crafter in a mostly female-dominated industry?
￼It has been a great experience. Most of my crochet life happens online and I haven’t experienced any issues being a male crafter. We all share a common love for crochet. I met some great people online from all over the world that have enriched my life and I cherish my connection with them.
It seems like you enjoy collaborating with others – on translations for example. Can you share some of those experiences and how they worked out?
It is great! Since I started Zabbez, I have met a lot of great new people. Some just email me to tell me how much they appreciate my designs, sending me pictures, which can be seen in my Hall of Fame. It is heartwarming to me. Others contact me for collaboration projects like translating my patterns, which is great because now many of my patterns are offered in multiple languages. I am always looking for new translators for new languages. A translation project requires intensive contact when translating the patterns. It also involves setting up testing groups and managing all the testing outcomes. You start to build a relationship with these people from all over the world and I enjoy it a lot.
I’d love to know more about the book that your work is in. What can you tell me about it? Are you planning to contribute to other books or perhaps even publish your own?
My award winning butterfly design was featured in the book “Parent & baby animals”. I am very proud of winning the second prize and having my design published. It was a great experience and a big confirmation that people like what I am doing. I would love to contribute to more books or even publish my own. If it is a bundle of my flower dolls or a new subject, I am open to anything and would love to explore the possibilities.
I’ve never been to Netherlands … what can you tell me about your experience of how crochet / craft is viewed there?
Crochet / craft in the Netherlands fits in the category of “hobby”. My sister-in-law and my niece do crochet. Those are the only people I know in real life that actively do crochet. That’s why I started to look online and since then I have met a lot of people online that share this craft with me.
What else would you like us to know?
I want to thank you for the interview. It was a pleasure to answer your questions and I hope it will inspire others to bring a little more happiness to their lives with a cute and happy flower doll.
￼You can purchase the flower doll crochet patterns on Etsy!