Jani Elaine Fellows, Esther bat Adah, mother of David Fellows of Boulder, Colorado and DeDe Dryer of Calabasas, California, passed away in Canoga Park on April 29th 2018, surrounded by family. She was 89, a lung cancer survivor, and had suffered from COPD for many years.
Interment was at Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City, California. A celebration of Jani’s life will be held at the home of David and Cheryl Fellows on May 27, 2018 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Jani was a master knitter and craftsperson who taught literally thousands of women – and quite a few men – to knit and crochet in a career spanning over 50 years in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denver.
In 1965, Jani opened “Knits By Jani, The Knit Wit” store in San Francisco. This business would be her social and creative outlet for the next 15 years. She and her husband Jimmy introduced “By Jani,” a national knit pattern service featuring her designs. She designed and marketed a well-known line of “Texas Coin Purse”-style knitting bags that sold throughout the country. Jani’s signature phrase, “When all else fails… follow instructions” has guided generations of knitters.
Her patterns were published in Sunset Magazine (1972), the Knitting Pattern a Day Calendar (2006) and in Maggie Sefton’s knitting mystery Fleece Navidad (2008).
In 2001 the Fellows moved to Superior, Colorado. Jani worked as a master knitting instructor for several knit shops along the Front Range, including Lambspun (Fort Collins), Lamb Shoppe (Denver) and Showers of Flowers (Lakewood). In 2004, in collaboration with the Denver Public Library, she co-founded Madame Defarge’s Knitting Salon. From one beginning knitting workshop in the fall of 2004, Madame Defarge’s Knitting Salon expanded to host many beginning and intermediate month-long workshops over the years, and continues in Denver today. She volunteered with several local knitting groups on charity knitting projects including Knit 4 Our Troops (Denver) and Chemo Caps (Boulder).
Jani spent the last few years re-connecting with the knit shops in Southern California, eventually finding a regular niche at Pearl’s, teaching, writing instructions, and doing knit repairs. She also kept up with her many friends via Facebook. Some of her patterns can be found on Ravelry.
In addition to her passion for knitting, Jani also spent many years in the women’s fashion industry, beginning as a sales assistant in New York City and Los Angeles. She met the love of her life and husband of 67 years, James (Jimmy) Fellows at a fashion industry show at the St. Francis Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco in 1950. Together they traveled the country representing multiple lines.
In 1979, they co-founded Amy Rose, a women’s formal wear company featuring Jani’s designs. She also created the Charisma formal wear line for Bel Aire Bridal during the 1990’s.
Jani will be remembered by all who knew her as kind, loving, classy, glamorous, ever-stylish, colorful, spirited and fun. She loved color, flowers, and finding beauty in things and people everywhere she went.
Jani Fellows was born Elaine Iris Goldstein in Elizabeth NJ on October 30, 1928 to Ada Ludwig z”l and Leonard Goldstein z”l. After her parents divorced, she joined her mother in Los Angeles.
She graduated from Hollywood High School, and studied journalism at the University of Southern California. She was cast in a play at a theater in West Hollywood, and because her mother would not let her use her real name, she began using the name Jani. Shortly after, she moved to New York to begin her fashion career.
After marrying Jimmy in 1951, they crisscrossed the state, living in both southern and northern California, eventually settling in San Francisco in 1960 and raising two children, DeDe and David. They moved to Los Angeles in 1979 when their first grandchild was born, Superior, Colorado in 2001 and back to Los Angeles in 2011 when their first great-grandchild was born.
Jani is survived by her husband Jimmy, daughter DeDe (Peter) Dryer and son David (Cheryl) Fellows, grand-daughters Amy (Ryan) Denihan, Danielle (James) Schneiderman, Lauren Fellows, grandson Ethan Fellows, great-grandson Logan Denihan and great-granddaughters Molly Schneiderman and Piper Denihan, nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great-great nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles.