Posted by: Laura Pierce | December 19, 2010

PA Dutch – Frakturs – German Ancestors

I did a little genealogy…  before Rug Hooking.  Rebecca White is one of my grandmothers’ grandmothers; one of the Germans in my family tree.  Actually, i think her family was from Bavaria, a place that became part of Germany.  They settled in South East Ohio, so more Ohio Dutch… ha!  Frakturs are the important papers that ‘German’ settlers kept; written in a fractured looking script along with symbolic ornamentation.  These folk also painted ‘Hex’ Symbols on their barns and their furnishings to bring good luck and ward off bad spirits.  Designers enjoy borrowing their designs and symbols, they are part of our American Heritage!

1820 Tauf Schein

I can’t read it… don’t know much German.  There is a lot of information available if you know to look for Frakturs.  I became aquainted through an assignment from Teachers’ Workshop.  The small pattern had hearts and tulips on a vine and I didn’t know what to do with it.  My mother, Emma, suggested I could approach it as a PA Dutch design.  The study of PA Dutch design was an enjoyable journey for this Westerner; it paints a picture of another time.    I enjoyed the ‘Hearts & Tulips’ project and have been designing and hooking Pennsylvania designs ever since.

'Hearts & Tulips' Charco pattern 16x16, hooked for Western

My guild, Wine Country Rug Hookers, wanted me to teach the project to them, but asked me to make other designs available. I used lots of hearts and tulips in my first designs, they are basic good symbols in Frakturs, along with distlefinks, backward looking birds.

'Love Birds' hooked 3 ways - mine, Brigitta Phy's and Nancy Winn's

Love Birds is 8×36″ , more with a border; designed to put over a doorway.  My friend Cathy Kelly made it ‘Love Crows’ in south western colours… lovely!

'Cherries & Grapes', sort of a Wine Country Fraktur.

I was also using some ‘Special Stitches’ in my early PA Dutch designs.   Frakturs lend themselves to Wedding rugs…

designed for Emma & Justin, our daughter and son-in-law

a fun rug to hook, but i decided i shouldn’t make Wedding rugs so big… smaller would be just as sweet.  i added a border to another of my designs and made this wedding rug into a pillow.    You can see it was hooked around the same time as Emma & Justin’s rug; same script and background plaid.

'Wedding Birds' with border for April & JD

When I was young and just married, my mother gave me her beautiful old hooked rug.   She had designed it back in the late 1940’s when she first started hooking and braiding rugs.  It was a proper big  rug, with flowers and a center oval; designed in the PA Dutch style.  Mom had looked up the floral designs at the library and put her own versions on her rug. 

Big Applegate Rug by Emma Webber, 1950

i made a small version of Emma’s rug as one of several a ‘Wide-Cut’ patterns for a class with Robin Price in 2004.

'Ems PA Dutch' hooked by Laura Pierce, 2004

I imagine that Rebecca White hooked rugs… for her Ohio farm house.  Rebecca’s daughter, Emily, hooked rugs and her hook was given to my mother to get her started.

'Em's PA Dutch' hooked by Emma Webber 2005

 After 60 years, Emma’s style has changed a bit.



  1. Laura, all of your rugs are hooked beautifully. I love the first rug pictured, the Love Birds, Em’s PA Dutch and the wedding rug. My Godson is getting married next August, and I was leaning towards hooking them a rug, but I was thinking ‘big’ rug, and wasnt looking forward to it, (laughing). Your idea of small is much better…
    What size cut wool strips did you use for your lettering, it looks so tiny.

  2. hi Anita,
    thanks for your comments. Really… i should have re-hooked the lettering in my daughter’s wedding rug… just pulled out the #3 cut and get some fresh strips and hook it nice and smooth. i guess i was sick of all that cursive type.

    It took my daughter a long time to find the right place to hang the wedding rug… it doesn’t really match her decor… she’s much more into modern art…ha! they have such a small place; a condo in the Mission District of SF. Between my mother and me, they already have quite a few wall-hangings. i’ll post a photo of the rug my mother gave them for their wedding… a modern art double cross in blues. it hangs in their Living area, while mine is in their bedroom.

  3. We love our wedding rug but it was a challenge to find the right spot for it. There is the style thing but there is also something tough about putting your love on display in such a huge way. The bedroom is the perfect place. We can see it every morning when we wake up together and in the evening when we retire. And there, it is just the right size.

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