Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Tutorial

Sweet Annie
A Prim Crafter's Best Friend

Birgit has a wonderful blog called The Primitive Country Bug. She has so graciously offered to allow us to use her tutorial on Sweet Annie, the prim crafters best friend!

Sweet Annie is also known as Artemesia Annua or Annual Wormwood. It is grown in herb gardens for its aromatic foliage as well as for medicinal puposes, so it's appreciated for much more than her crafyness and sweet scent.

Leaf tea can be used to treat colds, fevers, and diarrhea, while poultices can be used externally to treat abscesses and boils. It's also been used in connection with Malaria and intestinal parasites. Sweet Annie is an excellent deer deterrent, so planting a hedge around your garden will help protect your veggies and it will smell good while weeding. :)

You can find seeds for Sweet Annie (Annual Wormwood) at many sites online.

Here's a few that I found while preparing this post.

Sweet Annie is an annual that's easy to grow from seed. Simply sow the seeds after danger of frost has passed. She likes full sun and average soil. No extra attention is really needed except for occasional watering during dry spells but don't overwater. Sweet Annie is a tall gal, she'll grow up to 6 feet tall so be sure to plant her in the back of your flower bed. Some might call this a noxious weed and it can become invasive, but Sweet Annie attracts bees, butterflies and birds. In late summer, watch for the development of “beads” ~tiny yellow flowers along the branches. If the branches are cut too soon, they will be of poor quality, so wait until the blossoms open, giving the plants a yellowish cast.

To harvest Sweet Annie, simply cut the stems off close to the ground. The stems will be thick and woody so use a heavy pair of lopping shears to cut them with. Then cut the smaller branches off the main stem and group them together in small bundles, wrapping the ends with heavy twine or rubber bands. Be sure to leave some stems in the garden if you want it to self sow the following year.

Hang the bunches in a warm, dry, dark location with good air circulation for 1 to 1 1/2 weeks to dry; garage or attic rafters are ideal. When the centers of the bunches feel completely dry, hang them in a dark, dry place to store them or place them in a cardboard box.

Sweet Annie has been used for a long time as a natural room air freshener. Folks in the old general store would hang a bunch of Sweet Annie from the corner of a room to cover up musty odors. In the olden days, and most likely in many Amish and Mennonite homes today, Sweet Annie would be hung in the pantry to give a pleasing scent, but also to act as a pest deterrent. Hang a bunch in your bathroom or closet for a clean, fresh smell when you enter.

Sweet Annie will keep her scent for a very long time, even when not preserved. Preserved Sweet Annie will stay soft, hold its color and last for years. Air dried Sweet Annie will stay green when kept out of direct sunlight but will become brittle and shed, eventually turning brown over a long period of time. Preserved Sweet Annie is easy to keep clean (just blow lightly with a hair dryer) while air dried Sweet Annie is hard to keep clean, it is too brittle to blow the dust off from.
Preserved Sweet Annie ~ Not Preserved

If you want to preserve your Sweet Annie after it's been picked, stand it in about 3 inches of HOT water mixed with glycerin oil 2 to one and you will see in a couple days the color changing to a dark green sorta like spinach. Remove it from the mixture and gently dry it off or lay it in front of a fan to dry so it won't mold. It will be soft and fragrant but will have a darker color to it.
Another method of treating Sweet Annie is by mixing regular school glue half and half with water and spraying it on your sprigs. Some people have been known to use hair spray too. Whatever method you choose, you'll be able to enjoy your Sweet Annir for a very long time.



Aside from it's medicinal and natural repellent purposes, Sweet Annie is truly a primitive crafters BEST FRIEND!

Some people's skin may be sensitive to handling Sweet Annie, so until you know whether you are or not, you might want to wear gloves while working with it. It is great in potpourri's and sachets. I've seen many different wreaths and swags made using Sweet Annie.

Primitive crafts are great on their own but when you add a sprig of Sweet Annie to them, it just adds an extra little touch of something special.
Here's one of my heart shaped pantry cakes.

A beeswax cone

A sprig of Sweet Annie added to grubby pillar candles gives it a nice touch!

More of my pantry cakes.

Sweet Annie makes great carrot tops and when tucked in the pocket or arms of your favorite prim doll, is a great addition!
This doll is my friend, Betty's, creation.

This is a little pillow tuck with a clothespin doll I made for one of Char's swaps. See how adding just a little sprig of Sweet Annie here and there can add a nice prim touch?

When you're working with your Sweet Annie and little pieces drop, don't throw them away! Gather them up and sprinkle them on your carpet before you vacuum, it will leave a nice fresh scent. You can also roll warm candles in the Sweet Annie to grunge them up a bit and make them smell oh, so sweet. If you're a soap maker, I wouldn't recommend using it in your soap as it can cause a reaction on some people. But if you're up for the challenge of trying something new, try using Sweet Annie in your crafts. You'll be so glad you did!

Hugs ~ Birgit

Thank you Birgit!!! Stop over to visit her blog, say hello and thank her for allowing us to use this wonderful tutorial!


Jody said...

Wow, great information here! Really enjoyed reading this article!

Maggey and Jim said...

I have always loved Sweet Annie and my daughter is now harvesting bunches for me..Thanks for the post, I really enjoyed it.

Carol/Firecrackerkid said...

I've learned what I need to about sweet annie from this tutorial, and that's alot! Thanks Birgit and Lucy:)

Cave Creek Studio said...

This is the best information I've seen on Sweet Annie! Thanks so much for sharing this.

Barb said...

Wonderful article! Thank you for sharing.

Trish-Ladybug said...

What a great tutorial enjoyed all
the great info..Thanks for sharing


Maria said...

Super informative. I have to get some because I have a lot of deer that come into my yard and eat everything. Great post. Thanks so much for sharing.

Valley Primitives Gift Shoppe said...

I just love sweet annie! Thank you for sharing with us!!