So, it's not the most flattering sweater shape for me, even with 15" less circumference (and it's still fairly loose, but that's fine). 6"-8" shorter would make a huge difference in how this sweater fits and drapes, but I didn't want to have to redo the entire neckline, or sacrifice that much design area. Even so, it's still gorgeous (and I do say so myself), and I am so glad that I got brave enough to take scissors to this sweater. I can now wear it happily.
I know that I have some more of those buttons somewhere (made from coconut shells- I got them from Button Drawer, link in Stash Enhancers) but I could not find them, so I had to sew the existing neckline button hole closed and make a new one. The spacing looks better now anyway. I decided to go with all black on the extended ribbing because #1 corrugated bands are a pain to knit back and forth, and #2 I wanted the neckline to tighten up more than corrugated ribbing would have. I am very pleased with the final look.
The final yarn tally (for the 59" chest) was 27, 25gr skeins of Rowanspun 4-ply, 8 colors (with at least half a ball left of each of the colors). This yarn has been discontinued, but you can find it still. I bought most of it on Ebay, and found some amazing bargains (bags of 10 skeins for $19.95, and that included shipping. From England), so the few skeins that I had to pay $5.95@ weren't such a burden. I bought tons of it (including several colors that didn't make it into this sweater) and have enough on hand to knit at least 2 more sweaters in the largest size (and probably 3 in my current size). It's a very fine yarn- the sweater was knit on 2.75mm needles, but it blooms beautifully, and makes a light, warm and soft sweater. I finally took a picture that shows the beautiful tweediness of this yarn- most of the shots don't highlight the amazing bits and spots of color. Unfortunately, as much as I love this yarn, I can't design with it, since it's finer than most Fair Isle yarns on the market now. But I can knit with it for fun, and that's more... well... fun...
I'm glad that I don't have more sweaters to cut down, but I would do it again in a flash. It was scarier to cut into a finished piece than doing it with a WIP, but worth the angst.
p.s. respacing the buttons helped with the wonky motif lineup, but it didn't fix the problem entirely. I think I picked up the sts for the front bands differently on each side, which permanently skewed the alignment (and it'll be permanent- I'm not going to tear those bands out and reknit them. I do have limits, you know)