In 1953, Alfred Shoemaker,
of Franklin & Marshall
Colleges Pennsylvania Folklore Center, wrote a
titled HEX, NO! He concludes with the following comment,
“I must say with absolute honesty that I have
a single shred of evidence to substantiate any other
conclusion but this: hex signs are used
but for one
purpose, and to put it in the Pennsylvania
own words, chust for nice.”
My family lived in
Pennsylvania Dutch country for almost 200 years, and
many relatives still do. My loving but practical aunties
would have scoffed completely at the very idea of
magic, even. So I present these Hex crossstitch
patterns chust for fun.
Many of these hex sign designs are adapted from the
masonite designs "lovingly" painted by
Jacob Zook, The Hex Man, at his original store,
The Hex Place, The Home of Jacob Zook Original Hex
Zook successfully pioneered
the hand silk screening of hex signs. Jacob Zook signs
are still made this way today. Most hex symbols are
screened using four paint colors. Each color is applied as
a separate step with about a day allowed for the paint to
air dry before applying the next color. It's only after the
fourth or final color is applied that the hex design
becomes recognizable. Others are from
Rau's Nostalgic Signs;
Hex Sign Clip Art Pennsylvania Dutch -
mothergoose.com, Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs
adapted from the work of Professor Johnny Ott,
Equine Hex Signs & Gifts;
W. Schuster Signs -
Handcrafters of PA Dutch Hex Signs & Gifts.
As you can see from the samples, more modern
hex sign designs can employ many more than four colors.
Using the Big Daddy hex as an example, designs and
colors from one designer to the next,
while similar, may be quite different. Distlefink
birds take on wide variation as shown by the many
signs which include Distlefinks.
Finally, the Circle is a completely
modern design; the original picture from which the
pattern derives makes stitchers dream of flourescent floss
colors. Try variations in colors. Try mixing the basic
elements to create new designs. Anything goes!
(Colors in examples may not accurately
represent the stitch colors depending on your monitor.)
Abundance & Goodwill (Pointed Star)
"Abundance," an early geometric sign,
depicts a large,
eight-pointed star, usually blue, with tulips and sheaves
of wheat alternately between the star's points.
A smaller eight-pointed star forms the design center.
The stars and wheat symbolize abundance and goodwill;
the tulips are for faith and trust in mankind.
It's one of the more commonly
used barn signs. Because it was so frequently used
over the years, designs run from even more simple
than this one to very complex and stylized using all
colors of the rainbow.
Abundance, Version Two
American Eagle (Strength &
There are several different design incorporating eagles.
American bald eagle spreads his wings to proclaim his
power and majesty. The eagle's breast
sports a red, white and blue American flag shield. The
shield represents independence for all. The stars add a
generous measure of good luck. The overall
design symbolizes strength and independence.
See also the Double Eagle below.
Bird of Paradise Wilkum (Welcomes One
The "Bird of Paradise" with his long, flowing tail symbolizes
the beauty, wonder and mystery of life on God's earth.
The Pennsylvania Dutch "Wilkum" proclaims a welcome
greeting to one and all. The hearts and tulips add
love and hope for all mankind. The design is worked on
black fabric which provides striking color contrast.
Bless this Child
A large, lace edge picture frame heart filled with love
forms the design center. The child's name may be
proclaimed in the heart.
symbolize wonder and innocence.
Distelfink birds add happiness and good fortune; the
Trinity tulips provide faith, hope and charity. A
heart border, to reflect everlasting
love, completes the design. You can either
personalize the heart or leave it blank.
Bless this House
"Bless This House" features a large, red,
picture-frame-style heart asking for a blessing on the
house. The Distelfink bird wishes the
home happiness and good
fortune. And flowers and greens ensure the home is filled
with life and vitality.
The circle, among the oldest symbols known to man,
is a symbol of eternity or infinity. Our sun, the planets
of the solar system, and our earth are round. Hex
signs are traditionally round, utilizing this ancient
symbol of continuity. What goes around comes around.
The picture from which "Circle" derives
shows clearly why I wish for flourescent floss colors.
(Good Luck All Year)
This design features a large, multicolor 12 petal rosette.
The rosette is another of the traditional good luck
symbols of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Here, a good luck
petal is provided for each month to give good luck all
year. A much smaller 12 petal rosette forms the design
center to provide a little added
good luck during particularly difficult periods in any month.
A wavy outer border wishes for smooth sailing through
Daddy Hex, Version Two
Version two, from a different designer, is more
colorful than the Zook design. The designer says
red for love, blue for truth and protection, yellow
symbolizing life and the sun, and green for
abundance, good fortune and happiness. Also
represented are the 12 months of the year, and the
center rosette which wards off adversity and assures
Distelfink (Happiness and Good Fortune)
The Distelfink is the good luck and happiness bird of the
Pennsylvania Dutch. Distelfink birds, often very stylized,
were used to decorate marriage and birth certificates,
bible fly leaves and furniture. It was based on our thistle
seed loving Goldfinch. Here the Distelfink is perched on
a large heart bursting with tulips. The heart adds love;
the tulips add and faith. Overall, this design proclaims
good luck and happiness. Happiness and good fortune
is another accepting meaning.
