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My new Ashford table loom arrived yesterday afternoon and is nearly ready to use. It's also an 8-shaft 24-inch model, and an early Christmas present from my husband. He bought it for me, since my floor loom is all packed up--we're in the process of moving--and knew I could use it now as well as later for small projects and sampling. I'm very much a beginner too, though I have also been a knitter for many years. My grandmother taught me to sew when I was still a young girl, so I've done fiber arts of one sort or another most of my life. I still don't know how to spin, though I imagine I'll get around to that someday. It's so fun to see all the different ways yarn can become cloth and then clothing!
Wow, you really got a TREMENDOUS stroke of good fortune in your weaving studio. Congratulations! It happens, though. Lots of folks buy all the stuff, pay full retail, and then find they aren't as interested as they thought they would be, or they don't have the time to devote. All of this equipment takes up quite a bit of space too, especially if you aren't using it.
I am a beginning weaver myself, and I have made a pretty hefty investment in books and DVDs, because I'm pretty good at learning things that way. I too own Learning to Weave and Peggy Osterkamp's Weaving for Beginners. Both are great books, but Peggy's is far more detailed, and the drawings showing you how to do things are absolutely amazing. I'm a trained technical writer, so I can say that this is truly a fine technical manual. It was a bestseller and sold out its first printing pretty fast--that's how good it is; and if I could only buy one book, that is the one I would buy. I especially like the fact that it is spiral-bound, so you can lay it flat right next to you and refer to it as you work--and no, I won't get a penny for my testimonial! Best wishes to you!