Hi Laura - and Welcome to Our House!!
Your method sounds great for minis: I realize that I too have done something similar. It's only limitations are the length of the awl (I used Clover's tapered awl) at 2" - 3" penetration and that the wider-at-the-top left a larger hole to be re-needled.
I never thought of describing it as an awl-opening method, because I only use it for starting the hole. We have 2 skinnier-than-usual screwdrivers here that had messed-up blade tips and I asked DH to sharpen them for me into different end shapes. Screwdrivers have a round or octagonal shaft that stays the same size for the entire length. This gives me a skinny, hollow shaft to push wires into.
On longer items like tails, it's easier to pull them apart and treat them as 2 pcs and later needle them together again in the center of the length rather than try to reach the tip from the other end. Hope this bit helps!
Do any of you suffer from RSI type pain in your hands and forearms after a long sitting of felting? I'm a bit worried, as I do, and I've only just turned 39!!
Kim, I just realize that we didn't address this. I have thumb (over rotation in the main joint) problems and upper arm probs (I call it Bicep, that that infers that there's a toned muscle there...). Sitting here at the computer using that right arm, doing the same mouse actions aggravates it.
My T'ai Chi teacher also teaches a class on Chinese Health Balls.
Here's a Google link: http://www.google.com/search?client=saf … 8&oe=UTF-8
By keeping the muscles toned I really find both spots don't hurt as much or as often. I have several sets next to me and when I'm just surfing and reading, I often roll them around in my hands. It releases the built up tension by using different muscles and nerves.
This is a very inexpensive way to keep arthritic joints flexible! I'm almost twice your age and it's not something that's going to go away after it starts; it's a downward spiral - for some it's faster than for others.
Now, for those of you to whom Western medicine is the be all, end all, and ONLY route for a person to take for healing, let me just say this: these balls are recommended by many doctors worldwide, as are stress balls. Why? Because the exercise provided is an excellent therapy for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Arthritis, Writer's Cramp, and muscular aches in the forearm. The balls work the muscles, joints and tendons, all of them, cooperatively, at once - the needed strengthening in many cases.
Hugs - Bobbie
The "awl" I use is actually an ice pick so it's about 6 inches long. When I've needed to go deeper I've used a wooden screwer with great success. They are about 10 inches long and come in two thicknesses. They are cheap and readily available at the grocery store.
Have a great day!