Double Distelfink (Good Luck & Happiness)
Distelfinks double one's good luck and
happiness. This is especially helpful during life's trying
times. A double heart for much love,
for faith, hope and charity, and a scalloped
border for smooth sailing in life completes the design.
Double Distelfink, Version Two (Double Good Luck
Zook painted two versions of the Double Distlefink hex
sign, the simple design above and this more stylized
and complex design. The yellow distelfinks have special
significance because of their color —
yellow means life, sun, and gentility.
Double Distelfink, Version Three (Double Good Luck
Other designers have produced many different designs
of Distlefinks. All have the same meanings.
Double Eagle (Courage)
A large, stylized double headed eagle
strength and courage; the trinity of tulips adds faith, hope
and charity; and the heart adds love.
Doves of Peace (Peace, Faith &
This design depicts two facing doves perched on a
flowering tulip and heart "tree". The doves,
heads turned away from each other, symbolize peace
and trust. The bold, red heart is for love. Its use to
form the tree's base also suggests love may be the
necessary foundation for lasting peace. The flowering
tulips are "overflowing" with faith for all.
This very popular symbol proclaims peace, faith and trust.
Dutch Irish (Luck of the Irish)
One of the most popular of the hex symbols. A large,
green Shamrock - the traditional Irish good luck sign -
forms the design center or heart. Irish Distelfink birds
shower the Shamrock with a "double measure"
of good fortune. A heart for love, Trinity Tulips
for faith, hope and charity and a scalloped border for
smooth sailing in life complete the design. Overall, this
design proclaims good luck of the Irish.
This design features a large, endless floral "ring
of life." The ring's center (or heart) proclaims the
family blessing for all to see. The floral ring's many tulips
"shower" the family with faith and hope; the
star flowers add good fortune in our lives. Overall, the
family blessing highlights the importance of a loving,
supportive family in everyone's lives. This design is
very popular for family gifts.
Lord, family togetherness is wonderful! So, too, are
the things that make each of us different!! Help us to be
both ... Together and different, in love. And bless our
family with peace.
Fertility, Health & Friendship
While this is the version most frequently seen, these
can be almost any colors to match your decor and
still convey the same wishes.
Good Luck, Love & Happiness
This design features the mystical "Bird of
Paradise" symbolizing the beauty, wonder and
mystery of life on earth. The four leaf clover add a large
measure of good luck. Overall, this design extends
"good luck, love and happiness" to all
Haus Segen (Bless this House)
This design is one of the most loved of Jacob Zook hex
designs. It depicts a large, red "picture
frame" heart proclaiming the house blessing. The
decorative lettering reflects the influence of early German
writing. Colorful Distelfink birds and lush flowers surround
the "home blessing" to ensure family
happiness and good fortune.
Hereford (Protects Farm Animals
The hereford was also used in hex signs. Herefords,
steers raised for food, highlighted the importance food
and food animals play in life. Like the horse head design,
the hereford also protected farm animals and pets.
Horse (Protects Farm Animals
The horse played a major role in early farm life. It is not
surprising, therefore, the horse was one of the symbols
selected to ensure protection for farm animals and pets. It helped protect against disease and lighting. An early version of this design showed a stylized horse head cleverly placed inside a five pointed star. Here, the star provided an added measure of good luck. This design protects farm animals and pets.
Keep Away Bad Luck
A little-seen hex sign to keep away all bad luck. Sometimes
seen with veins down the middle of the petals. Two
sizes available in crossstitch, the regular 10-inch and a
Love & Friendship
This very striking design depicts two Distelfink birds
warmly embracing to show their love and friendship.
Their "one" heart is laced with love for each
other; the tulip adds faith this love will be everlasting. An
endless ring of rain drops showers them with life's bounty.
Overall, this popular symbol proclaims love and friendship.
Love & Marriage (A Loving,
Here the "heavenly" joining of two doves
symbolizes the matrimony of a man and woman. The
two hearts, united in love, represent the joining of their
bodies and spirits as one. Trinity tulips ensure a life filled
with faith, hope and charity. The scalloped border
ensures smooth sailing on the sea of life. This design is
often personalized as a keepsake of this important event.
(We do not personalize hex signs.) Overall, the marriage
sign proclaims a loving, happy marriage.
Love & Romance
(Enchantment & Happiness)
This more simple design is quite typical of older geometric
designs. A large, six petal rosette in the design's
center is one of the basic good luck
symbols of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Red hearts are
prominently placed between the rosette's blue, red and
gold petals. The rosette ensures luck and success in love.
