1. You only need 8 cables the switch itself will provide switching (kinda like ethernet in this reference) to all other devices on the Frame Switch.
2. 2600 and 2611 are fine for INE. Be aware that later versions of features and newer features will/might require newer devices - note: 3640's are awesome, cheap, and support the latest code too. When they fallow out the 3662 are as cheap or cheaper, and have 2 FE onboard, and will support up to 512MB DRAM and very likely be supported all the way into IOS 15.x.x
3. You are doing fine. You can do a ton with what you have. The most important thing is to just get started labbing asap.
4. I did not see switches. You can use a hubs or dumb cheap switches if you don't have real Cisco switches yet and ESW's are out of the question - or just get a 2900XL or 2950 and learn to use vlans when you get started. You can use routers for the L3 part of the switching until you get the hang of things and have more budget.
If all else fails contact me to use one of my racks for switches. It's free and will be as long as I can afford it.