Rare Albrecht-Shenk quilts will highlight Aug. 6 Relief auction

Rare Albrecht-Shenk quilts will highlight Aug. 6 Relief auction

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“Nine Blooming Iris” and “Mountain Bluebirds.”

Remember those names when it comes to purchasing a quilt at the upcoming Ohio Mennonite Relief Sale auction on Saturday, Aug. 6 at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.

Yes, there will be 100 different quilts, ranging from large to small, comforters and vintage, but those two quilts have a very special history.

Those two quilts were designed by Shirley Albrecht-Shenk, who owned and operated Quilt Design in Goshen, Indiana along with her husband.

These two custom-designed, king-sized quilts were ordered. Albrecht-Shenk designed them, and a group of Amish and Mennonite ladies patched the quilts. However, perhaps the most remarkable thing about these two quilts is both were stitched with one needle.

“They are remarkable quilts, and to create them with one needle, with one person making each, is an incredibly time-consuming thing,” said Susan Hofstetter, Mennonite Relief Sale quilt committee member. “They are collector items that are one of a kind, and we expect them to be highly sought after at the auction. You don’t find these kinds of quilts anywhere. They are artistic, and they have incredible workmanship.”

She said while one-stitch quilts can be found, they are very rare.

The quilts were donated to the auction by Elda Unruh, who had a vision for the quilts and hoped to have Albrecht-Shenk design the quilts. However, when she arrived, Albrecht-Shenk informed Unruh that would not be possible because they were closing the store.

Instead, Unruh purchased these two quilts so she would have something from the Albrecht-Shenk collection.

“When we were contacted about the idea of having these two quilts in our auction, we were so excited,” Hofstetter said. “They are so rare and unique, and they add so much to the auction.”

The two quilts were designed and crafted by hand, and perhaps one of the impressions people have with hand-stitched quilts is the extra touch of love that goes into each stitch.

“These two quilts are going to be a highlight to the auction,” Hofstetter said.

The two Albrecht-Shenk quilts aside, there will be plenty of options for serious collectors or for someone looking to pick up a beautiful heirloom to pass down through generations.

“I am astounded by the incredible number of quilts we have in this auction, as well as the amazing quality and variety,” Hofstetter said. “These all come from people who have spent countless hours meticulously crafting each quilt, some by hand, some custom designed and created on long-arm sewing machines.

“Regardless of how they are made, they were donated by individuals, church groups and other sewing groups who have a heart to give to our mission. They understand the importance of what MCC does.”

The 100 quilts can be found online with a quick search on the Relief Sale’s website at www.ohiomccreliefsale.org. Click the Auctions tab at the top of the page and scroll to the 2022 Quilt Auction.

Each quilt then can be individually selected, providing information including those who pieced, quilted and donated each quilt, as well as how the quilt was made, its size and whether it has been signed and dated.

People will have the ability to bid on quilts and even purchase them before they go to auction with the Buy It Now feature on the website. If a quilt captures the fancy of a buyer, they don’t have to risk someone out-bidding them for it.

“Each quilt will have a set price on it, and it is another way people can purchase the quilts they want,” Hofstetter said, noting the online quilts will be available through the evening of Friday, Aug. 5.

According to Hofstetter, individuals and groups begin making their quilts well in advance of the event, some of them putting their heads together to flesh out their next quilt right after the previous auction has ended.

At that point each quilt is limited only to the imagination of the quilters and patchers who make it happen, with varying styles, colors, shapes and sizes.

“They are very passionate about their work,” Hofstetter said. “Because hand-quilting can take quite a bit of time, some of our individuals or groups won’t have one for us every year.”

Hofstetter said collectors and buyers often look for designs, motifs, colors and techniques they like, meaning not everyone is searching for the same quilt, and different quilts can catch someone’s fancy.

For many years hand-quilting was the format, but with the long-arm sewing machines, that has become a faster and easier way to quilt. Hofstetter said some people like the hand-stitched quilts while others prefer the machine-crafted quilts.

Regardless of which style is a favorite, the quilt auction at the Mennonite Relief Sale should provide ample opportunity for quilt lovers to find that perfect quilt.