I was pretty sure I didn't *want* to match the gauge on the ball band - but I did. The fabric is a lot lighter than I expected - the pictures look almost plush and chunky, but that could be the rib and cabling vs. stockinette.
I was very pleased by how washing and a small amount of blocking (only enough to straighten the rows a little) made the fabric behave. The "stockinette curl" disappeared totally, the stitches evened out, and the wool softened dramatically. It didn't shrink at all (still 20 st and 27 rows to 4 in) even in warm water. My swatch is a good 8 in x 6 1/2 in with a garter border, so I had plenty of places to measure multiple times.
Looks like I'm going to go up a size knitting - there is NO way I want this fabric to have bigger stitches than it does, the yarn just won't support it. If I modify it, it'll be in the length where it calls for knitting even for a certain distance, and in the sleeves. I'll probably reverse the cable on one side - I'm fussy about symmetry, and holding the cable needle to the front rather than the back is no big deal.