On the seventh row and all is well
The pattern is set up so that the ribbing is treated in sets of 4, which I was completely oblivious to starting out. When I decreased the number of stitches I never took this into account -- I generally do, but this time I used another knitter's number without really thinking about it.
The pattern indicates to set up markers at the end of each row to work up to before turning. Right now I always end with a set of 2 knit stitches, and turning to start the row with a set of purl stitches. The yarn is always in the front (after turning) and I am consistently slipping purlwise - very neat and easy. Before this was not the case since every time I ended a row I was alternating with either a set of knit or purl stitches and I had a feeling this was not right because of the inconsistency.
Thanks again for helping me think this through. I'm so glad to be here!