The blocking did wonders, as I hoped it would. Say it together -- "Always believe in the magic of blocking." The stitches smoothed out, the body of the sweater fits great, and the sleeves are just the right length. And, the hem, which had been curling up from the very beginning, is lying there, tame as can be.
I can still see the color dominance shift in the last few inches of stranded knitting, just before it joins the ginger color. I think switching the hands that I held the colors in for the purl side during the flat knitting might have solved this pattern, but I'm going to try not to worry about it. I don't know that I'll ever run into this issue again. If I do, I hope I remember.
After finishing, I wondered why the pattern had the neck opening bound off and then stitches picked up in the exact same place in order to knit the collar. Why not just put them on a stitch holder? It was too late for me to do anything about it, but still, I was curious. Just yesterday, I read a recent post on the Yarn Harlot's blog that explained exactly why the designer did this.
Notice how large the neck opening is? Binding off created a firm, unstretchable edge on which to build the collar. If I had just put the stitches on a holder and continued on later, the neck opening would have been very stretchy and droopy, and the picture above would have to have been posed differently.
I've lived with this project for a long time. I'm not sure what to do next!