The hearts, carefully placed in a closed circle, provide
endless enchantment and happiness. A decorative,
scalloped border completes the design.
Luck Multicolor 12-point Rosette
Wishes you a joyous month for each month of the year,
kindness, and smooth sailing through life. These can be
simple with two or four colors, or multicolored like this
Maple (Appreciation of Life's Beauty)
The "Maple" sign features five large maple
leaves. The maple leaves, radiating from the design center,
sport an array fo colorful earth tones. They portray the
diversity and beauty of life here on earth. A good luck
rosette (in the center) completes the design. Sweetness
and purity of life is also an accepted meaning.
Mighty Oak (Strength, Health & Long Life)
Four large oak leaves in bright, bold colors radiate from the
center of this design. The oak tree symbolizes strength,
health in body and mind, and endurance or long life. The
four oak leaf colors are used to represent the four seasons
of life - spring, summer, fall and winter. Smooth sailing
throughout life is shown in the scalloped border. This very
popular design conveys strength, health and long life to all.
Morning Bird (Health & Happiness)
This very pretty design features two, facing morning birds
joyfully singing their song of happiness. A large, four pointed
"star" flower adds a generous measure good
fortune throughout life. The lush flowers and greenery
symbolize health and vitality. The "endless"
outer ring offer everlasting life. Overall, the
"Morning Birds" offer health and happiness
to all. The presence of two birds also suggests true
happiness may require others in your life.
Petal Rosette (Joy & Prosperity)
Aptly named, this very familiar geometric designs shows
a large rosette having 12 colorful petals. The rosette is
the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch good luck symbol.
Here, the twelve petals, one for each month of the year,
ensure good fortune all year. The leaf clusters near the
outer ring symbolize family groupings. Placing the leaf
clusters in a continuous ring highlights the importance
family unity and support plays in our joyous, happy life.
The rich earth tome colors create a very striking design.
Joy and prosperity are the key themes of this design.
Pineapple (Warmth & Hospitality
of Your Home)
This design features a large, stylized pineapple ripe with
color. The pineapple symbolizes warmth and hospitality
for all. Overlooking the pineapple, a welcome greeting is
happily offered to all. Flowers and leaves symbolizing
unending life complete the design. The pineapple sign
extends a warm and cordial welcome to all.
Sun, Rain & Fertility
(Abundance in Field, Barn & Home)
This well known geometric design features a large,
eight-pointed star with a stylized "sun"
center. The sun warms Mother Earth and lights our lives.
Rain, shown as an endless circle of rain drops, provides
the water essential to life on earth. Together they provide
all bountiful harvest and renewed life to all. The design
conveys abundance in field, barn and home.
Tree of Life (Happy Life and Joyful
This design depicts a large, stylized
"Tree of Life" lush with God's bountiful fruit.
Each of the tree's fruits embodies a traditional geometric
hex symbol. The rosette offer good luck; the eight pointed
star provides abundance; the tulips shower life with faith,
hope and charity; and the rain sign proclaims harmony
with nature. An "endless" outer circle imparts
everlasting life. The "tree of life" offers a
"Happy Life and Joyful Memories" to all
Welcome Sign (Welcomes Others
To Your Home)
A classic, well known design often seen on home entry
ways. The large, stylized Pennsylvania Dutch greeting,
"Wilkum," extends a warm and friendly
welcome to all. Facing Distelfink birds ensure happiness
and good fortune. A "lucky" star and
greenery, symbolizing life's bounty, complete the design.
A lovely way to welcome others to your home.
White Unicorn (Piety, Virtue, Peace
This very striking design depicts two large facing
unicorns. These wild, legendary "horse like"
animals had a horn in the center of their foreheads and a
lions' tail. Unicorns symbolize piety and virtue. Their
close placement is designed to show all God's creatures,
even "wild animals," can live in peace and
harmony. Love and a generous portion of faith are added
by the heart and tulips, respectively. Overall, this design
provides piety, virtue, peace and contentment. It was the
design often placed on the hope chests of young ladies.
Willkommen (Have a Happy Home
& Many Friends)
Wishes for a happy home and
many friends is the meaning of this sign. It features a large
"welcome greeting" (in German) to one and
all. The large red, centrally placed heart symbolizes a
loving home and heart. Tulip "couples",
show the importance friends and family play
by showering the home with love and
support. A Distelfink bird provides an added measure of
good luck and happiness to all. The heart
can be personalized or left blank.
For complete information on Pennsylvania Dutch
hex signs, see:
Legendary Hex Signs
by Jacob Zook and available from Will-Char and
the German Corner.
This book takes a look at hex signs and what they
mean. Jacob Zook, a Pennsylvania Dutch man,
explains history, colors, hex signs and their meaning,
as well as hex stories.
Paperbound, 18 pages, 8 1/2 x 11", 4 oz
Catalog ID: 13140 $3.00