Hi Treia--I'd try using the next larger size needle and try to get your gauge across the stitches. That's usually more important than row gauge because you can generally adjust the number of rows in a project if your gauge isn't quite right.
You're not doing anything wrong.
(In fact, in my opinion, by making a swatch, you are doing it right!) I often have to go up two needle sizes because I knit fairly tightly.