Meet the Dyer: Leann Ross of Forbidden Fiber Co.

Forbidden Fiber Co. Pop Up Shop at Stash

The week of June 10-17 we will be hosting a special Pop-Up Shop with the unique and beautiful yarns from Forbidden Fiber Co., a hand-dyed yarn based in Los Angeles, CA.

“It’s about doing something special for yourself because we, as women, tend to put everyone else first. It’s about doing things nobody thinks you can, or should, but you just keep pushing through. Perseverance. Dreams. Goals.” ~Leann Ross, Forbidden Fiber Co.

We asked founder Leann Ross to visit us on the blog so we could get to know a little more about her and her yarns.  Enjoy!

Forbidden Fiber Co. founder Leann Ross

When you were little, what did you want to be? Are there any activities or aspects of this
you still enjoy as an adult?

I wanted to be a little of everything…an author, a lawyer, a judge, and finally settled on accounting as a teenager. I still love both writing and math…and probably arguing, lol!

Tell us about the very first time you dyed yarn.
I bought a “learn to dye kit” on Etsy and chose Harry Potter dye colors for Ravenclaw and Gryffindor – red, blue, silver, and gold. I bought some combed top to start and followed the directions for handpainting. Dye spilled all over the place, it ran everywhere and bled together, and I made a huge mess all over my kitchen and dining room! But I was also hooked.

How did you go from that to creating your company?
It was kind of a natural progression. I was looking for something to do in my spare time because work was unfulfilling, and I really loved creating Harry Potter colorways! I started an Etsy shop under a different name, made a couple of sales, but it wasn’t until I switched from handpainting to kettle-dyeing and came up with the Forbidden branding that I really felt like I had a product to sell!

Forbidden Fiber Co. Yarn

What does the name of your business, Forbidden Fiber Company, mean to you?
It means a lot of things to me! I have a special bond with a group of women I’ve been knitting with online for over ten years now, and it started with them…but it’s become so much more over the years. It’s about a little shop in York, England, where I found the necklace that sparked the idea for the whole Forbidden brand and the memories associated with that trip my husband and I took. It’s about doing something special for yourself because we, as women, tend to put everyone else first. It’s about doing things nobody thinks you can, or should, but you just keep pushing through. Perseverance. Dreams. Goals.

Why do you play with color and yarn? What does it do for your soul?
I just love it. I can’t really describe how I feel when mixing up a new color, or putting color combinations together, or when something new comes out of the dyepots that’s *just right*. It definitely feeds my soul…it gives me this sense of satisfaction that nothing else can. It’s calming, and meditative, but crazy and fun at the same time.

Tell us a little bit about the yarns you’ve sent to Stash for our event.

  • I sent a lot of Proverbs, my custom cotton/linen blend that’s perfect for warm-weather garments.

    The linen is so luxurious that it softens even as you work with it…then continues to soften with

    wash and wear.

  • Babel is one of my favorite luxury yarns, with the yak fibers creating both

    beautiful drape and amazing depth of color that you don’t usually get from a regular ecru fiber.

  • I also sent Fortitude, which is a lovely 4-ply yarn that works great for cables or lace because it’s so

    round. Pride is another custom blend that has a bit of sparkle and is so soft! It’s wonderful in a shawl to add a bit of pizazz, or even as a sweater! The sparkle is so subtle when it’s all knit/crocheted up.

  • Gluttony Sock is my workhorse yarn – 8 plies of superwash merino/nylon that is so round and plump! I use it for everything – socks, shawls, sweaters, and accessories.

  • I also sent just a bit of luxurious lace – Envy is a merino/silk blend and Pride Lace is a merino/silk/sparkle blend for that little bit of extra umph!

  • I sent some sweater quantities of semi-solids as well as lots of bright variegateds that can be blended with more subtle colors for multi-colored projects.

Building Blocks shawl in Pride

Any patterns you’d recommend for people to use with this yarn?
I love anything by Ambah O’Brien. She has the most beautiful two- and three-colored shawls! Xanthe and Lilli Pilli are two of my favorites. I also am a big Fade fan. I wasn’t at first, but as I’ve come up with lots of different combinations for customers, I’m totally a convert. So Andrea Mowry’s patterns are also perfect. Joji Locatelli also creates beautiful patterns for indie-dyed yarn Starting Point and Fading Point are two of my favorites. And one of my favorite people in the world is Afifa Sayeed. She has a gorgeous aesthetic and works a lot with indie-dyed yarn. She made the Seasons of Sun shrug out of my Proverbs yarn and it’s so comfy! For lace, I love
Boo Knits patterns. I made one of her beaded shawls for my best friend’s wedding and totally fell in love with lace!

