So I went to my box of "unknown" yarn that I got free on Freecycle and picked out a variety of color partial skeins. Not all of them are my favorites, but the variety is nice.
Thinking maybe I had somehow increased my stitches I painstakingly counted each round. Nope...all the same. The only explanation that I can come up with is that, using unknown free yarn, I am crocheting together strands of differing weights and fibers...and that is somehow influencing my neck warmer! Possible? I honestly don't know. I can only manage to straighten it out slightly.
So I will continue on with my crocheting...wondering all the while WHAT I could have possibly done to cause this variation on the expected. If it turns out to be way too large and cumbersome to service as a neck warmer, I'm thinking a nice pillow cover or handbag could be made from my work. Surprisingly, I LOVE the color variations and am absolutely THRILLED with how the piece is turning out....even if it could, with no stretch of the imagination, become a neck warmer for a Sumo wrestler!