Thursday, May 21, 2009


Last night my friend Shana taught me the word antimacassar. Her best fave sitting room chair had finally given up the ghost after months of spewing forth yellow foam and upholstery tacks whenever anyone sat on it or even gave it a stern look. The new chair is a fancy beige number inherited from Grandma Dora, and comes complete with armrest covers and an antimacassar. Antimacassar is the fancy word for the piece of cloth that goes over the top of an upholstered chair. Like this:

Netted Antimacassar from

Or more recently, like this:

thanks, wikipedia!

Wikipedia tells me that Antimacassars were common in the Victorian period, and were commonly handmade, tatted, crocheted, knitted or netted of white cotton. Google a little harder and you'll find antimacassar patterns in all four crafts in Beeton's Book of Needlework, which is cram-packed with all kinds of old-timey goodness. I'm a total sucker for this stuff - like this knitted rosette pattern:I will hypnotize you.

So: what is this macassar that antimacassars are anti? Victorian hair goop!


Doily said...

Ah, that brings back memories! My Granny's sofa and chairs always sported some whiter than white anticammasers, grandad still coiffered his thinning mop with pomade... good old blighty Brylcreme if I remeber correctly.

Anonymous said...

hooray, thanks for posting this! xo


Marjojo said...

Daniel, I love that word too, antimacassar, the sight and the sound of it. Wrote a poem a while ago where they feature:
Anyway, came to tell you that last week my mom and me re-visited to see your mom's pin cushion on the beach - she hadn't forgotten. Showed her your mathematical knits too - she was duely impressed and tickled too.

elle said...

There was also an off-camera character, Auntie Macassar, from the kids' TV series "The Big Comfy Couch"

I have way too many of my Grandmother's crocheted antimacassars in my cedar chest...