What is the best part of this knitting & yarn community?
Oh there’s so much it’s hard to choose! I love the adventurousness most, I think. I mean, we make things with sticks and string! Knitters and crocheters are so adventurous in trying new things – new techniques, new yarns, new designers…it’s just so much fun to watch.

Where do you see your business heading in the next couple of years?
I have so many ideas in my head! My family is moving from Los Angeles to Memphis in just a few weeks, so the rest of this year is about filling a new space and changing my business a little bit so I can grow. I want to do more shows and make more yarn! Playing with color will always be my favorite, and I have so many collections and color palettes in my head…I just can’t wait to get to make them!

Forbidden Fiber Co. Dye Studio

What’s a typical work day look like for you?
My days are quite crazy. I have three small children, so I do what I can, when I can, in between wrangling them. My dedicated dyeing time is Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, when I have a babysitter come watch the kids so I can get solid dyeing time in. Photography, emails, and website work are just whenever I have a chance, honestly. I really try to balance spending time with my kids and working, and it’s different every week.

How do you try to balance work and personal knitting goals?
My kids are in bed at 8pm, and that’s my knitting time! My husband and I watch a couple episodes of our latest Netflix binge (currently iZombie Season 4!) and I unwind with some knitting. Everything I knit these days is a sample for the shop, but I only choose things that I actually WANT to knit, and that helps. I’ve made sure there’s enough variety in the yarns I dye that I don’t really get bored not using other yarn. I have a nice collection of other indie dyers’ yarn that I can’t wait to get to someday!

Forbidden Fiber Co. Work Hard


What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The flexibility in my hours. Two years ago I was lucky enough to quit my full time job and dye full time. I went from seeing my kids two hours a day (if I was lucky), to seeing them all day, every day. It’s not *always* a wonderful thing, but it’s just so amazing for our family.

I also had a few very bad experiences in the world of Corporate America. Being my own boss and not worrying about a new manager bullying me, getting scapegoated and fired, or even passed over for promotions I deserve just because I’m a woman, is the most fulfilling part. It’s what inspired my Boss Babe collection!

The most challenging?
Fitting everything in. I have SO many ideas, and so many things I want to do, and places I want to be, and it’s just not possible to do it all!

Forbidden Fiber Co. yarn

What are some of your other creative outlets in life?
I don’t really have any at the moment, unless you count binge-watching Fixer Upper and designing our new house! Honestly dyeing and knitting, and chatting with other dyers, designers, bag-makers, shop owners, and everyone else in this amazing industry complete fulfill me creatively.

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate?
Baking! I even found a term for it – procrasti-baking!

What are your non-negotiables?
Ethics. I will not ever do or say anything that doesn’t align with my core values.

Who do you most trust to tell you the truth?
My mom. She’s been with me through this whole crazy journey and I wouldn’t be where I’m at without her. She tells me like it is!

Any tattoos? If so, what inspired you to get your favorite tattoo?
No tattoos – I’m not opposed to them, I just haven’t found anything I want to see on my body every day for the rest of my life!

What’s your current mantra?
Just keep swimming…

Forbidden Fiber Co Fade

What is your favorite thing about Summer?
It’s so much calmer around the house with the kids out of school. Last year’s drop-off and pickup schedule nearly killed me! I get to slow down my dyeing and focus on the creativity my yarn clubs allow me, design new collections for the fall, and spend time with my kids. This summer will be a bit crazy with our big move, but it’s still so much calmer just being out of the school routine.

If all of your weekend plans suddenly got cancelled, how would you spend your days?

I’d take the kids to the beach and knit all night.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I honestly just feel so blessed to be a part of this amazing community. While slogging away 15-18 hour days in corporate America, I never in a million years imagined I’d be where I’m at today. I’m so thankful for this community who has embraced my brand of creativity where there are so many choices out there!

Thank you for sharing, Leann!

Stop by the shop today thru Sunday June 17th 2018 to see all of these yarns in person and try on the samples Leann sent us!

Follow Forbidden Fiber Co. on Instagram here | Forbidden Fiber Co. website here

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Store Hours

  • TUESDAY 10am – 5pm
  • WEDNESDAY 10am – 5pm
  • THURSDAY 10am – 5pm
  • FRIDAY 10am – 5pm
  • SATURDAY 10am – 5pm
  • SUNDAY 12pm - 4pm
  • MONDAY Closed

Our Address

110 SW 3rd Street
Corvallis, Oregon 97333

541-753-YARN (9276)