Well, I'm glad I blocked the body of the sweater. The gauge swatch blocked out at 5 sts per inch. The actual sweater blocked to 6 sts per inch. I wanted a sweater that was in the range of 40-42 inch bust. I got a sweater that's 32-33 inches. While I could block aggressively and probably pick up a couple inches of width, there's no way I'd get an additional 8 inches.
The body of the sweater as knit is also only 19 inches long. I'd much rather have a body length of 24 inches so the top of the sweater at least hits the top of my jeans/high hip. The cropped cardi look is not something I want to wear and I don't think it's flattering on my middle-aged, overweight body.
On the positives, I really do like the yarn--very soft and comfy in feel. The feel of the fabric at 6 inches to the inch is quite firm and should stand up to daily use without stretching out. The swatch had a bit softer hand and I think I like it better, but I'm not sure I'll be able to just go up another needle size and make it all work. The pessimist/realist in me just says the gauge will end up being off in the other direction (too loose) and the end result will be a sweater that's too big and also unwearable.
I also like the look of the twisted rib button bands and ribbing. It's a sharp detail and it's nice and firm. I wasn't sure I'd be able to manage a neat, even edge, but it turned out very well without a whole lot of worrying or tweaking on my part.
I'm not sure what to do next. It appears that I
just can't get sweaters for me right. Interestingly enough I can successfully produce sweaters for other
people (babies, children, and adults) that meet gauge and apparently fit
just fine. For me, I've goofed up the swatch to sweater transition five times in a
row, I'm not confident in my ability to consistently produce an entire
sweater at a specific gauge. Whatever I produce in the gauge swatch is
never what comes out in the actual garment. Even more frustrating, some
times the blocked sweater gauge is looser and sometimes it is tighter, though more often than not, the blocked sweater gauge is tighter than the blocked swatch. There are over a dozen sweater projects currently stored in my yarn stash, waiting for time/attention. Now I'm afraid to tackle any of them for fear I'll end up spending (wasting) a significant amount of knitting time on a project that will once again end up frogged. :-(